Question for the '54 Custom Owners (Staple Pickup DARK)

yeatzee

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Just got a 54 custom, and I wanted to see if I can get some input from other owners on the tone of that staple alnico V pickup. From everything I've read it's supposed to be more mid scooped, more fender like than a P90. Nice and bright for a neck pup. I've never played one before until this guitar, and the neck pickup is easily the darkest I've ever played on any guitar... ever. It almost sounds like the tone is rolled off with that almost honky quality you get from doing that even when the tone is on 10. By contrast the bridge P90 is full rock, nice and bright and punchy and good output.

For reference, I can get a similar tone on the bridge as I am getting with the neck everything on 10 if I set the bridge tone to about 2. It's that dark.

Is that normal with the staple P90? Would anyone be willing to share a sample tone going between the positions with me so that I have a reference point? The guitar is so far absolutely fantastic, and the bridge is AMAZING. It's not going anywhere, but I do need to figure out how to get the neck dialed in. It's already as low as it'll go, below the pickguard cover, and I tried messing with the pole pieces but they didn't do much. A part of me thinks the volume pot may be 250k or something it's so dark. I tried checking with a multimeter but I can't get a reading on the volume controls. The tones are both ~500k.

If it turns out it's just a dud Gibson pickup does anyone have recommendations for aftermarket replacements? I see lollar and SD make them, but are they more like I've read, fender-y brighter scooped? The output readings are quite high on their websites, mine reads 7.9k. And finally, maybe a solution would be a 1 meg pot in the neck to let me high's through. I'm open to whatever, I want to play the guitar and I need a decent neck and middle :)
 

DanD

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Did you adjust the poles?
 

yeatzee

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Did you adjust the poles?
Yep :) Made little difference, as did adjusting the height. Those more adjust the output of each string vs clarity ime. Obviously lowering the pickup itself and raising the poles is one thing you can do with darker humbuckers, but it's already maxed out as low as it'll go and it's all low mids and no top end.
 

DanD

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That's odd. My staple is pretty bright for a neck pup.

My poles are ~ 3/16 above the cover on the treble side and 1/8 on the bass side.
 

ARandall

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Typically the staple is like a punchy singlecoil......even a little Firebird like.

If its super dark I'd be looking to see if the electrics are all ok and you have nothing shorting a cap leg for example, or maybe a blown pot.
 

yeatzee

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That's odd. My staple is pretty bright for a neck pup.

My poles are ~ 3/16 above the cover on the treble side and 1/8 on the bass side.
I can measure mine tomorrow, but I tried them in all different positions. I'd need a radical change, and poles in my experience allow for fine tuning but that's about it. That's what I was expecting, a relatively bright neck pickup. The bridge is very bright and clear so it's not like the guitar is naturally very dark :)

Typically the staple is like a punchy singlecoil......even a little Firebird like.

If its super dark I'd be looking to see if the electrics are all ok and you have nothing shorting a cap leg for example, or maybe a blown pot.
Interesting! The guitar is a 2019, completely untouched looks brand new including the cavity. Nothing looked odd when I was trying to read the pots but I'll take another look tomorrow and maybe post a pic :)

Thanks for the help!
 

Dazza

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I found one of these for my housemate. 2003 model if I recall. We switched out the linear pots but in either case it's not a dark pickup. The best analogy is rings like a piano string, lovely bright, chimey tone.
Try simply disconnecting the tone pot to hear the result before going through the trouble of adding a 1meg. While the difference between 250 and 500k pots is obvious its diminishing returns as you go higher. It won't be night and day if that's what you require. Something don't seem right unless the guitar naturally has a darker resonance.

GL
Daz
 
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yeatzee

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I found one of these for my housemate. 2003 model if I recall. We switched out the linear pots but in either case it's not a dark pickup. The best analogy is rings like a piano string, lovely bright, chimey tone.
Try simply disconnecting the tone pot to hear the result before going through the trouble of adding a 1meg. While the difference between 250 and 500k pots is obvious its diminishing returns as you go higher. It won't be night and day if that's what you require. Something don't seem right unless the guitar naturally has a darker resonance.

GL
Daz
I'm very much a wiring newb, but if the tone pot read 500k taking it out of circuit probably isn't going to make a massive difference right? If it were a pot thing, it'd be the volume pot being the tone suck.

I don't feel like the guitar is naturally very dark, the bridge has a nice snap to it. I recorded a quick sample, Suhr PT15 ch1 with bright switch on to give it extra presence to try and help.

https://soundcloud.com/tanner-yates-872622389%2F54-les-paul-custom-pickup-test
Pretty big difference. I then recorded a quick sample comparing to other neck pickups I have that are supposed to be similar. It goes staple - dynasonic (falcon) - P90 (es330) - humbucker (goldtop) - back to staple.

https://soundcloud.com/tanner-yates-872622389%2F54-les-paul-custom-staple-vs-dynasonic-vs-p90-vs-humbucker
 
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On my '54, the staple Sounds pretty bright, even though it has a *huge* low end. The bridge p90 however, is way too bright and harsh for my liking. So either I have a better staple pickup, or the other parts of my setup are just way brighter.
 

Dazza

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I'm very much a wiring newb, but if the tone pot read 500k taking it out of circuit probably isn't going to make a massive difference right? If it were a pot thing, it'd be the volume pot being the tone suck.

