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1972 Les Paul Signature / Gold Top Correct Pick-ups / Tuning Keys ?

#1 User is offline   Terry 

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 03:15 PM

I've owned a '72 Les Paul Signature for a number of years and am retiring this Fall and would like to restore this guitar as it was altered by someone way back, before I became the owner.Somewhere along the way someone changed the pick-ups, but the good thing is they didn't do any cutting or enlarging into the body of the guitar. What are the correct pick-ups for this guitar? I've tried to research it and am getting more confused! I've read that some of these guitars had P-90 pick-ups.... are these humbuckers? And I learned that there are full size humbuckers (490-T ?) and mini humbuckers. What is the correct pick-up for this instrument? And I've also come across the term soap bar pickups, what are these? Also when I've seen pics of vintage '72's, it looks like there is a cover that goes around the pickup also. Do I need additional pieces beside the pick-ups to fill the openings? Also another area i need help in is the tuning keys, they were changed also. What are the correct tuning keys for this guitar? Would appreciate any info someone could pass along to me. Perhaps I shouldn't tackle this work myself and if someone feels I should ship the guitar out for restoration, please give me your thoughts!
Thanks so much in advance

#2 User is offline   KL 

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 04:21 PM

Welcome.

I'm not sure which model you mean when you say a Les Paul signature. Is it a Les Paul Deluxe? I think it might be. The best thing would be if you could put some pictures up. so we can see exactly what you have got.

It sounds like it is a deluxe that has had humbuckers put in it that did not require any routing. A lot of those LP deluxe's were made with bodies routed out for larger pickups. In those cases they put additional plastic surrounds (boo boo rings) around the minihumbuckers to fill up the extra space. This made it an easy modification to add full size humbuckers. Some (like mine), however were only routed for minihumbuckers, so if someone wanted to change to larger humbuckers they had to route out some more space.

If it is a Pro deluxe then it should have had P90's. So step one is to determine what model you have.

Does the truss rod cover say either 'Deluxe' or 'Pro Deluxe' or is it just plain?

The original tuners were probably Gibson deluxe with tulip tuners.

Is the serial number stamped into the back of the headstock, or is it a transparent sticker/decal under the finish?

You should check the year from the serial number. If it is in fact a 71 for example the original minihumbuckers would be embossed with a Gibson logo. If it is 72 or later then they would have had plain metal covers.

OK so that's a start for you! I hope it helps. Please post pictures so we can work out what exactly you have got.

What colour is it? The good news is that a lot of great Les Pauls came out of the Norlin era and so if you can get the parts and restore it to it's former glory you could have a very nice Les Paul.

#3 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 04:35 PM

No offense Terry, but since you're clearly inexperienced with Gibson pickups, I would think you're going to need help installing replacements anyway, so you probably ought to seek professional help. Where (in general) are you located? Maybe there's a reputable shop with qualified repair staff somewhere within driving distance...?

P-90 pickups are single-coil, not humbuckers.
"Soap Bar" pickups are also single-coil, and have a rectangular shape, like a traditional bar of soap. They originated back in the 50's.
Most humbucking pickup designs include plastic rings which surround the actual pickup assembly.

I'm not sure, but I think the Signature had unusual pickups... some updated variation on the humbucker design.

Okay, for what it's worth, I found the following online:
"LES PAUL SIGNATURE - offset double cutaway, arched maple top, raised cream pickguard, f-holes, maple back/sides, mahogany neck, 22 fret bound rosewood fingerboard with pearl trapezoid inlay, tune-o-matic bridge/stop tailpiece, blackface peghead with pearl logo inlay, 3 per side tuners with plastic buttons, chrome hardware, 2 low impedance humbucker pickups, plastic pickup covers with stamped logo, volume/tone control, 3 position/phase/level switches. Available in Gold Top and Sunburst finishes. Mfd. 1973 to 1978."

The photos I found show a relatively narrow rectangular pickup with an embossed "Gibson" on the covers. These may be tricky to find now... not sure.

I think the tuners on these were more of a standard type... probably Klusons with plastic "tulip" buttons, so those shouldn't be hard to get. (What's on there now?)

For now, I'll leave this to someone else who may actually own one or have some direct experience with the model. I have a friend who had one, but I haven't seen it (or him) in a number of years.

