Sunday, 9 January 2011

A Les Paul Oddity - Epiphone LP with HSH pickup arrangement
Stephen writes:
Hi, I've been following your blog for a year and bit now, it's brilliant. It led me to wonder about one of my own guitars - I've had it about two years now, and never really wondered about it, but the more I try and find out about it, the less I seem to know. It started off as (according to The Gutar Dater Project website) a Korean made 1996 Epiphone Les Paul Limited Edition, nice sort of bluey green marine burst that is semi transparent so you can see the wood texture (nice gentle quilted look).

The guy who had it before me upgraded a lot of stuff, ie Speigel locking tuners, chrome telecaster style knobs, chrome pick up switch, a couple of punchy new coil tapped humbuckers (JBs I think) and generally upgraded stuff to make it better sounding, rugged, and all with a chrome theme. I was looking for a beefy guitar that hopefully wouldn't develop problems, so I figured if it had been throughly up graded it would do the trick.

Nothing too unusal there, but here's the thing, and I don't know why I've never really wondered about it before - sitting between the humbuckers is a single coil pick up, and it's sunk about half an inch into the body so as to be in keeping with the levels of the humbuckers. It looks like the sort of chrome lipstick pick up you'd get on the neck position of a telecaster. I wondered if someone might have routed out a slot for it and installed it as a guitar project, but when you look on the inside of the hole that the single coil sits in, it's perfectly machine cut and the same bluey green colour is on the inside walls of the hole. If it was a project, surely routing a slot for a pick up would expose the wood of the body of the guitar and there would be none of the blue stain?

The guitar was due a restringing, so while I had the old strings off this evening, I popped the single coil out, and the blue colour of the wood stain definitely goes all the way to the bottom of the slot. I popped out the bridge humbucker too just to compare the slots and any colouration in that one, and they're both bluey green all the way down, including the bottom.

The colouring in the hole suggests to me that the slot for the single coil may have been cut before the guitar was stained the greeny blue colour, which suggests it may have been done at the factory where it was made. The guy I bought the guitar off said it was like that when he got it, and he'd had it while.

Do you know of Epiphone ever releasing a Les Paul with a tele style single coil sitting between the humbuckers? Have you come across anything similar in your blogging? By the way, the single coil sounds very nice, it has a dynamic, articulate chime that the humbuckers can't achieve.
Thanks for showing us your guitar, Stephen. No, it's not a pickup arrangement I've seen on a Les Paul before. Perhaps some of our readers might know some more about it. I have to agree with the conclusion that you yourself have to come to, that the middle-pickup routing was done at the factory.

Now, I've read comments on guitar forums and in emails and a lot of people out there seem to think that we here at Guitarz have set ourself up as self-proclaimed experts. We're not, and have never claimed to be. We - like many of you - are simply guitar enthusiasts and are learning things about our favourite instrument all the time. We're happy to do our best to answer any questions and if we don't know the answers we can try to find out or else ask our readership to assist.

One thing that I've often wondered about is, on a 3-pickup Les Paul, which of the controls control which pickups and is the pickup selector switch a 5-way or is it a regular 3-way with the middle pickup being dialed in separately elsewhere? I took this opportunity to ask Stephen about the controls on his LP, to which he replied:
I'm not 100 percent sure that it all does work, but here's what it does what at the moment - the switch is a standard three way - of the two volume knobs, the volume knob nearest the bridge currently acts as master volume, and the tone control near the bridge currently acts as a master tone - the two tone knobs are push / pull coil tap type jobs for the humbuckers and both work - the volume knob furthest from the bridge doesn't do anything (although it looks like it's wired up) - all the pickups work, I had a look and they're all wired in, but I don't know enough about that side of things to be able to follow what they do.

The bridge humbucker sounds like a bridge humbucker, the neck humbucker sounds like a neck humbucker, and they can both be tapped for a single coilish sound. the centre position engages all three pickups, but the single coil seems to push to the front, with a nice sort of snappiness and articulation that the humbuckers can't manage, tapped or full.

If I was better with electronics I might be able to deduce more, but one thing I do know is that it sounds great, and I can get a ton of sounds out of it.
Thanks again, Stephen!

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

1 comment:

  1. I think that's what's known as a 'SuperPaul," i.e. a Les Paul outfitted like a 'Super Strat.'



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