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Thread: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

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    Default P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    Hi

    I would not be shocked if this has been discussed ad nauseam, but a search doesn't really get me anywhere.

    I am looking to pick up a Les Paul Custom in the near future. I have my eye on a '78; if it plays well and feels right, and if it's still there this wkd, I may just get it. If not, I will keep looking.

    Typically, I have not been happy with the stock LPC p/us in the few guitars I have played; they tend to be too muddy, and lack gain.

    I was hoping someone could recommend a bridge p/u that will give me more gain, and less mud. Neck p/u is not a concern. I play metal, through a JCM800 2203 with a tube screamer in front. Sure, I could fiddle with the settings, and up the gain on the pedal with a stock p/u, but would rather go for a new p/u

    I have heard good things about the Slash sig. series. Are these high gain p/us? Any other suggestions? Thanks!

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    Ultimate Tone Member audiocheck's Avatar
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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    Quote Originally Posted by egrace View Post
    Hi

    I would not be shocked if this has been discussed ad nauseam, but a search doesn't really get me anywhere.

    I am looking to pick up a Les Paul Custom in the near future. I have my eye on a '78; if it plays well and feels right, and if it's still there this wkd, I may just get it. If not, I will keep looking.

    Typically, I have not been happy with the stock LPC p/us in the few guitars I have played; they tend to be too muddy, and lack gain.

    I was hoping someone could recommend a bridge p/u that will give me more gain, and less mud. Neck p/u is not a concern. I play metal, through a JCM800 2203 with a tube screamer in front. Sure, I could fiddle with the settings, and up the gain on the pedal with a stock p/u, but would rather go for a new p/u

    I have heard good things about the Slash sig. series. Are these high gain p/us? Any other suggestions? Thanks!
    First question about your amp setup. I am not a Marshall guy, so I am not familiar with this model. How much gain can you get from the Marshall pre amp alone? Is it high gain or classic Marshall turn it up to 10 to get distortion? Do you use the Tube Screamer to slam the front end of the amp to get more gain, like the 1970's?

    I've been playing LP's for 40 years, but I am a high gain amp guy. I don't use high output pickups because I don't want the added compression at the guitar.

    If the amp is old school gain, then you may want the high output pickups. If you don't want mud, look into a pickup with a brighter EQ curve. Only Duncan I could suggest in this scenario is the Duncan Distortion. a '78 Custom would have a maple neck and T-top pickups. The T-Tops in the late 70's IMHO, suck. The Maple neck makes it a killer hard rock/metal machine. Think John Sykes. He used a Gibson Dirty Fingers in the bridge. High output, great EQ curve ceramic. Not sure what the new ones sound like though.

    not sure if any of this helps you

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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    Welcome to the forum!
    To answer one of your questions, the Slash are a little hotter than typical PAFs, but not at all considered high gain. Either is the 78. What kind of pickup you want might depend on what the signal is doing after the guitar. With a high gain pickup (say, a JB, Distortion, or Custom), you might not need a Tube Screamer. However, the classic metal formula of vintage-output pickup/TS pedal/JCM 800 might work for you, also.
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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    Quote Originally Posted by audiocheck View Post
    First question about your amp setup. I am not a Marshall guy, so I am not familiar with this model. How much gain can you get from the Marshall pre amp alone? Is it high gain or classic Marshall turn it up to 10 to get distortion? Do you use the Tube Screamer to slam the front end of the amp to get more gain, like the 1970's?

    I've been playing LP's for 40 years, but I am a high gain amp guy. I don't use high output pickups because I don't want the added compression at the guitar.

    If the amp is old school gain, then you may want the high output pickups. If you don't want mud, look into a pickup with a brighter EQ curve. Only Duncan I could suggest in this scenario is the Duncan Distortion. a '78 Custom would have a maple neck and T-top pickups. The T-Tops in the late 70's IMHO, suck. The Maple neck makes it a killer hard rock/metal machine. Think John Sykes. He used a Gibson Dirty Fingers in the bridge. High output, great EQ curve ceramic. Not sure what the new ones sound like though.

    not sure if any of this helps you
    The irony is that Sykes uses a '57 set nowadays. Just a boring, old, PAF. Even his first recordings with his custom uses the T-Tops. he just dimed his amps. No idea bout pedals, though. He used the JCM800 as well as a Mesa Boogie Coliseum Mk3 heads earlier. Sykes is just a tonal maniak: he makes everything sound like HIM.

    About your pickup question. Steer clear of the JB in a LP: more miss than hit, imho.

    For an LP, under high gain, there are just a few contendors in my book (and believe me, I've tried them all).

    Sh6N: that's the neck pickup that goes in the Mayhem set but is an amazing, amazing bridge pickup. Why? Well, for starters, it was designed as a bridge pickup to begin with. it started as the SH7 Seymourizer II. It's like an underwound Custom, but with a double thick ceramic magnet. It's tight without losing an open voice. It's got growl without getting saggy in the low end. It's got a bright top end, without getting buzzsaw-y gnarly in the highs.

