2016 Epi Les Paul Custom Pro Upgrade Inquiry....

cmsaw83

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Hey MLP Forum. I'm new to this forum, and finding it on a humbug was surprising as I love forums and am a member of many others (Marshall Forum & Ultimate Guitar being the others I frequent the most) but I LOVE a Les Paul, and seeing as how I just got a new one I am glad to have found you guys, happenstance or otherwise matters not!

At any rate... After spending some years testing many other waters, I have finally come back to the Les Paul (which happens to be the 1st REAL guitar I ever owned, n what I taught myself/learned on) and from the moment I picked it up n plugged it in, from the neck & fretboard, to the bridge, it just felt like HOME. Like walking into your parents house, the house you grew up in, only 15 years after last you'd done so, it was THAT profound.

All that having been said, I'll get down to it. I've now got a 2016 Epi Les Paul Custom Pro (silver-burst) and I love this guitar, but it DEFINITELY needs a few things IMHO to bring it up to par.

1st, while I really did dig the coil-splitting n phase-out push/pull pots idea, and if I'm honest, it was a big selling point for me on this guitar. After having it home and really being able to hear it through my marshall and crank it up, I have to say that I really feel BOTH options are more a novelty than anything else, and while the out of phase switch does change the tone quite dramatically, its yet a tone that's not very good for much of anything at all. Not very pleasurable/ desirable at all. And as for the coil-splitting (or "tapping" as so many like to advertise), I do notice a subtle change in tone, but nothing that I would consider even the LEAST bit close to a single-coil sound at all. (I've got a PRS custom 22 and it does a SUPERB job in this department... I honestly believe PRS is the reason why this whole "coil-tapping" revolution even came to be. Not that they "invented" the idea, they just made people start saying "hey, I wish they made a <insert name of ANY guitar here> that did that...) SO... I've become convinced that a Les Paul is made to sound like EXACTLY THAT, a LES PAUL, and THAT is the reason you buy one in the 1st place, so all the extra bells & whistles, if you will, can be foregone for the sake of the betterment of this guitar.

I am wondering if someone might offer up any good suggestions for "drop-in", or pre-wired pot, cap, & wiring kits that will work well, or fit, as it were, this particular model Epi?

I should note that while I'm not a STRICTLY metal player, my favorite band is TOOL, and I play alot of their stuff, as well as quite a bit of TOOL'ish type improv, both lead and rhythm. Though (and this is gonna sound off the wall...) Dave Matthews Band comes in at a VERY close 2nd, and I play a good bit of jam-band & fusion'esque type music as well. So, I'm looking at swapping the pickups with something that will suit playing a playing style with a good bit of gain, but can also have a good clean sound that can stand out and cut through the mix as well. Also, I want to keep the vintage PAF look of a humbucker with a cover. So I think after much research, I've settled on a set of DiMarzio Illuminator pickups, with either all black covers, or black covers with silver bobbins.

I also want to change ALL the chrome on the guitar to BLACK. I'm thinking, Hip-Shot 3x3, open-gear locking tuning machines, black screws to replace the chrome ones securing the pickups & the pickup adjustment screws, a black graph-tech nut, a tone-pros, graph-tech, or schaller bridge and stop-bar in black, black strap-locks, and most likely just some billet aluminum all black volume n control knobs.

My biggest question would be, what kind of drop-in electronics to use, seeing as I'm not really going for complete jazzy tone, therefore a 50's style with the orange-caps (which seems to be the most popular) may not be the best route for me?

I'll also be replacing the output jack plate with a black metal one, and the stock output jack and 3-way switch as well.

The wiring alone has GOT to make a big difference in tone, as the factory wiring and all the quick-connects look just as cheesy, thin, and cheap as anything one might expect from any product coming off a factory line in China. The guitar itself is BEATIFUL though.

Any and all thoughts n ideas are greatly appreciated. And if anyone knows where I might have a good chance at picking this stuff (or even a portion of it) up at a lesser price than I might find at my local corporate guitar/musical instrument store, or the Reverb App, I'd love to hear about it.

