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Thread: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

  1. #1
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    Question Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    So I got a Epiphone Les Paul Standard in Pelham Blue about 6 months ago, and I'm ready to upgrade the pickups. I was almost sold on a BKP mule neck and riff raff bridge, but I decided putting $400+ (pickups, pots, and shipping) in pickups into a $500 guitar didn't really make sense.

    Now I'm between the Pearly Gates set, and a Slash Alnico 2 Bridge and '59 neck. Or maybe some combination in between. I will be using this guitar mostly for classic and hard rock like the Allman Brothers, Bad Company, GNR, etc. I know there is some tonal differences there, so versatility is important too. I'm heavily leaning towards the Pearly Gates set, but wanted to get people's opinions here first.

    I was also wondering if I should replace pots when doing this upgrade. I've done some basic pickup upgrades myself, but not any other electronics.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Toneologist regan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    I'd get the pickups you want rather than the ones you think the guitar is worthy of, otherwise you'll only end up buying twice.

    Just keep your epi pickups safe & if you upgrade to a gibson or other at some point in the future take your bkp's/sd's back out (& into the gibson) & the epi pups back in.

    Same goes for pots & caps.

    btw the sd59 neck is pretty boomy If I were fitting a A2P slash bridge I'd go for the A2P slash or sh2 jazz neck, A JB bridge/jazz neck is a pretty popular combo for classic rock too

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    Slutbucker Pimpologist ArtieToo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Church870 View Post
    So I got a Epiphone Les Paul Standard in Pelham Blue about 6 months ago, and I'm ready to upgrade the pickups. I was almost sold on a BKP mule neck and riff raff bridge, but I decided putting $400+ (pickups, pots, and shipping) in pickups into a $500 guitar didn't really make sense.
    I do this all the time. It makes perfect sense if you enjoy it. I also got the Pelham Blue EPI because it was significantly less money than the Joe Bonamassa version.

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    The Slash AII Pro's are great pups, but so are the PG's. My favorite EPI LP has PATB-1's, which are killer if you can live with the oddball look.

  4. #4
    Senior Member David Garner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    A friend of mine put the Slash set in his Epiphone Standard. I think it's from the mid- to late-90s. They sounded fantastic in that guitar. I have the Custom Shop Pearly Gates set in my 93 Gibson Standard, and they also sound amazing. I imagine the regular Pearlies would sound great in yours too.

    For what it's worth, there wasn't a ton of difference between the two when I installed his and A/B'd it against mine. The Pearlies have a touch more snarl and grit on the bridge, and the Slash was a little warmer and more articulate on the bridge. But we're talking very small differences. The necks were functionally identical to my ears, and that's more true the more gain you use with them. I think either set will make you happy. If you want to play Allman Brothers, the Pearlies are a great choice for that, but I imagine the APH-2s will do just fine too.

    I would recommend upgrading the electronics if you can. It's not a super simple upgrade. There's a lot to keep track of and you may want to install the pickups with the leads hanging out, and then replace the pots one at a time to ensure everything goes in the right place if this is your first attempt at it. CTS 500K pots would do nicely. My Standard has Emerson paper-in-oil caps and my Traditional has orange drops. I don't hear any difference between them, so I'd shoot for what you like there, but since caps are cheap, I would definitely go ahead and replace them. When you do, you might consider 50s wiring as well -- it's a simple matter of which lugs you solder the cap to.

  5. #5
    Senior Member David Garner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    For what it's worth, the Mules and Riff Raffs are reputedly great pickups, but after having Antiquities in one Les Paul and those Custom Shop Pearlies in the other, I wouldn't trade them for anything. SD makes fantastic pickups. The Slash set and the stock Pearly Gates set are amazing. I got the Custom Shop version for myself because I wanted unpotted pickups and I liked the double-creme bobbins (though, ironically, I have them covered now).

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

    Quote Originally Posted by David Garner View Post
    A friend of mine put the Slash set in his Epiphone Standard. I think it's from the mid- to late-90s. They sounded fantastic in that guitar. I have the Custom Shop Pearly Gates set in my 93 Gibson Standard, and they also sound amazing. I imagine the regular Pearlies would sound great in yours too.

    For what it's worth, there wasn't a ton of difference between the two when I installed his and A/B'd it against mine. The Pearlies have a touch more snarl and grit on the bridge, and the Slash was a little warmer and more articulate on the bridge. But we're talking very small differences. The necks were functionally identical to my ears, and that's more true the more gain you use with them. I think either set will make you happy. If you want to play Allman Brothers, the Pearlies are a great choice for that, but I imagine the APH-2s will do just fine too.

    I would recommend upgrading the electronics if you can. It's not a super simple upgrade. There's a lot to keep track of and you may want to install the pickups with the leads hanging out, and then replace the pots one at a time to ensure everything goes in the right place if this is your first attempt at it. CTS 500K pots would do nicely. My Standard has Emerson paper-in-oil caps and my Traditional has orange drops. I don't hear any difference between them, so I'd shoot for what you like there, but since caps are cheap, I would definitely go ahead and replace them. When you do, you might consider 50s wiring as well -- it's a simple matter of which lugs you solder the cap to.
    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.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by David Garner View Post
    For what it's worth, the Mules and Riff Raffs are reputedly great pickups, but after having Antiquities in one Les Paul and those Custom Shop Pearlies in the other, I wouldn't trade them for anything. SD makes fantastic pickups. The Slash set and the stock Pearly Gates set are amazing. I got the Custom Shop version for myself because I wanted unpotted pickups and I liked the double-creme bobbins (though, ironically, I have them covered now).
    You can get double cream bobbins?

