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Author Topic: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom  (Read 12634 times)

Alfi27

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Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« on: November 09, 2015, 05:20:04 PM »
Evenin' lads! Last Friday I got a very nice package in the mail. A Gibson Les Paul Custom Silverburst  :grin:
I was expecting the stock pickups to suck, but they did certainly not! They are actually quite nice, but after some time I noticed some rather unpleasant things: the 498T in the bridge position can sound a bit muddy with lots of gain (not shiteloads of gain, but quite high gain). Apart from that I have to admit that I like the tone, and it is a good fit for the guitar. The 490R is also quite nice, not quite sure if I want to replace that one, but it does certainly need a new bridge pickup. I am familiar with a few of the pickups in the Knuckle range in Les Pauls, but none of them were a Custom. Both were Standards, one was a Custom Shop 1960' Reissue and the other was a Standard 08 with quite heavy chambering. Anyway, the pickups are: Cold Sweat, Rebel Yell and Stormy Monday. For some reason my Les Pauls did not work well with the Cold Sweat. It sounded extremely awesome in a Mayones Setius which has similar tone woods, but different shape and thickness. The Rebel Yell worked very nice in a Les Paul, but if I am very picky it could be a bit more versatile. The Stormy Mondays were also nice, but it is about a year ago so I cannot quite remember. Most of my other guitars have pickups with quite high output, so I was thinking about maybe a bit lower output in this guitar. However, I won't sacrifice power and it has to work well for Metallica type of tones, but still nice for lower gain applications. My amps have more than enough gain, so output is not really an issue. I will consider a calibrated set or, of course, mixing different pickups even though the 490R is not bad. When I am first at it I might just swap both pickups, but I have to see what I can afford first. The Norwegian krone is really weak these days.. Very nice if you can recommend me a (not necessarily matched)  set of pickups though!
Thank you for your answers, and have a nice evening!
Guitars:
Ernie Ball Music Man Valentine (VHII set)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard LQ MIJ (BD/TB)
Epiphone Les Paul Junior LQ MIJ (Monty's FM P90)

Amps:
Marshall JMP 50w '72
Marshall JCM800 2204 '81

Kiichi

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2015, 05:36:36 PM »
Since you liked the RY but wanted more versatility I might consider the Emerald bridge. Not entirely unsimmilar, but since it is more vintage hot it should deliver more versatility. Can certainly do blues sounds very well, yet it is also an absolute favorite for modern metal since its voicing holds up extremely well under tons of gain.

For the neck that can either be paired with the matched neck or, what I might prefer, the HD neck or even an MQ.
BKPs in use: 10th set / RY set / Holy Diver b, Emerald n / Crawler bridge, Slowhand mid MQ neck/ Manhattan n
On the sidelines: Stockholm b / Suppermassive n, Mule n, AM set, IT mid

Alfi27

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2015, 05:49:24 PM »
Thank you for your answer! I used to have a Emerald set in a PRS McCarty, I did not have that guitar for a very long time but I am afraid I did not like the pickups very much... Might be a better match for a massive Les Paul though. What do you think about the Mule set? Too weak for my needs?
Guitars:
Ernie Ball Music Man Valentine (VHII set)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard LQ MIJ (BD/TB)
Epiphone Les Paul Junior LQ MIJ (Monty's FM P90)

Amps:
Marshall JMP 50w '72
Marshall JCM800 2204 '81

Kiichi

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2015, 08:54:51 PM »
Yeah, the Emerald certainly works best in darker LP types. But if you did not like it much maybe it is not for you. Only one way to know for sure, of course, but I totally get your hesitation then.

Well, the Mule is known to be able to do Ozzy types of heavy, but Metallica will likely be a bit out of the comfort zone here. The Riff Raff would fare better, but IŽd look Vintage Hot and up.

If you are intrigued by the Mule however you may consider the Abraxxas. It is a beefed up Mule when you get down to it. More output, more mids, bit less bright, and handling Metallica levels of gain a lot better. I distinctly recall people talking about using it for Metallica type stuff.

The Black Dog would also be an option, but I canŽt say much about it.


So have a look the the Abraxxas IŽd say now.
BKPs in use: 10th set / RY set / Holy Diver b, Emerald n / Crawler bridge, Slowhand mid MQ neck/ Manhattan n
On the sidelines: Stockholm b / Suppermassive n, Mule n, AM set, IT mid

Alfi27

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2015, 10:08:55 PM »
Thank you Kiichi! The Abraxas sure looks nice, I will certainly check that out. I am also considering a more heavy type of pickup (maybe Nailbomb/C-bomb or something like that) in the bridge and a more vintage voiced pickup in the neck. For clean tones the bridge pickup is very rarely used, I always switch to the neck. But then again, such a high output bridge pickup might not handle low gain crunch that well.. This is a pain in the ass every single time, so many options, haha!
Guitars:
Ernie Ball Music Man Valentine (VHII set)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard LQ MIJ (BD/TB)
Epiphone Les Paul Junior LQ MIJ (Monty's FM P90)

Amps:
Marshall JMP 50w '72
Marshall JCM800 2204 '81

Telerocker

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2015, 11:56:58 PM »
A Mule-set will do, it's just a matter of tweaking the drivelevels and the eq on the amp. I remember Nolly's vid in which he plays metal with Mules. Great tones.

