12 Ways To Upgrade Your Gibson Les Paul
Sometimes it may seem like a guitar requires more work than it actually does to be customized. You can make considerable changes to your Les Paul's playability, tone, or look with just a screwdriver (or power drill), a socket wrench, and a pencil. There is no need for soldering, weird tools, or experience.
Certain guitars, like the Les Paul, maintain a particular place in certain players' hearts, despite the fact that they aren't constructed to the highest quality standards. They are frequently used by beginners as the only accessible guitars. Others might view them as a trustworthy foundation that is inexpensive and adaptable. In any event, if you want to improve your technical guitar abilities, having examples of how to improve your guitar is necessary. Even though some of them may seem obvious, following these 12 steps will result in a Gibson Les Paul that is substantially better than the one you started with.
These ideas are for you if you find guitar modding entertaining or if you have a deep emotional connection to your first instrument. Perhaps you're in dire need of money and believe you can sneak in some expensive features at a lower cost than anticipated.
Where To Begin And What Should Be Upgraded First?
When trying to upgrade your guitar, you might wonder where to begin. While luthiers and seasoned players strongly advise playability, most musicians will advise upgrading elements that have the greatest influence on tone.
Give your Les Paul a thorough run-through for a week or longer, and pay particular attention to your gut feelings. Pay attention to what disturbs you the most and what makes you feel odd. The guitar will inform you of the perfect mod to perform first and the greatest upgrade to perform subsequently.
Go to the pickups if the sound is your primary concern. Start with the nut, then take the tuning keys into consideration if you want your guitar to stay in tune and feel better.
Do not, under any circumstances, modify the instrument beyond what it actually requires.
What might be thought of as the best way to modify or upgrade Les Paul is as follows. Depending on your priorities and what you now require, you can go back and forth on the list.
Low-cost guitars frequently have subpar pots and switches, and overwound pickups are a common sight. They typically sound overly thin and bright—without clarity or punch—and use ceramic bar magnets. The warm sound that this guy was seeking in a Les Paul-style guitar is definitely not there in them.
The first stage involved utilising a Les Paul wiring kit to rewire it with better guitar parts.
Make holes for the control pots in a piece of cardboard that has been cut into the shape of the control cavity. While you work, hold the pots in this position, and your pre-wired circuit will fit perfectly! (It's so much simpler than attempting to wire up anything while it's buried deep inside the control cavity!)
One of the early modifications musicians made to their Gibsons with bridge humbuckers included this. At the time, it was widely believed that removing the pickup covers made them louder. Because the capacitive effect of the coverings induced high-frequency roll-off, players who removed them were likely just hearing a tiny bit more treble. Microphonic feedback can also be brought on by loose coverings. Early covers, especially heavy brass ones, gave the upper-frequency response no favours. In contrast, vintage nickel-silver covers were extremely thin and minimized treble loss.
The fretboard's condition
Any Les Paul, regardless of price, will often have a rosewood fretboard. Any dark wood could always use some treatment, even when the CITES treaty temporarily skews the market toward Pau Ferro or ebony. Tung oil, which is reasonably priced and available at most hardware stores or on Amazon.com, is my preferred fretboard oil. The look and feel of your fretboard can be instantly improved by conditioning, a simple process requiring absolutely no technical expertise. Take a rag and gently wipe each fret with a small amount of the oil (you may also use lemon oil). You're done once you've allowed it to dry, and you may even lightly sand it if you think it dried in an uneven pattern.
Replace your jack plate
The Les Paul's jack plate is its weak point since the thin plastic plate is all too easy to break. Every guitar design has certain weak points. Simple: use a metal replacement as a replacement. Although this alteration is inexpensive and reversible, make sure the screw holes on the new plate match those on the old one. Simply attach the plastic plate on top of the metal plate if you want to maintain the original appearance.
Change the tuners
Another apparent one, but it's also extremely important and not at all difficult. People are eager to point out to you that not everyone has the equipment and experience that I do when I recommend changing the tuners on a guitar or headstock. The old tuners can simply be unscrewed to make room for the new ones by using a socket wrench or, if you're cautious not to scratch the washer, a pair of pliers. It is that easy and can significantly increase tuning stability to simply screw in the new ones and make sure they are snug.
