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The Convert

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  1. So I've a pair of Epiphone Les Pauls that I love. I've modified both considerably, but in short, I've got an Epi Standard that I popped 57/57+ pups in, and an Epi Plus Top Pro that I upgraded with SD 59/SD JB. I really enjoy playing these guitars and they sound great, I think, but I recognize some limitations and want to start making vertical moves to Gibson LPs. The problem I'm having is a combination of fiscal and emotional. It would be difficult for me to spend over $1500 or so, which rules out standards and the like, and I know it's in part superficial, but I have a hard time investing over $1000 on a LP that's so stripped down as a Studio or Tribute. Especially the lack of the binding just makes it seem cheap to me, when in the $600-800 range I can get a very nicely appointed Epiphone. I know on some levels it's apples and oranges, but just hanging them in a row, the only thing that will remotely suggest that a Tribute is any ways as nice as the other two is the headstock. I know this is just aesthetics, but this is part of the instrument for me (and a lot of people, I'm sure.) So I guess what I'm looking to find is someone who can tell me something like one of the following: A ) For under $1.5k, you'll be disappointed with a Gibson LP because the features are so stripped down. Save more money or buy a high end Epi LP if you must. or B ) Even though the instrument is unadorned, playability is so much better, the pickups are very good, and other elements like sustain simply outperform most Epi's. Get the Studio/Tribute and enjoy falling in love. Secondly, if anyone would be interested in sharing their experiences contrasting the Tributes and Studios, I'd be grateful for the insight. Thanks for taking a minute to read and maybe chime in to free me from my neuroses.
  2. Early in my experiences with rack gear, I'd picked up a second-hand 4-channel Behringer compressor at one point, and after some promising trials discovered that the unit appeared to have some kind of intermittent internal grounding problem; periodically there would be a second or two of 60Hz hum creeping into the signal. Very disappointing. Of course no warranty for me there. My research at that time revealed that, while some units can be quite good, the company has a surprisingly lacking QA division, which lets too many sub-standard units get through. But if you're lucky, you can come away with something serviceable, as I understand.
  3. I'm genuinely glad you've had much better luck with them than I did. :) I have a stereo EQ that I still sometimes use, but will probably replace eventually. I think this comes to two items core to this discussion and our shared interests: (1) It's all about the sound, brands & models & components are good predictors, but (2) even mass manufactured instruments and components will vary in their sound and quality, and it's very possible to get a low-price-point model that sounds quite nice.
  4. Off topic, but worth commenting: I should have given that a try. I'm aware of that device, but on the Pro Audio side of my house, Behringer is synonymous with cheap (and worse, bad sounding) garbage. I've tried some Behringer rack-mount compressors, equalizers, and such and they either create signal noise that isn't there, or alter the sound in ways unexpected and undesired (which better components don't). Some might think it's being particular, but when other people are relying on you and a piece of gear is a problem, you become the problem, which is a situation no sound engineer can afford. But I digress further still. Of course, that's a completely different context. I (sadly) bought a belt-clippable Marshall MS-2 to boost headphones for evening practice, and while I can find a couple of configurations that are passable, I bet your Behringer is much nicer. I think that's fair. And I don't just mean that, insofar as taste is subjective. Granted, there are settings on my Mustang with my Epi LP that I quite enjoy. I just see that, when compared to my other guitars, my LP doesn't sound very good with a lot of the range that it seems like it should have. (And also when considering the great LP players and their sounds, I'm not expecting to duplicate them, but I should get in the ballpark is my thought.) Maybe I should give a hint more background to explain where I'm going. I did a project maybe a year ago. I had a MIM Tele that I quite enjoyed. I thought it was a very good sounding instrument, BUT it was designed to be a modern, instrument to appeal to many players. With a modest investment of money and time, I changed the pups (ditching the super bright ceramic for a nocaster set) and some minor electronics changes, along with some really nice flatwound strings. Doing so took a guitar that I thought sounded really nice, and made it a guitar that sounds like a very good Telecaster. Or perhaps, sounds closest to MY ideal Telecaster at an extreme discount. So, while I admit there are some good sounds I can get from my Epi LP (I can get quite close to the Rhodes LP sound, for example, and not quite so close to the Cream Clapton sound), I guess what I'm looking to do is get the sounds I like from it, and when I can't dial them in (and compare them with many sources), then I wonder if I can get closer to the vintage '50s sound that was the platform for so many classic rockers with better components. I'm not expecting perfection at all. As much as playing, customizing instruments for my tastes is very fun for me. Taking inexpensive platforms and selectively shaping the characteristics such that, in some ways that matter to me, they are much closer to a much more expensive instrument is a fun challenge for me. I'm sorry if I offended anyone. I understand that we all love our axes. I hadn't thought of pickup height. I should look at this. I actually have the most tiny intonation problem with my 6th string, and was waiting to do the pickup work before I started to monkey with the bridge, etc. so I'm not just throwing away strings every day. I will look at PU height when I do that as well. Thanks to both of you who suggested it. And as always, I appreciate the community, and more thoughts on this topic are always quite welcome.
