What should I upgrade: Probuckers on ES Les Paul

ours

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Hi everybody,

I recently acquired an Epiphone ES Les Paul equipped with Probuckers 2 & 3, and I must say it sounds thin, no grit (sorry I can't describe it better. Not enough low mids?) and it has low volume. Everything else is great though, very nice finish, perfect intonation, no buzz and, what I was looking for, very light (6 and 1/4 pounds). I am comparing it to a Gibby Studio (7 pounds).

Before anybody ask, yes I played with the pickup heights, from the very low factory 1/4 of an inch to 1/32, 3/64, 2/64 and 1/64, with nothing but little improvement. I was wondering if you guys had any ideas of what I should aim to upgrade first?

Pots? Caps? Pickups? I have a couple of 490/498 pickups sitting on my workbench, but I am not sure it will solve the problem.

Does any body had the same feeling with an Epi LP Standard? Maybe I got a set of bad pickups. Or maybe it's the ES sound.

My goal is to get closer to the sound of my Gibson Studio equipped with Classic 57/57+. I compared both of them, same amp, same settings and the Studio has more volume and more grit. To get the same volume with the Epi I had to move the gain from 5 to 6.5. It also helps to get more grit, but it still sound thin. Same problem with both pickups. One difference is the Classic 57 are uncovered.

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Cheers
 
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scrumm21

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1st - Welcome to M.L.P. !!

I've always considered the Probuckers in my Epi PTP to be a bit thin sounding when compared to my other LPs...
Without any experience with an ES model I am wondering if the semi hollow body aspect of the construction contributes to the "Thiness" you are hearing...
(Seems like I experienced the same as you when I did direct comparison to 57's in my former Tribute Plus)

Beautiful Guitars btw !
 

sasquatch

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Could maybe need new caps or treble bleed kit
?
 

ours

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Thnaks guys for your replies and welcome.

Since ES are harder to get dig in, I might want to change caps and pickups at the same time. But changing just the caps is an option, I have some orange drops lying around.

I am not so good at playing with volume, so treble bleed is maybe not for me. But if I was going to implement it, should I try it on the bridge pickup first?

Cheers
 

Gem23

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Hi. I don't really imagine that changing the caps would make much of a difference. .
Or even the volume or tone pots, unless they are not working properly and holding back the tone..
I would imagine that those pickups aren't what your are wanting to hear, and the classic 57's are..
I wouldn't put the 490/498's in tho, IMHO, I have those in my LP studio, and can't get on with them, as compared to my sheraton with 57's.
 

ours

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Hi Gem23, thanks. It sounds you have the same feeling as me with the 490/498, that's why they are sitting on the bench. I replaced them in another Les Paul with a couple of black dogs from BKP and I am much happier this way (although this LP is too heavy for me to play in a band).

Do you think that covered or uncovered Classic57 makes a difference? I think I will only change the caps and pots if they have different values than the Studio.

Cheers
 

Gem23

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Yes, I've been toying with the idea of changing the LP 490/498 arrangement, but I rarely play it, and prefer my sheraton, it's on a fairly long journey of becoming sold at some point I imagine.
As for the uncovered pickups, I'm not sure. I know the design is to stop unwanted interference from lighting etc.. but I'm not sure what sonic difference there is, I'd like to hear a comparison, I'm sure someone here knows tho.
 

ours

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I don't find the youtube videos very useful on that particular matter. But since I already have a guitar equipped with uncovered classic57, covered that is!

Darn those pickups are hard to find used in Europe...
 

JohnnyN

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300K pots maybe? Gibson 57 and 57+ would probably be better, but maybe the difference is not enough compared to the hassle. I think ES models are somewhat bright.
 

Spiteface

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Start with the pots & caps. Upgrade those and see where you are from there. If you still don't like the sound, then consider the pickups. I would say in that order because some good pots are potentially cheaper than new pickups, although you have what you're thinking of fitting already, I notice.

I take it you like the feel, weight etc, hence the sound is the only sticking point for you here.

As for the uncovered pickups, I'm not sure. I know the design is to stop unwanted interference from lighting etc.. but I'm not sure what sonic difference there is, I'd like to hear a comparison, I'm sure someone here knows tho.