#4 User is offline   JimR56 

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  Posted 07 September 2010 - 04:39 PM

View PostKL, on 07 September 2010 - 04:21 PM, said:

Welcome.

I'm not sure which model you mean when you say a Les Paul signature. Is it a Les Paul Deluxe? I think it might be.

1970's Les Paul Signature:

Posted Image

#5 User is offline   KL 

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 05:19 PM

Oh well . . . I got this completely wrong. I thought you had a Les Paul. also I noticed that you said it was a gold top in the title of your post. So please ignore my previous comments.

However, Jim's advice is good. Get some help from an experienced luthier. If you want to go into guitar repairing as a hobby it's a good idea to get a cheap beater guitar and practice doing mods on it for a while before working on a really good guitar.

#6 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 05:38 PM

View PostKL, on 07 September 2010 - 05:19 PM, said:

Oh well . . . I got this completely wrong. I thought you had a Les Paul. also I noticed that you said it was a gold top in the title of your post. So please ignore my previous comments.

Hey, you were a little off track, but it does have "Les Paul" in the model name, and they did come in gold (the photo I posted doesn't really show the true color).

To be honest, I always thought these looked a little odd (just a personal taste thing), but the design in interesting, they're Gibsons, and I'll bet they sound just fine. [thumbup]

#7 User is offline   KL 

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 05:45 PM

View PostJimR56, on 07 September 2010 - 05:38 PM, said:


To be honest, I always thought these looked a little odd (just a personal taste thing), but the design in interesting, they're Gibsons, and I'll bet they sound just fine. [thumbup]


Yeah it's quite a cool looking guitar. I've never seen one close up. Nobody does a goldtop like Gibson, that's for sure.

#8 User is offline   L5Larry 

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 08:30 PM

I've always wanted one of these since I saw them new on hanging on the local store wall in the early 70's, but it was just a little too much of an odd bird for me.

The body design was based on the combination of an ES-335 type upper horn with a Les Paul lower cutaway. The electronics was some of that crazy stuff they were doing on the Les Paul Recording and Les Paul Professional around the time with the low impedance "Super Humbuckers", and all the switching.

I would like to see photos of the guitar in question for since Gibson used the weird pickups and controls on this one, what the original poster thinks is "modified" may indeed be original since it was NOT originally equipped with the standard equipment of the time.

#9 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 08:50 PM

View PostL5Larry, on 07 September 2010 - 08:30 PM, said:

I would like to see photos of the guitar in question for since Gibson used the weird pickups and controls on this one, what the original poster thinks is "modified" may indeed be original since it was NOT originally equipped with the standard equipment of the time.

Good point, Larry- I hadn't thought of that.

In the meantime, here's more of a close-up shot I found online:
Posted Image

It just occurs to me that I saw a band some years back where the guitarist was using one of these. I can't recall whether the pickups were stock, but the guitar sounded fantastic to my ears... not unlike a really good ES-335 sound.

#10 User is offline   Terry 

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 09:28 PM

Thanks for all the quick replies, guys!
The serial number on the guitar is 185549 and underneath it says Made in USA.
The tuning keys on the guitar now say Grover.
I live in Northern Indiana close to South Bend and about 90 miles southeast of Chicago. If anyone can point me to a good luthier within reasonable driving distance, that would be great.
Have attached a pic of the current pick-ups on the guitar.
Seems I read the '72 Signature was called a Standard 58.
Doesn't really show in the photo but the gold top finish has some crazing or cracking in the paint coating.
Thanks again for all your help!

Attached thumbnail(s)

  • Attached Image: DSCF0484.jpg


#11 User is offline   L5Larry 

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 11:32 PM

Thanks for the pic Terry, this clears up some speculation. Yes, that guitar has been all buggered up, as you have suspected.

The problem with trying to restore this guitar to original equipment as shown in the photos JimR56 posted is that finding the parts. Finding parts such as the pickups and surrounds, and the bottom control rings is going to be virtually impossible, probably worse than the proverbial needle in the hay stack. You could search e-bay and craig's list for years and not find them.

I hate to tell you this (but somebody needs to), you will spend more time and money trying to restore this guitar than it is worth. If it plays and sounds to your liking, I would just enjoy it as it is. If you really want a stock Les Paul Signature Goldtop, I see them on e-bay fairly often.

