Originally Posted by LPS24
so basically if i don't change my pots and caps im holding my pickups back from what they really should sound like?
Well... technically, pickups don't sound
like anything. They're only picking up the "sound" of your strings, which is affected by the wood and hardware on your guitar.
Anyway, the main way that pickups actually shape your sound is that they all have a "resonant frequency" and a "resonant peak" and they vary greatly between different pickup models. The resonant frequency is kind of the "sweet spot", this is the frequency that gets AMPLIFIED by the pickup. So, in other words, that particular frequency becomes exaggerated in the overall tone of your guitar. The resonant peak is just how MUCH that particular frequency is amplified. As you get lower and lower below that frequency, the sound is not amplified, it's left alone. If you go ABOVE that frequency, the sound starts to decay (it actually gets de-amplified from its original volume).
Read here for more (complicated!) info: BuildYourGuitar.com :: The Secrets of Electric Guitar Pickups
For a Les Paul, the "normal" way of doing things is .022uF capacitors and 500K pots. The higher the uF value on your caps, the more of the top end it's cutting off (when your tone knob is at 10)... Strats will typically use .047uF because those single coils have a lot more top end to begin with. As far as values go, it's personal preference. How much top end do you want, you know? And as for the "vintage" type caps (paper in oil), supposedly they impart some "musical harmonic overtones and warmth". I wouldn't know for sure, because I have never tried them. There's a ton of different brands out there and I guess they all sound different.
Then there's the pots! Higher value pots are going to have a higher top end as well. The higher the frequency, the more top end. Some guys like 1M tone pots in their LPs... most seem to stick with the 500k's though. Higher quality pots give you much better/smoother control of your tone. There are a couple different flavors, in terms of how they function. There are linear or audio taper, and then there's "Super Pots!". I think RS carries those. I haven't gotten much into the pot side of things because I've never had any real issues (except for my Schecter with the tone pot that worked like an on/off switch.. but I didn't play that guitar enough to really care).
The .022uF with 500K pots is pretty much the standard on LP/dual humbucker guitars, regardless of what humbuckers you just bought.
That's most of what I know, I guess... which is not much! I basically don't "fix what's not broken"... The most recent guitar I bought only needed a $4 Orange Drop cap to get me the tone I wanted.
If I were you, I'd put those pickups in with your stock electronics first and play it for awhile. I'm not going to say anything for OR against spending $50 on an upgraded wiring harness, but I think it's wise to teach yourself the difference... rather than just automatically ordering all new guts every time you get a new guitar, just because everyone else tells you to.
Since everyone else is just telling you to talk to people who want to sell you stuff, I thought you might want some advice from someone without any potential motives.