How to Use the Controls on a Les Paul

Discussion in 'Tonefreaks' started by Splattle101, Jun 12, 2009.

  1. albertlespaul

    albertlespaul Senior Member

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    I love the bridge pick up with tone control on 0 and some distorsion on my Gibson LP Classic Plus (496R, 500T):slash:
     
  2. freefrog

    freefrog Senior Member

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    I take the freedom to add to this topic a few words about an "external tone control" that we, guitarists, tend to forget: the guitar cable (the one plugged between passive pickups and their first active "host").

    If we think about it a few seconds on a documented basis, we'll realize that a guitar pickup has no sound in itself. The sound that it produces depends on the guitar/ strings/ pick etc. but also on the "load" due to the pots + amp AND on the capacitance of the whole passive wiring, coming mostly from the guitar cable.
    Related links:
    -Here, see the section named "The Second Order Low Pass Filter":
    Electro-Magnetic Guitar Pickups
    -There, jump to the fig. 15: BuildYourGuitar.com :: The Secrets of Electric Guitar Pickups



    The brightest guitar will sound dark if we plug it through a high capacitance cable. IME, the critical value appears to be around 1000 picofarad / 1 nanofarad: the high range starts to be really smoothed and a passive mid boost effect can be noticed.
    Related link:
    -In this page, choose a guitar pickup then select "20 ft high capacitance cable + 500kohms" AND "Zerocap cable + 500 kohms", just below... then click on each of these two blue lines: you'll hear the difference between the same pickup through a long cable then through a cable with no capacitance (the "Zerocap" cable is a buffered one). http://www.aqdi.com/cgi-bin/database.cgi


    High capacitance cables are easy to find: they are the cheapest and the longest. Typically, count 150pf per meter (so, 1 nanofarad = 6 meters of average or cheap guitar wire and 9m = 1500 picofarad or 1,5 nanofarad).

    If we use a short and/or low capacitance cable, we'll have pristine clean tones... and a harsh sound with some pickups and/or amps

    If your amp enhances a bright frequency and if the cable used "aligns" the resonant frequency of your guitar pickup with the brightness of the amp, you'll find your guitar too bright.

    So, use your tone controls... and if necessary, experiment with various cables, including models of 6m, 9m and curly / coiled cables.

    That's what guitar heroes used on stage with their PAF's or Strats, back in the day, after all.
    Related link:
    -Here, read what Cesar Diaz said in the interview quoted by the second post:
    Forum: Cables (Leads)

    Hope to be useful, as usual. And sorry for those who have already read my rambling about cable capacitance. :laugh2:
    I often repeat myself about it because it's a subject often ignored in discussions on guitar tones. :)
     
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  3. tazzboy

    tazzboy V.I.P. Member

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    Which High Capacitance cables are you talking about?
     
  4. freefrog

    freefrog Senior Member

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    I'm not talking about a precise model. Whatever is the brand and price of a cable, at the same capacitance, it willl affect the "resonant frequency" of the PU in the same way.
    Cheap high capacitance cables will be muddier and "buzzier" than pricy models but the overall effect on the mids won't change.

    So, for me, "high capacitance cable" = long wire (6m or more) of any brand, coiled or not, as long as it's not sold as "low capacitance" of course.:laugh2:

    Please, keep in mind that I'm not "pleading for" high capacitance cables. I just insist on a parameter which modifies the sound of passive pickups and that many of us forget to consider.
     
  5. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    The cheaper old school curly cables would be one example.
     
  6. tazzboy

    tazzboy V.I.P. Member

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    I'd figure that. How about current cables?
     
  7. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    It really depends on the size/type of the wire and how well they are made.
     
  8. Splattle101

    Splattle101 V.I.P. Member

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    Another way of dealing with capacitance is to use a couple of buffers at the book ends of your pedal train.
     
  9. Larcos_Unal

    Larcos_Unal Senior Member

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    The valvestate is a problem, I sold my old vs and put the proceeds towards a mesa/boogie F30....that went a long way to giving me a better tone.
     
  10. InfiniteeZ

    InfiniteeZ Senior Member

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    A very mind opening post, thanks!!!
    /off to buy a Coiled cable
     
  11. jcsk8

    jcsk8 Senior Member

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    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcdwufsn1-c&feature=player_embedded]Joe Bonamassa Talks Les Paul Tone - YouTube[/ame]
     
  12. Echoes

    Echoes Senior Member

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    as much as I try new ideas.. I keep going back to bridge pickup wide open, neck pickup on 5 or 6....then dial the amp for the middle position (not too bright not too dark) then toggle between the 3 positions with the bridge position being bright and heavy and the neck position being dark and smooth... yet spend most of the time in the middle position.
     
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  13. tazzboy

    tazzboy V.I.P. Member

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    Mines always been the bridge being too bright.
     
  14. .Chris.

    .Chris. Member

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    Can't believe I've never thought of this... :thumb:
     
  15. Splattle101

    Splattle101 V.I.P. Member

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    Use the tone control, Luke!
    :naughty::thumb:

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. blues_man_zep

    blues_man_zep Senior Member

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    Thanks for poasting!!!
     
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  17. tonebrulee

    tonebrulee Junior Member

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    subscribed.
     
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  18. Thorin

    Thorin Member

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    Great advices!! I'm gonna copy in PC and try it...

    Salud!!
     
  19. madh4ttr

    madh4ttr Member

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    EXCELLENT thread. Been playing LP's for quite a while and have never really thought of setting it up to the neck pickup like that. Learn something new all the time.
     
  20. jaymenon

    jaymenon Junior Member

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    This is my first post here. I found this 'article' so beautifully detailed that I've pasted it onto another forum that I visit regularly, so my friends there may benefit from what I think is excellent and knowledgeable advice. Needless to say, I have specified the authorship (Splattle101) and the source (this forum) so I do hope this is OK.

    Thank you sir, I'm relatively new to playing Les Pauls, but I have fallen in love with this guitar. Your article is very educational - and most appreciated.

    Kind regards
    Jay

     

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