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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member AtomEve's Avatar
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    3 Pickup Les Paul Configuration?????

    Would someone tell me a bit about the '57 Les Paul custom with three pickups. Does the three way selector switch go from bridge-middle-neck? Is there any way to blend the pickup sounds? Which knobs control which pickups? Does anyone have an opinion about how versatile or non-versatile the instrument is? Is it easier to get more variety from the 2 pickup model as far as blending the pickups?
    Anyone have a preference?

    Thanks!!!

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  2. #2

    LONG POST REPLY...warning, warning...

    iosnos,
    OK, you asked for it... here you go. I had a custom toggle switch built and wired for my three pickup LP Special "dragon"...talk about that later....

    Triple pickup LP's generally had their pups wired to the toggle switch as follows:
    up/neck
    middle neck and middle pickup
    down/bridge

    This means that you can blend the front two pups in the middle position. The down side is that you can't adjust the volumes for the two pups individually in the middle position.. you're stuck with the neck volume control for both... when up you control just the neck, when down, just the bridge...

    Optionial wiring
    A) You can have the switch wired so that the middle and bridge are working together in the middle position.

    B) You can wire the guitar with three volume pots and one master tone control. This gives you individual volume adjustment, but you still have either the neck/middle or middle/bridge combo in the middle toggle position. If you want to have just the middle by itself, you turn down the vol pot for the other pup it's wired with, there is still some volume and tone interaction with this wiring plan.

    Optional Toggle...

    Here's what I did... FWIW... I had my tech, Jim Foote, rip apart two toggle switches, and build me one that has all three pups separated. I have three vol pots, one master tone.... no interaction between pups... it isn't cheap to build this switch! Figure about $80 with tech time and two toggle switches that you cannibalize... to make one... it works great for alot of stuff, ie, you can have a low neck volume for chords, a middle for bluesy solos, a bridge for all out attack solos... very versatile, but no pup blending at all... make good choices for your pups...

    It's easier to blend two pups for more tones in the middle position than a 3 pup LP, due to the wiring...

    Hope this helps!
    ;)

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: LONG POST REPLY...warning, warning...

    LPManiac and Iosnos,
    Originally posted by lpmaniac
    B) You can wire the guitar with three volume pots and one master tone control. This gives you individual volume adjustment, but you still have either the neck/middle or middle/bridge combo in the middle toggle position. If you want to have just the middle by itself, you turn down the vol pot for the other pup it's wired with, there is still some volume and tone interaction with this wiring plan.
    For what it's worth, that's the option I chose when I had a third pickup installed in my '83 Custom.

    So far it's worked very well, with quite a range of sounds, and fairly simple controls. (Plus, I always lusted after a three pickup Custom, and fufilled that goal for a budget price! )

    Ed
    Last edited by Ed Driscoll; 08-08-02 at 10:58 PM.

  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member steelknuckle's Avatar
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    Maybe this is a stupid question, but why didn't Gibson ever go to the Fender-type 5-position switch configuration? Doesn't that make good sense to you guys? I mean, Leo did come up with a couple good ideas now and then, and I think that his switch should have been a no-brainer for Gibson.
    Rockin' in the not so free world!


  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member Dr. Vintage's Avatar
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    Originally posted by steelknuckle
    Maybe this is a stupid question, but why didn't Gibson ever go to the Fender-type 5-position switch configuration? Doesn't that make good sense to you guys? I mean, Leo did come up with a couple good ideas now and then, and I think that his switch should have been a no-brainer for Gibson.
    Having owned a few strat-types, I can say that I don't like those blade-type switches. I had a custom pickguard made for a couple of them so I could put in a Gibson-style switch. I use a the three-pickup type toggle versus the two-pickup version. If there are special combinations I want, I use push/pulls to get them. Same on my Lesters.

    There have been many guitar manufacturers who have put a blade switch in what I consider otherwise great guitars, and it just turns me right off to that guitar.

    Just a view from the other side of the fence!! :dude
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  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Steelknuckle,
    Originally posted by steelknuckle
    Maybe this is a stupid question, but why didn't Gibson ever go to the Fender-type 5-position switch configuration? Doesn't that make good sense to you guys? I mean, Leo did come up with a couple good ideas now and then, and I think that his switch should have been a no-brainer for Gibson.
    My theory du jour is that the toggle switch at the top of the Les Paul is such a key component of its design, and that it would be either very difficult, or impossible to create a five way switch that's identical to the three-way toggle.

    I'll bet serious fans of other Gibson guitars that use the same, or a similar appearing toggle switch feel more or less the same way--it's a design icon that that they'd hate to see replaced with a Fender-style blade switch.

    Of course, if anybody has made a Gibson-style toggle that will do five positions instead of three, I'd love to know about it--I'd certainly consider dropping one into my Custom.

    Ed
    Last edited by Ed Driscoll; 08-09-02 at 07:13 AM.

