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  1. #1

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    I made an amazing discovery tonight. I found out why Les Pauls are so uncomfortable to play.

    It isn't primarily because they're too heavy, or because the body isn't sculpted (as I and most others I've talked with always thought). Those two things contribute a little to the discomfort, but aren't the main reason.

    It's because they don't have a top "horn" on the body. Hard to believe? You can easily see for yourself.

    Tie a trustworthy long shoestring around the headstock, where you'd attach an acoustic guitar strap. run the long end through the (neck-side) hole in your regular guitar strap. Then tie the shoestring firmly to the (neck side) strap button. You now have a dynamically balance-adjustable guitar strap.

    In a standing position, with the strap end about 3 or 4 inches out along the shoestring from the strap button, the Les Paul will feel like an entirely different guitar.

    No neck dive. No body dive. No rib-gouging. It feels lighter. It's in a *much* better playing position. I could swear it even sounds better.

    You can't really leave it that way, because the shoestring interferes with your hand close to the nut. But it explains exactly why Les Pauls just "feel wrong" to many people. The neck-side strap button needs to be about 3 or 4 inches to the left.

    I don't know what a good "fix" would consist of, but it seems like some bright young luthier could come up with a modification or accessory to solve the problem.

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  3. #2

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    Here’s what someone came up with for a Telecaster. Of course this will only work on a bolt-on neck.

  4. #3

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    Perfect fix for a Tele. Bolt-on necks make life so much easier. Thanks for showing that. I had no idea it was available.

    A similar fix for an LP might involve modifications most people would be hesitant to make. Another approach would be a headstock-to-strapbutton "shoestring" that somehow keeps the shoestring away from the neck at the nut/1st fret.

    The thing that impressed me is that the new playing position, balance, and overall feel aren't just "a little better" or "some improvement." It seems like an entirely different, perfectly positioned guitar. Both hands go naturally to ideal positions, and the it's very stable. The pressure on the neck at the headstock end seems to have little or no effect on tuning, at least on my 50s baseball bat style neck.

    I'm thinking maybe a stiff leather piece around the headstock, with a line to the strap button, but stiff enough to keep the line away from the neck. The line could have its own movable strap button, and you could attach your regulat strap to it normally.

    At any rate, I'm going to find some way to do this, because the difference in feel and playability is nothing short of astounding. I could never be satisfied with the old position now.

  5. #4

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    I tried the headstock strap method and didn't really find it to be much better than the standard top-bout body anchor. Maybe it's just me, it seemed to shift the weight such that it would slide body first toward the ground unless I gripped it with my entire forearm. Plus there was extra strain on my neck. Maybe I was doing it wrong. I've since sold my lp.

    I bet the original strap screw could (relatively) easily be replaced with something longer

  6. #5

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    Why Les Pauls Are So Uncomfortable To Play-main-qimg-cc9acc0664160fa95974687621cae954-jpeg
    Maybe not the desired length, but it exists.

  7. #6

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    Exactly. Using a standard acoustic guitar strap doesn't work at all. As you said, the LP body gravitates directly to the floor. That's why the weight-bearing end of your regular guitar strap needs to be positioned just a few inches to the left of the strap button, not all the way down at the headstock.

    Yep, the thought of a strap button extension crossed my mind, too. But it seems like it would become a lever that could strip the screw hole, or even crack the body. Unless you drilled a very long hole into the body. And I'd like to avoid any permanent mods.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by strumcat View Post
    Exactly. Using a standard acoustic guitar strap doesn't work at all. As you said, the LP body gravitates directly to the floor. That's why the weight-bearing end of your regular guitar strap needs to be positioned just a few inches to the left of the strap button, not all the way down at the headstock.
    Ahhh. I hadn't correctly conceptualized what you were describing. My bad.

  9. #8

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    There's a well known, simple solution to the problems of Les Paul ergonomics: buy a PRS instead. An alternative, somewhat less direct solution: buy a 335 (or clone).

