Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 43

Thread: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Posts
    15

    Default 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    '94 les paul standard, '76 les paul custom. Identical Seymour Duncan custom humbuckers. These guitars should sound similar, but they are drastically different sounding. I realize a guitar is the sum of its parts, but really as far the amplified tone goes isn't the pickup 90% of the equation? Will the physical properties of a guitar affect the tone so much as to make this second les paul unusable as a reliable backup if number one goes down?

  2. #2
    Ultimate Tone Slacker zionstrat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    RDU
    Posts
    2,012

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    What you have discovered is one of the primary reasons that I get to mod guitars... Even with all of the cadcam and tight specs, 2 identical guitars are likely to sound different by luck of the draw. Less likely with PRS vs Gibson, but it's practically impossible to get 2 guitars sounding exactly the same.

    Now factor in decades of change... woods, quality of woods plus you list 2 seperate models... Thin necks, maple necks... Its Nearly impossible to compare other than they will sound like A Les Paul in general.

    This is a big part of why everyone needs to put energy and effort into discovering their sound... I've my 61 LP SG looks like 'real' SGs, but the hyper thin neck makes it less warm (but ridiculously fast



    Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk
    What's so Funny about Peace Love and Understanding?

  3. #3
    Mojo's Minions LLL's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Evil Volcano Lair
    Age
    50
    Posts
    3,324

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    Quote Originally Posted by conorsearl View Post
    '94 les paul standard, '76 les paul custom. Identical Seymour Duncan custom humbuckers. These guitars should sound similar, but they are drastically different sounding. I realize a guitar is the sum of its parts, but really as far the amplified tone goes isn't the pickup 90% of the equation? Will the physical properties of a guitar affect the tone so much as to make this second les paul unusable as a reliable backup if number one goes down?
    It's been stated that humans only use maybe 10% of their brains. Problem with that statement is, you'd have to have a brain certifiably working at 100% (full capacity) in order to even know what 10% of full capacity is. Putting percentages on tone composition as well is ridiculous, and a stab in the dark at best.

    My opinion (not backed by scientific proof) is that the neck and fretboard create the bulk (no, I'm not going to give a percentage) of the overall tone.

    ("Tone" meaning frequencies... as in Hz and KHz)

    The pickup either meshes with said guitar wood frequencies, or doesn't.

    You've got a LP Std and a LP Custom. They shouldn't sound similar because if anything, the fretboard wood between them is completely different (rosewood vs ebony). Rosewood has less treble than ebony. Don't know if the Custom has a maple top or not...

    Your best bet is to match a pickup to a particular guitar's wood construction... specifically the neck and fretboard. Sometimes the only way to figure this out is by trial and error.
    Lefty Lounge Lizard's Guitars & Amps Extravaganza



    Fastest ears in the West

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgecrusher View Post
    I thought it sounded great, until I heard something that sounded good.
    Guitaramped.com

  4. #4
    Ultimate Tone Slacker zionstrat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    RDU
    Posts
    2,012

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    LLL, after scale length, I tend to agree that neck wood and fretboard have a tremendous impact on tone... Often as much or more than the body...

    As far as defining tone, from my pov, all of those variables will get a guitar into the ball park...most single coil teles sound like other teles instead of like a Les Paul for all of the obvious reasons...

    But once you are in the ballpark, it's relatively easy to mod to find a more specific tone... Faster attack, more bloom time, thicker, thinner... All of those variables are why I love to chase tone (as long as it doesn't get in the way of playing time

    Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk
    What's so Funny about Peace Love and Understanding?

  5. #5
    Ultimate Tone Slacker ICTGoober's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Wichita, KS
    Age
    63
    Posts
    2,255

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    '94 les paul standard, '76 les paul custom. Identical Seymour Duncan custom humbuckers. These guitars should sound similar, but they are drastically different sounding.
    You just answered your own question, Conor. It's NOT the pickups, it's the AXE.

    I suggest you sit down and play them side by side, unplugged. Tell me how different they sound then.

    See you back over on the OLF.

