Ever Put Old Pickups in a New Les Paul?

Niloy63

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I think they are a very big part of the tonal equation but there are many other considerations and really, some of the modern PAF clones offered today really do sound great.
Valid point!

if the guitar is dull and lifeless with dead spots and no sustain when unplugged, no pickups will wake it up.
if you put your $2K PAFs in a guitar with 300K pots, don't expect to find the magic.
if you put those same PAFs in a harness using modern wiring, you won't find it there either.
if you use bright, 9 gauge strings and looking for that old-school honk, your PAFs may disappoint.
if you use so much gain that your pups squeal like little girls at a boy band show, you definitely don't want PAFs.
if the stage floor in front of you looks like a NASA control room, does it even matter what pickups you use then?
Fair points. And they all certainly make a difference when put together. Perhaps I should have specified that as long as the guitar was at least "well" built and properly setup (no dead spots or sustain issues), because otherwise you wouldn't be able to do a damn thing about anything. lol. So barring any poor build/maintenance issues, I still think the pickups would be the most important factor on the guitar itself that determines tone. Not that the other pieces of the pie aren't important, just that pickups are a bit more.


I would argue the players hands are the greatest tone generator but that tends to start a poo flinging contest. :io:
Lol. I've had this debate on multiple occasions. On one end, I certainly agree with you. If you were to give some of the legends a shit guitar and crackly amp, they'll still find ways to bring magic out of the gear. But dare I rebuttal with... the fingers shape the tone that the pickups and the amp bestow upon the player? lol
 
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Niloy63

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I will agree that JB has a great understanding and appreciation of gear,... still not a fan though.

Billy Gibbons also has a great understanding and appreciation of gear,..... and a fantastic attitude,.... I love and enjoy everything he does.

Just my off topic opinion. ;)
I totally respect that opinion. But I would guess that you can appreciate that he's a damn good guitarist while not liking his style. It's similar to how I feel about Joe Satriani. Phenomenal, out of this world guitarist, yet I can't find myself finishing a song till the end. But there are some passages that he plays that leave me awe struck.

And btw, Billy Gibbons is THE shit. Love the dude. Frank Beard lives down the street from a close friend of mine. And on multiple occasions, have seen Gibbons chilling out there with Beard on my way to see my friend. While I almost crashed whipping my neck around like that, there's no way I'm gonna creep on ZZ Top. I'm proud to report that I maintained my composure and moved along. lol

The newest addition to my list of legendary guitarists (he's been around for quite a while, but I've only recently discovered him in the last couple years), is Eric Gales. The dude is a freagin haus in every aspect of musicianship.

I may get shot for this amigo,..... THE most responsible part of any tone is in the FINGERS......... There... i said it.

:rofl:
lol like I was saying to @NotScott , I think there's validity in that statement seeing how great players can make magic with shit gear. But I would venture off to say that one's fingers shape the tone confered by the pickups and amps. Some guitarists know how to bend and shape tone better than others.
 

cdscarter

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I have an '89 LP Standard that I bought on a whim, all stock, for a ridiculously cheap price. Was a great playing guitar, is my favourite go to 9/10. I swore I wouldn't change a thing on it other than the tuners (preferred Grovers). I happened to have a project guitar that kind of fell apart that I'd put a 70's Super Distortion - again, got it really cheap (maybe £30) because the wires had been cut but I knew a guy who would fix it free of charge.

I decided to chuck it in the '89 to test it out rather than sell it mainly because it matched the PU ring colour and worse case I could just put the original back in. As soon as it was in, the guitar became an absolute beast. It worked really well with the neck pickup and gave me a sound I was looking for. So much so, I have considered also putting a Super Distortion in my other Les Paul.

Personally, I wouldn't be spending out the kind of money PAFs go for to put in a relatively modern guitar when, like so many others have said, you can get something similar for much less money. But if you find something for the right price, get lucky with what you find then it can really improve an already good guitar. I wouldn't judge someone who does buy PAFs and if that's what works for them then good for them. Just my 2 cents.
 

mudface

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I totally respect that opinion. But I would guess that you can appreciate that he's a damn good guitarist while not liking his style. It's similar to how I feel about Joe Satriani. Phenomenal, out of this world guitarist, yet I can't find myself finishing a song till the end. But there are some passages that he plays that leave me awe struck.