    Alternative8: a bit hotter than the SH6N, a bit warmer, but with a smooth, liquidy feel in the midrange that's unbeatable if you wanna do lots of lead. I don't like this pickup as much as I used to because it's too warm for my ears.

    Pegasus: a bit like the SH6N but with a little more grit and a touch less gain.


    For neck pickups, I always tend to go with the JazzBridge. it's got the clean, vocal like qualities of the jazz that I like, but because it's a bit hotter, it's not as flutey or jangly. The Sentient is also an amazing pickup. It's akin to the jazz but a bit less woody, less honky at times.

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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    I don't have much use for the legit high gain ceramic types, so I can't speak to them, but my "high gain" guitar is a Les Paul with a 59/Custom hybrid. It's considerably hotter than most PAF types, and there's definitely no mud. I did swap in an A4 to tweak the eq a bit, but the stock magnet may be just fine for you.

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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    Thank you for the responses

    How much gain can you get from the Marshall pre amp alone?

    Umm, some....

    Is it high gain or classic Marshall turn it up to 10 to get distortion?

    It's a JCM800 2203.

    Do you use the Tube Screamer to slam the front end of the amp to get more gain....

    Yes, get more gain, but not slam

    like the 1970's?

    ??

    Thanks!

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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    Also, keep in mind that you don't have the guitar yet, and when you have it for a few weeks, you might have a different idea of what it 'needs' than just speculating right now.
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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    See what the guitar sounds like, give it a few weeks, then decide if you want to make a change, and what direction you want to go in.

    For a bridge that isn't muddy, for metal I'd look at a '59/custom hybrid, a SH-5, and a SH-14. JB could work, or bomb out, I wouldn't go that route.
    Last edited by blueman335; 09-13-2019 at 09:24 AM.
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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    Quote Originally Posted by egrace View Post
    Thank you for the responses

    How much gain can you get from the Marshall pre amp alone?

    Umm, some....

    Is it high gain or classic Marshall turn it up to 10 to get distortion?

    It's a JCM800 2203.

    Do you use the Tube Screamer to slam the front end of the amp to get more gain....

    Yes, get more gain, but not slam

    like the 1970's?

    ??

    Thanks!
    Like I said earlier, I am not familiar with the 2203.

    So by your responses, I would say its a classic to moderate gain amplifier. With that, you probably are looking for and have an old school sound. You should go High output pickup. Suggested already Duncan Distortion or Vintage Dirty Fingers.

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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    Quote Originally Posted by audiocheck View Post
    Like I said earlier, I am not familiar with the 2203.

    So by your responses, I would say its a classic to moderate gain amplifier. With that, you probably are looking for and have an old school sound. You should go High output pickup. Suggested already Duncan Distortion or Vintage Dirty Fingers.
    The jcm800 2203 is one of the alltime classic amps. It was used by, to name a few, iron maiden, slayer, zakk wylde and countless others I can't think of at this ungodly hour. It's got a fair amount of gain but really excells with the use of pedals to shape the gain (and boost a bit of gain to boot). Using an 808 will tighten the overall voice, cut off the annoying highs while maintain so much presence that it cuts through the mix like a Tiger tank through a field of poppy.

    I don't have much use for the legit high gain ceramic types, so I can't speak to them, but my "high gain" guitar is a Les Paul with a 59/Custom hybrid. It's considerably hotter than most PAF types, and there's definitely no mud. I did swap in an A4 to tweak the eq a bit, but the stock magnet may be just fine for you.
    Not all ceramic pickups are insanely hot: the SH6N for example, features a double ceramic magnet but isn't as hot as a JB. The Alternative8 is a bit hotter than a JB but hotter than an SH5 Custom. The magnet is just another ingredient in the pickup maker's kitchen.

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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    SH6n vs 59/Custom hybrid: the 6N is about as hot but tighter, less saggy, a bit brighter and has an easier 'feel', it's less woody and choppy. It's really a great pickup if you have zero desire for a classic (pre-1980) tone.

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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    Full shred bridge. Definitely the tightest I have used. I haven't used one in a les paul yet though. A5 too.

    The dimarzio dactivator is another tight one. Turned down, it tames a bit.

    IMO, anything below mid power is not tight enough.

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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    70's Les Pauls? Who forgot to put the Aceman signal up?!?!?!?!?!?!

    In defending order of Metalness for your bridge:
    - Duncan Distortion: Loud, bright, aggressive, and will smack the ^%#% out of the preamp tubes. Ultra-tight and crunch in the bass. Might be too bright for maple neck LP. Metal and nothing but the metal!
    - Duncan Custom: Loud, bright, aggressive, and will smack the ^%#% out of the preamp tubes. Ultra-tight and nice thump in the bass. Might be too bright for maple neck LP. Great for Rock, Hard Rock, and Metal.
    - Duncan 59/Custom: Not as Loud, bright, aggressive, and will hit the preamp tubes significantly vs classic pickups. tight and nice bass. My personal choice for you. Great for whatever with the right amp, pedal, and volume English....

