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'57 Classic plus too bright in bridge


cokekolev
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Hi, the bridge pickup in my Gibson Les Paul Traditional ('57 Classic plus) sounds really bright compared to the neck '57 Classic, which is rather dark. I lowered the polepieces to get the harshness out and there is a difference, but the pickup still has that bright character. The pots are the stock 300k volume and 500k tone. Is there a way to dial out the treble, especially on the higher strings, by playing with the pickup and polepieces height?

Or maybe vintage output pickups in the bridge are really just not for me. I love the Duncan Custom in the bridge of my other Les Paul. I also have another one with a Duncan Slash bridge. It has a bit of the same brightness as the '57 Classic plus, but the crunchy mids are what make it great. I don't hear that crunch in the '57 Classic plus, just the treble.

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Given my personal experiences it's the guitar, not the pickup. 

The Classic '57 Plus is the stock bridge pickup of five guitars of mine, four of them Gibsons, one LP Traditional 2013, one Custom Shop Les Paul Standard made in 2012 with 17-hole weight relief, two Frank Zappa "Roxy" SGs (although Gibson specified the Classic '57 without the Plus), and also of my Epiphone LP 1960 Tribute. They all still have their stock pickups in them, and I never even tried to change anything.

My Les Paul Traditional 2013 is the only one of them that SCREAMS. I always tested several of each model before buying back then, and the differences between them were quite small. In other words, all of the LPs with 60's neck and weight relief sounded fatter and less bright while all the Traditional 2013 LPs really yelled at me through the speakers. My conclusion is that solid, non weight-relieved body and late 50's neck contribute to the distinct harmonics produced by this LP Traditional model.

Three more Gibson LPs of mine featuring different bridge pickups (BurstBucker Pro Bridge, BurstBucker 2, 498T), different bodies (two with Modern Weight Relief, one solid but with five routed compartments - an Alex Lifeson LP Axcess), different necks (60's Slim Taper, Axcess neck profile) and even different timbers (one with quilted maple top and Coração de Negro fretboard) produce distinctively less of the LP Traditional's characteristic overtones. 

The Epiphone Tribute 1960 LP fits right into the picture. It has a solid multipiece body, a D-shaped slim neck, and body and neck are made of non-Swietenia timbers, i. e. no "real" mahogany. Her sound with the stock Gibson Classic '57/Classic '57 Plus pickups comes quite close to that of a weight-relieved Gibson LP Standard 2012 of mine with Burstbucker Pros. 

I own three more guitars that are real screamers, two Gibson L6S 2011 which are all-maple with 60's Slim Taper necks and 498Ts at the bridge, and one Fender American Deluxe Telecaster Ash with one-piece maple neck and an N3 Noiseless in the bridge position. However, only the latter comes close to my LP Traditional 2013. 

By the way, I have a Duncan Custom pickup in a 1980 Suzuki EL-600. a set-neck LP copy with arched, non-solid maple top, and it's a real screamer with this guitar while sounding dark in my 1978 S-G Standard that is really bright and clear with its stock Super Humbucking pickup. 

To be honest, I embrace my LP Traditional for her distinctive sonic characteristics and wouldn't want to change her. In case I want the most subtle LP tone for clean sounds and the "sound of doom" for high-gain, I choose my quilt top LP Standard, If I want bite for clean and yelling high-gain sound, I go with the LP Traditional. 

Edited by capmaster
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1 hour ago, capmaster said:

 

My Les Paul Traditional 2013 is the only one of them that SCREAMS. I always tested several of each model before buying back then, and the differences between them were quite small. In other words, all of the LPs with 60's neck and weight relief sounded fatter and less bright while all the Traditional 2013 LPs really yelled at me through the speakers. My conclusion is that solid, non weight-relieved body and late 50's neck contribute to the distinct harmonics produced by this LP Traditional model.

 

 

Wow, that was an interesting read. And guess what: my LP Traditional is a... 2013 model! However, when I bought it I tested several other Gibson guitars (Standards, Traditionals, reissues, Tributes, SG,...) and I chose that one because it sounded fatter and warmer than the Standards of that era (with modern weight relief and Burstbucker Pro), which sounded thin in comparison through the Marshall Vintage Modern stack in the store.

But that was 7 years ago and I might have listened for other details than I do now and of course, the amps I have are different. But maybe it really IS the guitar. With other guitars I found that after changing the pickups the guitar's character remained the same. I also noticed that brige and saddles material have a big influence on tone. 

I played a bit more with the pickup and polepieces height and I think I have gotten to a point where it really sounds good. However, If I'm still not satisfied, I'll try to improve the tone by swapping the neck volume pot to a 500k and the bridge tone to a 300k. I think that might just do the trick. 

 

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38 minutes ago, cokekolev said:

 

Wow, that was an interesting read. And guess what: my LP Traditional is a... 2013 model! However, when I bought it I tested several other Gibson guitars (Standards, Traditionals, reissues, Tributes, SG,...) and I chose that one because it sounded fatter and warmer than the Standards of that era (with modern weight relief and Burstbucker Pro), which sounded thin in comparison through the Marshall Vintage Modern stack in the store.

But that was 7 years ago and I might have listened for other details than I do now and of course, the amps I have are different. But maybe it really IS the guitar. With other guitars I found that after changing the pickups the guitar's character remained the same. I also noticed that brige and saddles material have a big influence on tone. 