  6. #6
    PenultimateTone Member Demanic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Phoenix area.
    Age
    52
    Posts
    14,129

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    One is unusable as a replacement for the other? Have you checked the wiring in the unusable guitar? Maybe something has gone awry over the course of time?

  7. #7
    Mojo's Minions dystrust's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    West St. Paul, MN
    Age
    39
    Posts
    4,535

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    Quote Originally Posted by LLL View Post
    It's been stated that humans only use maybe 10% of their brains. Problem with that statement is, you'd have to have a brain certifiably working at 100% (full capacity) in order to even know what 10% of full capacity is. Putting percentages on tone composition as well is ridiculous, and a stab in the dark at best.
    This oft-repeated fallacy is based on a quote taken out of context. Humans do use all of their brain, but they're typically only using 10-15% of it at any given time since different regions are specialized for different things. Now, back on topic...

    Quote Originally Posted by LLL View Post
    You've got a LP Std and a LP Custom. They shouldn't sound similar because if anything, the fretboard wood between them is completely different (rosewood vs ebony). Rosewood has less treble than ebony. Don't know if the Custom has a maple top or not...
    A '76 Custom probably has a maple top, and it almost definitely has a very skinny maple neck compared to the 50s profile mahogany neck on a '94 Standard. Based on that (in addition to the fingerboard) I would not expect the two to sound all that similar. I would expect both to sound like a "Les Paul", but would expect the '76 to be much brighter with a sharper attack.
    Quote Originally Posted by crusty philtrum View Post
    And that's probably because most people with electric guitars seem more interested in their own performance rather than the effect on the listener ... in fact i don't think many people who own electric guitars even give a poop about the effect on a listener. Which is why many people play electric guitars but very very few of them are actually musicians.

  8. #8
    tonewood instigator
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia
    Posts
    5,796

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    Once you develop an ear for it, you'll also start to notice that sometimes a guitar will sound different before/after you take it apart even if you didn't change anything.

    Another thing I've noticed is that the louder you get two guitars, the more similar they sound. At bedroom volumes I'll notice if I accidentally bumped a tone control down to 9, if nobodies home and I'm just putzing around at higher volume levels, the differences become less obvious. Throw in a band going at stage volume and everything starts to sound the same.
    Once I had myself a million, now I've only got a dime.
    Difference don't seem quite as bad today.
    With a nickel or a million I was searchin' all the time
    For something that I never lost or left behind.

  9. #9
    HardtailPisser ibanezrocks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Age
    31
    Posts
    4,069

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    Yeah, I really don't understand how some people think the wood doesn't contribute to the sound of an electric. It's such an absurd belief.

    The string resonates based on the unique acoustic properties of the guitar. It's not hard to go to a guitar store and find two identical guitars that sound very different acoustically, then plug them in and realize the pickups capture that difference (as they're supposed to).

    You also can't break it down into percentages, like 50% wood, 50% pickups. It all matters. It's more like chaining effects pedals - some parts can overpower others, any bad sound along the line can ruin everything else and everything has to work together.

    Sent from my BlackBerry using Tapatalk
    Last edited by ibanezrocks; 08-19-2019 at 07:07 PM.

  10. #10
    Super Toneologist DavidRavenMoon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    1,253

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    No, pickups aren’t 90% of the tone. If it was then humbuckers in a Strat would sound like a Les Paul. Even an SG doesn’t sound like a Les Paul.

    Pickups just reproduce the vibration of the strings. But the guitar shapes how they vibrate.

    This is where all the people that claim the wood doesn’t matter fall flat on their face.

    Even the same set of strings sounds different on different guitars.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  11. #11
    tonewood instigator
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia
    Posts
    5,796

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidRavenMoon View Post
    Even the same set of strings sounds different on different guitars.
    Yes, because when you move a set of strings from one guitar to another, the wood of the guitars in question is the only variable that changes.
    Once I had myself a million, now I've only got a dime.
    Difference don't seem quite as bad today.
    With a nickel or a million I was searchin' all the time
    For something that I never lost or left behind.

  12. #12
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    I surrender!

