Upgrading my Traditional Vs purchasing a brand new R9

mjross

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This will go on for ever, turns into an R9 vs Traditional thing! Both great guitars. If the Traditional is doing the trick for you and you do not want to pay the price for an R9, maybe minor mods are all that’s required. I can tell you this as a person that owns way too many Les Pauls, a nice R9 is hard to beat. Never really understood that until I owned one, and don’t get me started on relics, that’s a whole new world. Nonetheless, hope you find what you are looking for. By the way, that’s a nice Traditional!
 

JMP

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Even if ya went crazy on upgrade parts… it wouldn’t put much of a dent in what a R9 costs.

let’s say you sell this one and find a R9 at a reputable store online.. it comes in and after 10 mins of playing it just leaves you flat.. for whatever reason. The pickups aren’t to your liking, the weight isn’t right, the neck carve just doesn’t work well with you.. whatever the case is.. now you’re stuck..

After owning a few reissues in the past I will say they are fine instruments. It gives a sense of having a piece of the past (that’s 100% generated in your head). Were they 2-3 times better than the 13 traditionals that I owned prior? Nope… gotta decide whether that 10-15% improvement is worth a few thousand bucks.. only you can make that decision.

I would honestly try to play some if that’s even a possibility locally. After owning both 13 traditional (multiple times over) and some recent reissues.. tough to beat the traditional. Go hog wild on upgrades and enjoy it. Since tops are like fingerprints and if I really loved the look of it.. I would stick with it and do some upgrades.
Very wise response indeed.
 

Unionjack515

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I don’t necessarily think R9s are worth the money, but I love me some R8s. As a project, I bought a Traditional with a gorgeous top and upgraded every reasonable thing—plastics, pickups, wiring harness, hardware. Sounded great and I’m guessing I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between it and my R8s in a blind test, but the feel was completely different and not in a good way. For what it’s worth though, I also change the pickups and wiring harnesses in my R8s. Anyway. I’d tend to agree with other posts above—if you’re going for sound, I bet you can get that Traditional really close. For feel, not so much. Good luck!
 

captdan61

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Get the R9 and (quit drinking), If I were in your shoes this would be an easy decision for me. Some of the reasons; (resale) value, long tenon, non chambered, attention to detail, they sound the amazing, lifetime guitar... you can end the search, resonance, weight, magic, tone etc.

I don't know how else to say this:
If you choose the pickup upgrade option, you will still want an R9. Because of that, you will save yourself money in the long run if you choose the R9. Even if you don't end up liking it, at least you know what it's like and move on, selling it at high second hand prices. Just get to the front of the queue and be done with it. I'm speaking from experience and wish I'd done the same.
Having owned to New R9's and a couple standards. I'll go a slightly different route I would suggest looking at used our knives so you can avoid some of the initial depreciation hit yes some of them won't be as wonderful as the brand new ones that are coming out right now and if that's important to you by all means spend all that money. But I spent about 6 K on a brand new Les Paul and honestly if I had it to do over again I think I would buy a used one for about two-thirds that price and then spend additional God knows how many dollars I spent upgrading it to make it the way I wanted. They're great right off the shelf if you pick a good one go somewhere where they have lots and try them lots of them try new ones try used ones. But unless it is incredibly important to you to be the first owner of the guitar I think I would look for used one lightly-used or someone's taking the depreciation hit maybe somebody's done some upgrades you appreciate it's been lived in it's been played the neck if it was going to get screwed up is already tweaked and got screwed up just double check check your truss rod but I'm personally not the guy that needs to put the first scratch in a guitar I could give a s***
 

David Garner

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I’ve had Antiquities and the Custom Shop Pearly Gates set in my 2016 Traditional (in my avatar). I like both but I prefer the Pearlies. More to your point, not only am I not looking to trade that guitar for an R8/R9, in fact I love it so much I’d be afraid to.

