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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member Guitar Magic's Avatar
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    Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    This is a question for those who owned or played several 52-60 Les Pauls. Are these vintage guitars louder acoustically than the average Historic or a '68/'69 Goldtop? In my neck of woods, we don't have a chance to try old Les Pauls in stores, so it would help a lot if you guys who are furtunate to own a '50s LP could share your experience. I personally had a nice 1968 Standard, two '69 Deluxes and an 1960 LP Special DC (and many Historics), but never had a chance to play a real 52-60 Les Paul, which is my dream.

    I've been wondering for years about how a genuine '50s LP would sound unplugged. I imagine a loud, dry, hollow acoustic tone, similar to a good '68 Goldtop but even louder, more vibrant and more complex. But maybe 50's Les Pauls are all over the place just as much as current ones? If I'm fortunate, I will be in the US this summer and I might have a chance to try a real '50s LP in a big name store like Rumbleseat or Norman's. Until then, please let me know your experience in this specific regard.

    I would be really surprised if it turned out that a '68 GT have an identical unplugged tone to an average '50s GT. Is that a possibility?

  2. #2

    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    If you're in Nashville the places to go in addition to what you mentioned are Gruhn, & Carter Vintage. Don't skip Carter! It's the best elc. guitar store I've ever been to. Monster selection of everything and they where much more customer friendly than some of the others. Rumble Seat was REALLY good too, but focus much harder on vintage.

    Other stores to hit are Eastside Music Supply, Corner, and Fanny's. Type of spots for average Joe with normal size pockets but still quality stuff.

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Here's one example in the first couple minutes of this video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgbgUMqUMns

  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member JPP-1's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    There are some great sources on this board that I'm sure can provide you with insight into your original question. While I've played a few 50s Les Pauls I didn't pay particular attention to the acoustic volume level.

    I would say this though. Don't confuse quantity with quality.

    Even with my Martin acoustics which are played acoustically. Louder does not always equal better. Harmonics, overtones, warmth, clarity, responsiveness, each of these factors is as important as total amplitude. I don't think I ever heard of an acoustic player say tonal nirvana is found in the loudest acoustic. Unlike an electric, an acoustic capable of generating greater amplitude can provide an advantage in certain circumstances where an acoustic instrument needs to provide greater projection. Bluegrass guys tend to like big loud guitars because they have to compete with the output of banjos in a live setting.

    I have had some acoustically "loud" electric guitars that have been a let down plugged in and some that have sounded great.

    i think a better approach is to listen to the tonal nuances of the guitar played acoustically rather than the total output. An electric guitar's acoustic output volume should be irrelevant. Rather it's the quality of its acoustic tone together with how this acoustic tone interacts with the pickups and ultimately the amp that is crucial for a great sounding electric guitar tone imho.


    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Magic View Post
    This is a question for those who owned or played several 52-60 Les Pauls. Are these vintage guitars louder acoustically than the average Historic or a '68/'69 Goldtop? In my neck of woods, we don't have a chance to try old Les Pauls in stores, so it would help a lot if you guys who are furtunate to own a '50s LP could share your experience. I personally had a nice 1968 Standard, two '69 Deluxes and an 1960 LP Special DC (and many Historics), but never had a chance to play a real 52-60 Les Paul, which is my dream.

    I've been wondering for years about how a genuine '50s LP would sound unplugged. I imagine a loud, dry, hollow acoustic tone, similar to a good '68 Goldtop but even louder, more vibrant and more complex. But maybe 50's Les Pauls are all over the place just as much as current ones? If I'm fortunate, I will be in the US this summer and I might have a chance to try a real '50s LP in a big name store like Rumbleseat or Norman's. Until then, please let me know your experience in this specific regard.

    I would be really surprised if it turned out that a '68 GT have an identical unplugged tone to an average '50s GT. Is that a possibility?