    My choice of 90% was never meant to be an actual percentage. Just a way of describing how I understood the make up of what contributes to the end result.

    Personally I've never approached playing any guitar with any tonal expectations other than a tele will probably sound like a tele, and a strat will sound like a strat, etc. Other than the broad generalizations of what to expect I've always enjoyed the specific limitations of whatever guitar I've picked up and allowed that to inspire my creative process. I've never been interested in bending a guitar to fit a tone I've been chasing. So this question was born out of helping one of my repair customers who has a very specific tone he uses with his '94 and is trying to get this 70's guitar to sound like his main guitar. In other words it's an electric guitar question from a different universe than the one I live in.

    I'm still not convinced that all other things being equal (identical les paul models with identical electronics for instance) the unique acoustic properties of particular pieces of wood will make so much of a difference that when a very specific tone is required the result could be so drastically different as to make a guitar unusable in my above mentioned scenario. Having said that, y'all have reminded me that in my scenario there is much that is not equal apart from the electronics, a de-laminating pancake body for one, different neck wood and possibly fret board as well. So I think you're right, we're left with a particular guitar that is just not cooperating.

  13. #13
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    Quote Originally Posted by ICTGoober View Post
    You just answered your own question, Conor. It's NOT the pickups, it's the AXE.

    I suggest you sit down and play them side by side, unplugged. Tell me how different they sound then.

    See you back over on the OLF.
    Hey Chris!

    You know, I teach guitar as my main thing. I like all kinds of music. I can pick up most fretted instruments and make something resembling music. This guys guitars though, he tunes them BEBEG#C#, and runs super heavy strings, like baritone strings. It's not so simple for me to sit down and play these guitars side by side.

  14. #14
    LoveMachineologist jeremy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    albany, ny
    Age
    42
    Posts
    29,403

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    theres a fair number of differences between the two guitars, ebony board vs rosewood, maple neck vs mahogany, pancake body etc... id check the pot values, that will make a big difference.

  15. #15
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy View Post
    theres a fair number of differences between the two guitars, ebony board vs rosewood, maple neck vs mahogany, pancake body etc... id check the pot values, that will make a big difference.
    That was what started this whole thing. The guitars as they initially were sounded really different, so my customer started replacing electronic parts piece by piece trying to replicate the '94. Everything at this point is pretty close to the same. I think as has been stated above its the physicial properties of the guitar causing the differences.

  16. #16
    Mojo's Minions
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    7,790

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    A 76 Les Paul will have a pancake body, a 3 piece maple neck, an ebony board, larger headstock with volute.

    The 94 will have a weight relieved body of mahogany with no crossbanding, a 1 piece mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard.

    So the guitars, from a construction point of view, are about as different as 2 Les Pauls have ever been in the whole history of the guitar......

    As you've found yourself from experience, and from replies there can be a variation in instruments. But typically you still get the tone of the instrument you bought. If they are way apart maybe there is an electrical/wiring issue at the heart of the difference.

    Also so far you have not said specifically how the two guitars differ tonally, and how that somehow becomes 'unusable' from a live point of view. Lets face it, plenty of people rely on singlecoil Fenders as backup guitars to Les Pauls and will happily substitute the two.
    Unless you're Brian May who relies heavily on the unique tones from a specific electronic setup......or your audience want to hear play cover songs dead on to the original, surely a slightly different tone isn't going to make whatever audience you play to suddenly think they're not getting the entertainment they want.
    Last edited by AlexR; 08-20-2019 at 11:34 AM.

  17. #17
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexR View Post
    A 76 Les Paul will have a pancake body, a 3 piece maple neck, an ebony board, larger headstock with volute.

    The 94 will have a weight relieved body of mahogany with no crossbanding, a 1 piece mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard.

    So the guitars, from a construction point of view, are about as different as 2 Les Pauls have ever been in the whole history of the guitar......

    As you've found yourself from experience, and from replies there can be a variation in instruments. But typically you still get the tone of the instrument you bought. If they are way apart maybe there is an electrical/wiring issue at the heart of the difference.

