1981 Kay Les Paul - help for fixing switch + knobs


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02-21-2007, 11:15 PM
Hi guys, new to the forum - be gentle :p:

Bought my very first electric guitar the other day, it's a 1981 Kay Les Paul. It's nice to play on and I got it very cheap, however I'd now like to get it back up to scratch.

The first problem is that the 3 knobs excluding the volume knob do not seem to be working, and also one of them seems loose and feels like it may come off if turned anti clockwise (- thought this just seems to be a case of tightening ?).

The second problem is that the pick up switch (at the top) for Rhythm / Treble / Both seems to be a little messed up. It seems as tho the both position is actualy the Up (rhythm) position and the middle is one of the others and it doesn't even stay flicked downwards...

Thirdly, I'm getting a crackling noise when actualy turning the volume knob. It's not really a huge issue but I'm assumign it shouldn't be there so would like to resolve all these issues.

Another small issue is the guy I bought the guitar from drilled a new whole for a hook for attatching a strap but this means he's left the previous hole open. What would you professionals (:)) suggest I use to fill it, if anything.

Overall it's a great guitar and I'm enjoying playing it - even though at the moment I'm only going through my PC so not getting the full effect of having a proper amp, though I have a very good hifi setup so it makes up for that a little :)

I've left a pic for you guys as I'm assumign as forum viewers, you like pics! :)

Pic is here (http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b19/suraj8707/20-02-07_2329.jpg)

02-21-2007, 11:21 PM
for the volume knob replace the pot probly. for the loose knobs just take the black knobs off and tighten the bolt thats on the pot and you should be good. i dont know if id try to fill the hole

02-21-2007, 11:23 PM
Getting new electronics and/or having all the old ones checked would probably fix the crackling etc. Old guitars, if not used regularly can get rust and crap in the switch and knobs. Mabye spray some WD-40 on them and twist them a lot and see if that helps any.

To fill the strap button hole.. Wood glue and saw-dust makes a pretty strong filler. Or just regular wood putty stuff would work. Black texta to make it unnoticable.. You can just leave it though it doesn't really affect anything.

02-21-2007, 11:25 PM
if you dont know what your doing take it to a shop and have it checked out but you should definately change the pots and tighten em so they dont jiggle

02-22-2007, 01:58 AM
Every Les Paul copy I have ever owned has had the pickup switch problem you have described. They make replacement switches for retro-fitting, so I'd suggest you but a real Gibson pickup selector switch and have it installed, or if you can solder and keep track of it, put it in yourself. :)

02-22-2007, 10:38 AM
hi guys, thanks very much for the replies - you've been very helpful.

Strings_Maniac - i'll be searching ebay ;)

carousel182 - i have thought about taking it to a shop but I'm worried about being told about problems that don't exist etc. I'm new to the guitar world so i don't know where to go and who's good and who's bad etc.

TheDev01dOne - I think you're right about it not being used for a while as the guy said he hadn't used it much as he'd bought a new one a year or something ago. Hopefully it's just stuff that can be sorted with WD40.

I guess my only question is how much do these pots cost and what do they look like? Also, how easily do the knobs come off, and what tools do I need to tighten them?

I also forgot to mention in my first post that, the jack for the guitar lead is very loose and wobbly, is this just a case of tightening too? If so, what tool/s ?

02-22-2007, 11:23 AM
Is it 81 or 82 in the thread title it says 81 but in the thread it says 82. enlighten me?

02-22-2007, 11:27 AM
my appologies, typo in my post - the guy i bought it from said it's a 1981 - so 1981... :)

02-22-2007, 12:16 PM
*loves guitar*

WD-40 is a bit of a bad idea, think of putting some switch cleaner, bit i might recommend a set of completely new electronics, seeing all the probs u got. If not, replace the volume control, the selector switch, fill the bottom hole in with a dowel, and you should be fine. And i might recommend a Pignose for your amp of choice, as they are awesome. The 7-100 was sent from heaven.

02-22-2007, 06:41 PM
thanks for reply woodenbandman.

