Upgrading my Traditional Vs purchasing a brand new R9

Oig

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Lol, as a Trad owner this thread is making me happy. But my Trad can be what it is because I'm not asking it to be something it's not - I just want a nice looking and sounding LP that is reminiscent of the originals. It doesn't have to be "IT" because my best playing and sounding Les Paul is a humble 2013 Studio (mostly stock) that I can take out and play anywhere. Next to it all contenders wither hahaha.

I'm a reissue sceptic. I've always wondered why a guitar has to be JUST like they made it in 1959 when there are so many great playing and sounding modern guitars out there. It's compounded by an acquaintance of mine, a session player in NYC who bought an R8 and ended up swapping out literally everything to get it to be what he wanted it to be - pickups, electronics, bridge and tailpiece, tuners, plastics - the works. He even put on one of those fugly string retainers that you mount under the tuners to get it to stay in tune. After all that he still didn't gel with it and ended up picking up something else.

If you dig the Trad and just want a different sound, do the pickup swap. If you don't like them, you can always try others.
 

Rwill682

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"For the few last months I've been considering an upgrade in my Les Paul department...."

I agree with the others who have responded If you like your guitar -keep it and swap the pick ups. Depending on what is already in there you have a lot of options. Custom buckers are the actual pickups used in custom shop models. You may also consider upgrading the wiring harness.

Pick up selection can be quite the rabbit hole because of the different options.. . Different manufacturers and magnets etc. I would consider what era of Gibson you want your guitar to sound like and then research the pickups in the guitar you wish to emulate. One maker I recommend is manlius…. They are a boutique shop In New York State…

Whichever you choose remember the wiring harness upgrade will also bring your guitar closer to vintage build. Good luck!
 

islandjimmy

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I have a 2012 Traditional and a Standard Les Paul. I play mostly through a Fender Princeton Reverb or a tweed Deluxe. I put Seymour Duncan Antiquities in my Standard. I like the sound of the 57 Classics in my Traditional, they’re sort of dark and moody but I like that about my Traditional. As far as the difference in sound between the 57 Classics and the Antiquities? The Antiquities are much brighter and articulate. I own two sets of Antiquites (one set is in an Epiphone Riviera) and they’re both pretty much the same tone wise. If you are looking to brighten the tone on your Traditional, the Antiquities will do that. They’re pretty hot too. Not crazy hot but they have an edgy bite. They look really cool too. They come in a nice box in cloth bags with serial number certification etc. They sound a lot like the videos when someone plays a 59 Burst. Id say the Antiquities are close to the original PAFs in tone. I believe each set of Antiquites has a different wind and no two are the same. I’ve heard, if you like the tone on your set of Antiquities, you can give Seymour Duncan the serial number and they can replicate it on a new set.
 
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TyrellJunior

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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.

The 2013 Traditionals aren't chambered, it's the only year Gibson didn't weight relieve the Trads and why I bought that year.

Here's mine. I put a Cream Tone aged ABR and tailpiece and p/u covers, so now you could say it's almost an R8 with its chunky baseball bat 58 type neck.
2013 trad.jpg
 

Hollandweb

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I took my 2014 Les Paul Traditional and upgraded it. I used Creamtone (poker chip, knobs and pickguard), historic amber switch tip, and a set of Wizz pickups. I also upgraded the bridge to a Tone pros locking style, because I like the bridge and tail piece not falling off when I change strings and clean the frets. I've played many R9's and I would say they are better, but not $2.5-$3K better. My traditional has the look now and plays really well.
 

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trevenarj

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I’ve been in the same predicament as you. I own a 2013 Traditional that has 50’s wiring installed before I purchased it and a Faber bridge. The top isn’t as attractive as yours. I have changed the pickups to OX4s, replaced the tailpiece with a locking Faber aluminum tailpiece and switched the plastic parts to a more authentic color yet I still lust for an R9. I honestly feel that I’m being drawn in by the look of their tops and the finish. When all is said and done, I don’t think that justifies spending thousands more. I’ll stay put (for now) C0985E92-304B-4126-A4FF-CBCC632F7F22.jpeg View attachment 563040
 

