Finding that Reissue Holy Grail?

Discussion in 'Historics & Reissues' started by Watersilk, Feb 25, 2018.

  1. Watersilk

    Watersilk Member

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    I think many of us have a sound in our head when buying a reissue Les Paul. Be it Kossoff, Greene, Page, Clapton, Gibbons or Bonamassa... I listen to recordings by these artists, trying to look past technique and amplification, wondering what guitar you have to buy to capture the 'typical' PAF tone; to make the quest more tricky, they all sound different!

    I know it's crazy, we spend a small fortune on an historically-correct reissue, then 'some' of us are still not quite convinced, we might feel that we have something that looks the part, but does it 'sound' the part?

    [​IMG]

    What have you done, in the quest for that 'vintage' sound in your head?

    Show your Reissue mods here!

    My journey began with my first Gibson R9. I played many Custom Shop R9's, the difference between them was huge, no two were alike. In the end, I settled for a beautiful non-burst:

    '59, finished in Extra Faded Cherry

    [​IMG]

    Beautiful because she was nicely-made and felt comfortable, but the tone... ?

    The more I played her, the more I realised something was just not right. It's that feeling, I was having to force myself to play her... while a much cheaper Korean Hamer was the go-to guitar. Of course, the Hamer was not original, she had been modified, pickups, electrics, nut... modified to a point that she was exciting to play, modified to my own specifications, in short, fun!

    I was thinking, why is a Custom Shop Gibson sounding so dull, sterile and uninspiring? Unplugged, the primary tone was better than the Hamer, it had depth and warmth, while the plugged in sound was just boring!

    I did the unthinkable, I had the Nylon nut removed and an Earvana nut fitted and the stoptail locked down with TonePros locking studs. These were the some of the mods done to the Hamer, but still this Gibson was flat and toneless.

    The primary tone was there, so I decided to go further down the modding lane. A Callaham locking bridge (yes, no wires) and stoptail. RS Guitarworks Superpots and TVT pots, Luxe Bumblebee caps and OX4 pickups, Alnico 2 bridge, Alnico 3 Neck, low wind and un-potted of course!

    [​IMG]

    Much more, I mean really much more sustain, good string definition, more treble, more bite, much more harmonics present.

    This guitar 'now' came alive! It's not quite there yet, a little too much treble in the primary tone, I will pull this back and introduce some more mids by using an ABM bell brass Stoptail on the next string change.

    '57 Goldtop

    [​IMG]

    This was to my ears sounding better than the '59, it had Burstbucker 2's in the Bridge and Busrtbucker 1's in the neck. They sounded good, but again, not quite what I was wanting from them. The primary tone was fine, but the wood is very dense, there was a lack of sustain and harmonics.

    Again, an RS Guitarworks electrics change, Earvana nut, a Callaham bridge, but this time an ABM aluminium stoptail. Aluminium because of the heavy, dense body and the neck is really fat. Tom Holmes pickups completed the package; again un-potted.

    [​IMG]

    These are not good pickups to hear, they sound just so amazing! It's easy to start judging all other humbuckers against them. Brilliant string separation, very even, balanced open sound, with harmonics and incredible tone!

    Needless to say, this guitar sounded absolutely right from the first chord!

    The Les Paul that I first started tinkering with was this one:

    Tokai LS85F (a '59 Reissue)

    [​IMG]

    This is where I got the formula, RS electrics, but the Callaham bridge and stoptail didn't work on this one! It sounded like a banjo. A brighter sounding body and neck, so I used ABM bell brass bridge and stoptail, this did it!

    Chosen pickups were a set of Seymour Duncan Joe Bonamassa Skinnerburst's!

    [​IMG]

    I absolutely love this guitar now, everything does what it should and most importantly, like my other two Les Paul's, I love playing it!

    Let's see your modded reissues!
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
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  2. JeffH66

    JeffH66 Pelham Blue Addict Premium Member

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    This is my new 57' RI with newly installed custom 59' repro pickups by CM Daugherty here in Texas, an hour or so outside of Dallas I think. I just did this, so I haven't tested them. I will be doing the following very shortly.... locking Kluson Tuners, they keep me from shooting myself in the head during string changes. When I upgraded my Gary Moore LP Standard I went with Callahan bridge and stop tail. I think I will go Faber on this one and see how that works. My GM may be a tad too bright, so maybe a different stop tail.

