#1
I am relatively new to owning an electric guitar. I have dabbled in music for 20 years (played some bass in college, played nothing for 10 years, bought an acoustic guitar a couple years back) and I am familiar with the hardware, but I am not very good at playing anything! Regardless, I enjoy messing with it. I recently picked up an amp and a LP 100 for a song. Both needed a little work to be "right" but that was fairly easy. I have noticed that the guitar would benefit from a few more tweaks. I would consider new tuning machines, rewiring it, and maybe even upgrading the pick-ups.

The question that I am trying to wrap my mind around, is it worth it? This is a thin body, bolt on neck, budget guitar. But to me it feels good. I don't have a lot of experience with other guitars and I haven't developed a taste beyond the basic aesthetics of the Les Paul profile.

I could put a little money here and a little bit there to get this thing more dialed in. I recognize that I would never get that money back out of it.

Would this be silly? Should I just spend a little more to pick up a more refined Epiphone Les Paul before considering doing any modifications or upgrades?

I don't have a few hundred bucks laying around to drop on a new guitar (or even a used upgrade), but I have hard time throwing good money at a guitar that some might say is not worth much to begin with.

Advice appreciated!
#2
it's really up to you. i wouldn't want to put too much into it, but there are (supposedly... i haven't got round to trying them) some decent pickups around these days for fairly cheap from the likes of entwistle, tonerider, etc., which would likely be an upgrade from what you already have in there, and which wouldn't cost anywhere near as much as a new (or even used) guitar.

problem is if anything else needs to be swapped (i haven't tried the LP100). Swapping the pickups is one thing, if you have to swap the pickups, the nut, the bridge, etc. etc. it soon starts to add up.

i'd say try some dearer guitars in shops too but that'll only annoy you if you can't afford them any time soon.
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#3
If your in the USA www.guitarfetish.com has some nice locking tuners for $36ish and decent pickups for $30ish

I highly suggest the GFS Fat Pat
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#4
IMO, the LP100 isn't really a good enough guitar on it's own to warrant putting money into, but YMMV
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#5
A proper fret dress + bone nut will address pretty much all of your playability issues without costing the earth. If you can do it yourself it's even cheaper.

If you're this new of a player maybe you should stick to the ropes and get your technique improved a bit before jumping into new gear?
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#6
Thanks for the quick input.

Oddly enough, I spent a week on the east coast for work, and in my spare time I went to various guitar centers and tried out a number of Epiphone LPs, SGs, PRSs, EMGs, etc. They all felt good and played nicely. But I didn't find any of them played better than my LP100. I also prefer the fade on my cherry burst more than any of the new Epiphones that I saw. The other thing that caught my eye was how thick the body is on standard LPs. The 100 is more like the EMG and PRS (which I kind of like). When I got home and played my own guitar. I thought it felt good and was not wishing it was one of the ones I saw in the shops. In fact, I was a little disappointed in a number of these $350 to $550 guitars.

I don't think the bridge, knobs/pots, jack will need to be replaced. I am going to replace the nut because the one on my guitar is actually narrower than the neck and seems out of place. I am going to make one out of a bone blank because I find that kind of thing fun. I may also re-wire it, just for fun!

I would certainly not drop hundreds of dollars on hardware and electronics. But if there are some low budget upgrade options for the pick-ups, and if I could put a set of tuners on there that are decent quality, I wouldn't mind doing it. In fact, pickups are kind of an after-thought. I want it to be mechanically sound first, I am not trying to get a specific tone out of it. I hardly understand the concept at this point.

Thanks for the support!
Last edited by Moto4Fun at Oct 10, 2014,
#7
I think you have made a good choice, because I'm a great believer in modding cheapos - I currently have five in good working order - and I certainly don't subscibe to the "not good enough" POV where the lump of wood is concerned. IMO, each has to be judged on its own merits.

The amount I put into mine varies, but the pickups are mostly decent to good quality. Two have Seymour Duncans (SDs), one has a Jason Lollar that is worth about three times as much as the guitar cost me, and the other two have carefully-chosen mid-priced ones. I don't know what genres you are interested in, but I would likely go for something like an SD 59 in the bridge and an SD Jazz in the neck. I would keep the old ones, and swap them back in if you want to sell it. This is a good selection, but I wouldn't have covers, because they are tone killers:

Seymour Duncan vintage output

The sound bites and tone comparison charts are helpful.
#8
I'm with Tony, I've always liked getting cheap guitars and making them playable. I have had a couple of real el cheapo axes that turned out pretty well with a bit of work.

Check around at music stores, often they have used pickups sitting around, I've found them as low as $5 each. One of the best sounding pickups I ever got was a $5 one out of an old Peavey, probably a T-60. I have a pair of humbuckers right now sitting there begging to be stuffed into an el cheapo...thinking about putting them into a $4 yard sale guitar I've had for 20 years...

Ditto for tuners, ask around, you might find some decent used ones. Plenty people pull the original Klusons and get new Grovers, the music store throws the old ones in a box somewhere where they sit there for 12 years until you come in looking for something affordable...And some of those older Klusons and so forth are not bad at all..

Only replace pots and switches if they go bad. Usually they should last for a long time, and as long as they're not way noisy, play don't worry. Rewiring is only an issue if you want something different, like coil tapping or out of phase.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#9
Great information! The only reason I would re-wire it is that the wiring looks hideous. It looks like a few different people had their hands in there. I like clear wiring. I deal with this on my motorcycles as well. Cleaning up the harness is just built in to my brain. I guess in a guitar you never seen it, and as long as it works, what is there to worry about? Well wire is cheap and soldering is kind of fun!

I am going to work on the set-up a little, then worry about the other stuff down the road.
#10
I agree with you about the wiring, I've been building computers for 15 years or more and I like the wiring neat, and if I have to open up a guitar and work on it, ugly wiring will get redone too. Sometimes I'll also just go over every solder joint inside, even if wiring is ok, I've seen loads of sloppy solder joints in factory wired guitars and other equipment.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#11
I have two guitars that cost me (initially) under $200 each. One was new, but a B-stock, thanks to some finish issues, the other was used. The money that I put into them just on a good initial setup (I had both PLEK'd and the frets superglued) cost me more than that.

They've more than earned their keep -- they're my two best "bar guitars."