Oig

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I took my 2014 Les Paul Traditional and upgraded it. I used Creamtone (poker chip, knobs and pickguard), historic amber switch tip, and a set of Wizz pickups. I also upgraded the bridge to a Tone pros locking style, because I like the bridge and tail piece not falling off when I change strings and clean the frets. I've played many R9's and I would say they are better, but not $2.5-$3K better. My traditional has the look now and plays really well.
Got a 2014 too! That commemorative inlay is the only thing I wanna change.
E7F6A2EF-A488-4E4D-A931-8A74BD609230.jpeg
 

Oldhophead

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I was in your exact position earlier this year. 2014 Traditional that I liked, but didn't sound like I wanted. I installed SD Antiquities, put in a Creamtone wiring harness, and dropped in a Faber bridge. Huge improvement! But after playing a friend's R8 and R9, I started thinking about one of those. I ordered a 2020 R9 from Dave's Guitar Shop in April, and what a difference in playability! I still have the Traditional, but my go to is the R9. They both sound great, but the R9 plays soo much better and feels so much better to my hands. If your Traditional feels and plays like you want, the Duncans will definitely help the sound. Either way, I don't think you can go wrong.
 

Crusader

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R9 hands down. No matter what you do to a Traditional it still won't be an R9
 

50 Watts

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I think this really comes down to the "feel" of the guitar. If you love the feel of your traditional (weight, neck profile, fretboard) then you can alter the tone with pickups and a new wiring harness, pots etc. Its a great looking guitar for sure so that would be the way to go if you are happy with how it feels and plays overall.

I used my R0 setup specs and dialed in my Traditional to the exact same specs in terms of relief, and string height. It plays really well but it still doesn't have quite the same fretboard feel as the R0 (obviously there is a difference in neck profile but that doesn't account for it).

The R9 will get you a lighter guitar with a really nicely refined fretboard and a great setup from the start. Stock pickups and wiring are closer to the boutique level. I personally think the new unpotted custombuckers are incredible but that opinion is not shared by everyone. The upcharge for those things is approximately 3K. Is it worth it? Dollar for dollar, probably not, but the reissues are fantastic guitars. They will spoil you. I don't pick up my Traditional too often anymore.

My advice, buy a used R9 and if you can keep the traditional do so. Give the R9 a spin. If you don't like it, resale is generally pretty easy. If you love it, you can sell the Traditional to offset the cost.
 
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Deadletteroffice

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Swapping PUs can be an endless rabbithole. If there's a set you know you like, then you'll likely like them in this guitar. Many great options out there. If you enjoy tinkering then changing out the plastics and the PUs will be a fun project and it will transform the guitar. An R9 will likely be lighter, which sounds different to me. The finish will feel different. One of the first things people notice when they pick up a Gibson custom shop is how it feels, and that has a lot to do with how we perceive the guitar because as we are playing we aren't actually looking at it from the same angles as just gawking at it. I've upgraded some USA Gibsons into damn nice guitars. I do think there is something to be said for the materials used on the custom shop models as well as the build and finish work. They are imperfect, and each one is different, but that's part of the charm. Some people hate that and complain about it endlessly. Others embrace it and are patient and find the one that speaks to them.
 

zdoggie

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I agree with duane I own a custom shop historic 2018 , its one of my favs I also own a2013 traditional which I gave to my son as he did'nt have a LP and I wanted to enjoy the buckers that guitar is as good as any standard i've played
I did put on a set oF ox4 with not much improvement the historics cost a chip their attion to detail is better .

zdog
 

lwchafin

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What 50 watts said (if you have the money to swing that).
 

PageSide84

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I came into this thread expecting to just say, "Get the R9, damnit!" I would still lean toward getting that, because I tend to prefer the Historics to the USA Gibsons. When I saw the photo, however, it made me hesitate, because that's a gorgeous Trad. If you really like that Traditional, stick with it, and just upgrade as you want. If we were talking about two hypothetical guitars, I'd say go for the R9 every single time. But you already know that you have a good one in the Trad.

You could order an R9 from a deal with a good return policy to test it out. If it's not "it," then return it and try the pickups. I'm heavily biased in favor of the Historics, so take what I say with a grain of salt.
 

