#1
Ok, so i have an epiphone les paul junior made of plywood, which i'm sure has got you all thinking "lol POS" already. However, even when compared to a lot of much 'better' guitars, though i've played some dreadful JRs, this one is actually not bad at all. Actually, it's freakishly good for such a cheap guitar, as many people have pointed out (someone was even willing to trade an ibanez destroyer for it! but i didn't like the destroyer as much)

It's only shortcomings are the muddy tone and some minor tuning stability issues. I recently noticed that actually, it has a pretty good unplugged tone, which normally i'd assume would mean it's a nice sounding guitar, it just has a crap pickup which isn't allowing it to sound good.

Is this too good to be true? does plywood trick you by sounding good un-amplified, and then sound like crap as soon as you plug the guitar in, no matter what? or have i just struck gold?

I just wanna know whether it's worth a pickup change, really.

tl;dr - I have a seemingly freakishly good "crap" guitar, which is made of plywood but has a great unplugged tone somehow despite a muddy amplified tone, is it worth changing the pickup?
I like analogue Solid State amps that make no effort to be "tube-like", and I'm proud of it...

...A little too proud, to be honest.
#2
The muddy tone probably comes from the wood material, not the pickups. Yould probably put the best pickups in the world in there and it would still sound muddy. Body wood = more effect on tone than pickups, though they may help a bit.
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Last edited by strat0blaster at Mar 4, 2009,
#3
you have a decent amp(s) and an assload of guitars. a new pickup cannot be a bad investment
Get off this damn forum and play your damn guitar.
#4
Quote by strat0blaster
The muddy tone probably comes from the wood material, not the pickups. Yould probably put the best pickups in the world in there and it would still sound muddy. Body wood = more effect on tone than pickups, though they may help a bit.


-1 Then why the hell do emgs pretty much sound the same in any guitar?

Do it, epi pups are junk and known to be muddy. If it sounds good un plugged it ought to sound good plugged in. Usually I associate poor wood with sustain problems more than tone problems. If you like the guitar then it's certainly worth some new pups.
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#5
Quote by Kevin Saale
-1 Then why the hell do emgs pretty much sound the same in any guitar?

Do it, epi pups are junk and known to be muddy. If it sounds good un plugged it ought to sound good plugged in. Usually I associate poor wood with sustain problems more than tone problems. If you like the guitar then it's certainly worth some new pups.

Becuase they're active, which means the tone is adjusted by the pickups. That's the point of active pickups - to adjust the frequencies in order to achieve an ideal tone. And by that last line's logic in your post, you're telling me that an Ibanez S of mahogany sounds the same as an RG with basswood?
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#6
You just said the wood makes more difference though, I proved you wrong. Not saying wood doesn't make a difference, just not much of one.

^I dunno, I'm not sure I've played those guitars.
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Last edited by Kevin Saale at Mar 4, 2009,
#7
Alright - then we'll amend it - the wood CAN make more difference - like when it's plywood in a cheaply made guitar.

And if you think the difference between a Les Paul's tone and, for example, a knockoff made of PLYWOOD isn't "much of a difference," then I just don't know what to tell you....
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#8
Quote by strat0blaster
Alright - then we'll amend it - the wood CAN make more difference - like when it's plywood in a cheaply made guitar.

And if you think the difference between a Les Paul's tone and, for example, a knockoff made of PLYWOOD isn't "much of a difference," then I just don't know what to tell you....



Have you tried them with the exact same pickups? How do you know it isn't the pups?
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#9
Quote by Kevin Saale
Have you tried them with the exact same pickups? How do you know it isn't the pups?

You're joking, right? You're actually implying that a Les Paul made of plywood would sound the exact same as a Les Paul Standard would, regardless of the material, becuase they have the same pickups?
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#10
I dont think hes saying that at all i think all hes saying is pups play a bigger role in your sound than wood.
#11
Did I say that? No. I asked if you'd tried them with the same pups. I'm guessing that's a no. Without doing so you can't really say that there is a difference. I haven't tried either so I can't say there isn't.
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#12
Quote by THEKID546
I dont think hes saying that at all i think all hes saying is pups play a bigger role in your sound than wood.

In some cases, yes - that's why I amended it saying it CAN make a bigger difference. In the specific case here, though - plywood is going to sound like plywood through any passive pickup. It might clear it up a bit, but it's not going to solve the problem. If he wants to keep the guitar and really use it, he should probably look at an amp instead of a pickup.
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#13
Quote by Kevin Saale
Did I say that? No. I asked if you'd tried them with the same pups. I'm guessing that's a no. Without doing so you can't really say that there is a difference. I haven't tried either so I can't say there isn't.

Okay so you're arguing nothing.

I'll gaurantee you that there will be a very large difference between a plywood guitar and a mahogany one, even with the same pickups. I've played on plenty of crappy guitars made from plywood and stuff just as bad, and I can tell you from experience that in some cases, there isn't a pickup in the world that'll make a guitar sound any good.

Plywood's good for fixing your shed, not building tonally quality guitars.
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#14
WTF's going on in here

IMO pickups are vastly more influential on tone than wood
Get off this damn forum and play your damn guitar.
#15
Quote by stevo_epi_SG_wo
WTF's going on in here

IMO pickups are vastly more influential on tone than wood

That's true - they definitely can be. But honestly -

A les paul standard sounding the same as a les paul knockoff made out of plywood just becuase they've got the same pickups...