And btw, Billy Gibbons is THE shit. Love the dude. Frank Beard lives down the street from a close friend of mine. And on multiple occasions, have seen Gibbons chilling out there with Beard on my way to see my friend. While I almost crashed whipping my neck around like that, there's no way I'm gonna creep on ZZ Top. I'm proud to report that I maintained my composure and moved along. lol

The newest addition to my list of legendary guitarists (he's been around for quite a while, but I've only recently discovered him in the last couple years), is Eric Gales. The dude is a freagin haus in every aspect of musicianship.



lol like I was saying to @NotScott , I think there's validity in that statement seeing how great players can make magic with shit gear. But I would venture off to say that one's fingers shape the tone confered by the pickups and amps. Some guitarists know how to bend and shape tone better than others.
I totally agree on both counts amigo.............. I felt the same about Edward Van Halen,..... i thought he was an amazing player..... awesome approach to the instrument.......... I did NOT want to play like him.... made an extreme effort not to....

But a million other players did,...... made me look stoopid,.... i wanted to play like Buddy Guy..... i was out of sync in 1984.
:rofl:
 

Roxy13

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I had a 1981 pair of Maxon Dry Zs here that I found in a guitar I brought over from Japan that had apparently been long forgotten about being in there. And now they reside in a guitar approximately 30 years newer than they are. So Japanese pickups and I put them in a Japanese guitar, but similar scenario.
 

Niloy63

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I totally agree on both counts amigo.............. I felt the same about Edward Van Halen,..... i thought he was an amazing player..... awesome approach to the instrument.......... I did NOT want to play like him.... made an extreme effort not to....

But a million other players did,...... made me look stoopid,.... i wanted to play like Buddy Guy..... i was out of sync in 1984.
:rofl:
I'm sure glad I didn't grow up in the EVH's time. The 80s almost added pressure with all the virtuosity everywhere. I grew up with grunge, and so the pressure wasn't there at all. lol By the time I started getting serious about getting better in college around the mid 2000s, I had moved onto more challenging stuff. It would have been nice to have pushed myself when I was really young to get a head start... but I don't have a time machine, so I'll have to make do. lol

Buddy Guy is amazing. Sunhouse and Muddy Waters too. All the way back to Robert Johnson and Led Belly. Amazing for sure. There would be no Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, hell... most of the 60s and 70s power house bands wouldn’t have done what they did without them. So those blues geniuses really opened up the doors to so much that we know today.
 
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mdubya

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I may get shot for this amigo,..... THE most responsible part of any tone is in the FINGERS......... There... i said it.

:rofl:

Yep. And the more you practice, practice, practice, and practice some more, the better that tone gets.
 

RocketKing

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I am one of those guys that owns more than a handful of $4K guitars and amps and although I don't scoff at anyone for spending $2K or more on PAFs, I am not spending $2k on pickups when guys like you and others are winding pups that sound just as good, if not better, through my vintage amps. :thumbs:
My thoughts exactly
 

cooljuk

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Ya'll are mighty kind.

I don't know if I'll gain or loose points for this, considering my position, but I do keep vintage pickups in several of my guitars. Not most of them, but a few favorites, including an R9 with a set of exceptional 1959 PAFs.
 

Gtarzan81

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Ya'll are mighty kind.

I don't know if I'll gain or loose points for this, considering my position, but I do keep vintage pickups in several of my guitars. Not most of them, but a few favorites, including an R9 with a set of exceptional 1959 PAFs.
Sound clips!?!
 

jstarr823

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The biggest contributor to guitar tone is the person playing it, so all of this outrageous money spent chasing tone is kinda silly.
 

ns2a

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Ya'll are mighty kind.

I don't know if I'll gain or loose points for this, considering my position, but I do keep vintage pickups in several of my guitars. Not most of them, but a few favorites, including an R9 with a set of exceptional 1959 PAFs.
This is what I was looking for...

What do you think of the vintage vs the stock or boutique pickups? A little better? 50% better? or WOAH! better?

Yes, I know "better" can mean different things...
 

Latearrival

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I may get shot for this amigo,..... THE most responsible part of any tone is in the FINGERS......... There... i said it.
:rofl:
We can always hope.....:rofl:

But fishing trip or not - I'll bite!