By the sounds of it, a new set of electronics sounds a bit on the expensive side :/ I was hopign it may juut be loose connections / wires and a bit of TLC to get it up to scratch for the things I've stated.

02-22-2007, 08:10 PM
Hi, welcome to the forums!

I suggest taking the back panel off your guitar, and having a look inside for loose wiring. A lot of wiring diagrams can be found on the net, don't be put off! the electrics are really really simple! The jack cable can be tightened from the exterior with some pliers, same with all the pots. If the pots are faulty then just replace them with identical new ones, screw them on there etc. and solder them in.

Could you post some nice clear pictures of the innards?

02-22-2007, 08:28 PM
A new switch, pots and wiring shouldn't cost you much more than $25 (and that's Australia, so it should be EXTREMELY cheap). Do you know how to solder? It doesn't take a lot of effort and knowledge to replace all these.
EDIT: About a third of the way down this (http://www.axesrus.com/axeknobs.htm) page, there's some Les Paul wiring kits. They range from about 22-37 pounds. Alpha pots are good quality, but the CTS brand kit would be a lot better quality. It's all down to how much you're willing to spend

02-22-2007, 08:36 PM
Depending on how much $$ you have at the moment I would suggest AT LEAST new pots and a new p'up selector (10-20$) and if you have a bit more MAYBE some new p'ups (30-150$). I would rewire it and go from there.

02-22-2007, 09:04 PM
there was a great article from stewmac trade secerts newsletters about this type stuff.

02-22-2007, 09:25 PM
You guys rock and thanks for the warm welcome.

I'm attempting to soak up all your advice :p:

jcwear - your post fills me with confidence :p: When you say innards what do you mean exactly? (me = total noob :))

unfortunately, I've not done any proper soldering before the_random_hero, but the link you gave me looks really good and assuming the pots are messed up and the wiring is ok I'll defo go for the CTS brand I think.

livrockdie - cheers. I think pickups will probably come last. I'd like to get the other stuff sorted first.

I only paid 30 for the guitar so I'll probably upgrade them later on in the year, maybe in the summer. But for now I'm willing to spend a bit of cash fixing the probs. Still a great guitar tho :)

How easy do the turning knobs come off? Can I just pull them off or are they screwed on or what?

02-22-2007, 09:31 PM
You might either have push-on types (lever them off with a flat screwdriver CAREFULLY) or screw in types (they have a little hex or phillips screw on the side of the knob, just unscrew it and pull it off).
Thankfully, soldering is fair easy to get into. I know there's a good guide to it floating around here somewhere, I'll try and track a link down for you.

02-22-2007, 10:33 PM
If you use a screwdriver to pry them off place a guitar pick between the screwdriver and your guitar. Also, use a wiggling motion, dont pry it like a crobar.

02-22-2007, 10:50 PM
Thanks for fast replies guys. I'll give that a go.

I've uploaded a pic of the electronics behind the knobs with the panel off. Check it out here (http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b19/suraj8707/IMG0001.jpg).

Unfortunately I couldn't get the back panel off that sits behind the pick up switch. I got the screws off easy but the panel wouldn't lift, felt like it was stuck ? Is it held down by the pick up switch on the front of the body?

the pots are marked as follows:

top: A500KΩ
left: A500KΩ right: B500KΩ
bottom: B500KΩ

the left one is the loose one, it just looks like the nut needs tightening which i can do once i get the knob off.

02-22-2007, 11:45 PM
Those numbers mean you have 500Kohm pots (a common value for guitars with humbuckers), two of which are A curve, and the other being B curve. I can't remember off hand which one is which, but one on them is linear (straight line) and the other is logarithmic (exponential curve). The volumes would be the log pots. Just if you were wondering....

I'm not too familiar with LP style guitars, but I'm assuming there's a nut that is holding the plate and switch down. You will probably have to undo this to get the plate off. The same deal goes when you're trying to take your pots out.

02-22-2007, 11:59 PM
It's always good to have the info :) That's interesting.

So your saying in order to take the plate off the back of the guitar, i gota undo the pickup-switch from the front first ?