You think that's the case?
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#16
yah i know you could have a bomb ass guitar hand crafted your specs with **** chinese pups and sound like ****.

or you could have a crap epiphone strat ply with bomb ass pups and sound tons better.

just my opinion
#17
Quote by strat0blaster
That's true - they definitely can be. But honestly -

A les paul standard sounding the same as a les paul knockoff made out of plywood just becuase they've got the same pickups...

You think that's the case?


of course not

but a crap guitar through a decent amp with decent pickups will be a huge improvement over a crap guitar with crap pickups through a decent amp

and if it's not then its not the end of the world as TS could put it in one of his better guitars
Get off this damn forum and play your damn guitar.
#18
Quote by stevo_epi_SG_wo
of course not

but a crap guitar through a decent amp with decent pickups will be a huge improvement over a crap guitar with crap pickups through a decent amp

and if it's not then its not the end of the world as TS could put it in one of his better guitars

I agree - I agree - Believe me I"m not saying that pickups don't make a difference in some - even a good number of cases....

I was just starting to think I'd gone nuts and was the only person that understood what I was asking

I still say he's barking up the wrong tree - focus on an amp first - then you can better understand what you want to add tone wise with pickups. IMO, pickups are more to kinda ice off the cake of tone - they're influential, but I think the composition of the guitar and the tone of the amp have a way more drastic effect.
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#19
nevermind this argument about the importance of wood to the tone of the guitar, it's not quite relevant here.

the real question is, if the guitar has a good natural acoustic tone, regardless of whether it's made of plywood, mahogany, wood from the forbidden apple tree in the garden of eden, or cheese, doesn't that mean it will sound good with good pickups no matter how crap the guitar is 'on paper'?
I like analogue Solid State amps that make no effort to be "tube-like", and I'm proud of it...

...A little too proud, to be honest.
#20
Quote by Blompcube
nevermind this argument about the importance of wood to the tone of the guitar, it's not quite relevant here.

the real question is, if the guitar has a good natural acoustic tone, regardless of whether it's made of plywood, mahogany, wood from the forbidden apple tree in the garden of eden, or cheese, doesn't that mean it will sound good with good pickups no matter how crap the guitar is 'on paper'?

That part's preference, I think. A good acoustically resonating guitar just means that it sounds stronly enough through the body (vibrates) that it can produce the tone.

EDIT

Don't get me wrong - it's a good thing, but it doesn't have anything to do with the pickups, which are what transmit that tone to the amp.

.....

I think I just partially debunked my own argument....
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Last edited by strat0blaster at Mar 4, 2009,
#22
^^ but he has 3 good amps

^i'd say yes, as long as the bridge is half decent
Get off this damn forum and play your damn guitar.
#23
Quote by stevo_epi_SG_wo
^^ but he has 3 good amps

^i'd say yes, as long as the bridge is half decent

True.

Well give it a shot. Anything's possible...

I still say, after owning guitars of similar materials as well as plywood, that it'll be a bandaid instead of a fix. Plywood's just not that good for guitars.
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#24
Quote by Blompcube
nevermind this argument about the importance of wood to the tone of the guitar, it's not quite relevant here.

the real question is, if the guitar has a good natural acoustic tone, regardless of whether it's made of plywood, mahogany, wood from the forbidden apple tree in the garden of eden, or cheese, doesn't that mean it will sound good with good pickups no matter how crap the guitar is 'on paper'?

+eleventy billion.

My Harmony is plywood and sounds teh seckz.

My suggestion: Throw either: P90's in it, OR some of those sweet Silvertone/Teisco pickups. Hound Dog Taylor/Ry Cooder in a jar.

My favorite tone ever is Hound Dog Taylor, and he used plywood guitars. Hubert Sumlin also used them for a while. (Silvertones/Harmonies/Teisco).
#25
Quote by strat0blaster
The muddy tone probably comes from the wood material, not the pickups. Yould probably put the best pickups in the world in there and it would still sound muddy. Body wood = more effect on tone than pickups, though they may help a bit.



this is incorrect. Good pickups most likely will make that guitar sound quite good. They are definately more of a factor than body wood.
#26
Quote by imgooley
+eleventy billion.

My Harmony is plywood and sounds teh seckz.

My suggestion: Throw either: P90's in it, OR some of those sweet Silvertone/Teisco pickups. Hound Dog Taylor/Ry Cooder in a jar.

My favorite tone ever is Hound Dog Taylor, and he used plywood guitars. Hubert Sumlin also used them for a while. (Silvertones/Harmonies/Teisco).

i was gonna get a HB sized P-90. Well, i probably will
I like analogue Solid State amps that make no effort to be "tube-like", and I'm proud of it...

...A little too proud, to be honest.
#27
I think you should try it out. If you like the way the guitar feels and plays, it is probably worth upgrading the pickups. If it has tuning problems, you might consider upgrading the bridge and tuner too, but I would start with the pups and only upgrade the hardware if you like the tone after spending money on pups.

I have played some sweet sounding and playing MIJ and MIM guitars. Sometimes you can luck into a well built one.