Bare Knuckle did a good comparison video on covers vs no covers:

 

Rocco Crocco

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Hi Gem23, thanks. It sounds you have the same feeling as me with the 490/498, that's why they are sitting on the bench. I replaced them in another Les Paul with a couple of black dogs from BKP and I am much happier this way (although this LP is too heavy for me to play in a band).

Do you think that covered or uncovered Classic57 makes a difference? I think I will only change the caps and pots if they have different values than the Studio.

Cheers
Nickel covers made very little difference vs uncovered. Chrome covers reduce treble in a noticeable way, and gold reduce a lot of treble.
 

ours

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Hi Guys, thanks for your inputs. I will start with caps and pots. Actually I also want to change to tulip tuners (they are much lighter!) and maybe bridge and stopbar since I have extra from Gotoh. The Classic 57 will be hard to find with 4-connectors, so that will come later if needed, hopefully covered.
 

ours

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300K pots maybe?.

You mean 500K would be brighter?

I opened the studio pots cavity, and indeed the volume pots are 300K, the tone pots are 500K. So it might be part of the creamy sound I am looking for.
 
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ours

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Just make sure you have a good amp to hear all the upgrades :thumb:

Changing pots and caps, you are right, I doubt (unless the caps are way off), but I will try. Changing pickups, I will hear the difference, I have been there already.

But sure with a Marshall Valvestate 8080 (I had one of those in the 90s) it would be hard to hear any difference. :rock:
 

HCRoadie

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I have an Epiphone Florentine, that appears to be the same as the ES, granted I have not compared the specs so please correct me if I am wrong. Anyhow, my Florentine also has the Pro Bucker 2 and 3 in it. Mine has a thick beefy tone to it, even when I split the pickups. Mine is even the same color as yours, so we can rule that out as to the problem.
 

ours

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I have an Epiphone Florentine, that appears to be the same as the ES, granted I have not compared the specs so please correct me if I am wrong. Anyhow, my Florentine also has the Pro Bucker 2 and 3 in it. Mine has a thick beefy tone to it, even when I split the pickups. Mine is even the same color as yours, so we can rule that out as to the problem.

Yes I would expect it to sound the same, the construction is carved for the Florentine vs Laminated with a solid block for the ES. Your description of the sound is far from mine. I will dig in next week to see if anything is wrong with the wiring and move to 300K volume pots.
 
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Jymbopalyse

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Howdy @ours and welcome to MLP.

I get the feeling from the way you have been writing that can do your own wiring/soldering.
If this is the case - go for the full harness upgrade first (but keep the old parts).

Don't worry about staying with the push/pull pots for the coil splits (for the four wire pickups) For all the hype, I find it a rather disappointing "upgrade". You can just connect two of the four wires of the pickups together for use with regular pots. And use 500K pots. MLP has a (if not several) /threads on how to do all of this.

If this doesn't offer you the satisfaction you were looking for, then go for changing pickup.

I have found that the Probuckers are a fine pickup . . very usable. I have upgraded an old Epi Custom with Gibson Classic 57/57+ and absolutely noticed an improvement in the clean tones . . . BUT FOR THE PRICE, question it as a "worthy" upgrade.

A good pickup winder can duplicate these high price after market pickups for a much cheaper price. I have gotten two sets of aftermarket pickups from Craig Vineham, in Canada where I live. You can actually talk to Craig, describe your guitar and sound you want, and get them wound for you. All for $80 CDN per pickup.

I don't know how common a pickup winder is in France or the Europe area but I'm sure some of our members here can chime in with a recommendation.
 

C_Becker

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You mean 500K would be brighter?

I opened the studio pots cavity, and indeed the volume pots are 300K, the tone pots are 500K. So it might be part of the creamy sound I am looking for.

500k will definitely get you a less "dull" sound. You might even go higher, I once had 1Meg volume pots in my very dark sounding Epi Explorer.

500k tone pots, 22nF caps.

490R/498T wouldn't be my choice for that kind of guitar, even though I really like them.
57/57+ would IMHO be a much better fit or 490R/T, but I'd change the volume pots first.

My starting point for pickup height is 2,5mm bass side, 2mm treble side nowadays.
Measured with the string pressed at the last fret.
 

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