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Thread: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

  1. #21
    I poop in my KISS diapers Aceman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Chistopher View Post
    I disagree with this. A cheaply made guitar will still sound and play like a cheaply made guitar no matter what pickups you put in it,

    But you are making the assumption that just because it is made "cheaply" that it does not sound good or play well.

    I have a Black Dean Cadillac that is certainly made fairly cheaply, but Mincer will attest that it sounds and plays extremely well. And we ALL know there are Les Pauls in 2K+ range that do not sound or play well.

    I have personally owned a couple of Epiphones that both played and sounded fantastic (One in particular with Duncans in it!). An Epiphone LP is a helluva guitar these days at not too much of a price. And a number of their special runs rival some Gibsons.
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    I don't want to detract in any way from the excellent advice already given in this thread but last year I fitted a pre owned but very nicely made Epi LTD with a set of Ironstone Pups. A Blues Engine (A4 magnet) in the neck with a Dirty Torque in the bridge.These pups are fairly inexpensive and seem to be good value for money even for US customers who do not have pay the UK 20% VAT tax which covers the shipping. The company also do a Slash copy which has had some good revues The Epi owner, a gigging guitarist who has several high end guitars but wanted a giggable cheapie for less secure gigs has been very very happy especially as he bought the guitar quite cheaply. The guitar also had a fret job and a good set up which probably helped. We did replace 2 pots with push pulls but the stock pups seemed to be full size and fine.
    Last edited by Gstring; 06-15-2019 at 08:43 AM.

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    I poop in my KISS diapers Aceman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    A good set up is priceless. And most guitars > $300 can be set up very very well today...
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    Toneologist regan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Aceman View Post
    But you are making the assumption that just because it is made "cheaply" that it does not sound good or play well.

    I have a Black Dean Cadillac that is certainly made fairly cheaply, but Mincer will attest that it sounds and plays extremely well. And we ALL know there are Les Pauls in 2K+ range that do not sound or play well.

    I have personally owned a couple of Epiphones that both played and sounded fantastic (One in particular with Duncans in it!). An Epiphone LP is a helluva guitar these days at not too much of a price. And a number of their special runs rival some Gibsons.
    I concur, nowadays what tends to make a 'cheap' guitar cheap is lower quality hardware & a less labourious final qc. replace the bridge, pickups, tuners & electronics get a luthier to do a setup & fret dress & the gap between an cheap epi & a US Gibson becomes much smaller for not much investment

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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by regan View Post
    . . . get a luthier to do a setup & fret dress . . .
    Exactly. And this could be true of an "expensive" guitar. If the axe was built in CA, and I'm in Maine or Florida, the climate change could still cause the wood to shift enough to warrant a complete setup. Or, changing string gauge.

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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    I would actually argue that good pickups make a bigger difference the cheaper the guitar. Pickups are such an important part of tone, and while they can't compensate for how the guitar is made, a good pair will take your cheap guitar and transform it tonally. Could they do the same to a $2000 axe? Sure, but that guitar likely already sounds good enough that a pickup change will have correspondingly less impact. And of course, expensive guitars come with top-line pickups, so even less reason to swap out unless you're chasing a particular tone. But if I buy a cheapie guitar, the FIRST thing I'm doing is swapping out whatever garbage stock "manufacturer Design" pups are built in.

    I have a Schecter Omen Extreme II. Cheap guitar, about $400, came with the stock Diamond pups. I swapped those out for Nazgul-Sentient and the difference was night and day.

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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Inexpensive isn't the same thing as bad these days. And no, you probably shouldn't leave the replacement pickups in if you sell the guitar, but that's often true of more expensive instruments as well. Pickups don't tend to impact price, unless they are stock in some magical collector's model & year. For those, sure, you shouldn't touch them without knowing you WILL lose money, because just looking at the solder devalues them...

    I've played $200 guitars [Sterling Silhouette 3 in particular] where the only things wrong with them are the pickups [and the Silo3's weren't that bad] and the tuners (kept pitch fine, but adjusting was an adventure in random amount of adjustment). I've played guitars that cost 5 times more that I liked less in every other respect. Don't see any reason to spend more to still have to swap pickups and even more hardware to get to where I want, if I can do it so much cheaper.

