Les Paul Forum
The Fender Forum
The Cafe Wah
LilyPix
Merchandise
Vintage Guitar Registry
LPF Homesite

Go Back   Les Paul Forum > . > Vintage Les Pauls
Register FAQ Mark Forums Read Calendar Calendar Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 06-17-11, 06:36 AM   #1
brandtkronholm
Les Paul Forum Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 680
3 pickup LP Custom questions

It seems to me that the middle pickup selector position on the 3-humbucker-equipped Black Beauties is senseless (too strong a word perhaps?). The same or similar out of phase sound could have been achieved with two pickups ala 345, 355. What was the justification of the middle pickup on this instrument? Moreover, what was the reasoning behind wiring the instrument so that when the pickup selector is in the middle position, there is no volume (or tone) control for the middle pickup?

Further, what modifications (not including Jimmy Page [old or new]) have players done to their 3-humbucker-equipped Les Paul Black Beauties that kept the middle pickup alive and useful?

Here are my thoughts: Rewire the instrument so that the middle pickup is governed by the neck volume and tone controls but leave everything else the same. The neck pickup would remain under control of the neck volume and tone knobs. This would essentially make the instrument function like a 345/55. One could be playing in the middle pickup selector position and have the OOP sound with volume controls at the same level and the simply turn either volume up or down to get less OOP sound - just like on a 345/55. This makes the middle pickup somewhat independent. I wonder what a Black Beauty sounds like with only the middle pickup?

Thoughts?
brandtkronholm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-11, 06:55 AM   #2
StSpider
Les Paul Forum Member
 
StSpider's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Padua, Italy
Posts: 1,953
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

I think the main reason to have the custom have three pickup was to make it "special", a cooler model with more features, more refined looks and so on. Gibson had been doing so for quita a while before this actually, and kept on doing afterward (Firebird V / Firebird VII).

I think probably the most interesting wiring would be to have three independent volumes and a master tone, with the middle pickup always on, so that you could mix it or take it out anytime, and also have it by itself. Or not have the volumes independent but have the volume knob for the middle be a push-pull so that you can take it out.

In phase or out of phase with the others, that's a matter of taste.
__________________
- 2006 Les Paul Historic R4 Oxblood
- 2012 ES-330TDVB
- 1995 Les Paul Studio Ebony with B7 Bigsby

There is NO substitute for Loudness.
StSpider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-11, 10:16 AM   #3
TM1
Les Paul Forum Member
 
TM1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: on the middle & bridge pickup of my L.P. Custom
Posts: 5,275
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

It's only magnetically out of phase and that is due to the middle pickup being in such close proximity to the neck and bridge pickups. It's like the in-between sounds on a Strat. Even though the pickups sound OOP, they are actually not. It's magnetic interference causing the OOP tone.
TM1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-11, 03:07 PM   #4
mingus
All Access/Backstage Pass
 
mingus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 3,767
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

It wouldn't surprise me if the three-pickup LP Custom came into being at the request of the Gibson marketing department. The more pickups, the better, right? Sales of Fender Stratocasters were good and Gibson needed to have a solid body model that could match up. The sales of Les Pauls were rather weak (which is why they were later discontinued), so they kept changing/tweaking the design in hopes of improving sales. You have to remember how the late '50s was an era of futuristic/space-age designs that were somewhat excessive (tail fins anyone?), so the addition of another pickup (despite the goofy wiring/switching scheme) would have been in line with the marketing and design trends of that time.
__________________
.

"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us."

- Bill Watterson, creator of the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes".
mingus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-11, 03:26 PM   #5
TM1
Les Paul Forum Member
 
TM1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: on the middle & bridge pickup of my L.P. Custom
Posts: 5,275
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by mingus View Post
It wouldn't surprise me if the three-pickup LP Custom came into being at the request of the Gibson marketing department. The more pickups, the better, right? Sales of Fender Stratocasters were good and Gibson needed to have a solid body model that could match up. The sales of Les Pauls were rather weak (which is why they were later discontinued), so they kept changing/tweaking the design in hopes of improving sales. You have to remember how the late '50s was an era of futuristic/space-age designs that were somewhat excessive (tail fins anyone?), so the addition of another pickup (despite the goofy wiring/switching scheme) would have been in line with the marketing and design trends of that time.
Sounds pretty right to me! Look at some of the Harmony's that had 4 pickups..
I do really like my 3-pickup Custom with the solid Mahogany, one piece body!
TM1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-11, 04:59 PM   #6
Electric Lloyd
Les Paul Forum Member
 
Electric Lloyd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,496
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