    John
    Last edited by John A.; 06-03-2019 at 11:46 AM.

  10. #9

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    How about tying it behind the A&B tuners? Would that get it out of the way?

  11. #10

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    The ergonomics of the LP, Tele, SG and more don't seem ideal.

    Is it despite those disadvantages or because of them all three of these guys are just amazing?


    MG

  12. #11

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    I have a G&L Tribute Fallout that I have not been using. I love the sound of it, but just gave up on it because I could not handle the neck dive.

  13. #12

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    For eons the strap went on the headstock, and players dealt with it. I have it that way on my Wu. I bought a strap designed to fit over an endpin jack, and it wouldn't fit the strap pin on the back, near the neck join. That requires the strap to go onto the pin 'backwards', and there was no way to to that without twisting the strap. But the strap also came with an attachment to go around the peghead. I don't like it a lot attached just behind the nut, but when I put it around the peghead between the tuners it works well. It takes a few minutes to get used to the new position, but now I prefer it to the modern standard strap pins. There is more versatility in playing position, and the guitar does seem to feel lighter, although it's under 5 pounds in mass. With the string around the peghead, as you see in older videos with many guitar players, including Wes Montgomery, it doesn't interfere with my left hand at all.

  14. #13

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    No affiliation or experience with, just remember seeing them,
    Sidewinder Straps – Sidewinder Guitar Straps
    Ignorance is agony.



  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    There's a well known, simple solutions to the problems of Les Paul ergonomics: buy a PRS instead. An alternative, somewhat less direct solution: buy a 335 (or clone). John
    Or just get better Les Pauls.
    "Somebody get me out of this chair." - BOB WILLS
    Hammertone is a registered Hofnerologist.

  16. #15

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    I find my weight relieved Lester quite comfortable. those who don't need to find a guitar that is comfortable to them. There are plenty of other choices out there.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound View Post
    How about tying it behind the A&B tuners? Would that get it out of the way?
    That was a winner! Thank you very much. To clarify, I tied it between the A&B tuners and the E&E tuners. Then threaded it through the strap hole. Then tied the other end firmly to the strap button, with no slack.

    The strap slides along the shoestring freely and finds its own natural balance point. The LP hangs in a perfect playing position. You don't have to touch it with anything but your fingers. There's no interference to the left hand.

    Total parts: 1 shoestring
    Total labor: 10 minutes
    Total damage to guitar: 0


  18. #17

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    I’ve used a Planet Waves Quick Release headstock strap on two Eastmans for years, positioned just beyond the 1st string tuner. The playing position and balance seems good and my left hand is unconstrained when playing. The connector is very secure. It touches the strings, but doesn’t affect tuning. If it did, I could run the strap under rhe strings instead of over.


  19. #18

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    I find my Les Paul Recording fairly comfortable to play. It has tummy cut which helps a bit with ergonomics.
    It's heavy, would be about 9lbs (although that is very light for a Recording model).

    I haven't tried strapping it from the headstock, but I'll give it a go and see how it changes the feel.

  20. #19

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    Entresz: Most people use the strap button, a few use the headstock. What I find far better is to tie a taut shoestring between the headstock and the strap button. Then I clip my strap to the shoestring. It moves freely along the shoestring and finds the best balance no matter if you stand, sit, or lie down. Works perfectly so far and I'm loving it.

  21. #20

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    Wes strapped his guitar on the headstock. Every pic I've seen is pretty much this way. I've emulated this on my Ibanez and I couldn't be happier. It balances perfectly.

  22. #21

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    No neck dive. No body dive. No rib-gouging.

    I've had 5 or 6 Les Pauls (currently own a '73 Recording, '85 Custom Shop, 88 Standard) and never experienced any of these things. I play a lot of four hour gigs and don't have a problem with the weight.

