Got a new Goldtop Standard and ... not loving it

greg_ims

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Hi all, I'm a new member and have found a lot of great info here on Les Pauls. I'm very lucky that my wife and father-in-law recently surprised me with one of the new 2020 Goldtop LP Standards. I had always dreamed of having this guitar, but budget-wise it was out of reach. I have just always loved the sound of Les Pauls ... from Page, Gary Moore, and even The Edge. Now that I finally have one, I have to admit I'm struggling to love it. There are things that are great about it. I like the neck pickup both clean and overdriven. I mostly like the combo of the bridge and neck pickups. I'm not a fan of the bridge pickup by itself (definitely not clean). I can get a tone I like with OD, but I don't want to think of it as a pickup I can "only" use when overdriven. I definitely want to be able to use a trebley bridge sound that can cut through, but I find it kind of muted and lacking clarity and sustain...the latter being something I believed LPs to excel in. Don't get me wrong, I think the guitar is great, but it does feel like it lacks some clarity. I don't expect it to sound like a single coil, but having primarily played those up until getting this guitar, that might be what my ear has been trained to hear over the years.

I'm a big proponent of looking at a guitar as an entire system, so wanted to get some input from other players on what I can do to possibly address this. The first thing I did was adjust the pickup heights. The bridge was really high. I lowered both to about 2mm when the last fret is pressed. This sounded like a better balance, but still muddy and not as much sustain as I expected. I'm playing it into a Blackstar 6L6 and a Fender Blues Junior with only a Tube Screamer and a couple of delays as pedals, so I don't feel like it's a great guitar into a crappy amp situation.

One thing I was wondering about was the pots. I can't tell if this guitar has 300K pots or 500K pots. I has Orange Drop Caps in it rated at 233K, but other than that I don't see any indicators on the pots themselves. (I've attached a pic if anyone knows.) One thing I was thinking about was changing out the wiring to use 500K pots. This one from 920D looked good and also had a split option, but if the guitar already has 500K pots, might not be worth it:


So I'm just kind of looking for an added element of openness and clarity from the guitar without asking it to be something it isn't. But with that said, would swapping the Burstbuckers out for some P90s be the way to go? Or is there something less drastic (i.e., wiring, general setup) that could add what I'm looking for.

Thanks!
 

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greg_ims

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New harness, a set of Fralins, Lollars, etc and you will make friends with it.
I spent about an hour the other day looking at the different Lollar and Fralin options funny enough! I might go with a new harness and see how that goes before dropping more $$ into it.
 

greg_ims

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Try a new harness, PIO caps and then decide if new pickups are in order. Sometimes a pickup's potential comes out. And, it's cheaper. I like trying "cheaper" first.
I was looking at these PIOs to use with a new harness:

 

greg_ims

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When it comes to harnesses and pots, how can you tell on an LP if you have “long shaft” pots? I’ve seen that term used as a requirement for a few harnesses and don’t know enough about the ins and outs of the guitar to be able to tell yet.

“This kit is designed for Gibson Les Paul's that use long shaft pots. The bushing is 3/4" long. Please measure to make certain this is the right length for your guitar. Our pots require a 3/8" hole (industry standard pot size).”

 
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CB91710

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But with that said, would swapping the Burstbuckers out for some P90s be the way to go?
P90s will not fit the humbucker routing. They are a bit longer, and not as wide.

The harness itself is not going to make a difference. The value of the tone capacitor will make a difference, as will converting to "50s" wiring, which is simply a matter of moving the tone cap from the pickup side of the volume pot to the wiper.
Try that first, since it's a free mod, and it might do what you want.
But the Burstbuckers, like the Fender Texas Specials, can be polarizing. Some people love them, some hate them. Nobody seems to "just like" or "tolerate" them.
It's funny, because the Epiphone Probuckers are highly thought of.

But try the "50s" tone mod first since it's free. Then moving to a .015 tone cap will help to brighten things up a bit... but will have no effect with the tone on "10"
Also check your pot values and make sure they're closer to 500k than 450k. While 450k should be fine, lower values tend to darken the tone, and humbuckers can get pretty dark at 300k.
 

CB91710

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When it comes to harnesses and pots, how can you tell on an LP if you have “long shaft” pots? I’ve seen that term used as a requirement for a few harnesses and don’t know enough about the ins and outs of the guitar to be able to tell yet.

“This kit is designed for Gibson Les Paul's that use long shaft pots. The bushing is 3/4" long. Please measure to make certain this is the right length for your guitar. Our pots require a 3/8" hole (industry standard pot size).”

LPs have "long shaft" pots.

Short shafts are used on plastic pickguards, and sometimes on imports which have a veneer over the top and control cavities drilled very deeply into the cap.