Here's another vid which shows the flexibility of the Mule.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkfL9JzSJuY
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Dave Sloven

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2015, 12:39:08 AM »
I also thought of the Emeralds, if it is not chambered.

Riff Raffs would be another good option.
BLACK HAWKS
IMPULSES
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STOCKHOLM
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MIRACLE MAN

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ericsabbath

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2015, 01:06:35 AM »
if you're willing to keep the output level of the 498t, the holy diver is a pretty good substitute
somehwat similar voicing but with actual character (unlike the 498t)
Riff Raff, Mules, Black Dog, VHII's, Cold Sweat

metale

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2015, 06:41:22 AM »
While the Abraxas definitly does Metallica with brighter guitars (had it in a maple-bodied semi-hollow), I'm afraid that it might be too round on a LPC. It has alot of body (both the Abraxas and the LPC  :smiley: ).

The Black Dog can handle it, but really does sound and feel more modern to me.

If it was I, I would aim for an Emerald, or chose the Riff-raff over the Mule, for it's tighter, quicker bass response.
Black Dog (b), Abraxas (b), The Mule (n), Mississippi Queen (n), Trilogy Suite (m)

Had: Riff Raff 7 (b), Painkiller 8 (b)

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2015, 08:09:41 AM »
My Les Paul uses the 498T and 490R set and I also like them, though ironically, if I were to change one of them, it would be the 490R, which can be a little disappointing. Anyway, some thoughts....

The 498T I find to be quite tight and easily handles as much gain as I need. I like its slightly less compressed feel and the aggressive edge it has going on. I've often thought about what to change it for in the BKP range but it sits between a few different pickups. The C-Bomb, due to the ceramic magnet, will give you a very different feel so if you want to retain the basic character of the guitar and have more versatility, I'd probably stick to alnico. The A-Bomb is certainly more aggressive, raw and hairy than the 498T, though I don't find the core tone that different. I can see a case for the A-Bomb but it depends if you want to move your guitar into a slightly more modern and aggressive area or not. I remember being surprised and just how aggressive and hairy the A-Bomb was, though that was in a different guitar and I've remained tempted to try it in a Les Paul.

The common suggestion to replace a 498T is a Rebel Yell, and I imagine that's what BKP would suggest to you. As a lighter wind it's brighter than the A-Bomb and probably a tad more versatile and as you said you found the Rebel Yell to lack versatility, this also makes me think twice about suggesting the A-Bomb to you. To me, the 498T sits between the A-Bomb and the Rebel Yell. It's hotter, darker and more aggressive than the Rebel Yell but not as hot, dark and aggressive as the A-Bomb.

This leaves a problem and it's one I've thought about a great deal. Kiichi often describes the Rebel Yell as a modern pickup with a very vintage feel and I can understand that because I'd describe the 498T in a similar way and I think that's why I like it. I loved the Crawler for the same reason as it occupied this wonderful area between vintage and modern. As you have also mentioned both vintage and modern and said that you like the 498T in terms of its basic tone, I assume you feel much the same about this as I do so if it was me, I'd look at the Black Dog. Where the Rebel Yell is a modern pickup with a very vintage feel, the Black Dog is a vintage pickup with a very modern feel. It has the AV magnet that I think would work for you and it has the lighter wind of a vintage pickup to give you some PAF tones but it's wound with modern polysol wire to give it a more modern feel. This basic approach works very well on the Holydiver neck model, which is remarkably PAF-like but retains the cut of a more modern pickup and is absolutely sublime. The Black Dog will give you a lot of vintage PAF character but be easily tight enough for Metal tones. It will give your guitar the body that is characteristic of a Les Paul Rock tone and quite a bit of versatility. If I was changing my 498T, I think I'd either be getting a Black Dog or having a custom wind made for me. For the neck, I'd either go with the calibrated set or use a Holydiver.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaqEET376-I
BKP owned:

Bridge - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; A-Bomb; Holydiver; Miracle Man; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Neck - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; Holydiver; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Alfi27