  23. #22

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    The few times I've played with the strap attached at the headstock it felt very very good. (On other guitars, no experience with a LP.) And much less stress on the neck/shoulder. This thread has inspired me to revisit it.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by LtKojak View Post
    This thread starts with a Blanket Statement, continues with a completely False Premise and ended passing Personal Opinion as Fact.

    Complete and absolute thread FAIL. Hogrider16 got it right!

    Nice try, though. Even got several people going!
    Agreed. The title could have been WAY better stated.

    With age, a 10-11 pound guitar no longer works for me, but for others it is no problem. It was never a problem for me in my 20's through my 50's. My current sub 8 pound Lester is as comfortable as any guitar I have ever had. I have never had any neck dive or rib gouging with any Lester either. And including my current Lester, I have owned 6 Gibson Les Pauls and an Epiphone Les Paul. Superb guitars, all.

    Stating opinion as fact is not a good way to win friends or influence people. That said, a hearty congrats to the OP for finding a way to make a Lester work for him. And if his experience is a help to others, all the better.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by arielcee View Post
    Maybe not the desired length, but it exists.
    Can that function as a wireless receiver, too?

  26. #25

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    I think most of the tuning issues that people on Youtube complain about re. Les Pauls comes from the fact Gibson often don't do a great job setting up their guitars.... usually the nuts are poorly cut resulting in issues with tuning stability.

    Mind you most of the 'youtube experts' that do all the whinging and moaning are often less than stellar musicians... any issue with the guitar is really the least of their concerns!!

  27. #26

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    I've been very satisfied with the tuning, intonation, and resistance to going out of tune. The exception to that would be sensitivity to temperature change, which causes all of the strings to go slightly sharp or flat, but evenly, probably because it affects neck relief a little. I can live with that. The strings stay in tune even if I bend them mercilessly, which is very nice in a hard-tail guitar.

  28. #27

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    Only had two LPs. Both 70s vintage.

    Really enjoyed all aspects of them but one--they are uncomfortable to play from a seated position. The body is so small that the strings end up being too low in your lap. Your left hand ends up twisting unnaturally to chord.

  29. #28

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    No telecaster I've ever owned, nor the singlecut PRS I owned, had any neck dive issues. Including a VERY light tele thinline. This seems like a solution looking for a problem.

    While I wouldn't mind a body contour like the strat has, none of my teles "gouge my ribs"... but then I'm not overly rotund either (which would actually be your ribs "gouging" the guitar body lol).

    I don't find Les Pauls comfortable to play, but for entirely different reasons.... I don;t like the neck angles and they way my hand rests on the bridge... it's the opposite of a tele, strat, or PRS.... my Gretsch is the same way, but I've gotten used to it, and it doesn't matter as much because that guitar never leaves the house, and I always play it sitting. But for real (gig) usage, give me a tele, strat, or PRS every time. (personal preference)

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by strumcat View Post
    I made an amazing discovery tonight. I found out why Les Pauls are so uncomfortable to play.
    It isn't primarily because they're too heavy, or because the body isn't sculpted (as I and most others I've talked with always thought). Those two things contribute a little to the discomfort, but aren't the main reason.
    It's because they don't have a top "horn" on the body. Hard to believe? You can easily see for yourself.
    ...
    I don't know what a good "fix" would consist of, but it seems like some bright young luthier could come up with a modification or accessory to solve the problem.
    Aside from my initial suggestion of simply getting better Les Pauls that do not suffer from these issues, I just want to point out that Gibson solved the whole horn thing back in '58, no doubt as a result of feedback from intrepid jazz guitarists.
    This guitar has no shortage of horn, is immensely comfortable to play, and sounds like a million bucks. Perfect for jazzers looking for a great solid-body sound.
    "Somebody get me out of this chair." - BOB WILLS
    Hammertone is a registered Hofnerologist.