I'll keep my eyes open for parts just in case.

#12 User is offline   Terry 

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 12:34 PM

Why the difficulty in putting the guitar back to original?
I thought there were all kinds of reproduction pick-ups and covers out there.
I don't care if the parts I use are reproduction, as long as it looks correct and nice when it is finished.
Using OEM doesn't matter to me.
Someone mentioned that the humbuckers with the name Gibson embossed on them would be very difficult to locate.
But I don't have to have those, just a pick-up that fits correctly and looks original.
Can I get repro pick-ups that will look and fit correctly?
Please... your thoughts!

#13 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 01:08 PM

Terry, although none of us has owned one, I think we're all agreeing that the original pickups for that model were unusual and probably difficult to find now. If in fact the originals all had "Gibson" embossed on the plastic covers, then you're going to need to find those if you want your guitar to look "original". You might find something else that fits and functions, but it wouldn't look totally original. Maybe the search won't be as difficult as we're suggesting... I hope that's the case.

#14 User is offline   Terry 

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 06:34 PM

Thanks again for your help, JIm, Larry, and others!
Can anyone supply me with a part number for the hum-buckers with the Gibson name embossed on them?
Should I contact Gibson's repair people about these pick-ups? Could they be any help?

#15 User is offline   Grog 

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 07:57 PM

Hi Terry. The part number for your pickups is 13649. The bridge & neck pickup is the same, but these are low impedance super humbuckers! You will probably never find any unless you watch eBay daily & are willing to pay dearly for them. The Les Paul Signature Bass also used this same pickup. I collect spare parts for the guitars I have. I have only come across 1 of these to buy, I think it cost me about $200.00 a number of years ago. Epiphone had reissued the LP Signature guitar a number of years ago. It's possible the pickups it made for the Epiphone reissue may be somewhat of a match, if they are even available. Along with the pickups, you will also need a lot of other stuff. I will try to post the entire parts list. Good luck!

Posted Image

#16 User is offline   playblues 

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 08:48 AM

I own one of these Signature models. There really aren't that many around, even though I've heard someone say here they see them on e-bay quite frequently, I don't find that to be the case. The pick-ups as have been pointed out, are in fact the low-impedience humbuckers unique to this guitar, and you will be hard pressed to find any coming up available. Best bet is to keep an eye out for another of these guitars, buy it if you find one, and you'll have one original, and one modified!! Not a great solution to your immediate problem, but it's all I got! Good luck, and keep that thang, it's pretty rare, unfortunately not as valuable as it is rare.

T.Willie

#17 User is offline   Gldlpsig 

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 02:50 PM

Greetings:

I have owned a '75 Gold Top Signature since 1980; my only guitar. Have mostly kept it because it is a little unusual.

You may be interested in an EBay listing I saw today for the pickups:

http://cgi.ebay.com/...=item56411c71b1

Good luck on your search!

#18 User is offline   retrorod 

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 07:06 AM

I'll be darned.....there they are....cheap too! Go get 'em Terry [thumbup]

When looking at the pic of your LP sig., I noticed that the neck humbucker was installed upside down.
Good luck on your RESTO-Project, Rod
"You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from."--Cormic McCarthy

Celebrating the sixty years of "white privilege" that i have just recently learned that I was born with...

#19 User is offline   Terry 

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Posted 24 December 2010 - 02:53 PM

Just getting back on the Forum since October! Where does the time go?
Thanks to Grog for the great parts list for the Les Paul Signature .
And thanks to Gldlpsig for the Ebay listing for the correct pick-ups, which l missed out on, by not getting back to the Forum! They sold for a great price, I am kicking myself!
The same seller has another pair in an Ebay auction ending in late January but is asking $600 for the pair. I may make an offer.
Thanks to Retro-rod for his encouragement too!
Want to get this guitar put back to it's correct look!
Thanks Guys! [biggrin]

#20 User is offline   tvguit 

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Posted 24 December 2010 - 03:43 PM

Terry,

You might want someone to check out the humbuckers that came in your guitar. Who knows? Maybe they are '59 PAFs?

Just a thought. Good luck with it!

John

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