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The Les Paul '59 Challenge

Posted by Nicola
29th March 2017

The Les Paul '59 Challenge

A couple of years ago, Neville Marten, editor of Guitar Techniques, asked me to wind him something special for his Les Paul R9. Neville was after an authentic Les Paul sound, for an articulate but fat tone. I got chatting to him about what kind of sound and look he wanted, and it turned into a project for me to see what we could do with the guitar. After playing it, I wanted to make a totally authentic PAF-style pickup. I created a pickup with rough-cast Alnico IV magnets and used a vintage-spec 42-gauge plain enamel wire. I tried to make the pickup exactly as it would have been back in '59, right down to the nickel silver they would have used in the baseplate and cover. I built a set of 'Mule' humbuckers that were as vintage PAF-sounding as I could make them. I handwound by eye, not using a counter for the number of turns, to give me control over the coil shape and tension of the wire. I wound the bridge a little hotter, at 8.5k DC resistance, and the neck at DC7.9k; his original pickups both were DC8k. Neville then wrote his review on the process in Guitarist Magazine and you can read it below!

I thought this was an interesting insight into one of the ways we're able to tailor a pickup to create a sound which matches the guitar. Any questions or thoughts? You know where the our Facebook page is!

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