I would wire it the way I have wired vintage Strats for some customers. I call it the "Billy Squire Mod" because it was in a Vintage Guitar interview with him that he spoke of this. You wire the three way toggle as if it were a two pickup guitar, rythem, treble & both (neck & bridge) then use the neck pickup tone control as a volume for the middle pickup only. This way you can have all pickup choices by blending in the middle pickup. It works very well with Strats that still have three way switches, so I guess it would work well with a tripple pickup LP Custom!
Electric Lloyd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-11, 05:27 PM   #7
Ed Driscoll
Les Paul Forum Member
 
Ed Driscoll's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Silicon Valley, California
Posts: 2,802
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

Quote:
what modifications (not including Jimmy Page [old or new]) have players done to their 3-humbucker-equipped Les Paul Black Beauties that kept the middle pickup alive and useful?
Jimmy's ultimate mod for his Custom, before it was stolen, was, shall we say, rather invasive.

Incidentally, the three volume-knob, one tone knob wiring works great on my '83 Custom with three pickups. But does anybody know of a YouTube clip or MP3 where you can really hear what that original "out of phase" sound is like on a vintage Custom?
Ed Driscoll is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-11, 08:03 PM   #8
retrobob
Les Paul Forum Member
 
retrobob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 691
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

I don't have any MP3s, but my vintage custom sounds like what TM1 said.
The in-between strat sound, only in a PAF sort of way.
retrobob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-11, 08:12 PM   #9
J.D.
Les Paul Forum Member
 
J.D.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 7,172
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by TM1 View Post
It's only magnetically out of phase and that is due to the middle pickup being in such close proximity to the neck and bridge pickups. It's like the in-between sounds on a Strat. Even though the pickups sound OOP, they are actually not. It's magnetic interference causing the OOP tone.
Actually in the middle position the bridge and middle pickup are in parallel, giving a similar tone to a humbucking single coil pickup. All pickups are identical and not "out of phase".
J.D. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-11, 08:18 PM   #10
J.D.
Les Paul Forum Member
 
J.D.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 7,172
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

Try this:

Jimmy Page Signature Les Paul Custom 6-way
J.D. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-18-11, 05:18 AM   #11
JJ Blair
All Access/Backstage Pass
 
JJ Blair's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,492
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

I love the sound of the middle and rear pickup. I would not classify it as senseless at all. Sometimes it is just the perfect sound to cut through.
JJ Blair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-18-11, 04:36 PM   #12
brandtkronholm
Les Paul Forum Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 680
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

Quote:
I love the sound of the middle and rear pickup. I would not classify it as senseless at all. Sometimes it is just the perfect sound to cut through.
The lack of control of the middle pickup is senseless, the sound is awesome. I love the OOP sound.
brandtkronholm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-11, 10:44 AM   #13
TM1
Les Paul Forum Member
 
TM1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: on the middle & bridge pickup of my L.P. Custom
Posts: 5,275
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

I love mine and use the middle position alot!
TM1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-11, 11:34 AM   #14
JJ Blair
All Access/Backstage Pass
 
JJ Blair's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,492
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by brandtkronholm View Post
The lack of control of the middle pickup is senseless, the sound is awesome. I love the OOP sound.
I see what you mean, as opposed to how on a Standard, you can balance the two.
JJ Blair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-11, 12:00 PM   #15
J.D.
Les Paul Forum Member
 
J.D.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 7,172
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

Buy a Switchmaster.
J.D. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-11, 12:53 PM   #16
yeti
Les Paul Forum Member
 
yeti's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 3,519
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by J.D. View Post
Buy a Switchmaster.
Now you're talking!
yeti is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-11, 01:42 PM   #17
TW59
Les Paul Forum Member
 
TW59's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Lost in the Ozarks [again]
Posts: 34,053
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

I like the two humbucker versions better.

__________________
Pauls to the walls!

Hüter der Flammen!

PLEASE SUPPORT www.burstserial.com !!
Click here: www.burstserial.com
TW59 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-11, 03:32 PM   #18
Monroe
Les Paul Forum Member
 
Monroe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: SE Michigan
Posts: 631
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

What about the Mickey Baker wiring mod?
Monroe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-11, 01:19 AM   #19
Edgnr
Les Paul Forum Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: In Central America
Posts: 6
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

Well, who used or uses three pups les pauls?
-Jimmy page which i think he said he liked the "out of phase" middle position option of his custom
-Ace frehley Dont know if he uses his middle pup.
-Frampton, i think his has the mid pup always on.
-Steve clark dont know how he used it but had two so i guess he liked them
-Mickey baker i think his was the one with one master tone and three volumes,
I dont remember anymore at this time , i know many have used them but then they didnt keep using them.