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member JPP-1's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Quote Originally Posted by asapmaz View Post
    Here's one example in the first couple minutes of this video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgbgUMqUMns
    That old horse chestnut. This is probably the most singularly deceptive guitar video I've ever seen on youtube on so many levels its staggering.

    If you took two historics or two bursts you would also note a difference in acoustic output from guitar to guitar.

    Also doesn't dimarzios burst have PAFs where the reissue has dimarzio pickups. The only thing that video seems to prove is that if Dimarzio was trying to capture the PAF tone he should go back to the old drawing board. Unless of course that 2002 R9 was just a heavy tone turd.

    I also wonder if the results would have been different had they tried 11s. I find some guitars tend to sound better with thicker gauge strings.

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member P.Walker's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    my R7 sounds as dry as bone compared to my R9 which is a little squishy and feels forgiving.

    As for a burst, there used to be a plaintop 59 at lark street's that felt and sounded like fossilized rock; very plingy, glassy, and dry for lack of a better word. Played and sounded great.

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member Doc Sausage's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Maybe someone can enlighten me. Why does it even matter what a LP sounds like "acoustically?" I have yet to see anyone perform with one truly unplugged, sans amplification. Who does that? To me it's like trying to illustrate a light bulb's light spectrum qualities holding it in your hand and not hooked up to an electrical source. Among MANY other examples of demonstrating a product about how it's NOT intended to be used!

    Doesn't THAT electrical source carry with it a myriad of sonic possibilities?
    "I don't want to be part of any club that would accept me as a member" - Groucho Marx

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member P.Walker's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Sausage View Post
    Maybe someone can enlighten me. Why does it even matter what a LP sounds like "acoustically?" I have yet to see anyone perform with one truly unplugged, sans amplification. Who does that? To me it's like trying to illustrate a light bulb's light spectrum qualities holding it in your hand and not hooked up to an electrical source. Among MANY other examples of demonstrating a product about how it's NOT intended to be used!

    Doesn't THAT electrical source carry with it a myriad of sonic possibilities?
    You're absolutely right

    But I can see why some would first play unplugged. At least for me, the shittiest plinkiest sounding les pauls unplugged usually sound great plugged in.
    Gibson and les paul did not intend for the body to resonate (although that doesn't mean everyone should agree with it). I happen to agree with it though; if I want air, I'll play a 335. With a good solid non-resonating body you're gonna get a plinky sounding axe unplugged...and then plug it in and hear the magic; that's the true litmus test.

  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Member deytookerjaabs's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    I don't think it's even fathomable that they would be. Perceived loudness can change on one guitar simply by changing string gauge/types. It also can be different on particular ranges on the guitar, do you want loud bass, mids, highs, a good balance of all, loud chords down low in first position or up high in 10th position etc.

    Considering in the 50's not only did the weights vary but the cuts & carves of the necks had large differences meaning those guitars would be under different measures of compression given equal relief/tension which you can only conclude means a good range of "resonant" (I hate that word!) properties across the board just like with other solid bodies built in the 50's, very inconsistent as it was a time of constant innovation/experimentation. They also had more subtle tolerance differences from neck angle set & neck joint consistency all the way down to varying weights of identical pieces of hardware.

    Way too much variation for them to all attain a supposed "golden mean" of acoustic loudness. Not to mention, being what they know about flat/arch tops etc for every property you try to maximize you minimize something else to a degree.

  10. #10
    Les Paul Forum Member slammintone's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Since I've only strummed one Burst I can say that one didn't sound especially loud or anything unplugged compared to more modern Historics of which I've played and owned probably 25 now. When someone else plugged the Burst into an amp however, that was a different story. That Burst (don't know if they're all like this) had like a natural sustain generator built in. The longer the sustain went on the stronger the signal seemed to get. Other than that, the real Burst had a timber, a dry upper mid character I've also never heard Historics do before with factory pickups, Throbaks, none of them. Got to hear a nice stock 2012 R9 right after the real thing was played and it was.......different. How different? Well, one of the two guitars sounded like it was made from some honest to gosh tone woods and the other (the one more common to that which I'm familiar with!!) sounded as responded as if it were straining for all it was worth to be like the real thing and failing. YMMV

  11. #11

    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    That's how the one I played sounded as well, MUCH more depth in harmonics. The real thing was not even in the same ballpark with the new high end stuff. In a different room with your eyes shut you could tell the difference in tone.