  5. Thanks for the information, everyone! I really appreciate it. You are right, at least in part; my language was hyperbolic. I'm not overjoyed with the tone of both pickups at the moment. The neck pickup is so muddy as to be (to my ears) honestly almost useless, unless in a mixed (middle switch) state through a clean channel. It's possible, I suppose that jazz players may be more pleased by this tone, but to my blues, pop, rock, (and rarely) metal ears, It's almost a total waste of a slot. I find the bridge pup to be much more workable, getting a range of tones in both clean and dirty channels that I like. Still, I find it sometimes oddly a little too shrill (which I can dial back a little, at minor loss of high register clarity). This is true, and while I work with some high quality components that I've collected over the years, and will pay out for strings, my amplifier is absolutely a weak, horrible, despicable...you get it...link...a small, modeling SS Fender. It'll be some time before I can replace my all-tube head (or play it in my apartment without getting run out of town). On the other hand, I compare the tones of the LP with my Fenders on the same equipment and, while I understand and expect the performance of the Epi humbuckers to be markedly different, my ability to create unpleasant (to my ears) tones with the LP with the same amplification equipment suggests to me (1) I am probably very aligned to the response and tones of Fender single coils (and even the bridge pup on my fat strat), but (2) that a neck PU that isn't so muddy and a bridge PU that's a little less bright and fuller would suit my ears better. The caps are more of a "while I'm there" part of my project (and I've years of electrical experience, so it's no big deal at all to me to do). Based on the tonal shift at low volumes, I suspect there's no treble bleed on the volume pots. From what I can tell from the web, this isn't uncommon for Epis. I may also swap out the tone caps, but not for 'immaculate tone' purposes, per se, but rather to exchange the tonal span breadth for more nuanced selectivity in a narrower range that I actually use if I can work that out. If I can't do it with $20 of orange drops, I won't change a thing, and it's $3 and 15 minutes to swap it back if I'm unhappy. I'll be documenting my project, so pics and maybe a video will be forthcoming. :) So thanks again everyone for your thoughts. I still welcome more feedback on people's read of the two pickup packages I mentioned in the OP. Thanks!
  6. I recently got a nice deal on a well-maintained 2012 Epiphone Les Paul Standard. As a longtime Fender player, I was surprised at how much I really love playing this guitar. While there are a lot of things I like about this instrument, there is one gigantic shortcoming: the factory pups (“Alnico Classic Humbuckers” I believe) sound like rubbish. I’m determined to swap out the pickups (and caps) and I have narrowed the choice down to either a set of Epi “ProBuckers” (for around $80US for a like-new pull) or a set of Gibson ’57 Classic Plus Set (IM57R-NH/IM57P-NH) (for around $200US). If I’m to believe the hype, the ProBuckers are a great improvement, but you simply can’t go wrong with the Gibsons. Clearly, as I purchased a used Epiphone, I’m not made of money, so I am wondering if this community can tell me if the Gibsons are worth paying close to what I paid for the guitar, and over twice that of the ProBuckers. Or stated differently, as the Gibsons are over twice as expensive as the Epi ProBuckers, are they twice the upgrade as the ProBuckers would be from my entry-level Epi "Classic" Alnico's? Thanks in advance for any guidance here!
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