Thanks in advance
 

az2000

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while the out of phase switch does change the tone quite dramatically, its yet a tone that's not very good for much of anything at all.
I'm a newbie. But, you might want to try wiring your humbuckers in series (when out-of-phase wiring is engaged). It's a bolder OOP sound. This is the diagram that inspired me to try it:



(That uses Seymour Duncan colors. And, It's hard to see: the bridge's green wire goes to the pot ground with the bare ground from the pickup.).

I wired my Special-II that way (with a drilled hole and 3-position toggle switch for normal, oop, and oop+serial humbuckers). I like it. (Serial humbuckers by itself didn't sound good to me. But, in combination with OOP it sounded good. FWIW: I like OOP by itself too.).

If you have 4 push-pull pots, you could wire it with "Jimmy Page wiring." From what I've seen (diagrams), that would give you parallel/serial humbuckers on one pot's switch. And, in-phase/out-of-phase humbuckers on another pot's switch. So, you can get OOP+serial through two switches. But, if you don't like OOP by itself (and I bet you won't like serial humbuckers by itself either), that would be more choices than you need. If I were you, I would just wire the existing OOP as OOP+serial to see what it sounds like.

as for the coil-splitting (or "tapping" as so many like to advertise), I do notice a subtle change in tone, but nothing that I would consider even the LEAST bit close to a single-coil sound at all.
You might try parallel coil wiring. Again, I added a couple 3-pos toggles to my Special-II to switch (per pickup) normal, cut, parallel coil wiring. There's not a lot of difference between cut and parallel. But, parallel sounds slightly better. A little brighter.

However, apparently coil cut can sound better if the south/screw coil is active, particularly in the bridge pickup. See this 1728 page about coil cut wiring. That page uses DiMarzio colors, and the terms "coil A" and "coil B" (for north/slug and south/screw, respectively). The wiring to make south/screw active is called "inside out" or "alternate" wiring.

I didn't delve into that topic until after I finished my wiring. I want to try that some day. But, will probably use Seymour Duncan "Triple Shot" rings (for default serial coil wiring or parallel, or coil cut either south or north. All four choices.). I'll redeploy the two (per-pickup) toggle-switch holes with 2-position toggles to have (per pickup) modern/50s wiring as a choice.

You might want to investigate which coil is active and rewire it to make south/screw active (if it's not already). You can touch a screwdriver to the slug/screw coils to listen for which is active when cut.

The page I linked to also describes pairing the neck pickup's active coil (north/slug) to the bridge's (south/screw), creating what that page describes as a "new" pickup. I.e., the two pickups work together as a single humbucker(?). That part of the page is a little confusing because it shows the neck and bridge pickups together. But, it's not clear from the drawing whether the pickups are oriented like they would be when mounted in the guitar. (In fact, they aren't oriented that way. The neck pickup will be rotated 180 degrees. I.e., the north/slug coil will be on the bottom, closest to the bridge's north/slug coil. You have to mentally translate what you see in the diagram. If you don't, then that particular diagram is confusing.).

That all sounds very tedious. But, you might want to experiment with that before doing other things.

You talked about replacing components. You should measure your pots' resistance and see where you're at. Sometimes factory pots are down in the 200k range (even though they're stamped 500k). That could be a problem if you're not happy with the sound. Or, you might cause a problem if you're happy with the sound but replace them with pots that are 500k.

Welcome to the forum!
 
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JohnnyN

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Welcome to the MLP :)

I don't care much for those push pull options either. For a wiring kit, I can recommend Jonesy who is a member here.
One of his sales threads http://www.mylespaul.com/threads/free-shipping-and-special-deals-for-mlp-members-from-jonesyblues.419822/

I can also recommend 50s wiring, because there is a lot of tonal variations at hand once you learn to use the knobs and get used to the interaction between the pots. Also it keeps the highs when turning down. It doesn't matter if you keep the knobs at 10 all time though.
 

elephantrider

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i dropped in a toneman 50's harness on my '14 sb custom pro, as i don't
really use the coil features. made a nice difference along with the mhd
asylum p'ups i put in at the same time.
 

LOSTVENTURE

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The primary reason that you are getting more useful tones out of the PRS is that the pickups are much more heavily wound. No amount of component replacement or wiring re-configuration is going to get the PRS sound out of an Epi pickup. Particularly if you are into the higher gain sounds.
 


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