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member Maxmc's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    I owned and played a '60 burst for about ten years back in the late eighties/early nineties (see avatar at left). Nearly thirty years later I now own a CC#6. A few things that have struck me is the fact that the CC is very loud acoustically, more than I remember my burst to have been. I would love to be able to compare the two side by side but unless someone out there knows where 0 0304 is now, that ain't going to happen. Memory is a funny thing and it's funny how some things can really bring things back to mind, and the acoustic thing is one. From experience I have found that an acoustically louder electric guitar also rings a lot longer too and this must lead to better sustain. Tone is another question; I have heard guitars that sustain for days that sound crap. Certainly my CC's tone is NOT crap. I think a word from Mr Bonamassa on this question will be as close to gospel as you'll get. He's played more Les Pauls, burst or otherwise, than I've had hot dinners.

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member Doc Sausage's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Well, let me 'axe' you this; can the opposite also be true? Is it possible a vintage, D-45 Martin, with an aftermarket bridge pick up, pale in comparison to a lesser, say, Taylor, straight from the factory with electronics, EQ, etc...when plugged IN? Or is that apples and rudabegas?

  14. #14

    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    I have owned 68 , 69, early 70's Goldtops.
    68, 69, 71 Black Beauties
    A couple Historics.

    And a 52-57 Conversion with PAFs.

    The Conversion is louder, more clarity, and sounds better ( by far ) than the others in all situations.

    The early Black Beauties were the closest and the Historics all sounded flat.

  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Member JPP-1's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Wow some interesting comments on this thread. There must be some really Godawful historics out there. Flat sounding no less. I guess it happens. Then again this is an internet forum.

    My experience was a tad different. While I loved a couple of the vintage LPs I played over the years, particularly a well worn PAF equipped GT, the skies never parted nor did the the three headed god of Burst Tone appear. I checked and the spirit of Page, Green and Allman never entered my fingers -though the guitar itself was as cool as it comes afaic.

    Today I'm enjoying a TH59, that has that open, dry woody nasally honk and vowelly flutey chime depending on pickup position together with incredible clarity and response. hallmarks of a great LP afaic. Sensitivity to pick attack, pick position is also immediate with the right amp: Early marshall, Tweed, Trainwreck style, something simple you just leave cranked and adjust via the guitar. Basically many of the characteristics I recall from the better vintage LPs I've played.


    While a reissue will never be as cool or as valuable as an original I feel fortunate I can enjoy the great iconic LP tone I have in my head without compromise.

    That is my off-topic counter opinion seeing that this thread went from volume levels of vintage guitars to the let's talk about how crappy the new Gibson's sound.

    On another thread on this forum, Tom Wittrock indicated he was quite pleased with the feel and tone of his CC Donna LPs and how well they compared to his original. I was rather surprised but no less impressed by his candor and complete lack of airs, condescension, or hyperbole.
    Last edited by JPP-1; 05-23-17 at 05:08 PM.

  16. #16
    Les Paul Forum Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Mine we're all different. Some louder, some not so much. I never could find a correlation with acoustic loudness and electric tone that I could lay my finger on.
    The older I get, the better I was.

  17. #17
    Les Paul Forum Member goldtop0's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Not a vintage LP but my '13 R8 is louder acoustically than the other Historics I've had and still have and that does translate to a beefier more robust richer tone plugged in.
    My bandmates and others attest to this.