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2015, 09:31:55 AM »
I have used quite a lot of ceramic pickups and I really like the feel, but I am not sure if that would be right for this guitar. The Rebel Yell really opened my eyes and showed me that Alnico V can be very tight as well, that pickup really surprised me! It certainly has a vintage feel, but there is a spike in the upper mids that makes it sound very aggressive, even with lower gain. What I really like about this particular guitar is how it sounds acoustically! Very balanced and rich tone, but still massive when plugged in. I have to say that there is absolutely nothing that beats the tone of a good Les Paul for rock tones! And by the way, the guitar is not chambered but I believe it has swiss hole weight relieving.
So, if I am not going contemporary I guess the best options so far are the Black Dog and Emerald. I think I will send a mail to Bare Knuckle as well, just to see what they will recommend, they are usually quite spot on with the recommendations!
EDIT: judging from the modern metal clips the Black Dog sounds VERY nice, exactly what I am looking for! The Emerald sounds a bit less tight and not quite as powerful and "growly".
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 09:48:07 AM by Alfi27 »
Guitars:
Ernie Ball Music Man Valentine (VHII set)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard LQ MIJ (BD/TB)
Epiphone Les Paul Junior LQ MIJ (Monty's FM P90)

Amps:
Marshall JMP 50w '72
Marshall JCM800 2204 '81

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2015, 12:14:32 PM »
That upper mid aggression you mention on the Rebel Yell is there on the A-Bomb too, which also surprised me. I found the A-Bomb to be far tighter and more aggressive than most ceramic pickups I've tried. I believe it's more aggressive than the Rebel Yell so possibly not for you.

The Emerald bridge is very bright so would probably sit well in a dark Les Paul. Mine had a really vintage feel to it with plenty articulation and loads of tone but I certainly wouldn't describe it as 'growly' at all. What appeals to me about the Black Dog is that it has a lot of that vintage tone we all love but the bottom end remains very defined under gain. It also has some of the middy qualities of a Holydiver, which I love for more modern tones as well as some of the growl that I loved in the Crawler. Furthermore, that 'weight' which seems to be characteristic of the Black Dog is exactly what I always associate with Les Paul tone. To me, a classic Les Paul Rock sound is big, beefy and growly; a vintage based tone that is rather angry with the world as it woke up with a bad head. In Rock terms, Fenders always seem to me like the fairly polite middle class kid who isn't that strong but can be a bit rebellious when he wants to be while the Les Paul is the angry and rough rebel who is a muscular, working class kid from the wrong side of the tracks but has a soul. That's probably a bit abstract but it's how I see it. From a 498T I would anticipate BKP will say Rebel Yell or similar but I think you'd really like the Black Dog.
BKP owned:

Bridge - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; A-Bomb; Holydiver; Miracle Man; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Neck - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; Holydiver; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Dave Sloven

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2015, 02:24:02 PM »
If you still have a Cold Sweat bridge pickup lying around I would try it in the LP Custom, as it would react differently to the heavier guitar.
BLACK HAWKS
IMPULSES
WAR PIGS
STOCKHOLM
COLD SWEATS
MIRACLE MAN

https://slovendoom.bandcamp.com/releases

Alfi27

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2015, 08:55:18 AM »
Yeah, the Emerald sounds good on paper, but I cannot say I really liked the clips especially compared to the Black Dog, and with my previous experience with the pickup I do not think I could get myself to spend that much money on it really... It could be a match made in heaven, but I really doubt it as all of the humbucker clips on the BKP site were recorded with a mid 80's Les Paul Custom. I think Black Dog and Rebel Yell are the safest choices here.
I have always loved the Les Paul tone, but for some reason I have always favored the playability of a good strat. Especially my Suhr Modern is exceptional in every way, and it has some awesome tones as well with its set of Juggs. However, the Les Paul Custom is one of the nicest Les Pauls I have ever tried both playability-wise and tone-wise, but it could maybe use a little bit tweaking on the setup.
Regarding the Cold Sweat, I exchanged it for a Rebel Yell with a really nice guy, and I could not be happier! But now the guitar that got the Rebel Yell is sold, so I have no BKPs lying around anymore... I do have a set of VHIIs in a PRS Mira which I am selling, do not know if these are considered good for a Les Paul type of guitar?
« Last Edit: November 11, 2015, 10:00:26 AM by Alfi27 »
Guitars:
Ernie Ball Music Man Valentine (VHII set)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard LQ MIJ (BD/TB)
Epiphone Les Paul Junior LQ MIJ (Monty's FM P90)

Amps:
Marshall JMP 50w '72
Marshall JCM800 2204 '81

Dave Sloven

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Re: Pickups for Gibson Les Paul Custom
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2015, 10:27:02 AM »
From reports a VHII can be hit or miss in a LP.  I would try it if you have time
BLACK HAWKS
IMPULSES
WAR PIGS
STOCKHOLM
COLD SWEATS
MIRACLE MAN

https://slovendoom.bandcamp.com/releases