Repair log – 2009 Gibson Goldtop Traditional Les Paul SN 00939030, made Nashville USA.
Owner – James Stratton, London Guitar Academy, 07957 230354, email@example.com
Current value range – £1,104 to £1,499 in excellent condition (but with original pickups)
Purchased used for £1,000, Weight = 4.3Kg, 9.48lbs
© Terry Relph-Knight 23/03/19
Received with a Gibson hard case.
This Traditional Les Paul is close to the original specifications for the 59 Les Paul. It has a chunky symmetrical C shaped neck, conventional controls with no switching options and only a small amount of weight relief. This is still a heavy guitar. The Standard model Les Paul has an asymmetric neck carve, a number of switching options added to the controls and modern weight relief.
Introduced in 1983, ‘traditional’ weight relief means nine large blind holes are drilled in the mahogany under the forearm area and covered by the maple cap.
Body – 2 piece centre joined light coloured mahogany, with a carved maple cap. Apparently with some weight relief (traditional). Gold top and clear coat back and sides nitro-cellulose. Cream binding around the top edge. There is a small, but deep, dent in the outside of the cutaway horn and mild buckle rash that does not go through the finish on the back.
Neck – Set, one piece, neck of a much darker piece of mahogany. It looks natural rather than stained, this model of Les Paul seems to usually have been made with lighter coloured necks of the same shade as the body wood, with the the usual two (lighter coloured) wings to make up the headstock width. 22 wide, flat dressed, frets on a light coloured, 12 inch radius rosewood fretboard. The fretboard isn’t super smooth, Gibson never seem to sand these very well. Pearloid trapezoid inlays above the 3,5,7,9,12,15,17,19 and 21st frets. The neck is bound with cream plastic and the binding is nibbed at the fret ends. Truss rod adjustment is as usual at the headstock with a 5/16 inch brass hex nut. The two ply ‘bell’ truss rod cover, with Traditional printed on it in white script, is unfortunately broken and cracked around both fixing holes.
Tuners are real Kluson Deluxe (the Kluson brand is now owned by, and manufactured for, WD Music ), 3 on a side box tuners with ‘green’ plastic, single ring, tulip buttons. The tuners are attached both by two screws at the back and a hex bush nut at the front. High quality nickel plated zinc alloy Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge and humped stop bar. Supplied with the bridge height at 9mm low E, 8.5mm high E (from body to top of thumb wheel). As the guitar was supplied the strings were loaded top wrapped over the decked stop bar. The stop bar post screws are nickel plated brass with the imperial thread.
The bridge is mounted with the intonation screws towards the stop bar. A moulded cream plastic pick guard is fitted. Strap buttons are conventional conical buttons. Four gold speed knobs on the controls – the two knobs on the bridge volume and on the neck tone have visible cracks across the top.
The bridge pickup is the original Gibson ‘57 Classic Plus with an Alnico 2 magnet.
The neck pickup has been changed for a Bare Knuckle HSP90 (Humbucker Size Pickup $90) which could be one of four models – a Blue Note 6.8K Alnico 2, a Nantucket 7.1K Alnico 5, a Mississippi Queen 6.9K Alnico 4, or possibly a Supermassive 9.5K Alnico 5, model. Measurements show it is likely to be a Blue Note.
Electronics – Gibson stamp branded two volumes, two tones and a three way lever toggle for pickup selection. The bridge volume pot is 242.5K (121.5K at 5) and the neck volume is 221.5K (113.3K at 5) so both volumes are nominal 250K linear pots. Neck tone pot 446K, bridge tone pot 485K, both at around 20K at 5 so these are 5% log law!! The tone capacitors are small disc ceramic 223M nominally 0.022uF, measured at 0.0185uF for the neck and 0.0188uF for the bridge, although these caps are very temperature dependant.
The four pots are mounted on Gibsons steel parallelogram plate. Apart from the use of screened cabling there is no other screening in this guitar.
Problems – Just in for a set-up. The owner feels the action is on the high side. Although the top wrapping of the strings places them at the break angle over the bridge they were originally designed to be, it places a sharp bend in the strings right at the end of the ball end twist lock. This makes the strings prone to breaking at this point. It also means the strings leave ugly marks on the top of the stop bar.
Work done – Converted the stop bar to raised and locked with Faber Tone Lok components, to eliminate the need for top wrapping, while still achieving a sensible break angle over the bridge. Waxed the fretboard. Re-strung with Rotosound 10s. Levelled a group of high frets from 13 to 19. Adjusted the truss rod, bridge height (now 7.5mm both sides from the body to the top of the thumb wheel) and the intonation.
Having raised and locked the stop bar with the Faber parts, I strung the guitar up with a set of Rotosound Yellow 10s and tried to adjust the truss rod (which was only just snugged up with string tension removed) and the bridge to achieve a comfortable low action. This turned out not to be possible without a lot of buzzing on the high frets above the 12th.
A fret rocker test, with the strings on and at tension, shows a group of high frets – 3 frets on either side of the 16 fret neck joint. Frets 13,14 and 15 are all generally high. Fret 16 is high on the low E side. Fret 18 is high in the middle and fret 19 is high on the high E side. Eventually managed to level all these frets out with a fretting hammer.
Re-check after letting the guitar sit for while – fret 5 and 11 slightly high middle, 12 high mid and treble and 14 high bass and treble.
This not a playing wear or a poor factory levelling problem, either the fretboard wood or the frets themselves have moved since this guitar was made.