  18. #18
    Les Paul Forum Member StSpider's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    If loud unplugged tone was the ticket to tone heaven we would all be playing ES 335s with gauge 11 strings.
    - 2006 Les Paul Historic R4 Oxblood
    - 2012 ES-330TDVB
    - 1995 Les Paul Studio Ebony with B7 Bigsby

    There is NO substitute for Loudness.

  19. #19
    Les Paul Forum Member tooold's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    For the older members of the group... didn't this whole "what does it sound like acoustically?" thing start when Larry Carlton said he always played 335's acoustically before plugging them in? I think it was an interview in the late '70's.

    335's are different animals, obviously, than a Les Paul. Or a Telecaster. Even though they're semi-hollow, they generate a lot more sound acoustically than a solid body, and they can be more fun than a solid body if you're watching baseball on the couch while noodling.

    With all due respect to LC, my priority with an electric guitar is what it sounds like plugged into a good amp.

  20. #20
    All Access/Backstage Pass Wilko's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    I've posted on this many times.

    There people who say that the acoustic properties don't matter with an electric guitar. That is proven false as soon as the subject of 335s comes up. The same effect that wood has on a 335 effects a how a Les Paul sounds, just to different degrees.

    How a Les Paul sounds acoustically is certainly an indicator of some of the qualities that can be exploited plugged in.

    Most players just don't get it or care.

  21. #21
    Les Paul Forum Member JPP-1's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wilko View Post
    I've posted on this many times.

    There people who say that the acoustic properties don't matter with an electric guitar. That is proven false as soon as the subject of 335s comes up. The same effect that wood has on a 335 effects a how a Les Paul sounds, just to different degrees.

    How a Les Paul sounds acoustically is certainly an indicator of some of the qualities that can be exploited plugged in.

    Most players just don't get it or care.
    You are 100% correct but you do understand that total amplitude which was the OPs question is just one of many acoustic properties.

    When I've purchased acoustic guitars in the past I've always chosen the one that sounds best, best of course is subjective: harmonics, overtones, warmth/bright balance etc. total loudness is for me secondary to tone, even on an acoustic.

    From my experience, the total unplugged amplitude of an electric guitar is indicative of its unplugged volume output. Some acoustically loud electric guitars sound great, some don't. But I do agree that the overall acoustic tone of an electric guitar does certainly have an impact on its plugged in tone.

  22. #22
    Les Paul Forum Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wilko View Post
    I've posted on this many times.

    There people who say that the acoustic properties don't matter with an electric guitar. That is proven false as soon as the subject of 335s comes up. The same effect that wood has on a 335 effects a how a Les Paul sounds, just to different degrees.

    How a Les Paul sounds acoustically is certainly an indicator of some of the qualities that can be exploited plugged in.

    Most players just don't get it or care.
    I find that too many listen for loudness only and that factor alone, in a 335 or a Jr by itself is meaningless as a tone qualifier. Actuall tone content of the acoustic tone does indicate how an electric may sound amplified.

    I listen to the front/attack for quick clear articulate responce with easy harmonic chirp an responce to dynamic pick/finger attack or legato notes. I listen to strumed and plucked chords as they sustain and fall away, for bright twangy full frequency content. I look for a bright, ringing brang. Dull or thin are no go. I strum/pluck hard and soft and listen for dynamic spread from bridge to neck.

    Some of my guitars which most everyone who hears or tries that are regarded as having exceptionly good tone, are not noticeably loud acousticly, in fact less loud than some of my others, but they do have the acoustic qualities I descibed.

    Volume alone, IMO, is a false indicator of tone.
    The older I get, the better I was.

  23. #23
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed A's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    I never buy an LP based on acoustic tone or volume... Only on what it sounds like through an amp, and of course preferably through the same amp with the same pickups and even bridge and tailpiece and strings... now its apples to apples.... if I love it through the amp after all that then I got a winner!