    Also so far you have not said specifically how the two guitars differ tonally, and how that somehow becomes 'unusable' from a live point of view. Lets face it, plenty of people rely on singlecoil Fenders as backup guitars to Les Pauls and will happily substitute the two.
    Unless you're Brian May who relies heavily on the unique tones from a specific electronic setup......or your audience want to hear play cover songs dead on to the original, surely a slightly different tone isn't going to make whatever audience you play to suddenly think they're not getting the entertainment they want.
    Yeah, so in my world I play the guitars. They sound the way they do. I go with that. I'm really minimalistic, and drawn to rootsier styles of guitar playing. Nothing I play ever requires a specific anything. I can have fun and be creative with a Strat, a Les Paul, a Rickenbacker, or even a Jackson. I like to hear the guitar and the amp with little in between. I find a lot of inspiration in navigating the limitations imposed by a particular guitar. I suppose a person with my tastes and style would likely fall counter to how I presented my initial argument. But I guess beyond the guitar sounding good when I play it and plug it in I don't go searching very much beyond what I'm initially presented with in a guitar. I like them or I don't. So I would never have discovered this issue or even considered it a problem, but the guy I'm trying to help plugs into a bunch of pedals, the biggest culprits being a couple fuzzes, and a fairly affected EQ pedal. To his ear his '94 is the best sounding guitar he's ever played, he's not interested in varieties of tones from different guitars, he just uses this one sound, and I guess the 70's custom is just too different, it just won't respond how he's expecting his guitar to respond. Because his sound is so affected, and there's so much gain, it seemed like the physical properties of the guitar would matter even less than the context I usually find myself in, but having put the exact same pickups in, changed the pots and caps, and still finding no improvement, I guess the only remaining culprit could be that the guitar is just different.

  18. #18
    Tone Member SAguitar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    276

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    So all these ingredients go into the pot and get stirred together, and even when the parts are all the same the results come out different! Ain't that a beautiful thing?

    And then for no good reason this old Traffic song came to mind... (Rock & Roll Stew)

    "Now that I'm home again things are much better,
    Biding my time with my little go-getter
    No matter what they say, no matter what they do,
    Gonna end up in the middle of that rock & roll stew
    And I'm gone, gone, gone..."

    Last edited by SAguitar; 08-20-2019 at 03:37 PM.
    "Live by the Groove, Die by the Groove."

  19. #19
    I poop in my KISS diapers while I cry that they are mean to me Aceman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    I came from outer space - that's how I know your name!
    Age
    52
    Posts
    34,565

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    Quote Originally Posted by conorsearl View Post
    '94 les paul standard, '76 les paul custom. Identical Seymour Duncan custom humbuckers. These guitars should sound similar, but they are drastically different sounding.
    No, these guitars should not sound alike at all....The only thing they have in common is the scale and the shape.

    Quote Originally Posted by dystrust View Post
    This oft-repeated fallacy is based on a quote taken out of context. Humans do use all of their brain, but they're typically only using 10-15% of it at any given time since different regions are specialized for different things.
    Dr. Aceman, Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology pretty much fully sort of supports this assertion.

    A '76 Custom probably has a maple top, and it almost definitely has a very skinny maple neck compared to the 50s profile mahogany neck on a '94 Standard. Based on that (in addition to the fingerboard) I would not expect the two to sound all that similar. I would expect both to sound like a "Les Paul", but would expect the '76 to be much brighter with a sharper attack.
    3 piece neck, pancake, blah blah blah....


    As for "usable" as a backup up....it makes sound and has strings, right? It works? You just need a slightly different set of pickups.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bad City
    He's got the crowd on his side and the blue jean lights in his eyes...

  20. #20
    Mojo's Minions ItsaBass's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    U.S.A.
    Posts
    11,682

    Default Re: 2 les pauls identical pickup drastically different tone...

    Look at the pot values.

    Is the '70s one darker?

    Same strings, same string setup, same pickup setup?
    Quote Originally Posted by LesStrat View Post
    Yogi Berra was correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by JOLLY View Post
    I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •