- Gear Diary
- Guitar Circuit Wiring
- Guitar Potentiometers
- Guitar Preamp Cable
- Guitar Tone Capacitors
- Guitar Treble Bleed
- Pedal Building
- Photo and Video
- Semi-Hollowbody Electronics
- VOX AC15
My new Epi Les Paul Tribute Plus arrived yesterday for my birthday, and it’s a beauty! These things are hard to find- none of the local stores have inventory, and every online retailer is backordered. I managed to get Guitar Center’s last one in the country(!) – from the store in Tonawanda, New York. The store manager there was great- sent me some pics, played it for me to confirm it was all good, gave me a great July 4th discount, and shipped it over for free. Thanks Chip!
Cosmetically, it’s really nice. Clean, well-defined flamed maple top and cream bindings. The cherryburst finish looks near-perfect- with rich warm coloring- not the bright overexposed yellow in the pictures at Guitar Center’s website. The Grover locking tuners feel fantastically smooth, and the switch, knobs and jack all seem good. And after some quick adjustments, it plays pretty well (but still needs some fine tuning).
The ’57 Classic pickups sound really dynamic, rich and beautiful – they’re warm when played gently, and crank when spanked. Love em. There’s quite a range of sounds with the push/pull series/parallel switching on the tone knobs. When a tone knob is pulled, the humbucker’s two coils are wired in parallel giving a lighter, brighter, thinner sound, somewhat reminiscent of a single coil (though different). It’s completely different from the ultra-thick and heavy series-humbucker sound (knob pushed in). This is a really versatile setup: a total of 8 different sounds using the 3 switches, not to mention the variations you can get by adjusting the volume knobs in the middle switch position.
I was at a local music shop (ok, I admit it was Best Buy), and out of curiosity, I picked up an absurdly expensive Gibson Les Paul Traditional from the wall-o-guitars, plugged it into a Vox Night Train, and gave it a spin. I’ve never really given the Les Paul guitars much attention. Despite their iconic status and near ubiquity, I’ve always thought the Les Paul was just too heavy to consider. But… More
Back in 2009, I described my frustration with the Tune-o-matic bridge on my Epiphone Riviera P93. The retainer wire that holds the saddle screws in place is just a terrible design. A good choice to address this issue is the Nashville style tune-o-matic which has individual saddle retainer clips, while also increasing saddle-adjustment range for intonation. Another good possibility is a roller bridge, like the Wilkinson B33. I figured the roller may pair well with the Bigsby, possibly improving the Bigsby vibrato’s general tuning instability.
In this video, I show how to swap in the Wilkinson bridge, and then do a series of comparisons to see if there’s any difference in the overall tone, sustain, and tuning stability with the two bridges. More
When I purchased my Riviera P93, what I really wanted was a semi-hollowbody in the traditional Gibson ES shape, with a Bigsby tailpiece. I didn’t want to invest the extra several thousand dollars in a Gibson, and the only model available from Epiphone was the Riviera P93.
I took a chance on the P93, and as you may have seen in my blog, it turned into quite a project trying to improve its sound. In the end, even after replacing the pickups and electronics, I am ultimately frustrated by the three pickup, three volume, one tone configuration. I would have preferred the traditional two humbuckers, two volume, two tone configuration.
I still haven’t completed my planned changes to improve the usability of the middle pickup, nor have I replaced the buzzy bridge with the roller. Changing these three pickups to two humbuckers is certainly possible, but the result would be less than beautiful due to the different hole-spacing and routing requirements of dog-eared P-90’s versus humbuckers.
The retainer wire on a standard Tune-o-matic bridge can buzz and rattle if the bridge isn’t machined to perfection.
I didn’t expect this to bother me as much as it does. The buzz doesn’t come through the amp, but I don’t usually play very loud, so hearing a buzzy rattle from the bridge results in a real lack of clarity in the sound I’m hearing.
Here’s a video where I demonstrate what it sounds like when the retainer wire on your Tune-o-matic gets all buzz-tastic.