  31. #30

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    Hammertone,
    What do you consider a “better” Les Paul as far as ergonomics? The body, neck and strap pins are pretty much all in the same place on all models, are they not? I play a LP Traditional and while I generally find it quite comfortable, (way more comfy than a 16” archtop)I am rather thin and thickly boned; my ribs are right there. I can sometimes during long sessions feel the edge hitting my bony ribs but I just accept that as the price one pays for being “boney”. A belly cut strat digs in less but I’m not happy with the neck, scale, pickups, or tone.
    Ignorance is agony.



  32. #31

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    The most ergonomic Les Paul was the Recording Model. It featured a belly cut, like the Stratocaster. Very comfy.

  33. #32

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    For me its mostly because of the weight.
    I used to be a standing Les Paul player until my scoliosis and lower back artrosis told me an early '90s 10 pounder was not fun anymore.
    I still play it once in a while but only while sitting.
    Its actually part of the reason I assembled a 490R equipped Warmoth Mahogany body and neck Telecaster with a belly cut to bring it just under 8 pounds.
    ...every note has an origin and a destination...
    - Tal Farlow

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskey02 View Post
    Hammertone,
    What do you consider a “better” Les Paul as far as ergonomics? The body, neck and strap pins are pretty much all in the same place on all models, are they not? I play a LP Traditional and while I generally find it quite comfortable, (way more comfy than a 16” archtop)I am rather thin and thickly boned; my ribs are right there. I can sometimes during long sessions feel the edge hitting my bony ribs but I just accept that as the price one pays for being “boney”. A belly cut strat digs in less but I’m not happy with the neck, scale, pickups, or tone.
    Just a bon mot, but I'll offer some options. You mention that you are not happy with the neck, scale, pickups, or tone. Would that be in relation to your guitar in particular, or Les Pauls as a group?
    "Somebody get me out of this chair." - BOB WILLS
    Hammertone is a registered Hofnerologist.

  35. #34

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    Hmm... I took his dislike of neck, scale, pickups, or tone to be in reference to Strats. Maybe I'm misreading it, but that's my perception.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone View Post
    Just a bon mot, but I'll offer some options. You mention that you are not happy with the neck, scale, pickups, or tone. Would that be in relation to your guitar in particular, or Les Pauls as a group?
    I guess I’ve just never bonded with any Fender style guitar in spite of the fact that I find a strat body the most comfortable. As it happened due to extremely heavy rain in my city today, I played my LP for about 4.5 hours today without a single complaint of comfort. I pretty much forgot about this thread, nothing hurting my prominent ribs today. I love everything about my guitar and wouldn’t trade it for anything, despite being able to say that in a direct comparison to a strat body, a strat is more comfortable. I want more out of my guitar than just comfort. I had a lengthy period of my life where my upper body was quite emaciated when simple things like seatbelts, furniture and a woman named Alicia could be pain inducing to my torso. Upon giving up racing and racing weight, a more natural and normal amount of muscle returning to my form makes this much less of a problem now. On occasions when I have felt discomfort, I’ve put on a sweater and been fine. Fwiw, I’ll take a neck and overall tone that I’m “comfortable“ with over actual comfort! I think the same could be said for many archtop players; what they get out of their fat guitar outweighs concerns of comfort or convenience.
    Ignorance is agony.



  37. #36

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    I had a LP-type (Heritage 150) with a belly cut. It was a little more comfortable when I strapped it on. After that moment I actually never thought about it again for the hours I played it. With those without belly cuts, I notice the absence for a moment but never think about it either. My conclusion is that belly cuts are a good idea but not decisional for me.


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    Here's another one with a belly cut. Same deal. Nice but quickly forgotten.

