Guitar Gear: Guitar Makeover (or What I Did with the LPJ Parts)

Got my hands on a new Gibson Les Paul LPM but wasn’t exactly down with how the guitar was appointed from the factory. It just seemed kind of boring and a slight mismatch as did the LPJ so maybe I could work it out between them.

It started out nice enough out of the box but the auto-tuners were kind of a non-starter. I tried them out to see what all the fuss was and while they seemed to work fairly well tuning things up I was not impressed with how they held tune. They sort of seemed to have a mind of their own at times. Setting proper intonation made a big difference but the whole experience with them was just awkward. I was going to go with Grovers but I really like the Kluson type pegs on LP’s. Now that they’ve gone to the bolt bushings and better plates they are fantastic tuners so the black key versions I pulled from the LPJ went right on. Glad I have the tuner reamer though there was a bit too much clear built up in 2 of the tuner holes. (now that I am typing this I wonder if the auto tuner keys weren’t sitting right in the holes? hmmm.)

I also installed the set of blackout 490/498 Gibson pickups I pulled from the LPJ as well as the chrome Nashville bridge and tailpiece. Then I set it up for 10-46’s as opposed to the 9-42’s it shipped with. The new circuit boards the pots are mounted to make pickup changes a breeze as long as you have the clips already on the pickups.

The wider neck was a little awkward at first but the string spacing is the same so it was a pretty quick adjustment. I found it far easier to nail high E string bends with out pulling off the edge of the board with this setup, a personal issue I am sure.The fairly trick adjustable brass zero fret nut works well. With the better woods, the thicker rosewood board and the new style nut this guitar really has a ton of sustain (Cue the Spinal Tap jokes).

The 490/498 pickups work really well in this guitar and give it some wire-y grit and a bit more growl than the ’61 Zebra’s it came with. For some reason I didn’t like the look of the zebra’s in this guitar. Cosmetic I know but hey they have to look good too right?

Now the chrome pops, the black ties everything together, it plays great and sounds fantastic!

Before and After’s


Scott Bittner is the founder and main author for the Guitar Blog “Guitar Kulture “.  Scott is also the lead singer/guitarist for NY Punk N Roll band The Heartless Devils. The Heartless Devils “El Diablo Sin Corazon” is now available for download on iTunes. You can also check out The Heartless Devils on Facebook and Reverb Nation.