I don't feel like the guitar is naturally very dark, the bridge has a nice snap to it. I recorded a quick sample, Suhr PT15 ch1 with bright switch on to give it extra presence to try and help.

https://soundcloud.com/tanner-yates-872622389%2F54-les-paul-custom-pickup-test
Pretty big difference. I then recorded a quick sample comparing to other neck pickups I have that are supposed to be similar. It goes staple - dynasonic (falcon) - P90 (es330) - humbucker (goldtop) - back to staple.

https://soundcloud.com/tanner-yates-872622389%2F54-les-paul-custom-staple-vs-dynasonic-vs-p90-vs-humbucker
That drastic difference between bridge & neck sounds like the neck tone pot is on 0. Not only is the treble gone, but the pickup is muted and output signal lowered as if the tone pot is rolled off. That sound sample in no way represents the staple pickup of the '54 Custom we have in this house.

Is the tone pot functioning ? Does turning it get any less bright than that ?
While letting strings ring out try touching/wiggling the neck pots lugs / solder points to see if they're shorting out etc.
Or simply swap over bridge and neck pickup connections to the opposite pots to hear the difference.
If the neck pickup is still dull/muted through the bridge pots then it's the pickup.
Conversely if the bridge pickup becomes dull/muted it's the neck pots/cap or solder connections to blame.

GL
Daz
 
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yeatzee

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That drastic difference between bridge & neck sounds like the neck tone pot is on 0. Not only is the treble gone, but the pickup is muted and output signal lowered as if the tone pot is rolled off. That sound sample in no way represents the staple pickup of the '54 Custom we have in this house.

Is the tone pot functioning ? Does turning it get any less bright than that ?
While letting strings ring out try touching/wiggling the neck pots lugs / solder points to see if they're shorting out etc.
Or simply swap over bridge and neck pickup connections to the opposite pots to hear the difference.
If the neck pickup is still dull/muted through the bridge pots then it's the pickup.
Conversely if the bridge pickup becomes dull/muted it's the neck pots/cap or solder connections to blame.

GL
Daz
Hey Daz the tone pot works as you'd expect, it gets much much darker rolling it back. Nothing looks close to shorting out from what I can see and moving things around doesn't seem to make a difference either.

I'm down to try what you're suggesting, but is there a way I can keep the grounds on the pots as is but just swap the hot leads from the pickups using an extension wire? I'd rather not disturb the pot solder if it's not needed to do the quick test.
 

Sct13

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yea those staple pickups should be bright and airy, They should snarl without a problem.

Did you measure anything ? Maybe its not the correct pot? or a coil isn't grounded / connected ....those are all sperate coils.

Also see if the pot is actually wired correctly .....those highs could be shunted elsewhere//...
 

yeatzee

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yea those staple pickups should be bright and airy, They should snarl without a problem.

Did you measure anything ? Maybe its not the correct pot? or a coil isn't grounded / connected ....those are all sperate coils.

Also see if the pot is actually wired correctly .....those highs could be shunted elsewhere//...
Yep, as mentioned the tone pots read about 500k. Can't measure the volume pots when they're connected with the pickups so can't say what those are just yet. Wiring looks clean though, I don't spot any issues:



Pickup measures 7.9k. I didn't notice any issues on the pickups, but I don't 100% understand what I'm looking at.


 

Sct13

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White? Wow that’s cool… it might also be a solid mahogany body as opposed to a mahogany cap.. is the passage through for the pickup wiring round or square?

one of the characteristics of these bodies is a darker tone… but not that dark.

At this point I would disconnect the tone pot and cap to eliminate either the cap or pot and see… then it’s the pickup…

the staple pickups design has separate coils as
each pole piece (sort of) … so there are many things that can go south… (too many parts)

You could try to re flow all the solder joints as there could be a cold solder joint or a cracked solder joint… your finding out why these weren’t the standard

Whats under that black piece of tape? That could be a problem area…?

if you still have the issue take out the pickup and try a different one
 

Dazza

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Yep, as mentioned the tone pots read about 500k. Can't measure the volume pots when they're connected with the pickups so can't say what those are just yet. Wiring looks clean though, I don't spot any issues:



Pickup measures 7.9k. I didn't notice any issues on the pickups, but I don't 100% understand what I'm lo
The rear (right end) leg of the cap isn't touching the back of the pot is it ? From this angle it looks like there could be hidden contact ?

Daz
 

Dazza

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From your sound clip it's not just darker, but muted like a wah all the way back. Which is also what rolling off the tone knob sounds like. That leads me to suspect the vol/cap/tone signal path. I do appreciate the hesitation to undo any soldering but you might just have to to get to the bottom of this issue. I wish my soldering efforts looked even half as nice as that.

Daz
 

ARandall

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Something @cooljuk said in another post about the modern staples may apply here too - they have a brass baseplate which is not only completely incorrect for the pickup type, but is a known muting effect on the top-end.
 

Slashperryburst

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A white one? Nice. Mind sharing some pictures of the guitar?

Something @cooljuk said in another post about the modern staples may apply here too - they have a brass baseplate which is not only completely incorrect for the pickup type, but is a known muting effect on the top-end.
I have a 2019 '55 reissue and I don't have these issues with my pickup.
 

DanD

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My '14 aged '54 doesn't exhibit this either. I'm seriously doubting this is a 'brass base' problem.

There's a wiring/pot issue as stated above or the pickup itself has issues.

I played a handful of '54s before I got my '14. They all were very close as to tone and all had the signature 'bright' staple.
 


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