    Why Les Pauls Are So Uncomfortable To Play-wt0a7329_800_zpsd8dd68eb-jpgWhy Les Pauls Are So Uncomfortable To Play-x0fjd9qxs6rne4z23nlt_zpsp9nrtkte-jpgWhy Les Pauls Are So Uncomfortable To Play-izswcnpoqjhlr8ooszy1_zpskx709iye-jpgWhy Les Pauls Are So Uncomfortable To Play-w2gynwdcq4xravrc2hlo_zpslvbarrzy-jpg

    Maybe if I lost a few pounds and the edge of the back was jabbing my ribs I'd have a different opinion.
    MG

  38. #37

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    I (like stringswinger) found Les Paul bliss when I bought my chambered 2008 Les Paul standard. Sure the custom shop I had previously was a marginally better guitar, but 3,6 kg is 3,6 kg and it still sounds great despite the chambering and burstbucker pups.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobomov View Post
    I (like stringswinger) found Les Paul bliss when I bought my chambered 2008 Les Paul standard. Sure the custom shop I had previously was a marginally better guitar, but 3,6 kg is 3,6 kg and it still sounds great despite the chambering and burstbucker pups.
    I cannot say that my last Les Paul (a 2002 Custom Shop 57 Black Beauty) was a marginally better guitar than my current 2017 Les Paul Studio. In my case the cheaper guitar is as good or better, particularly for my purpose, to wit, using it as a jazz guitar.

    My Studio has the ultra modern weight relief. I have read that the chambered Lesters have a different tone than the non weight relieved models whereas the Weight relieved models have the same tone as the heavy ones.

    The only thing uncomfortable about a Les Paul is the weight (for some players) and Gibson has solved that problem for all of us sissies/snowflakes who cannot handle the weight.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  40. #39

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    I've played a few chambered ones. It feels different because the top and back vibrate. I'm sure some would argue that the amplified sound is inferior or the sustain is lessened. I didn't notice any negatives.

    My only caution with a chambered LP is the possibility of neck dive if the neck is fat. This is speculation on my part.
    MG

  41. #40

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    My ergonomic beef with LP's is that I find that the lower bout digs into my right forearm uncomfortably. I've never experienced this with any other guitar, but I have on the LP's I've tried. Could just be a function of my playing position and anatomy not interfacing well with the LP size/shape), and maybe this doesn't bother others. I never particularly noticed the weight.

    I had one of these (Studio DC):



    The combination of chambered body and 24-fret neck made for severe neck dive. I wound up putting in a second strap button closer to the top of the lower bout. With that and a suede strap, the balance was OK, but stock it was pretty annoying. I don't think the chambering really affected the sound, but the extra frets did. The bridge pup sounded great -- just like you'd want/expect a LP to sound. But the neck pup did not have that rich, flute-y sound that LP's typically have. I've played other chambered LP's that sound great, e.g. a friend's LP supreme (which had the same 490R/498T pups as mine) sounds fantastic. I've also not noticed neck dive on the other LP's I've played, especially not the heavier ones.

  42. #41

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    For me, Les Paul style guitars are easy to adjust to. Yes, some can be too heavy. 9.5lbs is my preferred maximum weight, even though both my '68 Reissue Custom and Heritage H157 both weigh in at 9.5lbs. The body style suits me fine, standing or sitting.

  43. #42

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    My only beef with LPs is the weight. I just don't like it. My solution is a Benedetto Bambino. Superior in every respect, but about the same size.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    My only beef with LPs is the weight. I just don't like it. My solution is a Benedetto Bambino. Superior in every respect, but about the same size.
    I have tried a Bambino. A super cool guitar to be sure, but with a far different tone than a Les Paul and with less sustain.

    For many years my main electric (only electric for about 9 years in fact) guitar was a 1975 Les Paul Custom. She weighed 11 pounds. By my 50's that weight was not cool for a 4 hour gig. I replaced it with a 10 pound Custom shop 57 Black Beauty. By 60, that weight was too much. My 2017 Studio weighs 7 pounds 14 ounces. Quite comfortable. I have seen some R-9's and R-0's out there that weigh in about 9 pounds. I think I would be OK with one of those (in fact, if I can find a sub 9 pound R-0 at a fair price, I might even pull the trigger.

