Having decided to bring my 1997 Les Paul Classic Goldtop out of retirement, and having fitted the Gotoh Magnum Lock tuners to deal with the tuning stability issues this guitar has always suffered from, time now to turn my attention to pickups and some cosmetic touches.
Here’s an interim photo showing the new black pickup mounting rings and some experimentation with different knobs. Partially inspired by the look of the recent Gibson Jos Bonamassa Les Paul, it should be pointed out that (a) I don’t really know who Joe Bonamassa is and (b) I don’t give a fig about him or his guitars. However, I think the black plastic on a Goldtop look is rather cool. No?
Pickups – Active or Passive?
I haven’t 100% made up my mind yet, but think I’m going to end up with active EMGs, either a 81/60, 81/85 or even 85/85 combo. I already have a spare EMG 60 floating around – thanks to the purchase of a 85-X newly installed in my ESP Eclipe I – so this may well end up in the Les Paul. However, if I decide to put an 85 in the bridge, the match might not be good as the 85 is darker than the 81 (usually found in combination with the 60) and the 60 is a bright pickup.
So, one option is to go 81/60 and see what happens. Bear in mind that the tone and volume pots supplied with EMG pickups do NOT fit a Les Paul, so if you’re considering swapping out your passives for EMG’s, you need to buy EMG’s long shaft pots (available from EMG dealers and not that expensive). By the way, no you can’t use normal guitar pots with EMG pickups.
The alternative option is to stick with passives and replace the existing Bareknuckle Mules with a hotter Alnico V or ceramic pickup model from their range. However, I’m so in love with my ESP Eclipse and its EMGs, I think I will go the active EMG route. 🙂
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