This all depends on what is meant by "Tone"? Most people on forums use it to mean:

"The sound made by a guitarist, guitar, and amplifier"

This is made up of

1) The fingers
2) The note choice
3) The playing technique (bends, slides Legato etc...)
4) The song and its chord structure
5) The vibrato and/or any other technique
6) The type of pick and what part of the string is struck by it
7) The strings (Composition, size, brand etc...)
8) The Construction of the Guitar (Scale length, single or double cut
9) The Sustain (or lack thereof) of the Guitar
10) The type and quality of the wood
11) The Pick-ups (single coil, Humbucker, high output, Low output)
12) The Type of Amplifier (Clean, distorted, Bright, Dark)
13) The Volume of the amp
14) The acoustics of the venue
15) The recording technique (mic placement, type, recording volume, EQ etc..


I use a more traditional definition of "TONE" which is something like:

"The pitch, timbre, frequency and harmonic content of the sound of an instrument and/or amplifier"

Tone (the way I define it) has very little to do with the player and his fingers! (although there will be a small effect ) - and has everything to do with items 7-15. The player has very little effect on these elements, but a big effect on items 1)-6). Items 1)-6) are more down to what I would call musical structure and technique than "Tone"

Tone to me is what an instrument sounds like, either individually, or through an amp. It is the quality of the sound. Is it Trebly? Bassy? Harmonically rich? Most of those qualities will be the same no matter who plays the guitar, so have very little to do with "The Fingers"

Dave Gilmour will always sound like Dave Gilmour no matter what he plays though - but that is his technique, not his Fingers! As strat will always sound like a strat (and not like a Les Paul) because of the TONE of the instrument! It will always sound like a strat who ever's fingers a playing it!
 
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mdubya

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This is what I was looking for...

What do you think of the vintage vs the stock or boutique pickups? A little better? 50% better? or WOAH! better?

Yes, I know "better" can mean different things...
If you want real, killer, vintage tone, just go with P-90's.

If P-90's don't do it for you, PAF's are a lie.

JMHO. :p
 

ns2a

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If you want real, killer, vintage tone, just go with P-90's.

If P-90's don't do it for you, PAF's are a lie.

JMHO. :p
Well...
I have a Special with P90's so I did think about that also.
And it's a lot cheaper. :p
 

mdubya

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Well...
I have a Special with P90's so I did think about that also.
And it's a lot cheaper. :p

Then you are already there, IMHO. Any changes would just be variations.
 

cooljuk

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This is what I was looking for...

What do you think of the vintage vs the stock or boutique pickups? A little better? 50% better? or WOAH! better?

Yes, I know "better" can mean different things...
You're not going to find a productive answer to these questions, I'm afraid.

Which vintage pickups?

Which boutique pickups?

Are the boutique pickups in question even supposed to sound like the same vintage pickups we are talking about or some other voicing the builder had in mind?


I'll say this, most every modern pickup I've ever played lacks some particular qualities that are commonly found in pretty much every PAF - in particular, the ability to have a big, thick, harmonically rich, fat sound which is simultaneously open and breathy and clear on the top end. Not only pickups, but nearly all modern guitar/sound/recording gear lacks that seemingly impossible combination of "fat and clean at the same time" that lots of vintage gear has. If I could find those qualities that I loved about all the vintage PAFs I had the pleasure of being exposed to through my various occupations in music, I would have never bothered trying to make my own. So, ya, to me - most do fall short. Pretty far from it, actually. That doesn't mean they aren't fine sounding pickups, many more detailed or even sounding than stock or big brand names. They just don't have the characteristics particular to, and common in most, PAFs.
 

cooljuk

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The biggest contributor to guitar tone is the person playing it, so all of this outrageous money spent chasing tone is kinda silly.
Biggest contributor, sure, but far from the only contributor.

A chef is the biggest contributor to a good meal and a professional chef will use professional tools and the best ingredients available to prepare it.
 

jstarr823

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Biggest contributor, sure, but far from the only contributor.

A chef is the biggest contributor to a good meal and a professional chef will use professional tools and the best ingredients available to prepare it.
True, like I said, “biggest contributor.”

That being said, a really good chef can make a subpar piece of beef taste superb with common ingredients and fairly primitive tools. Just as John Mayer can make a $500 Mexican Strat sound tasty.
 




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