    I've played a couple of Epiphone G-400s where the only thing that needed work were the pickups. Haven't played an enormous amount of Gibson SGs that were better. (I played them strapless in store, neck dive always drove me bonkers so I looked for guitars that were heavier, but involved less wrestling to keep in position.)

    If you don't intend to sell the instrument, and want a player rather than wall art, upgrading a good, cheap guitar is hard to beat.

    I agree that pickups often matter MORE in cheaper guitars, as the stock pickups tend to be atrocious. Though nailing the replacement pickups on the first try can be harder, because you are comparing to such awful pickups. But then, Seymour Duncan does have a 21-day swap policy for guitarists lucky enough to have access to that guarantee...

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    Toneologist kingswebe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Gtrjunior View Post
    Iíll also add that I believe the Epi pot shaft is the smaller diameter. So the op either has to get the correct diameter (CTS makes some) or ream out the holes to accommodate the larger shaft.
    Confirming that the Epi's are the smaller diameter, based on my own experience having to ream the holes to fit the 2 3/8" shaft diameter of the CTS pots that i had acquired for my Epi Clasic Plus Top.

    Here is a video detailing a relatively easy way to manage that task that i use:

    https://youtu.be/bKNAkTWC4xA

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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by weepingminotaur View Post
    I would actually argue that good pickups make a bigger difference the cheaper the guitar. Pickups are such an important part of tone, and while they can't compensate for how the guitar is made, a good pair will take your cheap guitar and transform it tonally. Could they do the same to a $2000 axe? Sure, but that guitar likely already sounds good enough that a pickup change will have correspondingly less impact. And of course, expensive guitars come with top-line pickups, so even less reason to swap out unless you're chasing a particular tone. But if I buy a cheapie guitar, the FIRST thing I'm doing is swapping out whatever garbage stock "manufacturer Design" pups are built in.

    Agree with most of this, except the part about expensive guitars coming with top-of-the-line pickups. That's not always the case. Gibson's aftermarket PU prices give the impression that they're on a par with offerings from Duncan, Lollar, Fralin, Bare Knuckle, etc, but they are not. A pair of new '57 Classics goes for $300+, whereas Duncan's PAF's (Seth, WLH, PG, etc) can be had for closer to $200 a set, and to my ears, have much better tone quality.
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Thanks for the replies everyone! There are definitely some really great suggestions in here. I think I'm probably still gonna go with the PG's, but I'll think on it a bit longer.

    As far as my comment with the cost of the BKP's, even without considering the cost of the guitar, $400 is a lot to pay for pickups. I still might go for it, but I've been really liking what I've heard about PG's as well as the demos i've heard.

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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by blueman335 View Post
    and to my ears, have much better tone quality.
    This is where your whole argument falls apart. Surprisingly enough the 57 Classics do have their fans. One mans trash is another mans treasure and all that.
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgecrusher View Post
    This is where your whole argument falls apart. Surprisingly enough the 57 Classics do have their fans. One mans trash is another mans treasure and all that.
    That is true, but his point wasn't that they are garbage, just overpriced for what they are. I don't know of any guitarists who think a Gibson pickup is on par with Bareknuckle, Fralin, Lollar or Seymour Duncan.

    And evidence is, he's right. Gibson (at least used to, I haven't followed for a while) uses cheaper covers and baseplates, that take off more highs and emphasize the mids (Impressive how they get 13K 43 AWG in an A5 pickup to sound more congested and mid-focused than a 14K Custom 5). Epiphone's overseas pickups designed to similar specs are even more so, and run either a bit more dull or harsher than Gibson's own. None of those are completely useless to all players, but not something someone looking for a bright, airy PAFish sound is likely to have as their first choice, either.

    Not saying that all brass or non nickel-silver parts are automatically bad in all guitar pickups. Tricks like dual resonance seem to work better with a baseplate that emphasizes the mids (or go even further with extra inductance from extra polepiece mass in one or both coils).

    Gibson pickups aren't universally terrible to all ears and for all playing styles, but for that sort of pricing I'd look at custom shops at a lot of other vendors first, if those vendors didn't already do what I want in their stock designs. Gibson does have some nice pickups, but not so much for bang per buck, you can get similar or better sounds from other vendors cheaper.