    ** Again, decide how "metal" you want to be and whether you like thump or crunch.

    A decidedly Non-duncan but excellent alternative choice: DiMarzio SuperDistortion: Loud, but not overly compared to today's ultra gain monsters, thick, tight, and aggressive. Nice highs. Not too much for that maple. Will hit the Preamp harder than the 59/Custom, but not like the Custom-Distortions. A great all around metal pup that has worked for that amp for decades.

    For the neck?

    - What do you want to do. With any of the Duncans I'll call Pearly gates on principle. Never heard one sound bad in an LP.
    - Duncan Distortion with the Custom or Distortion for pure loud.
    - Dimarzio Super2 with a SuperD for loud, or a PAF for more classic neck sounds


    None of that will sound bad. I agree with get the guitar, and see if it is dark, bright, or whatever and see about the pups in it for a while. Honestly, If T-Tops sell them, and totally cover the cost of Duncans and installation.

    ** May want a better wiring harness pots in there. Remember - that thing is Gibson 300k
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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    With those requirements, I vote Custom/Jazz. No mud (almost) guaranteed.
    Guitars:Gibson LP Trad ('57 Classics), PRS SE CU 24 Flametop (TB5/PGn), Ibanez RG870RWZ (PATB set), Jackson DK2M1H (TB4) & DK2 (TB10/VRn/CRn), LTD MH-1000HS (Pegasus/HRn), ST213A (HRb/STK-S4 m&n) & TE212 (Hot Stack/A2Pn), Dean Cadillac 1980 (59 set) & Old Skull V (TB6/JazzN), Squier VM JM (SJM-1 set);Effects:Korg Pitchblack Poly, Digitech Drop, MXR CAE MC404 & EHX Wailer wahs, L6 HX FX & Stomp, Fender FVP-1, EHX Volume Pedal; Amp & Cab:H&K GM 40 Dlx, L6 DT25 cab;

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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    HIgh gain in a '70's Les Paul - Dimarzio Super Distortion.
    Craig

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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    I'd recommend the Duncan Distortion for both neck and bridge (the Mayhem set). Works great in a Les Paul. Lots of cut, tight bass and nice balance between the two pickups.

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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    Welcome to the forum!
    To answer one of your questions, the Slash are a little hotter than typical PAFs, but not at all considered high gain. Either is the 78. What kind of pickup you want might depend on what the signal is doing after the guitar. With a high gain pickup (say, a JB, Distortion, or Custom), you might not need a Tube Screamer. However, the classic metal formula of vintage-output pickup/TS pedal/JCM 800 might work for you, also.
    I have the slash pups in my Explorer, never been happier, if you go with them have the custom shop send them with the 5 wire, this way you can go with coil split or phase switch using push/pull pots if you decide to go that way later on.
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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    Quote Originally Posted by TinPan View Post
    I have the slash pups in my Explorer, never been happier, if you go with them have the custom shop send them with the 5 wire, this way you can go with coil split or phase switch using push/pull pots if you decide to go that way later on.
    You may be able to order the Slash's as a Shop Floor Custom, not a full Custom Shop (less $$$).
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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    I have one LP set up with an Invader set (Bridge and neck). It also has series, split, parallel toggles. Straight into my amp and has all the output needed to play Tool or similar type music. Using Ernie Ball Cobalt Regular Slinky Gauges .010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046 on this one.

    Another LP is a triple pickup, Distortion Mayhem bridge and neck (series, split, parallel toggles) and a P-Rail middle (P-90, rail, Humbucker toggle). Also a Freeway switch to choose all configurations of pickups. This can play Metal, Blues, Jazz.....and can emulate a tele / strat. Plenty of output, can play clean and dirty. I use Ernie Ball Power Slinky Colbalts in Gauges .011, .014, .018, .028, .038, .048.....lots of sustain too

    Yeah I know lots of switches.....and some will roll their eyes......these are / were for experimenting with different setups to build other guitars, and I actually ended up liking to play them. I can use these to get an idea on what guitar / setup to build for others this way.

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    Default Re: P/u recommendation for Les Paul

    Quote Originally Posted by IceFyre13th View Post
    I have one LP set up with an Invader set (Bridge and neck). It also has series, split, parallel toggles. Straight into my amp and has all the output needed to play Tool or similar type music. Using Ernie Ball Cobalt Regular Slinky Gauges .010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046 on this one.

    Another LP is a triple pickup, Distortion Mayhem bridge and neck (series, split, parallel toggles) and a P-Rail middle (P-90, rail, Humbucker toggle). Also a Freeway switch to choose all configurations of pickups. This can play Metal, Blues, Jazz.....and can emulate a tele / strat. Plenty of output, can play clean and dirty. I use Ernie Ball Power Slinky Colbalts in Gauges .011, .014, .018, .028, .038, .048.....lots of sustain too

    Yeah I know lots of switches.....and some will roll their eyes......these are / were for experimenting with different setups to build other guitars, and I actually ended up liking to play them. I can use these to get an idea on what guitar / setup to build for others this way.
    Welcome to the forum!
    Show some pics of these cool guitars!
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