I am curious on what kind of pup you can put in the middle, normally they put a pup that resembles the bridge, right, or am i wrong? How would a different pup like a p94 or a wilde 6xxs series pickup (single coil, jazzmasterish or p90ish sounds) affect the tone?
Edgnr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-11, 01:55 AM   #20
StSpider
Les Paul Forum Member
 
StSpider's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Padua, Italy
Posts: 1,953
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

Ace typically just used the bridge pickup, most of the times the other two pickups were either dummys or not wired..I know Clapton used one for some time but I wouldn't know for how long, Keith richards too for a period, also another player known for playing a 3 pickup custom quite a bit was Danny Gatton.

I also saw pictures of Randy Rhoads with a three pickup (vintage I think) custom.
__________________
- 2006 Les Paul Historic R4 Oxblood
- 2012 ES-330TDVB
- 1995 Les Paul Studio Ebony with B7 Bigsby

There is NO substitute for Loudness.
StSpider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-11, 05:09 AM   #21
MikeSlub
Admin/Burst Advisory
In the Zone
 
MikeSlub's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: America the Beautiful
Posts: 12,101
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

I agree, the setup is goofy. I hate the middle switch position. Way too quacky for my taste. I turned the middle pickup, and to my ears it made it a bit less quacky, but I still hate the thin sound!

__________________
Mike Slubowski

* "Gibson guitars are like potato chips - you can't have just one!"

* "So many Gibsons to love, so little time..."
MikeSlub is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-11, 05:11 AM   #22
MikeSlub
Admin/Burst Advisory
In the Zone
 
MikeSlub's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: America the Beautiful
Posts: 12,101
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by mingus View Post
It wouldn't surprise me if the three-pickup LP Custom came into being at the request of the Gibson marketing department. The more pickups, the better, right? Sales of Fender Stratocasters were good and Gibson needed to have a solid body model that could match up. The sales of Les Pauls were rather weak (which is why they were later discontinued), so they kept changing/tweaking the design in hopes of improving sales. You have to remember how the late '50s was an era of futuristic/space-age designs that were somewhat excessive (tail fins anyone?), so the addition of another pickup (despite the goofy wiring/switching scheme) would have been in line with the marketing and design trends of that time.
This makes a lot of sense, and if you think about it, with the space-age, contoured lines and body cutaway of a Strat, the Les Paul must have been perceived as an outdated, clunky looking hunk of timber in the late 50's - which probably led to the dropoff in sales.
__________________
Mike Slubowski

* "Gibson guitars are like potato chips - you can't have just one!"

* "So many Gibsons to love, so little time..."
MikeSlub is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-11, 03:37 PM   #23
TedB
Les Paul Forum Member
 
TedB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Birmingham, AL
Posts: 2,142
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

I use the center position for certain rhythm passages, and I don't find it 'quacky'. This is with Tom Holmes PAFs (1X453 - 2X450), and 50s spec wiring and components. What some describe as 'quacky' with 50 year-old guitars may be due to artifacts of age, as I'm not convinced we're hearing the same thing.

FWIW, my 3-pickup LP Custom is my 'go to' guitar.
TedB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-11, 06:58 PM   #24
retrobob
Les Paul Forum Member
 
retrobob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 691
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeSlub View Post
I agree, the setup is goofy. I hate the middle switch position. Way too quacky for my taste. I turned the middle pickup, and to my ears it made it a bit less quacky, but I still hate the thin sound!
When I first got mine, I felt the same way. Way to thin and quacky. I found out the middle & the bridge pickup were out of phase. I turned the magnet over in the middle pickup. Which put both pickups in phase.
Now the guitar is very usable in the middle position. It has a strat type sound with out the thin quack.

Last edited by retrobob : 07-08-11 at 05:02 AM.
retrobob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-10-11, 11:58 PM   #25
Edgnr
Les Paul Forum Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: In Central America
Posts: 6
Re: 3 pickup LP Custom questions

I just read that Steve Clarks (def leppard) lp customs had the normal positions bridge-middle+bridge-neck but had a volume push pull that coil split both humbuckers when in the middle position, so i guess he used it.

I dont know about electronics, can you do what brandtkronholm wrote about rewiring the instrument so that the middle pickup is governed by the neck volume and tone controls leaving everything else the same? Anybody has tried it? And in case you would want to hear the middle pup alone could you have a push pull to deactivate the bridge pickup when in the middle position?
Edgnr is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 01:28 PM.



 



The Les Paul Forum is a privately owned and operated site.
The Les Paul Forum is in no way affiliated with Gibson Musical Instrument Corporation.
All trademarks are the property of GMIC.

All messages on this forum express the views of the author
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of
The Les Paul Forum and/or it's administration.
The Les Paul Forum will not be held responsible for the content
of any messages posted on this forum.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 1999-2014 Les Paul Forum