The Simplest Single Mod for Your Les Paul
We’ve been on the hunt for simple but effective wiring mods for our favorite guitars. Having already covered Teles then Strats—must be time to turn our attention to the mighty Les Paul! Thankfully, there’s a mod for the LP that is even simpler than the last two we’ve covered, so get out your Lester (or similar dual-humbucker guitar) and get ready to make it come alive!
photo credit: MikeSlub @ LesPaulForum.com
The ’59 Les Paul is one of the most iconic guitars in history. Everyone seems to be chasing that magical tone from ’59, featuring the original PAF humbuckers. Plenty of pickup manufacturers produce PAF reproductions with spec-correct winding and magnets—it’s almost always a cinch to swap out pickups to upgrade your tone and get closer to that vintage 50s tone… however, you’d still be missing a critical piece of the sonic puzzle.
To get as close to true 50s Les Paul tone as possible, you’ll want to do the curiously named (!) “50s Wiring” on your pickups. This wiring is also commonly referred to as “Vintage Wiring” – Gibson used to wire Les Pauls this way in the 50s but eventually stopped and changed to what we consider “standard” wiring today. However, the ’59 Les Paul made appearances on so many legendary recordings that this wiring is still a desired and sought after tweak to your modern day Les Pauls (or any dual-humbucker equipped guitar).
So—what’s the “mod” in 50s Wiring? It’s freakishly simple: you connect the tone pot to the output of the volume pot (normally, it is wired to the input). Here’s Gibson’s diagram to show you what the wiring looks like in the Vintage Wiring mod:
diagram via Gibson.com
One convenient aspect about this mod is that it requires no modifications to your control panel—no extra switches, pots, levers, pushbuttons, LEDs, etc—but the real reward of this mod is YOUR TONE!
The 50s Wiring mod makes your tone stronger and actually makes your tone more “transparent.” It also eliminates much of the typical treble loss that happens when you roll the volume pot down—meaning you don’t have to solve for treble loss by installing some sort of “treble bleed” system in your wiring. With 50s Wiring, it becomes exponentially easier to clean up your overdriven amp by simply rolling back on your volume knob. You may find after performing this mod that your volume and tone controls interact differently than before (meaning changes to your volume can impart a slight effect on tone and vice versa), but the general consensus is that it’s easy to adjust to. Lastly—another great thing about this wiring is that it is easily reversible if you don’t like it.
If you’ve done this mod or have a guitar that already has this wiring, let us know in the comments! Happy modding!
Gratuitous Shot Of Author's Favorite Les Paul in the Galaxy.