For this guitar build we're going to be replacing stock pickups and mounting rings on the Epiphone Les Paul Standard electric guitar. We'll also replace the strings that ship with the core model.
Optionally, we've added an Epiphone hardshell case to our list of recommendations to help protect your investment.
Here's all of what we'll need to have on hand for this particular build:
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
Seymour Duncan Antiquity Humbucker (set)
Elixir Light, 10 -46
Epiphone Hardshell Case
Approximate Total Cost: $820 with the case.
The Electric Guitar Core Model
Epiphone's Les Paul Standard model comes in a black, gold, red or light blue finish and sports a Mahogany tonewood for the body with a thin layer of Maple covering the guitar's top.
As a bonus, Epiphone puts real Grover machine heads on your tuners, adding significantly to the value.
The bridge is a Tune-O-Matic stop-bar, which is a stock Epiphone product. It's not really exciting one way or the other. It's tempting to replace the unit, but since it's just a stop-bar without any functionality (like a tremolo or locking tuners) we'd recommend leaving it in place, as the upgrade from a replacement would be expensive and more a boost in pride of ownership rather than actual quality.
The fretboard is Rosewood and plays nicely, while the pickups are a type of Alnico magnet that ships as a stock product from Epiphone's warehouse. As-is, the guitar is decent, but with an injection from Seymour Duncan and a fresh set of strings, it can be far more usable and professional-sounding.
The Replacement Pickups
We'll use two aged Antiquity Seymour Duncan humbuckers that come in a set.
You'll notice that this particular set is aged and wired to be a more sweet and mellow-sounding vintage-style pickup, rather than a high output humbucker like the Jeff Loomis set from Seymour Duncan, which would be another workable option for this build if you wanted a more modern tone.
The Antiquity humbuckers will give your Les Paul more of a classic tone, that's modeled after the original Gibson sounds of the '60s and '70s.
You can listen to the set here:
Seymour Duncan Antiquity Humbucker Sound Samples
You'll notice that this particular set comes with a pair of aged mounting rings, which will make the pair an easy swap with the stock Alnicos that come in the Les Paul Standard.
You'll need to remove the strings first, then take off the two original mounting rings around the stock pickups before removing the actual pickups. Once they're off, you can use a soldering kit to wire up the Seymour Duncan Antiquity humbuckers at the bridge and neck positions.
If you need help with the electronics, we'd recommend looking up some of the pickup wiring diagrams and working off those.
Once you're done, use a screw driver to fix the humbuckers in place via the new mounting rings.
Strings and Case
Once the new pickups are on and working, you can add the new strings. We've recommended a pack of .46 Elixirs, which are coated to last longer and tend to sound far better than non-coated strings.
These can be threaded easily through the stop-bar at the bridge of the Les Paul. Once you have one string on, use it to verify that all the electronics are working correctly.
Once you've got the rest of the strings on, you're good to go.
Your Questions and Ideas
Have a mod or part that you know would work particularly well with the Epiphone Les Paul Standard electric guitar?
Maybe you disagree with the choices we've listed?
Let us know in the comments section below. If you have an idea that holds water, we'll add it to the list so others can benefit as well.
Likewise, if you have an idea for a guitar (electric or acoustic) build, you can drop it there as well and we'll take a look.
Flickr Commons Image courtesy of Bpunch