Les Paul guitars helped to define the history of rock 'n' roll guitar. Eric Clapton created a new sound when he plugged his Gibson Les Paul into a Marshall amplifier and recorded the "Beano" album with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Young guitarists rushed out to get a Les Paul after that and tried to recreate the magic. That was more than 40 years ago and the cost of Gibson Les Pauls has gone up considerably. A Les Paul is too expensive for many guitarists. Consequently, many players rely on Epiphone Les Pauls. Epiphone makes good-quality guitars for half the cost of a Gibson. It is also possible to upgrade the quality of an Epiphone by installing higher-quality pickups.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Phillips-head screwdriver
- Soldering iron
- Small container
- Guitar strings
Select new pickups. Pickups have different sound qualities. Spend time investigating the qualities of different pickups. Some are designed to produce a warm tone suitable for blues but perhaps too mellow for aggressive rock or metal music. There is a wide range of pickup options. Les Paul guitarists usually use Gibson, Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio pickups.
Remove all the guitar strings and the pickguard. Remove all the pickup screws but leave the pickups in place. Keep all the screws together in a container.
Open the control panel on the back of the guitar. You will see the pickup wires. They are colour coded: red, green, white and black. Pay attention to where the wires go. There is a volume and tone control for the neck pickup and a volume and tone control for the bridge pickup. Heat up a soldering iron and remove the wires from the pots. Lay the guitar on its back and remove the pickups.
Install the new pickups. Follow the instructions that are included with the pickups. The wires will be colour coded. The coding may match up with the old pickups or it may not. Begin with the neck pickup. Place it in the pickup cavity and thread the wires into the rear control panel. Secure the pickup with screws. Solder the wires into place. Repeat the process with the bridge pickup. Once the pickups are installed, replace the rear control panel, the pickguard and the guitar strings.
Adjust the height of the pickups. This is the most difficult part. Use a screwdriver to adjust each pickup for each string so the pickup produces a balanced sound that equally amplifies each of the six strings. Test the guitar with an amp to check the balance. Keep adjusting each pickup until you get it right.
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