    But talking about acoustic tone, I agree with many here that louder doesnt always make better... I know we can all argue what 'better' means but I know what I want to hear through an amp... The OP asked about acoustic volume in vintage guitars vs. newer and historics... To me volume means nothing... I dont have much experience with new historics but I feel that the acoustic RING of a great vintage guitar is where I hear the difference... Ive never owned a burst but Ive owned three fifties goldtops... The first one I owned when I strummed it acoustically I was like holy shit man that sounds different than anything I have at home... I found a way to buy it... wish I still had it.

    Its interesting to listen to the acoustic differences... but play a bunch new or old through and amp and if it does it for you thats all that matters!
    Climb down off the hilltop... Get back in the race.
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  24. #24
    Les Paul Forum Member Red Baron's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al View Post
    Mine we're all different. Some louder, some not so much. I never could find a correlation with acoustic loudness and electric tone that I could lay my finger on.
    My findings as well. I've had some that sounder louder acoustically, which didn't necessarily mean they sounded better amplified, in fact one of my loudest LP's unplugged, was actually quite ordinary amplified. One thing my best sounding LP's did have in common was weight - they were in the 9.5lbs region.

  25. #25
    All Access/Backstage Pass Wilko's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Quote Originally Posted by JPP-1 View Post
    You are 100% correct but you do understand that total amplitude which was the OPs question is just one of many acoustic properties.
    I'm sorry I didn't clarify.
    I understand the difference between total amplitude and tonal quality as a part of the tone equation. I was merely responding to the total dismissal of acoustic properties as being completely irrelevant.

  26. #26
    Les Paul Forum Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wilko View Post
    I'm sorry I didn't clarify.
    I understand the difference between total amplitude and tonal quality as a part of the tone equation. I was merely responding to the total dismissal of acoustic properties as being completely irrelevant.
    I know you get it Wilko. I was being specific for those that rely on volume alone.
    The older I get, the better I was.

  27. #27

    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    In comparing the acoustic loudness of my Burst to my 52 Tele, 55 Strat, 62 Junior and 57 Junior, I find that it is, acoustically, the quietest of the bunch. However, I also find that it is the most resonant of these, i.e. ; I feel the string vibrations moving through the wood of the guitar more than on the other guitars. My Burst is also in the 9.5 lb range (just a little under). My thoughts are that the enhanced resonance in the Burst finds it's way back (feeds back) to the pickups and contributes to the sustaining quality that is so special in a Burst. This is something I've noticed in most (but not all) of the Bursts I've had the pleasure to play.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lL4kJL_NDR0

  28. #28
    Les Paul Forum Member JJ Blair's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    It's not about loudness. It's about frequency balance. Also, PAFs are microphonic and very sensitive to harmonic overtone, so the resonance of the wood definitely factors in. I won't say that Bursts are louder, but my experience with them and the couple of Reissues I've owned is that Bursts tend to be "thicker" sounding, acoustically.

  29. #29

    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    As I muse the term "loudness" and JJ's comment, I'm reminded of the old stereos from the 70s. They often had a button or switch labeled "loudness" which thickened the sound for listening at lower volumes. When I play a good burst, unplugged, it's almost like a (hypothetical) "loudness" button is engaged.

  30. #30
    Les Paul Forum Member Guitar Magic's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Thanks guys for sharing your experiences!

    Just to make it clear: I donít believe that acoustic loudness has any beneficial effect on plugged-in tone (on the other hand, unplugged characteristics like natural EQ, sustain, note attack certainly does). The reason I asked this particular question is that I have heard many folks comparing Bursts to chambered Les Pauls in regards to unplugged loudness. Since then, Iíve always wondered if thereís really a general quantitative differece in this regard. The one and only reference material is the already mentioned Dimarzio Burst vs R9 video. While itís completely inconclusive being only one single comparison, it can be clearly heard that there is a distinctive acoustic volume difference. So I opened this topic to hear the observations of the highly experienced members: is it possible to draw a general distinction between '50s Les Pauls and later ones based on the acoustic loudness factor? Or are '50s examples totally all over the place just like Historics?

