Friday, March 15th, 2013 at 10:03 am
My Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus came with Grover locking Rotomatic tuners. These tuners work phenomenally well. They stay perfectly in tune no matter how much I bend and beat on the strings- and adjustments are smooth and accurate.
These Rotomatics are different from typical locking tuners, like the Sperzel’s or Grover’s own Roto-Grips, where you lock and unlock the string using a thumbscrew around back.
On the Rotomatics, you just insert the string, and give it a wind, and an inner-cam rotates, locking the string into place under the string’s own tension. I always feel a little uncertain when changing strings on these because the process is a bit different from other tuners. Here are the instructions from Grover:
1. Turn tip of string post until it clicks into place. This aligns string post holes.
2. Note string hole is off center. Turn knob to rotate post until string hole is positioned away from knob. Thread string up through bottom of hole and pull firmly. See drawing.
3. Turn to begin tuning. At first, only inner “Locking Cam” is turning, securely locking the string. Once the string is locked, outer post will turn.
4. Bring string to pitch.
Monday, September 3rd, 2012 at 10:12 pm
Dead air. Not good! As I was nearing completion of my epically long video for part 2 in my guitar pedal building series, one of the big items left on my to-do list was to find some appropriate thematic music for the section interludes. Each of the 5 tutorial sections has a table of contents image that sits on the screen for about 16 seconds. At that point in the project, each of these brief interludes was dead-silent.
I had this vague idea that I would compose some short piece of music, and then make five increasingly complex variations to play for each of the five increasingly advanced sections of the tutorial. 16 seconds is not very long- not long enough for a big composition, but maybe long enough for a short melody. This idea lurked in the back of my mind for a few weeks. A couple of aborted attempts just didn’t seem to fit the tone of the video- too perky, too funky, etc.
Inspiration arrived, as it sometimes does, with a new piece of gear. So with brand new Les Paul in hand, and Jamman Delay looper and Vox Ice 9 under foot, I recorded the following series of melodies. Each loop starts with a copy of a previous variation, and adds a little something.
I’m particularly fond of that last clip, even though it ended up on the cutting room floor. It’s got this crazy riff in it – which may be just a little too complex.
Friday, July 20th, 2012 at 6:24 pm
The factory setup on my new Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus definitely needs some work. Fortunately, it’s not quite as bad as my Riviera’s original factory setup. Thank you inspector #22 in the USA
For these measurements, I’m using a capo set of feeler gauges like this set from Grizzly.
Here’s what it looked like, right out of the box:
- the open action at the 17th fret was .101” on the high E and .083” on the low E.
- the nut seems to be cut just about right. With a capo on the 3rd fret and measuring at the 1st fret, it’s about .002” on the high E and .006” on the low E. Or measured open at the first fret, it’s .015” on the high E and .028” on the low E
- the truss rod was was .011” at the 7th fret, with capo on 1st and finger on 22nd.
- the intonation was completely whacked.
- The pickup heights were carelessly set. The neck pickup was angled to be too high close to the strings on the low side and too low on the high side, resulting in a boomy unbalanced sound.
- The pickup pole pieces were haphazardly adjusted.
So how does Gibson set up its Les Pauls at the factory? In a post to the Gibson Talk forums, Davomite, the final inspector at Gibson Memphis posted the following factory setup notes (I added the purple decimal inch values in parentheses):
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Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 at 4:10 pm
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.
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Thursday, June 28th, 2012 at 9:03 am
A couple months ago, I had an unexpected revelation. An eye-opening, earth-shaking, revolutionary enlightenment. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating and obsessing, but it was an honest-to-goodness WTF!
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…
I was shocked! This guitar had so much sustain, it felt like there must be an active sustainer circuit in there. But no- just passive ‘57 Classic humbuckers, a Nashville Tune-o-matic, and a whole bunch of mahogany and maple. I was stunned. I always thought my G&L ASAT III with its Saddle-Lock bridge and my Vox SSC-55 with its MaxConnect bridge both had reasonably good sustain, but this was in a whole ‘nother league. It actually felt like a different breed of instrument, one that may even require a different playing style to accommodate and leverage such an impressive sustain. And those 57 Classics sounded fantastic!
So, ok, I walked out of there telling Chunling “Wow- that was mind-blowing. But $2400, forget about it!!” I convinced myself to let it go, and stopped thinking about it. Until…
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