RobertJohnston

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I have been down the path you are going with my 2013 Traditional and went the upgrade path in 2014 spending right at $600:
- Good luthier to install a bone nut and perform full setup $120
- Lollar Imperials $165 each (neck pickup is 5% under wound)
- RS Guitarworks Pre-Wired Vintage Electronics Upgrade Kit- Long Shaft kit $100 (500K pots, vintage paper in oil caps and wiring)

I did these upgrades a few weeks apart and they really brought the guitar to life and became much more dynamic with my amp (Germino JTM45 Marshal clone).

A few lessons learned:
- I struggled with tuning for 4 month before getting a pro setup. Now the guitar stays in tune, chords are in tune all over the neck and action is great. The luthier cut a slight curve towards the tuning pegs on the D and G string bone nut slots. On a Les Paul that nut angle can cause the strings to stick. He smoothed out the grooves, fix the height and corrected the angles. The fret wires had a few sharp edges that he cleaned up. He also talking me into using Big Bends Nut Sauce on the grooves. Best hundred dollars I spent at the time

- When Jason Lollar advises you to get the neck pickup underwound 5% do it! The day I called Lollar to discuss the tone I wanted from my LP (old ZZ, Black Crowes...) Jason picked up the phone. Very helpful. He suggested Imperials for that touch sensitive PAF vibe and also suggested the Low Wind on the neck. I ordered the Imperial Bridge 8.4K and Low Wind Imperial Neck 7.0K. The volume is very balanced between the two and the neck pickup is so much more usable at any volume level. Not too dark.

- Pots and Caps matter. After installing the RS Guitarworks Vintage Electronics Kit the pickups really opened up. The volume is usable in every position, there are no sudden changes in volume and I can control the over drive on the amp from the guitar. 2-3 is thick and clean, 4-5 sounding like Mike Campbell, 6-7 ZZ tones, 8-9 VH and ACDC... The tone knobs are so dynamic and much more usable in all positions. Also the guitar responds well to how hard or light you play... very dynamic and harmonic now. I did specify the 500K CTS Push-Pull Audio taper tone pots for the coil tap feature. Adds more versatility.

Having said that, if I had been aware of reissues in 2013 when I bought the Traditional, I would have bought a used R8. When I bought the Traditional in 2013 for 2k I could have bought a used R8 for under $2400 then. I was just not aware of reissues at the time.

A year later I bought a used reissue 99 R6 Goldtop with P90's for $1900 in 2014 and absolutely love this guitar. The craftsmanship is 20% better IMHO, a pound and a half lighter than the Traditional. The neck and body balance feels more even. The R6 is loud unplugged... very resonate but that can be different between reissues. You just have to play many to fine the one you like. I got lucky with the Traditional. I played a bunch of them and this one had what I liked. Its also has a one piece solid mahogany back which is not always the case on non-reissues. All reissues are one piece mahogany and Gibson uses the lighter pieces of mahogany on the Reissues. There are many forum discussions on whether solid wood or glued wood pieces is more resonate or not. I prefer solid. The Traditional is 9+ pounds, the R6 is very light around 7.7. FYI, I did all the same upgrades on my R6... pro setup, Lollar P90's and vintage wiring. It needed it and sounds much better. But it plays and feels 20% better to me than my Trad. Hard to put a price on that, just depends on your budget. I still want an R8 but this Trad is getting it done. I would perform the same upgrades on an R8. Would try a different brand of pickups for an alternate tone from the Trad.

Resale is another factor. A 2013 Traditional has held its value and will probably go up. In 2013 Gibson got the rosewood finger board issue fixed, Non weight relief, beautiful tops. The R8's and R9's have doubled and tripled in value in the last 7 years.

So... I would vote on keeping the Traditional upgrading it and getting a good used R9. If you play out a lot you need a spare!
 

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Azhar

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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
Sink in a pair of SD SH1 Bridge and Neck and you will be happy.
 

efstop

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If I had bought the Traditional I was looking at for months, no way would I feel the need to upgrade even to a Standard. But I didn't really want to spend the $2K US for an NOS 2019 in translucent cherry, and it eventually sold.
 

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