    Please chime in guys if you can add any more personal observations to confirm / refute this rumour. I certainly will get back to this topic with my own experiences after visiting the recommended stores in August.

  31. #31
    Les Paul Forum Member LowMach's Avatar
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Loved the light bulb analogy doc sausage. Fun thread. The mystic of the late 50's LP continues.... good times!

  32. #32

    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Agree on the " amp" sound test. lol

    My 335 sounds plinky ? unplugged ~ Who would guess

    Connect to 65 DR, watch out ~ Lambo Countach ~


  33. #33

    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    I really don't notice my burst being any louder acoustically compared to my other electrics.

  34. #34
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    I have a good friend who has owned hundreds (thousand?) of late 50's Les Pauls. I have been fortunate to play a few of them. I did attempt to correlate "what is it" about 2 weeks ago. One of the thoughts I specifically considered was the sound they made acoustically. The last time that I played 2 of them (a 58 gold top and a 56 Custom (black of course)) I not only held and played them but then I instantly held and played a few more modern ones from his collection including 80's, 90's, and R series. The only thing I really noticed that seemed really different that I could quantify was the balance vs weights. Although the 50's (real ones) les pauls were quite heavy--they also seemed considerably more balanced both held in the hand and sitting. Possible it was just the bigger necks they both had giving more weight to the neck prompting that balance? Seems vague but that is the only thing I could find that was different between old ones and newer ones.

  35. #35
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    good point. i have 30's gibson archtops that history says were built to be loud to keep up with orchestras but they arent loud! they are kind of quiet by todays flat top standards but.. if you get intimate with one of those they have awesome sweet tones. whats crazy is you have to beg someone to give you 3500 bucks for an old mid to higher end archtop.some of the old 0- sized martins arent loud but have chime for days.size doesnt matter?
    Quote Originally Posted by JPP-1 View Post
    There are some great sources on this board that I'm sure can provide you with insight into your original question. While I've played a few 50s Les Pauls I didn't pay particular attention to the acoustic volume level.

    I would say this though. Don't confuse quantity with quality.

    Even with my Martin acoustics which are played acoustically. Louder does not always equal better. Harmonics, overtones, warmth, clarity, responsiveness, each of these factors is as important as total amplitude. I don't think I ever heard of an acoustic player say tonal nirvana is found in the loudest acoustic. Unlike an electric, an acoustic capable of generating greater amplitude can provide an advantage in certain circumstances where an acoustic instrument needs to provide greater projection. Bluegrass guys tend to like big loud guitars because they have to compete with the output of banjos in a live setting.

    I have had some acoustically "loud" electric guitars that have been a let down plugged in and some that have sounded great.

    i think a better approach is to listen to the tonal nuances of the guitar played acoustically rather than the total output. An electric guitar's acoustic output volume should be irrelevant. Rather it's the quality of its acoustic tone together with how this acoustic tone interacts with the pickups and ultimately the amp that is crucial for a great sounding electric guitar tone imho.

  36. #36
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    les pauls are heavy guitars that will almost always sustain nicely acoustically no matter what year they are. my opinion is that 68 percent of why a vintage les paul kicks but is because of the state of the pickups.there are hot pickups. and weak pickups.some old ones dont trip my trigger. most do! i think the reason newer les pauls dont sound as good is because of the wiring and pickups. there is somethng 'stiff' about the newer ones. thats just my opinion.. but i really feel that way.feel free to ridicule. it will be a walk in the park compared to when my wife yells at me.
    Quote Originally Posted by slammintone View Post
    Since I've only strummed one Burst I can say that one didn't sound especially loud or anything unplugged compared to more modern Historics of which I've played and owned probably 25 now. When someone else plugged the Burst into an amp however, that was a different story. That Burst (don't know if they're all like this) had like a natural sustain generator built in. The longer the sustain went on the stronger the signal seemed to get. Other than that, the real Burst had a timber, a dry upper mid character I've also never heard Historics do before with factory pickups, Throbaks, none of them. Got to hear a nice stock 2012 R9 right after the real thing was played and it was.......different. How different? Well, one of the two guitars sounded like it was made from some honest to gosh tone woods and the other (the one more common to that which I'm familiar with!!) sounded as responded as if it were straining for all it was worth to be like the real thing and failing. YMMV