    On the other hand, there's a fair number of Gibson/Epi pickups that can be made enormously better with a magnet swap. A5 bridge with fat A2 neck is problematic for a lot of players, especially without a treble bleed or 50s wiring... Thankfully Gibson offers those wiring options on some models.

    blueman335 may be hyperbolizing, but he's not wrong. Which is not to say you are totally wrong, either (though perhaps engaging in even more aggressive hyperbole). But someone who likes the stock pickups probably wouldn't be replacing them.
    Last edited by Despair; 06-17-2019 at 05:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by blueman335 View Post
    Agree with most of this, except the part about expensive guitars coming with top-of-the-line pickups. That's not always the case. Gibson's aftermarket PU prices give the impression that they're on a par with offerings from Duncan, Lollar, Fralin, Bare Knuckle, etc, but they are not. A pair of new '57 Classics goes for $300+, whereas Duncan's PAF's (Seth, WLH, PG, etc) can be had for closer to $200 a set, and to my ears, have much better tone quality.
    Ha, yeah, Gibson should always be the exception to any rule. You're right: it's not always true that expensive guitars have top-line pickups. But it's something that is much more common IMO. Your point about the '57 vs. Duncan PAFs (and yes, I get that the '57 Classics have their fans) just reinforces my feeling that good tone and price aren't always positively correlated. Which is another way of me saying: hell yeah, upgrade that cheap guitar with a nice set of pickups!

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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgecrusher View Post
    This is where your whole argument falls apart. Surprisingly enough the 57 Classics do have their fans. One mans trash is another mans treasure and all that.

    I wouldn't say 'falls apart'. I realize there are plenty of people who like Gibson PU's. Some of them are discriminating players with good ears, and others have convinced themselves that because they're Gibsons they're automatically the best PU's money can buy (what advertising can do!). I may be wrong, but I can't see talented winders like Seymour, Lollar, Fralin, the guys at BK, etc being satisfied with designing a PU model that sounds exactly like '57 Classics, or 490's, or pairing up the 498T/490R set. I think they'd set their sights higher.

    My point was that if you're going to spend $200+ on a set of PU's, it's in your best interest to see what options are out there. You wouldn't have to go far to find some that you'd probably think sounded better than Gibsons. And might spend a lot less in the process.
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by blueman335 View Post

    My point was that if you're going to spend $200+ on a set of PU's, it's in your best interest to see what options are out there. You wouldn't have to go far to find some that you'd probably think sounded better than Gibsons. And might spend a lot less in the process.

    Heres the thing ive run into guys who have tried a bunch of pickups and came to the conclusion they liked whatever pickup I thought was trash. Who is to say what the value of something is to someone. If the guy is happy with the 300 bucks for a set of Gibson 57 classics then isnt it worth it?

    Every guitar ive ever taken 57 classics out of Ive managed to sell those pickups for prices enough to cover whatever i replaced them with. This goes equally so for most Gibson pickups.

    I despise T tops and Tar backs but have always managed to easily find eager buyers who thought they were great. A friend of mine still has the very first 57 classics I ever got in a SG in about 1994, i sold them to him and he put them in a mexican strat, loves them to this day. Does this prove anything? Not a thing. Just that 1 man found a pickup that hes happy with.

    Its easy to say "god i hate those pickups how can ANYONE like them!" To the point thats its difficult to imagine how they could. But they do.

    Edit I will give you that for the people who havent tried lots of pups encouraging them and showing them options sure doesnt hurt. Stating how they are different is good and useful, say that to you they are better not so much, cause what is better to you....
    Last edited by Edgecrusher; 06-18-2019 at 11:29 AM.
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Despair View Post
    That is true, bla blah woof woof.
    The whole problem is that it is a subjective truth. Only an individual can decide for themselves if something is worth it or not. Considering the number of Gibson pickups ive seen sold as aftermarket parts I would say there is a decent set of people who feel they are worth the price.

    So is the idea of tone saying "Theres a fair number of pickups that can be made enormously better with a magnet swap" is purely subjective. What is better and to whom are you asking?