    For me, a Les Paul is a very comfortable guitar. As I posted earlier in this thread, those who feel differently ought to play something else. It isn't like there are no other choices.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  45. #44

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    I never weighed my old Heritage 150CM, but all that solid mahogany concentrated in one small spot on my thigh always ended up causing numbness and discomfort. A kind of solution was to wear a strap even while sitting at home, but I eventually got fed up with that. Standing while playing at jams was less of a problem, though after a couple of hours, it definitely left an "impression" on one's ribs. Otherwise, a lovely sounding and playing instrument.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    Hmm... I took his dislike of neck, scale, pickups, or tone to be in reference to Strats. Maybe I'm misreading it, but that's my perception.
    Yes, my bad. Of course, with a strat, one can easily change the neck, the scale, the pickups, (and the body, while we're at it) which can significantly affect the tone, at least that's been my experience with strats. And teles.

    But on to Les Pauls, where changing the pickups, wiring loom and hardware are the go-to tone modifiers.
    Better Les Pauls for ergonomics? Limiting my comments to single-cutaway models, lots of folks complain about weight, which affects balance. I think the answer it simply to play lighter Les Pauls. I play a few chambered ones, which have no neck dive issues whatsoever. At somewhere +/- 7.5 pounds, they are as light or lighter than plenty of jazz guitars. I play a few that are not chambered, which weigh +/- 8.5 pounds. That's not heavy IMO. 9 pounds is as heavy as I am willing to go with a Les Paul. I have not noticed any significant balance issues if I play them seated. Using a strap while seated allows me to adjust the angle of the guitar on my knee any way I want. An they all stay in tune. I'm just a lucky man.

    None of mine have belly cuts, and I'm not inclined to modify any of my Les Pauls in that manner since the lack of belly cut does not bother me. Plenty of Les Pauls are available with that feature. Still, some might find Les Pauls uncomfortable to play for one reason or another, which brings me back to my original suggestion :
    Last edited by Hammertone; 06-08-2019 at 09:20 AM.
    "Somebody get me out of this chair." - BOB WILLS
    Hammertone is a registered Hofnerologist.

  47. #46

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    I readily admit that the Bambino doesn't really sound like a Les Paul. But I prefer the sound as much as I prefer the weight. I don't knock LPs, but I'm not a huge fan. Obviously, at least in terms of sales, I'm in the minority. It's my money, though, and I buy what I prefer.

  48. #47

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    Aaron Cowles told me about when he worked on the Explorer, Firebird and Flying V prototypes. McCarty and his crew were looking for modern appearances to better compete with those odd shaped Fenders. Gibson put a lot of work in those guitars, according to Aaron. They'd tell him where to put the pickups and he'd move them. They'd play them for a while then tell Aaron to change something else. The point Aaron was making to me was that these monstrosities were carefully worked out to make the most of their shapes.

    Of all of those creations, the one that makes the most practical sense sitting down is the non-reverse Firebird. But these guitar were not about making sense. They were about making dollars.
    MG

  49. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    There's a well known, simple solution to the problems of Les Paul ergonomics: buy a PRS instead. An alternative, somewhat less direct solution: buy a 335 (or clone).

    John
    sure that works great. So does buying a strat if you're uncomfortable with the thickness of an L5! Seriously, a PRS or 335 sounds absolutely nothing like a les paul. If you like a les paul, you're sort of out of luck.

    I don't find them hard to play or have issues with the strap placement. Tons of jazz guys have used les pauls. My issue is the weight but it's part of the reason they sound the way they do.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker View Post
    Seriously, a PRS sounds absolutely nothing like a les paul. If you like a les paul, you're sort of out of luck.

    I think you're missing the 594 series, which is their official Les Paul model (594 is 24.75" in mm and denotes that it has the Gibson scale length). It has their PAF voiced 58/15 pups . They are available in the Classic Gibson single cut version and a more modern double cut version that has the horn everyone here has been longing after.




  51. #50

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    If it wasn't for the infamous bird inlays, those would be truly beautiful IMHO. I don't need literal references on a unique object.