  37. #37
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Quote Originally Posted by agogetr View Post
    les pauls are heavy guitars that will almost always sustain nicely acoustically no matter what year they are. my opinion is that 68 percent of why a vintage les paul kicks but is because of the state of the pickups.there are hot pickups. and weak pickups.some old ones dont trip my trigger. most do! i think the reason newer les pauls dont sound as good is because of the wiring and pickups. there is somethng 'stiff' about the newer ones. thats just my opinion.. but i really feel that way.feel free to ridicule. it will be a walk in the park compared to when my wife yells at me.
    I was horsing around over Christmas and I came across an interview (audio) with Seth Lover who claimed, in that interview, that today's stock Gibson Pickups are "much" (his words) better than the ones he invented and used in the 50's-60's. I cannot find it again or I would somehow link or attach it. I believe it was in the book "Million Dollar Les Paul" but if it is I cannot find it again. Billy Gibbons said that he went to Gibson in Kalamazoo in the early 70's to figure out what "it" was about some pickups and he claimed that the ladies (apparently they were all ladies) were so "willy nilly" about the windings that he gleaned zero information from the trip. He claimed there was a little timer that they set so they would know when to stop winding and that they would start talking and chatting and functionally ignore the beeps, producing pickups with sometimes thousands more or less windings than the previous ones they had just wound. He (like you seem to be mentioning) relates that fact of the different specs of the pickups to the elusive sound that some seem to have. As far as the search for good pickups, few things other than strings are easier to replace than pickups. Relatively cheap, easy, changes nothing permanently except solder. Even true vintage pickups do not cost THAT much in comparison with buying a vintage guitar. Ebay and Craigslist abound with them and Seymour Duncan has more than most could ever try and will even make one to your exact custom specifications. My friend that has owned all the vintage guitars claims (his opinion, not necessarily mine) that Seymour Duncans are the highest of quality. The vast majority SD prebuit pickups go for less than $300 for the pair and a totally custom set will set you back in the $350 (ish) range If you really are interested in that thought, then you can certainly get to vintage pickup specs (either real old ones or new) for far less money than most people posting on here spend to buy-sell-trade attempting to find what they are looking for? I have one set of SD Antiquity pickups in one of my LPs and I think they sound very nice. I am very unclear if they somehow sound ridiculously better than most of my others? They certainly do not sound worse. There are SO many variables in the construction of a Les Paul with SOMEONE claiming that every detail--screws, wood, glue, paint (Silverburst people claiming silver sounds better), lacquer vs Satin, neck, tuners, weight, solid vs holes vs chambering, fret wire material, Top wrapping the tail, etc etc that I have no clue which one is right. I did calculate that there are around 10^26 potential different iterations of the Les Paul if you consider them all--far more that the number of all guitars ever made on earth..and likely more than there have ever been people on earth. I do not even know if most of it really makes any difference at all when you get beyond the basic plain construction of the Les Paul. I have 5 including 2 studios (SD in one of my studios). One of my studios "feels" the best of all our guitars to me and my 16 year old. one I think "sounds" the best. The other 3 (one Standard and 2 Customs) seem to have their place as the flavor of the day at my house. I have zero clue that if you could somehow play all of them blinded which would win the shootout. They all sound and feel like really good guitars.

