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Old 01-06-2018, 02:31 PM   #1
DanRode
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Default Re-wire Les Paul Project

I have an Epiphone Les Paul 1960 Tribute with amazing Gibson 57 classic pickups. It sounds good and it feels good to play but I don't love the whole push-pull 100 coil tap and parallel wiring. I want to return it to how it would have been wired and sounded in the 60s. More or less, the garden variety LP that any classic rocker in the late 60's and 70s might have bought off the rack.

I can buy the parts and solder everything myself for probably $30. The switch and jack are already good switchcraft components, so I'd only need to buy pots, and caps.

I have 2 main questions. First, assuming 500k pots, what is the difference between .047 or .022 caps, and how would the treble bleed potential change that. Imagine something like Clapton's "woman tone". Do I want the neck and bridge the same?

Next, is there somewhere I can buy matched sets of pots? CTS and Alpha are good quality but they vary. I want them as close to 500k as possible but it's more important that they test close to each other so both sets to respond the same. Otherwise, I have to buy a dozen pots, borrow a tester and hope to find some matching pairs in the group. I want to play guitar not test pots.

OR

For $99 I can get a solderless set from Obsidian wire. All the pots are within 6% of spec and matched within 2%. Switchcraft switch and jack are also included and connect solderless. It's 3x more but the soldering is top notch and it would take me 15 minutes to install.

Lastly, are there any other ideas or options I'm missing? Different components, values or wiring?
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Old 01-06-2018, 04:48 PM   #2
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Hey Dan, I just typed in my search and lots of them came up. Not sure if any of then is what you are looking for but check it out, it may be there.
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Old 01-06-2018, 06:13 PM   #3
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Re: pots. You should be able to find out their tolerance rating. At least the advertised tolerance. I think CTS is within 5%? of 500k (or whatever value).

I've bought pots from Amazon, GC, and Sweetwater based on their tolerance. I've used no-namers as well. I honestly can't tell the difference.

Personally, I'd only buy a wiring harness to save time (which IS an incentive). TV Jones sold a wiring harness for about $150. My first mod was on a Gretsch hollow body. I managed the swap while keeping the "crap" stock Gretsch pots (5 of 'em). Sounds like Setzer's guitar, to me.

JMHO, but I'd just keep the existing pots, and resolder what you need to. But, I get where you're coming from too.

You're gonna have to hope that Fill sees this for the real technical advice.
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Old 01-06-2018, 08:42 PM   #4
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I think CTS is 6% but even so, that's potentially a difference of 10% between 2 in-spec pots. It's a small thing but if I do this work, I want it as perfect as possible. I like knowing that I got everything out of it that I could.

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Originally Posted by Silimtao View Post
Re: pots. You should be able to find out their tolerance rating. At least the advertised tolerance. I think CTS is within 5%? of 500k (or whatever value).
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Old 01-06-2018, 09:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by DanRode View Post
I think CTS is 6% but even so, that's potentially a difference of 10% between 2 in-spec pots. It's a small thing but if I do this work, I want it as perfect as possible. I like knowing that I got everything out of it that I could.
I could say "big deal," but I suspect you're a bit OCD and perfectionist. I am too. I can drive myself crazy with things. When people say, what's the big deal? I say, I GOTTA! So I totally empathize with "getting it right."

I've learned to roll back my compulsions a bit. BUT IT'S HARD lol.

I think I read somewhere, if you're within 10% tolerance, that's about as good as you'll get.

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Old 01-07-2018, 02:12 AM   #6
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Maybe this is too simple of a suggestion. Why don't you keep the pots and caps that are in the guitar? The coil tapping/splitting is done on the small circuit board attached to the pot. Remove the wires from the circuit board and solder them together. Check the internet for humbucker wiring diagrams, but it should be that simple. When the pot is in non-split mode, the two wires to the circuit board are shorted together by the switch.

Now, if you're just itching, crazy-like, to do an entire rewire, I completely understand. In that case, ignore what I said. There are several places on-line that sell CTS pots, caps, etc.. Remember, the CTS have a different diameter shaft, and will require the mounting holes be enlarged.
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Old 01-07-2018, 03:30 AM   #7
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Hmmmmmmm....... I'm going to just add my 2 cents worth in for what its worth. A volume control is a voltage divider. When the knob is turned wide open, nothing goes through the potentiometer. It all just goes from the input solder connection to the output solder connection. When turned to the halfway point, half the voltage and current goes to ground and the other half leaves the output. When its turned all the way off, all the voltage and current goes to ground and nothing leaves the output. No matter what the value of the potentiometer is, the same thing happens. Fender likes 250K for its 6.5K Ohm pickups and Gibson likes 500K 0hms for its 7 to 10K ohm pickups. I've never bothered to research why there would be a tonal difference in one value pot over another value pot but Lindy Fralin once told me that the higher the value of the volume pot, the brighter the tone. He even recommends using 1 million Ohms on some guitars. Since I've had several talks with him on Capacitance and Inductance and found him to be extremely knowledgeable, I'll differ to his superior experience and knowledge on this subject. The one thing I'm absolutely sure of is that a small difference in the values of two audio taper volume potentiometers will make no difference. The difference would have to be massive in order to detect tonal differences. Since one pickup is at the neck and the other pickup is at the bridge, there will be a massive tonal difference anyway.
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Old 01-08-2018, 01:33 PM   #8
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PKV's description is dead on. The volume pot is connected across the pickup coil, in parallel. Its resistance is the load on the coil. Any slight variations in the total resistance of the pot, which may show up as a difference in signal strength, could (would) be adjusted out by setting the distance between the pickup and the strings. As far as tone goes, PKV covered it.
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Old 01-08-2018, 01:52 PM   #9
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I want consistency in the way the volume and tone work on each pickup.

It matters to me and I think it matters in general. In the grand scheme of things, I think it matters a whole lot more than the body finish or the fret board material or the brand of strings.

I heard a demonstration recently by Brian Wampler of various tube screamers. The conclusion was that they all sounded essentially the same but that variations in the pots between to pedals made a much bigger difference than difference in brands/circuits.

Will it make a noticeable difference? Maybe not but by matching things as closely as possible, I can be sure of a more consistent, predictable result and something I can repeat.

If you were paying me to upgrade your guitar, would you want me to try to get it perfect or just shoot for good enough?
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Old 01-08-2018, 02:39 PM   #10
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A guitar is, to a great extent, and emotional thing. Certainly when we do upgrades and mods, our decisions are based on how we will perceive it and enjoy it. I just upgraded the pickups on my favorite guitar. I could have gotten by with a $50 set of pickups. But I had to put a $200 set of pickups on a guitar that only cost me $200. Logic takes a second seat in a lot of the decisions. And there's nothing wrong with that.
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