Les Paul Guitar Tone

I have had the Collings CL Deluxe guitar for about a month now. I have logged a lot of hours on this machine and I had to brush up on some of the basic techniques for getting the best tone from a Les Paul inspired design. Namely, how to best use the volume and tone controls.

The Collings CL Deluxe uses the 1950s wiring for the two humbuckers. Which means that as you reduce the volume, the treble is not significantly reduced. For guitars with modern wiring, lowering the volume will bring down the treble.

The volume controls impact overall loudness and level of distortion. It is possible to create a wide range of tones from clean to mild “crunch” and distortion simply by adjusting the volume and tone controls.

The approach that I have taken is one that I had used some 40 years back when I first started playing on a 1976 Les Paul Standard.

Set The Amp for the Neck Pickup

With all volume and tone controls set to maximum, adjust the amp to get a good soloing tone from the neck pickup. Switch to the bridge pickup. It likely sounds way too bright. Tame the brightness by dialing back on the bridge tone control. On my guitar, I bring it down by at least 60 percent.

The guitar should now be set with its optimum tones for soloing. By turning the bridge volume down, you will find a nice mild “crunch”.  Down a bit further and it should be clean. Rhythm plays off the bridge pickup and switch to the neck for soloing. All of this assumes a good quality tube amp.

There are other approaches to getting great sounds from the guitar itself. Your hands will have a major impact on the sound of the guitar. And there are other ways to manipulate volume and tone controls. Some players I know like to play clean off the neck pickup and solo off the bridge pickup. A little bit of experimentation with volume and tone controls can make a huge difference in the sound of the instrument.

I found the Collings to be very responsive to small adjustments in the volume and tone controls.

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