  38. #38
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    I will give it a shot in this subject of Les Paul tone . I do believe that wood that is aged naturally makes a difference as a Vintage Guitar expert told me that it takes 10 years for a guitar's sound or tone to ripen in order to fully resonate properly, also while we are on this topic I also believe that the type of finish and how thick it is applied to the body makes a big difference , and also how a lot of companies dry there woods , for example back in the 50's Gibson Kiln dried there woods and now there is more modern methods used for the same process ,after all you have to get out all the moisture from said wood to get it to sing . I do believe that the right pickups make a difference . As far as Gibson Les Paul's go I do believe that a good sounding Les Paul must be in the 8.5lbs -9lbs range and closer to 9lbs also ,as it's the total sum of the mass of the entire body . I do not believe that acoustic tone makes a squat of difference in a solid body guitar . Probably the most important part of the equation has to be -must be Good Wood .

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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    I guess one of my pressing questions about the vintage sounds is "is there any valid objective proof that Vintage Les Pauls actually sound better"? Not just "I played one and it sounded much better" but some actual scientific data showing that they do? I know this has been done comparing $Million+ dollar violins with very nice modern violins and the answer was that it is BS. They do not sound better. A very high quality Stradivari copy sounds just like the original when neither the player nor the listener knows which is which, and even a computer cannot tell any difference. I question if this is not also the case with Les Pauls? I am not saying it is true or it is not true. As I mentioned above there are around 10^26 possible variations and there is someone, somewhere that claims EVERY single variable is "it". Yesterday I stumbled across a forum claiming that "it" is the capacitors (capacitors literally cost less that a dollar). I am unclear if I even calculated the capacitors when I was figuring the 10^26 but the guy was suggesting that orange drops and black beauties were "crap" and that only bumble bees could make the sound that was vintage. Claimed he had a "real 50's" as well as an R-something model and that only by swapping the capacitors did his R sound just like the vintage model and then the vintage model sounded bad. Someone, somewhere is arguing (and buying) the other 2 types. Someone is arguing that thicker lacquer is making it sound better. Someone that lacquer robs the sound. Someone is claiming that satin is the key so that it breathes. Someone else is buying literally a metal coated one (see the "Alloy series"). My only point is not until we truly know if there is an "it" (meaning "do vintage Les Pauls REALLY sound different?") can we then try to figure out what "it" is.

  40. #40
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    Re: Are '50s Les Pauls acoustically louder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Daddy Class View Post
    I guess one of my pressing questions about the vintage sounds is "is there any valid objective proof that Vintage Les Pauls actually sound better"? Not just "I played one and it sounded much better" but some actual scientific data showing that they do? I know this has been done comparing $Million+ dollar violins with very nice modern violins and the answer was that it is BS. They do not sound better. A very high quality Stradivari copy sounds just like the original when neither the player nor the listener knows which is which, and even a computer cannot tell any difference. I question if this is not also the case with Les Pauls? I am not saying it is true or it is not true. As I mentioned above there are around 10^26 possible variations and there is someone, somewhere that claims EVERY single variable is "it". Yesterday I stumbled across a forum claiming that "it" is the capacitors (capacitors literally cost less that a dollar). I am unclear if I even calculated the capacitors when I was figuring the 10^26 but the guy was suggesting that orange drops and black beauties were "crap" and that only bumble bees could make the sound that was vintage. Claimed he had a "real 50's" as well as an R-something model and that only by swapping the capacitors did his R sound just like the vintage model and then the vintage model sounded bad. Someone, somewhere is arguing (and buying) the other 2 types. Someone is arguing that thicker lacquer is making it sound better. Someone that lacquer robs the sound. Someone is claiming that satin is the key so that it breathes. Someone else is buying literally a metal coated one (see the "Alloy series"). My only point is not until we truly know if there is an "it" (meaning "do vintage Les Pauls REALLY sound different?") can we then try to figure out what "it" is.
    As soon as someone defines the word "better", maybe someone get start working on a scientific test.

    Oh and those stradivarius studios which are oft quoted (but seldom read) used a handful of violins. Which means statistically, nothing definitive can be stated.

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