A Worthy Tribute

Epiphone Les Paul Tribute PlusEpiphone Les Paul Tribute PlusEpiphone Les Paul Tribute PlusEpiphone Les Paul Tribute PlusEpiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus

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).

Push/Pull for Series/ParallelThe ’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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Push/Pull Pots

Bourns PDB183-GTR01-504A2, Gibson PPAT520, AllParts EP 4286-000 long shaftLet’s take a look at push/pull potentiometers.  Shown here are three specimens- Bourns PDB183-GTR01-504A2, Gibson PPAT520, and AllParts EP 4286-000.  These are all 500k audio taper pots with knurled split shafts.  The EP4286 has a longer 3/4” shaft, while the others have the standard 3/8” or “short” shaft.  This Bourns has the highest torque of the bunch– it’s the hardest to turn, while the Gibson is the easiest, and the AllParts has just a touch of mechanical graininess to the feel.

A push/pull pot is just a potentiometer sitting on top of a DPDT switch.  The switch actuator is the shaft of the pot itself, which drives down right into the switch.  When you pull the shaft up, you are moving the switch actuator to connect the top half of the switch, and when you push the shaft down, you are moving the switch actuator down to connect the bottom half of the switch.  There’s no built-in electrical connection between the pot and the switch – if you want the switch to control the pot’s behavior, you need to connect up some wires (as in the example described at the end of this article).

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