I played a bit more with the pickup and polepieces height and I think I have gotten to a point where it really sounds good. However, If I'm still not satisfied, I'll try to improve the tone by swapping the neck volume pot to a 500k and the bridge tone to a 300k. I think that might just do the trick. 

 

To my knowledge there are no 300 kOhms pots with log tapering available while 250 kOhms pots are. However, those pots will load down the pickup/cable resonance with no way back in application, so I prefer rolling down the stock tone pot a bit. It will probaly read 300 kOhms at around position 8. 

In case of a 500 kOhms volume and a 300 kOhms tone pot the resulting load for the pickup would remain the same with both pots turned fully clockwise. The capacitor, a 22nF orange drop, is practically full-range for the open tone pot and thus will have the same effect as a piece of wire in the resonance frequency range of the pickup, that is around 2 ... 2.5 kHz with typical cable loads of around 500 ... 700 pF, applicable for good-quality cables of 20 ft/6 meters length. 

Interesting though are the pot tolerances of my LP Traditional 2013. I don't know if and don't think that  they were selected  for their positions, but that of the bridge pickup read and calculate quite lower than those of the neck pickup. I wrote "calculate" as I didn't unsolder them but looked for the maximum reading of the volume pots along the control range with the pickup input shorted. The result is a quarter of the pot value, so four times the maximum reading is the real value.  If I remember right, the nominal 300 kOhms volume pot is about 270 kOhms, and the directly measured tone pot reads about 460 kOhms for the bridge pickup. The pots of the neck pickup read much closer to their nominal values. 

Finally, all of my guitars including or made entirely of sapwoods went brighter with time while those with heartwoods only stayed the same. But that's a topic in itself and so I will leave it out here. 

Edited by capmaster
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5 minutes ago, capmaster said:

In case of a 500 kOhms volume and a 300 kOhms tone pot the resulting load for the pickup would remain the same with both pots turned fully clockwise. T

 

I meant using two 500k pots for the neck pickup and two 300k pots for the bridge. I almost never use my tone controls, so I always check if they're fully open. On 10 I want to have the best sound.  If I have to remember that on one guitar the tone pot has to be on 7 and on the other on 8, it becomes a bit difficult and I might screw that up. 😁 I use my volume pots mostly as on-off switches to cut the sound when needed. 

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30 minutes ago, cokekolev said:

 

I meant using two 500k pots for the neck pickup and two 300k pots for the bridge. I almost never use my tone controls, so I always check if they're fully open. On 10 I want to have the best sound.  If I have to remember that on one guitar the tone pot has to be on 7 and on the other on 8, it becomes a bit difficult and I might screw that up. 😁 I use my volume pots mostly as on-off switches to cut the sound when needed. 

You still would have to consider that 300 Kohms pots are available with linear only. However, if you don't use tone pots anyway, there's no problem with their control behaviour at all. 😉 

My typical use of volume pots on guitars comes pretty close to your description... 😄 

Edited by capmaster
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Interesting how different players utilize volume and tone controls.  I almost never have either of my tone pots at 10.  I usually start with the neck pickup at about 8, and the bridge between 6 and 7.  From there I will roll either one or both back to lower levels depending on the tone I want, but rarely crank them to 10.  To me it doesn't make much sense to have a tone control if you just always leave it wide open, but that's just me.  Maybe I am that way because I started on a ES-125 that only had one pickup, so the only way to vary the sound was mostly with the tone pot.

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How do you dial in your Guitar & Amp to begin with?

Do you set Guitar Volume & Tone aprox. 50% then dial in your Amp or do you dime your Guitar Volume & Tone then dial in your Amp. The prior gives you much more versatility to adjust the Guitars Volume & Tone when turning Guitar up or down.. The latter not so much..

Edited by Larsongs
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2 hours ago, cokekolev said:

No, rolling back tone or volume kills a lot of the signal, so I always dime them. I don't find a  tone knob useful in any way. I just use them to create the right load and not have an overly bright/dark pickup.

 

Different Schools of thought on this. When your Guitar is dimed you have nowhere to go but down. Unless you readjust your Amp.. In which case you may find yourself readjusting your Amp every other song.. Also, probable loudness wars if you're in a Band..

The other School of thought is, adjust all Guitar knobs to 5 or half way, then dial in the Amps Volume & Tone to where it's just starting to break up.. By doing this, you have a good mid point.. You want more crunch turn up your Guitar Volume & adjust Tone. You want it lower for Rhythm Parts, you turn the Guitar down & tweak the Guitars Tone knob.. You can go up & you can go down in volume. You can adjust a Tone to desire.. Actually, there is a myriad of Sounds & Tones available using just your Guitar by selecting the Pickup combination, adjusting the Guitars Volume & Tone Knobs..

Some of the top Pro Guitarists & Legends in Music use/used the latter method & were/are Masters at it...

There are tons of YouTubes that get into the Technique....

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You could use the bridge pickup for rhythm and the neck one for lead, that way you get clarity and definition for chords and a big fat sound for solo's. This works for me, it means I have got the rhythm and lead volume's set before I start a song, it minimises any fumbling around with knobs when your playing live.  

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