    I added some aged amber top hat knobs and I'm debating Creamtone plastics; the stuff from Gibson looks pretty good. I think that's all I'll do for now, unless I don't like these pickups..... then I think I'll go with a custom set of Saturday Night Special's from MJ in the Seymour Duncan custom shop. Here she is:

    57' LP 3 (2).JPG
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
  3. Watersilk

    Watersilk Member

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    Hello jeffH66, what a beautiful colour! I've never seen a Les Paul that colour, what is it?

    Ive not heard of that pickup winder, what made you choose his pickups?

    I found that the Callaham steel bridge and stoptail together is brightness overkill! I would also try the Faber locking bridge, it locks onto the top of the poles instead of a grub screw from the side into the poles; the difference I'm told is that the grub screws can become lose and fall out. I think the Faber bridge is zinc, that will make a difference in tone; what I found fascinating was just how much a bridge and stoptail influence the sound.

    I will be dreaming about that blue guitar tonight! It looks 'very' sophisticated!
     
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  4. JeffH66

    JeffH66 Pelham Blue Addict Premium Member

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    Hi Watersilk......thanks for the nice reply. The outside pics of my guitar make it look lighter than it really is. The color is Pelham Blue. Gibson uses it on several lines of guitars, but I'd never seen a 57' RI in this color. Apparently it is from a special run of 57's that The Music Zoo did in 2011. I'm still trying to get a list of specs from them.

    As soon as I saw it, I fell in love. I previously had an R7 that I sold, and have regretted it. I wanted another, so I'm always browsing Reverb looking for one that is the right color gold and for sale at the right price. This guitar turned my idea of the perfect R7 on its head.

    The more I play my LP with the Callahan hardware, the more I think it may be a little too bright, as you've discovered. I love the quality of his stuff, but I think I might put on a different tail piece like you did to help tame some of the highs. Regardless of what anyone thinks about his products, they are built as well as anything I've seen. I have a complete set of all Callaham hardware on a strat I built, and it's fantastic. The hardware change on a Lester really does have a large impact on the tone. Good or bad is up to the individual.

    As for CM Daugherty, I ran across his pickups on Reverb in 2016. He had lots of 50's repro sets for Strat, Tele and Humbuckers. I liked the descriptions of the pickups and the you tube clips of his pickups sounded great. There were also many positive reviews. So, I sent him an email and he asked if we could talk about exactly what I wanted. I talked to him for a while and had a really good feeling about how he did things, so I took a chance. Then I didn't have the right guitar to put them in, so they have just waited until now. Hopefully they sound as good as I expect them to.

    I really like all the pics you loaded, but the red Les Paul is especially nice. I used to be all about the burst, but I am really enjoying the more unusual color options. Yours is beautiful.

    Happy Playing and Modding,

    Jeff

    pelham blue 57 RI.jpg
     
  5. Watersilk

    Watersilk Member

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    Hello Jeff,

    I thought it was Pelham blue, it's not a colour I had associated with a reissue Les Paul, it looks absolutely fabulous though.

    The red one is from a limited run from I think 2009, not nearly as limited as your Pelham blue model. The original Cherry Les Paul's are apparently very rare, the majority of '59's being finished in sunburst. The Cherry finish is mentioned in the book 'Beauty of the Burst'. George Harrison had also refinished a Goldtop in this colour, that one doesn't look very nice, because the maple top is not matched and the very noticeable join is off centre.

    If you are looking to warm the tone, the I strongly recommend ABM's bell brass stoptail. They are cut in the same way and to the same exacting standards as Callaham. I like the bridge too, but it's just a shame that it's not locking. Recently, I had discovered just how much a stoptail can influence the tone, and its placement and height the feel.

    My disability is that I have never played a fifties Les Paul Standard, however, I have had the privilege to play a 1959 Les Paul special with P90's, that was amazing! So warm, such depth, harmonics too. I think it must have been something in the materials used that make these old pickups sound so good.

    Some of the videos on the Internet are so well recorded that they can provide a very accurate reproduction of the sound of these PAF pickups; the Doug and Pat show being one good source. I heard a set of Tom Holmes played there, the sound of those pickups were instantly recognisable to me, regardless that someone else was playing.

    Funny really, I think those '50's guitars would sound even better with better hardware!
     
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  6. Dilver

    Dilver Senior Member

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    9C7CB85B-4ACD-4A1F-9F29-59328913311F.jpeg The newer Historics don’t require a lot of mods; stock parts are already good quality, so mods are a matter of personal preference. The stock tailpiece studs are steel and the right length, the tailpiece is lightweight aluminum, the wireless bridge is good quality, the pots are CTS and actually measure over 500k with a decent taper, and the Custom Buckers are loved by some, at least respected by most.