02-23-2007, 12:04 AM
It's always good to have the info :) That's interesting.

So your saying in order to take the plate off the back of the guitar, i gota undo the pickup-switch from the front first ?

Oh wait! Sorry, I totally misread you. *smacks himself on forehead* Once you've undone the screws, you just might have to pry it off with a little screwdriver.

02-23-2007, 04:25 AM
i don't think the nut is holding the back panel down, i think it is just stuck.
edit: didn't see the post above.

02-23-2007, 09:08 AM
the guitar is plywood

02-23-2007, 10:45 AM
whats your point mrperson :confused:

02-23-2007, 10:56 AM
I havne't read this whole thing since I gotta jolt, and it looks like everyone else pretty much ehas everythign under control.

So my advice is check out the potentiometers, be sure they are in working order. If any need to be replaced then I recommend replacing all of them. Since most of them are bound to screw up eventually. And The pup selectors can be replaced with some off shoot generic brand specialyt electronics company. Like all parts. And Don't use WD-40 it will attract more dust then lube it. If you have cracky pots then get soem electronics grade canned air and spray that in the little slit on the back of the pots.

Welcome to UG, Don't be an asshole :peace:

02-23-2007, 11:08 AM
Don't plan on being an asshole. ;p

I had a feeling the crackly pots might be crap that's gathered.

So what do all the knobs actualy do? I know that 2 are volume (one for treb, one for bass?) - so what do the other 2 do?

If I plug striaght into PC should they effect the sound - or would this only happen through a proper amp only?

02-23-2007, 12:43 PM
hi guys, thanks very much for the replies - you've been very helpful.

Strings_Maniac - i'll be searching ebay ;)

for a toggle switch, if you live in the UK goto Axesrus, good delivery, good prices, i ordered a pickguard on a sunday and recived it on the immediate tuesday

and the Volume;

1 Volume Dial, and 1 Tone Dial for the Neck Pickup
the other Volume and other Tone for the Bridge Pickup

02-23-2007, 02:11 PM
Yeah cheers mate, someone posted a link to there earlier for a set of new pots and a switch. They could do with a new design though, site is difficult to navigate.

I do one for them, maybe they'll supply me for free ;)

Should the controls of the other 2 knobs effect the sound greatly?, because the loose one on mine does seem to do something - as I can hear the crackling etc when it turns, and if it's in a dodgy position my guitar won't actualy output anything from the jack (though I'm hoping this will be ok once I tighten the pot temporarily).

The other knob however does not seem to effect the sound at all (doesn't even crackle), at least when it's running through my pc anyway (I don't have an amp at the moment so not sure if they all actualy work ok or not).

02-23-2007, 08:21 PM
Hey threadstarter, it all seems to be in order, however I'd like to bet that the pots are just scratchy and old, i can see rust! I would put some new ones in! They are very inexepensive (cost you 4 max for all four? Go to maplins they have everything you need! http://www.maplin.co.uk/search.aspx?MenuNo=56092&MenuName=POTENTIOMETERS&worldid=3&FromMenu=y&doy=24m2 )
That kinda thing,

Or if your going to order online I recommend these guys:

As they have fast delivery in the UK and have nice prices, esepcially if you buy in bulk!

Also if you feel adventerous and want to completely re-wire it then try this diagram out. (might be a good idea to be honest if you're having problems with the picup selector switch.)

I recommend this diagram.

That gives you independant volume control for each pickup and individual tone control.

02-23-2007, 08:34 PM
Cheers jcwear, awesome diagram. I also found this one at axesrus (page 6) (http://www.artecsound.com/wiring/wiring_book01.pdf).

Yeah I'm defo gona buy some new pots however I've managed to remove cracking on the lose one, and its no longer lose any more heh, I just took it out and gave it a bit of a clean and blow of air - which I'm guessing would stop the cracking in the others too. As for the ones that don't seem to be affecting the sound I think the capacitors may be dead but I'm not sure yet, not run enough diagnostics on it.

However, also a nice diagram :)

What can I use to losen the nut type thing that sits on the thread surrounding the pick up switch? I'm having trouble losening it.