Musicians frequently disregard the nut. The most important upgrade to make to your Epiphone Les Paul in order to maximise performance is definitely this one. Never forget that one of the two important anchor points that transmit vibrations from the strings to the body is the nut. A high-quality nut will enhance the general playability of your instrument as well as the tone and sustain of your open notes. An excellent guitar can be identified, for example, by how precisely and neatly the nut is cut and fitted.
Because of the way the nut is cut, most cheap guitars have the issue of easily going out of tune. Many cheap nuts will never sound properly, even with a nice setup. Usually, this prevents a player from picking up the instrument or from practising further.
Almost all guitar players immediately upgrade their pickups. Getting superb-sounding pickups can transform your tone from being suitable for the basement to a stage. It is debatably true that the pickups account for 80% of the guitar's tone.
Consequently, it is best to first improve the elements that influence the pickups' sound, and this is where upgrading your Les Paul's electronics will pay off handsomely.
Try out the wire mod in the style of the 1950s if you feel comfortable using solder. It is among the easiest and least expensive modifications you can make to your Epiphone Les Paul.
Gibson maintained this connection until 1962.
The volume and tone controls become more interactive since you can lower your volume without distorting the sound by connecting the tone control to the inner or output tag of the volume instead of the outer or input tag.
The Strings at the Top
Top wrapping the strings, reportedly giving them a much slinkier feel and better sustain because of the increased string to tailpiece-to-body contact, is a technique frequently used by Joe Bonamassa. This one is quite easy to execute; simply feed your strings through the tailpiece backwards, with the string now pointing away from the headstock and toward the body. Rewind the string by passing it back over the tailpiece, up to the tuning machine as usual, and over the bridge as usual. It's time to wrap the thread around the bridge and tailpiece.
The bridge and tailpiece
The guitar bridge and tailpiece constitute the second anchor point for transmitting string vibrations to the wood.. They play a crucial role in the acoustic sound of your instrument because they convey vibrations from the string to the body.
Your Les Paul will perform and play better if you replace the bridge and tailpiece, but first, make sure the replacement bridge will fit in its place. This is one of the more challenging Les Paul mods on this list due to the possibility of purchasing the incorrect-sized parts for your guitar.
Gibson's stop tailpiece was first made of aluminium in the 1950s. Later, this was changed to zinc, which is now a standard component on many modern versions. While supporters of zinc maintain that their favoured metal has a better bass end and sustain, some players feel that aluminium delivers extra woodiness, higher treble, and a wider dynamic range. The Pepsi Challenge is worthwhile given that you can purchase a lightweight aluminium one for £30.
Heighten the pickup as needed
Screws on both ends of humbuckers allow you to change the pickups' height. Similar to this, soap bar P-90s feature two tiny screws that do the same thing that passes through the covers. The pickup coils' close proximity to the strings has a significant impact.
The pickups may sound extremely harsh and midrange when they are set very high (the magnetic pull may even reduce sustain). Pickups might sound sweeter and more open when they are adjusted lower, but if they are set too low, they can sound flat and unresponsive. The only tools you need to improve your tone are a screwdriver and your ears. Before investing in a new set of pickups, take some time to experiment.
Add a Tremolo/Bigsby Arm
The Vibramate and Towner systems, among other technologies, have made this process remarkably simple. The only thing to keep in mind in this situation is that the upgrade will be quite expensive but still simple. But if you add a Bigsby, your guitar will be able to vibrate beautifully, and it also just looks awesome. The Bigsby B3 kit from Towner enables you to add a Bigsby B3 set to a Les Paul-type guitar without drilling; nevertheless, it is a pricey mod and costs more than $200. But if you want a Bigsby and don't want to pay a technician to install it, choose this option.
The parts of a guitar should be of fine quality while being upgraded so that they can be used in the future.
It might be expensive and time-consuming to upgrade a guitar, but there are also creating opportunities to be explored. Not all components on your Les Paul require an upgrade. Only the most necessary modifications to your suit choices will be made.
Your guitar will become more customised and improved with each modification, and finally, it will reflect your artistic style. Enjoy your upgrade!