Swap the pickups if you love the guitar. No sense looking for what you already have.
 

roberty

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That traditional is beautiful. Does it have 300k volume pots? If so the first thing I would do is change them to 500k. The next thing I would look at is converting to 50s wiring (move the tone caps to the middle lug of the volume pot). Only after this would I look at swapping the pickups. My preference is for boutique handwound PAFs over the big brands

I had an R8 for a while and it was pretty but it was not particularly resonant. I expect mine was an exception to the rule but my point is there are no guarantees
 

Angelus

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I have both, 2 r9 and 3 upgraded trads.
Trad are great guitars but the r9 is a more high end guitar.
I upgraded a lot of guitars and a trad with antiquity pups will work for sure, these pickups are amazing, but you won t have the r9 quality. An r9 with antiquity isn t a trad with antiquity.
I love my upgraded trads But these are not the same.
If you can, buy an r9 at a good price (still exist ? ;)), you won t be disappointed.
You re not satisfied with your sound, pickups are important but pots, hardware, nut, frets (this is more personnal) and wood too, everything is better on the r9...
Once again trads a great guitars to my opinion but these are not the same quality.
 

Kro64

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If you decide to change the pickups be aware there are a ton of options. Which can lead you down a road of searching for that sound . I found the antiquity line a little weak sounding.Read the reviews and do your homework !! Good luck
 

integra evan

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2013 Traditionals are awesome guitars. Personal experience as well - keep the Trad for what its worth and swap some pickups.
 

twfusca

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I am in the process of selling my Traditional and three Standards. Once I played the Reissue I was done. I now own a R8, R9 and R0. The R9 tone with the JCM800 is really all I need. Amazing you will never regret it! I was one of those people that never understood the reissue hype. Now I’m totally onboard!
 

blouie

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Your Traditional is gorgeous!!! My kind of top and color!

Having an R0 V1 (which is just like an R9), it's my worst sounding guitar in my opinion. Unless you are like me and just want to have one to "own" something special, it's not worth it. It feels great to play but not that different than my more modern standard.

On the Gibson side, I've had them all 57/57+, 490R/498T, BB1, BB2, etc., my favorite to date is the 61R/T pickups (that come with the 2019+ LP Standard 60's. My goal is to switch one of my guitars to the Fralin Unbucker -
 

Cory

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Here’s the problem man - so you mod your traditional trying to get it to sound different, spend $500 or so, then you’re still not happy with it - now you’ve lost that money + you’re going to take a hit in the used market (most people want original guitars) - now you’re out $1k you could have just put towards a historic - as someone who was obsessed with the traditional line too (around 2011-2013 timeframe), once I bought my first custom shop LP reissue (2013 R9) there was no going back - they are above and beyond any USA model in feel, sound, looks, etc. - in my humble opinion, if you’re lusting after a R9 just get one - you’ll be glad you did - go for a 2019+ model with the unpotted Custombuckers - hands down the best pickup I’ve ever used.
 

Elad

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Been there too - I upgraded my Trad as close to vintage specs as I could - 550k pots with 50s wiring and PIO caps, Faber TOM hardware including ABR-1 bridge - all from the vintage correct materials, aluminium tailpiece etc.
It sounded great - very open and articulate, somewhat reminiscent of Gary Moore's Stripe on the '92 live in London video.
But Guess what? I still got an '11 R8 eventually and while it had a different vibe going on it was objectively a better put together, more rounded, familiar feeling and better finished instrument and a more resonant and complex sounding guitar than any Gibson USA I've yet to play.
For me life is too short to hold onto guitars which are not "IT" so the Trad is long gone and I got a second R8 (a 2013) which ended my search for Les Pauls (for now). I still upgraded some stuff (pots, thumbwheels, plastics) but I can't imagine it getting much better for what I want in a Les Paul - tone, feel and looks-wise.
BTW, when I got a 335 I went directly in the Historic route.