    That said, here are the mods I made to my 2017 R8:
    - Peter Florance Voodoo PAFs
    - Faber ABR bridge
    - Pigtail aluminum tailpiece and steel studs
    - old .022 and .015 bumblebee caps
    - older RS Superpots (for the feel and the taper)
    - steel bridge posts and brass adjustment wheels

    Replacing the bridge posts made a pretty noticeable difference (rings more, better sustain). I’ve read about the “mapleflame” mod here, and I think the same principle applies here as I was able to sink the posts in a little deeper.

    I’m done; no more needs to be done. It’s perfect.
     
  7. CRobbins

    CRobbins Premium Member

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    I took the pickguard off my 2014 R9, more open tonz.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Dilver

    Dilver Senior Member

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    Oooh. Can we see that in color pleez
     
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  9. CRobbins

    CRobbins Premium Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  10. flimz

    flimz Senior Member

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    My 2013 R7 has a bunch of mods, to make it my Holy Grail Goldtop...
    Historic Makeover
    Retrospec aged knobs & chip
    Mojoaxe aged pickguard
    Wizz pickup rings (aged by Mojoaxe)
    Area 59 Hysteric aged tailpiece
    Rewind custom wiring harness
    Mojotone custom wound 59 pickups.

    Im very happy with the tones from this guitar! I rode the pickup merry-go-round for a while, but I think everything is where it needs to be on this one.
    [​IMG]
     
  11. bulletproof

    bulletproof aka tarddoggy Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    591FE106-F6BF-4649-88CD-7A9025542894.jpeg CA8BFC15-86D7-4BA0-B624-332AF8444E21.jpeg The only thing I’ve done with my ‘14 R8 was a harness swap with one of Matt’s and a set of Holy Grails from Bill at ECP. Bernie might have his ‘59 Beast,but,this ole girl is my beast.
     
  12. John Dewey

    John Dewey Senior Member

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    YIKES!!
     
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  13. RAG7890

    RAG7890 Premium Member

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    Most seem to forget that the sound in their head is directly related to the following: -

    The players we really like had some major skills when it came to playing.
    The recording engineers had some major skills when it came to recording & then adjusting / manipulating the recorded tones on those old analog desks, prior to a record being "cut"

    My 2c FWIW.

    :cheers2:
     
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  14. Left Paw

    Left Paw Senior Member

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    Historics are the bomb !!
     
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  15. bulletproof

    bulletproof aka tarddoggy Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    I’ve been back to this thread 50 times just to look at this......damn,brother. That’s some flame....sheesh
     
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  16. Blue Blood

    Blue Blood Senior Member

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    The sound in your head has more to do with the amplifier & fingers than going thru a dozen historics looking for that magic.
     
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  17. bulletproof

    bulletproof aka tarddoggy Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    Yaaaa,but,it’s the journey,brother......of course it’s in the amp and hands,but, y’all gotta appreciate a beautifully made instrument that feels good to hold and play.
    :cheers2:
     
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  18. THDNUT

    THDNUT Senior Member

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    A future George Gruhn is going to look at these modded LPs, shake his head and tell your grandson that his grand daddy done ruined the collector value of the guitar.

    :lol:
     
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  19. Crotch

    Crotch Support MLP Veterans & Vendors Double Platinum Supporter Premium Member

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    Only reissue I've had that can compare to the shanks 20170426_182626.jpg
     
  20. Watersilk

    Watersilk Member

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    Hello Dilver,

    I heard that the newer historic's are better.

    Funny thing about the wireless bridge, my R9 had a wireless bridge, but my R7 had a wired one. I had thought that Gibson added the wire in the sixties because their bridge bodies were not as hard and there were problems with the saddles popping out. I have heard, right or wrong that the fifties bridge bodies were made of harder zinc; therefore better? I recently asked the question on the Gibson forum: 'What is the difference between non-wired and wired bridges?' I was told that the difference is that someone who actually plays a Les Paul will always change a non-wired bridge for a wired one! My personal belief is that it depends upon the hardness of the bridge body, I really don't see why a 'hard' bridge body is going to be a problem if it's not wired.

    Peter Florance... Iv'e heard only good things about his pickups! Is the Faber bridge the locking one? Are you pleased with it? Do the old Bumblebees make a difference, I have the Luxe ones, but I heard that they are not quite the same as the originals. Older RS Superpots, are these better than the newer ones? The steel bridge posts and brass wheels are I believe original specification on the fifties Les Paul's.

    The "Mapleflame" mod? I will have to research that one :)

    "I'm done", it's a bit like painting a picture, you just have a feeling when you know it's right!

    Thank you for posting Dilver...
     
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