  8. #8
    Senior Member David Garner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Gtrjunior View Post
    You can get double cream bobbins?
    Covered from the Custom Shop you can. I bought these from a vendor in Texas, but thatís apparently how he ordered them. Hereís a couple of pictures (they look whiter in the first photo than in person ó the pickguard is also creme for reference):

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  9. #9
    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    For what you like, an Alnico II in the neck with a 59 in the bridge is a great combo. If you want a brighter PAF sound, or if your guitar is inherently darker, go for a Pearly Gates set, but I think the first combo is a better choice.
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    Mojo's Minions Gtrjunior's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by David Garner View Post
    Covered from the Custom Shop you can. I bought these from a vendor in Texas, but thatís apparently how he ordered them. Hereís a couple of pictures (they look whiter in the first photo than in person ó the pickguard is also creme for reference):

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    Good to know! I was thinking about putting a Custom in my LP but Iíd need the double cream to match the neck pickup...

    How much extra did that cost you, if you donít mind me asking?

  11. #11
    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    I don't think these can be ordered with any certainty from the Custom Shop anymore.
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    right now I'm suggesting jason becker bridge for everything because its the most versatile beautiful clear hb i've ever used. the 59 or pearly would be fine for the neck. I'd also replace all the electroncis while I was at it.

    If you like the way it plays gut it and put in good stuff. also, a tusq XL nut is a 30 minute mod that will solve a lot of problems and make everything you do with the pickups really sing.

  13. #13
    I poop in my KISS diapers Aceman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Yeah - What Dave said. An A2P and a 59 bridge will give you a massive range including a very useful both on tone that is different from neck or bridge.
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by ArtieToo View Post
    I do this all the time. It makes perfect sense if you enjoy it. I also got the Pelham Blue EPI because it was significantly less money than the Joe Bonamassa version.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The Slash AII Pro's are great pups, but so are the PG's. My favorite EPI LP has PATB-1's, which are killer if you can live with the oddball look.
    I bought the Bonamassa that particular year (2012?) and eventually settled on a Saturday Night Special in the neck and Alternative 8 in the bridge. That is quite the versatile pairing in a Les Paul.
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Church870 View Post
    I decided putting $400+ (pickups, pots, and shipping) in pickups into a $500 guitar didn't really make sense.
    The cost of the guitar should never factor into this. If you're going to keep it and play it, then make it play/sound like you want, regardless of the cost of the pickups. Now, one could argue that $400 pickups aren't twice as good as some $200 Duncans, but that's a different conversation. Get the pickups you want (and can afford) and rock the hell out of them.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by BluesIsBlood12 View Post
    The cost of the guitar should never factor into this.
    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, and more expensive pickups depreciate more in value right after you buy them.

    And there's no point in losing $100 to resell a $400 dollar set of pickups that you ultimately didn't like if you could have only lost $10 to do the same thing at GFS.
    Like the fool I am and I'll always be
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  17. #17
    Mojo's Minions Gtrjunior's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    I don't think these can be ordered with any certainty from the Custom Shop anymore.
    Bummer...but thanks for the info.

  18. #18
    Senior Member David Garner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    I don't think these can be ordered with any certainty from the Custom Shop anymore.
    That’s a shame. Larry ruins everything. Including his own pickups.

    Okay, that last part was just the disgust talking.

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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    I'd also consider Burstbucker 1/2 (the A2 set). Or even Epiphone's version of them. You can likely get the Epi versions new for $20 to test them out.

    Perfect for classic rock and completely different from the stock A2s (alnico classics) which are too rounded for that genre.

  20. #20
    Slutbucker Pimpologist ArtieToo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup Upgrade for Epiphone Les Paul Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Chistopher View Post
    I bought the Bonamassa that particular year (2012?) and eventually settled on a Saturday Night Special in the neck and Alternative 8 in the bridge. That is quite the versatile pairing in a Les Paul.
    That's interesting on a couple different fronts. First, I've never heard either of those two pups before. Sounds like a cool combo. Any clips?
    Also, part of the reason I shied away from the Bonamassa, was that I knew I was going to swap pups. Do you have any concerns about impacting the "collector" value of that axe?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    I don't think these can be ordered with any certainty from the Custom Shop anymore.
    Quote Originally Posted by David Garner View Post
    Thatís a shame. Larry ruins everything. Including his own pickups.
    There is actually a way around this if you don't mind a little effort and little extra initial investment. Buy a set of zebra's, and a set of reverse zebra's. Disassemble them, and put them back together as double-creams and double-blacks. Sell the double-blacks. Even if you sold them cheap-ish, for the sake of a quick sale, you'd probably still come in under CS prices.

    My 2-cents worth.

    Artie

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