    Also the idea that somehow the production cost is the only thing determining final sale price is flawed. When speaking about large production runs the choices in materials isnt so large. But we see different price points from various makers for various reasons not the least of which is marketing.

    There to be a sizeable group of people who do feel that Gibson pickups are on par with the aftermarket offerings.

    My whole umbrage with the post is that it is a subjective reality being imposed upon others as a objective fact.
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    you better than any girlfriend, because it screams louder, it's easier to pick up, and it shuts up when you take your plug out." -Rip Glitter

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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgecrusher View Post
    There to be a sizeable group of people who do feel that Gibson pickups are on par with the aftermarket offerings.

    Then again, there's many high quality aftermarket PU designers/makers that exist in large part (and have for decades) because a sufficient number of players prefer the tones of their products over those of stock Gibson & Fender PU's. That's interesting, because they're saying "I don't care how much the guitar cost, I think there's other PU's that would sound better in it." On a smaller scale, but it's like buying a new Corvette and swapping out the engine. To many Gibson owners, changing PU's is akin to heresy. Rather than mod anything, they'd simply sell the guitar if it doesn't live up to expectations. How many of the people who think Gibson PU's are on a par with aftermarket PU's, have actually owned aftermarket PU's? Many are afraid to put their toe in the water, for fear of devaluing their investment. Almost all of the Gibson owners I've talked to have no idea what stock PU's are in their guitar. No idea if they're high or low output, or A2, A5, or ceramic. Of those who have put their toe in the water and tried aftermarkets, how many have come to the realization that there's a whole new world out there of great things to choose from?

    I don't see this post as imposing anything on anyone. What comes across to me is: "Look around before dropping a bundle on high-end pickups. See some options. You may be glad you did" I'd hope people would do this before making any high-end purchase.
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  18. #38
    Toneologist regan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Gibson pups sound great tbh better or worse than duncans, lollars bareknuckles is subjective & a non sequitur.
    Gibson's problem & realistically they should get plaudits for it is their stock pups have to cover a helluva lot of bases, Jack of all trades master of none.

    When I think of a LP tone for example personally I'm thinking Jimmy Page & Mick Taylor vintagey lowish gain with a bite, & not Randy Rhoads, Zakk Wylde, Gary Moore the Edge Zappa, George Harrisson,Noel Gallagher, Mark Knopfler, Billy Gibbons etc etc

    Everyone's idea of what a Les Paul sounds like is probably as unique as their fingerprint, what Gibson's stock pickups do is get you 90% of the way there for all those different tones & aftermarket pickups refine it for you by giving you something a little hotter/little brighter/more bass/more emphasis on low/high mids/more open/more compressed & the list goes on to help you nail 'your' idea what a LP should sound like

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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by regan View Post
    Gibson pups sound great tbh better or worse than duncans, lollars bareknuckles is subjective & a non sequitur.
    Gibson's problem & realistically they should get plaudits for it is their stock pups have to cover a helluva lot of bases, Jack of all trades master of none.

    When I think of a LP tone for example personally I'm thinking Jimmy Page & Mick Taylor vintagey lowish gain with a bite, & not Randy Rhoads, Zakk Wylde, Gary Moore the Edge Zappa, George Harrisson,Noel Gallagher, Mark Knopfler, Billy Gibbons etc etc

    Everyone's idea of what a Les Paul sounds like is probably as unique as their fingerprint, what Gibson's stock pickups do is get you 90% of the way there for all those different tones & aftermarket pickups refine it for you by giving you something a little hotter/little brighter/more bass/more emphasis on low/high mids/more open/more compressed & the list goes on to help you nail 'your' idea what a LP should sound like
    Good point
    When I think LP tone Iím thinking Slash.

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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Gtrjunior View Post
    Good point
    When I think LP tone Iím thinking Slash.
    Which is funny, since he puts Alnico II Pros or Slash sets in his Gibsons, Gibson clones, and many of his floyded/pointy guitars as well.

    As far as Gibson's pickups working well in 25.5" scale instruments... That I can see. Clangy, mid-focused (not that all their pickups are so, but it's pretty common outside Burstbuckers) tends to sit fine in a snappy, longer scale instrument. I'd take that over a brighter, airier classic PAF pickup.

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