How important is the 3/4" maple cap?

The_Sentry

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Allright....chambering has made the rounds, as have a few pickguard threads...and even Cookie Boy did a knob thread not too long ago.

;)

So...question:

One of the biggest selling points of the Gibson Les Paul, then..and now...is the 3/4" maple cap. Not the veneerish wallpaper you find on a lot of other guitars....but the real deal.

How important is this to tone and sustain?
 

>Photi G<

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It's supposed to brighten up the dark sound of the mahogany body. And it has a nice flame! :thumb:
 

The_Sentry

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It's supposed to brighten up the dark sound of the mahogany body. And it has a nice flame! :thumb:

That's it? So if Mahogany is so dark, then why use it in the first place? Especially with modern electronics and amplifiers the way they are these days?

Also..isn't the SG a solid mahogany guitar? That doesn't seem very dark at all...
 

-=[Shifty]=-

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Well, Les Paul initially wanted an all maple guitar. The problem was that an all maple guitar was way too heavy, that's why they came up with building Les Pauls the way they do.
I think the maple cap is an important factor of the Les Paul concept, but I gotta admit, my all mahogany Les Paul isn't all that dark.
 

The_Sentry

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-=[Shifty]=-;1404623 said:
Well, Les Paul initially wanted an all maple guitar. The problem was that an all maple guitar was way too heavy, that's why they came up with building Les Pauls the way they do.
I think the maple cap is an important factor of the Les Paul concept, but I gotta admit, my all mahogany Les Paul isn't all that dark.

Well, I have a few "mahoganish" guitars...one of 'em sounds dark..(but I suspect they tossed some agathis or alder into the mix of whatever it is..)

But a cap is an expensive proposition. :hmm:
 

Boleskinehouse

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They're 1/2" at the thickest point... Supposedly. 3/4? I doubt they vary that much.
 

delawaregold

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GibsonGolden004a.jpg
 

The_Sentry

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Thanks for posting that, DG. Should it also be considered that the Gibson Les Paul that is being built today (chambered, some weight relief) is not the same as the model that was introduced back in the early 1950's?
 

delawaregold

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Thanks for posting that, DG. Should it also be considered that the Gibson Les Paul that is being built today (chambered, some weight relief) is not the same as the model that was introduced back in the early 1950's?


While that is true...
Ed King (Strawberry Alarm Clock, Lynyrd Skynyrd) says
Chambering improves tone, so it is at best, subjective.
Your ears have to make that call.
 

Boleskinehouse

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Not much I can ad as far as experience.. I don't have, nor have I ever had, an all mahogany Les Paul. I do have SGs, but that's not a fair comparison since they are much thinner..
 

Boleskinehouse

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Maybe Explorers would be a more accurate comparison.. They certainly do sound darker and thicker than typical Les Pauls. The mahogany Explorers anyway. I have no idea about the korina Explorers.

And then there's the 1275... Mine has the biggest, most muscular rhythm tone I've ever heard on the six neck. Including other 1275s I've played. I have no idea why. That's one serious slab of mahogany though. If I were recording an album from rock to metal, I'd use that 1275 for all rhythm tracks.

None of this tells anybody anything, I'm just rambling. :laugh2:
 

The_Sentry

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Well, Bole...if anyone would know.....you've certainly got enough Les Pauls to testify to any tonality differences! :thumb:

But on the flip side...it's an expensive addition. Although I don't know how expensive, I do know that with some vendors, a maple cap can drive up the cost of the guitar by hundreds of dollars...
 

Boleskinehouse

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I would say that the maple top ads a bit of brightness and attack.. I'm not so sure it really ads sustain... I would need a good mahogany LP to compare. I guess it's time to get a '57 Custom. :wow::laugh2::laugh2:
 

The_Sentry

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I would say that the maple top ads a bit of brightness and attack.. I'm not so sure it really ads sustain... I would need a good mahogany LP to compare. I guess it's time to get a '57 Custom. :wow::laugh2::laugh2:

It just might be....(but the '77 first!!! I won't give that campaign up! :laugh2: )

You know what I'm also curious about...how much the wood affects the tone vs. the pickups used. The humbuckers that are being used...they're considerably hotter than when the guitar was being developed...(and humbuckers didn't come until later...)
 

dspelman

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That's it? So if Mahogany is so dark, then why use it in the first place? Especially with modern electronics and amplifiers the way they are these days?

Also..isn't the SG a solid mahogany guitar? That doesn't seem very dark at all...

The SG is a skinny guitar -- makes a big difference.
 

Harpozep

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Mine is all mahogany and a real moody tonal wonder. Dark when I want it that way, but the P90 and Alnico ( going back in this week ) make it ooze with overtones when both clean and dirty. So it gets quite bright.

103954164.jpg


The '54 was a real winner. Now to get a '57 and then an all White '68 so I can have a Custom with a maple top too! I miss my '68.....

Yeah, My R9 is killer, has maple top, but it's just the wrong color, some sorta Burst. :laugh2:I'm an ebony Custom Guy.:D Dunno how the R9 happened, but it a keeper too.

Really, the difference in overall brightness between the maple capped R9 and the all mahogany R4 is minimal. The pickups are very different, so I would guess that is where the difference is adjusted. The P90/Alnico setup is bright while the PAF style Humbuckers on the R9 are thicker and darker. Though the WB 6707's I replaced them with are much more alive than the stock Gibsons were and I get more in the higher overtones than I did previously.
 

guitarfish

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The maple is useless, I take it off all new guitars immediately, I don't want it covering up that beautiful mahogany.
 

imsilly

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While I think the maple cap has some positive tonal effects on the sound of a guitar, I do prefer the sound of the full mahogany bodied Juniors, Specials and Customs. I also suspect that the properties of a maple cap were exaggerated over the years by Gibson simply because they were aware their main rivals Fender couldn't or wouldn't mass produce a guitar with a maple cap. I even seem to remember an article I read where someone involved in the conception of the Les Paul remarked Gibson put the cap on simply because Fender couldn't.
 

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