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Push Pulls

    Originally posted by Ed Driscoll
    Steelknuckle,My theory du jour is that the toggle switch at the top of the Les Paul is such a key component of its design, and that it would be either very difficult, or impossible to create a five way switch that's identical to the three-way toggle.

    I'll bet serious fans of other Gibson guitars that use the same, or a similar appearing toggle switch feel more or less the same way--it's a design icon that that they'd hate to see replaced with a Fender-style blade switch.

    Of course, if anybody has made a Gibson-style toggle that will do five positions instead of three, I'd love to know about it--I'd certainly consider dropping one into my Custom.

    Ed
    You could do this with push pull pots.

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: Push Pulls

    Originally posted by kamakaziclone


    You could do this with push pull pots.
    Yeah, I had thought about that. However, I was afraid that I'd have too many electronics in the guitar, and would spend all of my time pushing buttons in and out and not playing the thing. As it is now, I think I have something that's a reasonable compromise: It looks (more or less) the way that Ted McCarty and the boys wanted it to look in 1957, it's slightly more versatile, but its simple enough to operate.

    That's my theory and I'm sticking to it ;)
    Last edited by Ed Driscoll; 08-09-02 at 07:22 AM.

  9. #9
    Bluejazz
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    I had my R7BB modified too.
    3 volume, one master tone. All pickups work independently, or in any combination.
    The Switch works like an LP standard, affecting only the neck and bridge pickups.
    The shematics for this set up came from Gibson direct.
    But I really didnt see a significant advantage in doing all this once it was completed considering the cost. yes, there are more options of tone, but not enough to justify all the work ...not on my guitar anyway. All it achieved was the addition of "Lesser" important tones. i wish I would have just bought the two pickup model.
    Last edited by Bluejazz; 08-09-02 at 07:41 AM.

  10. #10
    Les Paul Forum Member GuitarG's Avatar
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    "I had my R7BB modified too.
    3 volume, one master tone. All pickups work independently, or in any combination.
    The Switch works like an LP standard, affecting only the neck and bridge pickups."

    That's the way I have mine done as well. I mostly play it as a 2 pickup LP, but it is nice to have the middle pickup to use on occasion. I rewired mine immediately. I can't imagine a LP that you can't blend the front and rear pickups. That's where some of my favorite tones live.
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  11. #11
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Bluejazz,
    Originally posted by Bluejazz
    All it achieved was the addition of "Lesser" important tones. i wish I would have just bought the two pickup model.
    Too each his own--when I interviewed Tony Bacon, the author of the recent "50 Years of the Gibson Les Paul" for an upcoming article on the Custom, (more on that as it gets closer to publication), he was very cynical about the three pick-up design, which Les Paul himself told me was strictly Gibson's decision, not his. (And if Les won't take credit for it--it's definitely Gibson's idea!)

    But I love the look of it--as I've written elsewhere, I think there's a wonderful tension in the 1957-60 Customs, that's set-up between the tuxedo, or grand piano-like, gloss black of the body, and those three gold humbuckers. It's much like the tension between the luxurious interior of a similar era Caddilac, and its rocket fin-equipped exterior. It's always captivated me, ever since the late 1970s, when I first saw photos of Keith Richards playing that guitar.

    Ed

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Originally posted by GuitarG
    I mostly play it as a 2 pickup LP, but it is nice to have the middle pickup to use on occasion. I rewired mine immediately. I can't imagine a LP that you can't blend the front and rear pickups. That's where some of my favorite tones live.
    I've found that from time to time, I really like just the middle pickup, especially for nice crunchy rhythm work. It's seems nicely balanced--not too close to the neck, not too close to bridge. But I do like to blend it, and cut it out as well.

    Ed

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    I want a 3-pickup Black Beauty too, and all I would do is put in a push-pull pot to switch the middle pu in and out. For precise pickup balance I would just adjust the height of the middle pu to avoid having to have a master tone since I like separate tone settings for the bridge and neck pu's. (I've experimented with this on my now 3-pickup Lucille...)

    But yeah -- you GOTTA have that neck-bridge combo. It ain't an LP without it...
    "Only if there is a God who created man is man worth anything beyond the chemicals of which he is composed."

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  14. #14
    I think the most versatile, most logically laid out solution, which does not clutter the LP with too many electronics would be as follows:

    - 3 position toggle switch: neck/middle/bridge

    - 1 push/pull tone pot: adds middle pickup to any of the above.

    - 3 independent volume pots, 1 master tone pot.

    In this way, the only combination you're missing is the neck/bridge. However, you still have the chance to experiment with the push/pull. If you like the neck/bridge sound, you can use the push/pull pot to add the neck pickup, instead.

    Alternatively, you could wire it like this:

    - 3 position toggle switch: neck/neck+bridge/bridge

    - 1 push/pull tone pot: adds middle pickup to any of the above.

    - 3 independent volume pots, 1 master tone pot

    Here, you don't have the standalone middle pickup.

    All the above are fairly simple wiring diagrams in my opinion. I recently re-wired my Strat to have all 7 possible pickup selection, using only an additional push/pull pot, and it works great.

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