For comparison to the Bare Knuckle HSP90, a Seymour Duncan P90 bridge pickup with Alnico 5 magnets measures 900 Gauss at the low E and 756 Gauss at the high E.
The Bare Knuckle HSP90 measures 458 Gauss at the low E and 502 Gauss at the high E, so it appears to have Alnico 2 rather than Alnico 5 magnets and its D.C. resistance is 6.85K, so it is probably a Blue Note model.
Neck Bare Knuckle HSP90 D.C. resistance = 6.85K
L in HenrysQR in K
100Hz 5.398 0.485 6.98
1000Hz 5.075 2.31 13.74
Alnico 2 ?
High E Gauss = 502 Polarity at screw poles = South
Low E Gauss = 458
Bridge Gibson 57 Classic D.C. resistance = 8.0K
L in HenrysQR in K
100Hz 5.054 0.39 8.13
120Hz 5.053 0.466 8.16
1000Hz 4.827 2.17 13.93
High E Gauss screw poles = 392 Polarity at screw poles = South
Low E Gauss screw poles = 420
Intonation as received –
Error in cents
New strings +5 -5 +2 -3 0 0
Intonation now corrected to all 0 error with the strings fitted.
Unfortunately, like all Gibson’s guitars, this one has poor tuning stability due to the strings sticking in the nut. This caused by the traditional Gibson 17 degree raked, three on side headstock design that results in acute string angles over the nut and therefore high friction through the string slots in the nut.
Faber Tone Lok for the stop bar £25
1 set Rotosound Yellow strings (10s) – £6.99 inc postal delivery to me.
Total parts – £ 31.99
Labour – £ 45
Back to Basics: Counting Rhythm
Hey guys, Dan here again with another mind-boggling article for y’all to wrap your ears/eyes/whatever around. Up to now, I’ve mostly done either gear based posts, or intermediate to advanced music stuff and something has occurred to me; what about the beginners? What about those brave rockers who are just starting out on their musical journey and need some help? You guys arguably need more help right? Well fear not beginners, I’m starting a new series called Back to Basics which is going to touch on the simple but essential tools that are necessary to get you’re skillz up. Today we’re looking at real doozy; Rhythm.
How to Count Rhythms
So it’s fairly simple, if you don’t know how to play in time, then you can’t play along to songs or with other musicians, and that would suck. Rhythm is the foundation that music is built on, so you can imagine that its pretty important right? At first, understanding rhythm can seem pretty daunting, but it’s actually pretty chill. We’re going to be looking at three of the big dawgs of time signatures used in music: 4/4, 3/4, and 6/4.
So what do these terms mean? Put simply, the two numbers in a time signature are there to tell you how many beats there are in each bar of music. So if we’re playing in 4/4 there are four quarter-note beats in each bar. Equally if we’re playing in 3/4 there are three quarter-note beats in a bar, and the same goes for 6/4 (six beats in a bar).
Counting Rhythms Practice
Now for some of you that will make total sense, for others it still may be confusing as to how those words help you count rhythm. So lets use a song that helps you understand it better.
This is “Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys. A song I’m sure most of you are familiar with. If we listen to the intro of the song we can hear a kick drum and a snare drum. If you focus in on the kick pattern you’ll be hear that it’s actually spelling out the time signature of the song, which is 4/4. You can almost count along with the pattern as it plays e.g:
//1, 2, 3, 4 // 1, 2, 3, BA-NA-NA-NAAA //
Counting rhythm is a simple as that!
Ok so no we’ve got an understanding of what it sounds like lets look at it written down:
As we can see, there are two crudely drawn bars of music here. We’re playing in 4/4 so there are four black dots (i.e quarter notes) in each bar. Those four dots are the anchor of the song’s time signature, what all other melody and rhythms used in the song will be based around. Going back to the Arctic Monkeys song as an example, if you listen to the snare pattern you’ll hear that it falls on the second and fourth beats of each bar. Part writing such as this is a really easy way to help understand how we use rhythm to help us write parts for songs. Lets try it with another time signature:
So now we’re playing in 3/4. For those of you unsure of what a 3/4 tempo feels like, listen to any waltz. The waltz is style of music based entirely around 3/4 signatures. It’s got a sort of Um Cha Cha feel if that helps at all. As we can see from this drawing, there are now only three beats in each bar, three quarter-note beats. 3/4, get it?
Finally lets look at 6/4
So 6/4 is slightly trickier to get your head around but stay with me. We know that the first number in our time signature denotes how many beats there are in a bar, so we know that there are six beats to each bar. The sharpest tools in the shed out there may have noticed that 6/4 is essentially the same as 3/4 because its just doubling the number of beats in a bar, and you’re right it is counted in a similar way, but its not the same. Because of the larger number of beats in each bar, it is still technically in three, but it’s got a much slower feel. Here are some examples to help you understand that better:
So the Bob Dylan tune is in 3/4, and the Metallica tune is in 6/4. We can hear that because the Bob Dylan song feels like it has more pace about it. The song feels like it’s going somewhere quicker. Whereas the Metallica song has a much more laid back feel. You can count either song in either time signature, but trust me; you’d just be making more work for yourself if you do.
So yeah that’s basically an intro to counting Rhythm, not as scary as it sounds is it? There’s more daunting time signatures out there like 7/8 or the very unnerving 5/4, but we’ll save those for another day. Happy counting!
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