Monday, May 25, 2009

Birthday Present

One of the best birthday presents ever.

Here's the whole story.

My 2001 Les Paul standard is my no. 1 but I never liked the stock 490's in it. I couldn't decide what to change them for. I liked the PAF sound, I liked the modern high gain series sound, my guitar tech cousin recommended P90s.

Then I discovered P-Rails. I strongly hinted to my wife that I'd like them for Christmas. She got me a talk box.

So for my birthday, I demanded them. Then SD announced the Triple Shots. Perfect! By the time my birthday rolled around the switches would be out and I could do the work myself. I set up a covers gig on my birthday so I could unveil the guitar there.

As we all know the Triple shots got delayed. And delayed. With the deadline approaching I went to my tech. He promised to put two 500K push/pulls in the tone slots and install the P Rails. But a week became two became three. I got nervous.

In the meantime, I looked at my amp. My 50 Watt JCM900 head and 2X12 cabinet would be overkill for a bar gig. So I researched, researched and sold a bunch of stuff on ebay. I raised enough money to pick up a Vox AC15. I hadn't thought much about them over the years but I realize most of my heroes (Beatles, Radiohead, U2, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello) are using them.

Everything happened today. I went to GC and picked up the Vox on sale. Since it was single channel I threw in a Little Big Muff. It sounded fantastic with my strat. Matt came over and got mad at me. "Why didn't you buy this amp in 1994?" So that's why we were never signed.

My tech finally called and I went over late tonight. Basically, the P Rails were the best thing I could have possibly done to my guitar. Even in series, the sound has opened up. I can hear the wood and my pick in ways I never have before. The 500K pots brightened up the guitar too where I can finally hear classic 70's tones in here. With the 490s the best I could hear was Slash. Now I can hear Mick Ronson.

Parallel get a beautiful overtones. The rail and P90 sound like uneven windings and sing like Dickey Betts. I even got a great "Gimme Shelter" Stones crunch.

The P90s both bite and punch. My tech brought out every amp he was working on and when we ran it through a 1964 6 watt Fender it nailed the Neil Young tone. A few bars of "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" perked us both up.

The rails were good but it just proved that a Les Paul will never sound like a strat (a lesson I already learned with the JB Jr. in my strat). The rail mostly sounds like a brighter P90. Good but not as different as the other three. Some people say there's a volume drop on the rails but we didn't hear it.

In the end I'm glad I sent it out. Without the P Rails it was just beyond my skills. My tech also took the time to polish my frets, clean my finger board and do a full setup. best of all, he bought my 490s off me so the work was almost free!

Here's a quick and dirty pic:

Played it at the Rail saturday. It sounded fantastic. There were moments where I thought, "Oh. THAT'S what a Les Paul is supposed to sound like."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't what the hell you said man, but it touched my heart. Happy Birthday!