IMO/IME - Historics are superior guitars and are well worth the money for someone who wants the 50s-60s build specs and the feeling of an older instrument (including many of the quirks which are a part of the package). That being said, I noticed that for some people, sounding and feeling closer to a real Burst would actually prove counterproductive to their tonal goals and what they perceive as the epitome of Les Paul tone.
I suggest you find a nice used R8 ('13/'14 have tops and neck profiles on par with R9s and 2013 proved a giant leap in specs, again IMO) and your financial dilemma would decrease.
 

goodguy

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Went through the same scenario.. had a 2020 Standard 50’s & 2007 R8. The standard felt the same size, weight & neck shape as the R8 -but- the R8 sounded magical by comparison. I sold the standard. Considered buying wiz’s pickups (or Antiquities) and would have liked to try it -but- there is something in the total package of an R8 (R9) I know I would have not gotten out of my head and would have always wanted to get. All comes down to what makes financial sense for you. I’d like to hear how a pickup swap works out for you if you go that way but IMO, get an R9, because until you do.. you’re always gonna wonder (no matter how great your trad ends up).
 

FingerLakesFan

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I totally get it as I own a couple Trads and a R9. Is the R9 that much better? Yup. However, if can offer a different suggestion: Try a Slash. I think mine is as close as you can get to a Custom Shop as you can get and still save some money. My Slash and R9 get almost all the playing I do. Here is a pic of my Slash:

Slash Best.jpg
 

bigbang3

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Les Paul lovers, I wish you to land me your aid.
For the few last months I've been considering an upgrade in my Les Paul department.
I currently own a lovely 2013 Traditional (Picture attached). It feels great and plays great but sound-wise, it's not IT.
I'm having a hard time choosing between two upgrade options:
1) I've read a lot about the Antiquity Pickups and their magical sound, and I'm considering buying a pair.
2) The holy grail (imagine an angelic "Hallelujah" sound as you read it), the R9. I guess there's no going wrong with it, as long as you do realize you don't NEED two kidneys.

Sadly, I don't have a large Guitar-Centerish alternative where I live, so I can't really compare the two options, and comparing sounds via youtube is as good as comparing 8k pictures through an old CRT.

I wonder if any of you guys had a chance to experience with both the antiquity pickups and the R9, and will be willing to share your thoughts :)

Thanks!


View attachment 562690
First, not enough info here to get good informed help. What is it about the guitars sound you don't like? does it not have good sustain? is it too bright or dark?? I would start here- how does the guitar sound unplugged? if it haas a good feel and sound when you are playing it unplugged , then you have the raw materials for a keeper. Remember that your amplifier is at LEAST 50% of your sound , so are you happy with the amp/pedals that you are using? If you play different guitar through the set up does it do what you want? Conversely, can you play your Paul through a different set up that you already know sounds great and see if that changes your opinion? I agree with other replies, you have a real beauty and if all it needs are different pickups then that is certainly the way to go, I have found over the years ( builder and repairman) that the stock Gibson pickups are pretty damn good overall
 

Argon66

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I have a Traditional as well.
I liked it very much, but there were a few things that didnt work for me (muddy neck PU, etc) ...so I decided to go on the upgrade path.

Replaced the 57 Classics with Throback PAF's (big difference)
50's wiring (big difference if you ride your vol and tone controls)
replaced pots (more usable retro taper)
replaced caps (marginal difference if any)
replaced nashville bridge with ABR-1 (surprising notable difference)
replaced tail piece to match bridge

My urge to upgrade to another model is totally gone now. The guitar absolutely rocks. Better tone. More flexible. Better sustain. Plus its fun to see/hear it transform.

To each their own...but this worked for me...
 

skydog

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What do you think your Traditional would sound like if Warren Haynes played it?
 

bentfinger

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Near my house (uk) we have a large auction house that deals guitars.
I have tried over two dozen R9s over two years when I was looking,
I only found one which worked for me. It was somehow different. Which I bought.
What I recommend, as you can't try so many that you swap pick ups first.
If you are fine with the feel of yours then work on the sound. Just think, without my sale room, I could have bought any one of those other R9s from a shop and ended up with one I disliked. And spent a load on $$$$££££!
 
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I have a ‘87 Burst Std & w/ Covid Stimulus $ I put in a Set of SD Antiquity 4-Wire PUs ($389 @ Sweetwater w/ a Page Coil-Split wiring kit from 920D. Total awesome change! Tone Sustain are off the chart. It sends a really strong full signal.

IMO-buy the SD PUs, enjoy an afternoon of guitar surgery, save your $, and keep playing your axe!
 

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