Gibson Les Paul set up and pick ups

OK , so those of you who follow my Facebook rants will have seen this one. This was a brand new Gibson Les Paul that had been Plek'd and the new owner was disappointed with the sound and the set up from the factory.

When it came in it buzzed EVERYWHERE and played like a dog. It was a very nice "looking" Les Paul but disappointing in other departments, so , let's take a look at it.

Like all Gibsons from the factory the bridge radius is ALL WRONG. This means that the middle strings are too low when the E's are right or the E's are too high when the middle strings are right. It amazes me that this is how ALL new Gibsons are ? It's really not that hard to fix from new. Also, the frets were everywhere and had terrible crowns. Both these issues will cause excessive buzzing so it'll need a fret dress.

Let's get the new pick ups and electrics in first.

With the new electrics in which I won't bore you with (unless you want me to ?) it was time to look at that fretboard.

Always mask off the body around the neck with light tack tape to protect the paint. The light tack painters tape won't effect nitro finishes and is easy to remove without leaving residue.

It's hard to tellin this pic but the frets had very irregular crowns and marks in them which made the strings buzz even worse. A well rounded and polished crown will help the "take off"of the string work much better. I'm not sure if the customer actually played this guitar before buying, but I would have moved straight on if I'd picked it up in a shop.

I've highlighted the frets here with blue marker pen to show you how far out this one was. Even with a quick skim you can see there's marker gone on the high points.

There's no excuse for a guitar worth this much to have frets this bad straight from the factory,but hey, don't get me started on modern Gibsons.



It's really hard to show this in pics but I think you get the idea. This guitar needed a pretty serious fret dress which just means taking off good fret from a brand new guitar, which isn't the best case scenario, especially for a guitar worth this much.

With the frets dressed it was time to re-crown and polish them up. The fretboard is then treated with a little oil and we're ready to string it up and see how it plays.

It still buzzed down the nut end and needed the truss rod adjusted. Again, something that should have been sorted before he walked out of the shop with it ?

The nut was re-cut and the action and intonation set. The new Gibsons have Tone Pro bridges and tailpieces that lock in place supposedly for added sustain. They're actually better quality than the standard Gibson hardware from recent years so all I had to do there was re-radius the saddles to suit the fretboard as mentioned before.

It now played great and sounded like a nice Les Paul. It's a great looking LP and felt great with a good neck and great sustain. The buzzing was much, much better and the action was even across the fretboard.

It's now ready for the customer to pickup. I think he'll be happy with his new purchase now.


Aug 12 2013 Written By: Tim Brennan