And before you move forward on the Jimmy Page harness... your stock Burstbuckers are 2-conductor and can not be used with that harness. You will need to upgrade to pickups that have 4 conductors.
Personally, I think the Page harness is overkill. I've gone guitars with series/parallel/coil tap, and I've rarely, if ever used any of the options.
 

Tubejockey

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Lower the pickups and raise the polepieces. That will help with the clarity. You can also pop the covers off the pickups if you are OK with doing a little surgery. The other suggestions here are good, but keep in mind that 50's wiring only helps maintain clarity when the volume is rolled down, and it makes no difference at all when volumes are up. It makes the tone pots affect volume rather than volume pots affecting tone. I merely shifts the interaction between controls the other way. If you prefer no interaction, try modern wiring with a well-tuned treble bleed.
 

greg_ims

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P90s will not fit the humbucker routing. They are a bit longer, and not as wide.

The harness itself is not going to make a difference. The value of the tone capacitor will make a difference, as will converting to "50s" wiring, which is simply a matter of moving the tone cap from the pickup side of the volume pot to the wiper.
Try that first, since it's a free mod, and it might do what you want.
But the Burstbuckers, like the Fender Texas Specials, can be polarizing. Some people love them, some hate them. Nobody seems to "just like" or "tolerate" them.
It's funny, because the Epiphone Probuckers are highly thought of.

But try the "50s" tone mod first since it's free. Then moving to a .015 tone cap will help to brighten things up a bit... but will have no effect with the tone on "10"
Also check your pot values and make sure they're closer to 500k than 450k. While 450k should be fine, lower values tend to darken the tone, and humbuckers can get pretty dark at 300k.
I noticed Lollar makes a P90 to fit in the Humbucker housing. I can’t tell if the pots are 300k or 500k. I attached a pic but don’t see a rating on them in case you can ID them.
 

greg_ims

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Lower the pickups and raise the polepieces. That will help with the clarity. You can also pop the covers off the pickups if you are OK with doing a little surgery. The other suggestions here are good, but keep in mind that 50's wiring only helps maintain clarity when the volume is rolled down, and it makes no difference at all when volumes are up. It makes the tone pots affect volume rather than volume pots affecting tone. I merely shifts the interaction between controls the other way. If you prefer no interaction, try modern wiring with a well-tuned treble bleed.
I’ll try that with the poles! Do you have a recommendation on PU height? I lowered/raised the neck until I got a tone I liked and then did the same to the bridge to balance. Both ended up being about 2mm from strings when fretted at last fret. The bridge was up at nearly 1mm before I adjusted. I saw the steps on how to adjust the pole pieces, but any thoughts on the best way to go?
 
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greg_ims

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LPs have "long shaft" pots.

Short shafts are used on plastic pickguards, and sometimes on imports which have a veneer over the top and control cavities drilled very deeply into the cap.

And before you move forward on the Jimmy Page harness... your stock Burstbuckers are 2-conductor and can not be used with that harness. You will need to upgrade to pickups that have 4 conductors.
Personally, I think the Page harness is overkill. I've gone guitars with series/parallel/coil tap, and I've rarely, if ever used any of the options.
Good to know! I was wondering about that. Just need to find out what the pots are in this LP. I’ve found several harnesses with the .015 caps you mention.
 

Brek

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The individual poles pieces and overall height can have quite an effect, with mine set high on my ‘59, gets me a thumping attack, but not much in way of tone, lowered, tome becomes a lot more musical sounding, I am not experienced in these things either, esp compared to long standing members of this site. So can only add what I have tried and report the results obtained.
 

Pappy35

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I just got a 50's and I presume yours is as well since it's a Goldtop. The first thing to do is switch the caps. Though it's a "50's" the only real way it differs from the 60s version is the color and the neck thickness, they are both wired with the "60's" style circuit.

Assuming you have access to a good soldering iron, and some basic soldering skills, all you need to do is move the caps and change where they tone pot lug is grounded. You can google it for details but this will change the way the volume and tone pots interact and will affect the tone.

1600635830917.png


I also just replaced all the Gibson tone pots with a matched set (BTY, all Les Paul pots are 500 kOhm +- ~10% - 20%). Mine came with pots that were at either end of the tolerance range and I didn't like the tone of the guitar as compared to an Epi I converted.
 
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PauloQS

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Another vote for adjusting pickup height and pole piece. Also, if you were using Fender style single coils, you probably need to dial in you amp a bit differently too. Use the controls, volume and tone. Finally, bridge pickups usually shine in a band context and can sometimes be off putting by itself, especially when played clean.
 

CB91710

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Note on the 50s modern vs 50s wiring, while the diagram is drawn correctly, for making the conversion to 50s wiring, the only electrical difference is the position of the "left" side of the tone cap (on the volume pot).
The wiring does not need to be modified on the tone pot.
 


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