Inside the Les Paul – Schematics

If you want to know how your guitar works or if you are brave enough to get into the electronics and attempt some type of customization or change out a pickup, having a schematic is a must.

Gibson 2 pickup schematic

Gibson 2 pickup schematic

Gibson 2 Pickup Schematic
This is the standard circuit used by Gibson since the 1950s – it is used in the Les Paul, SG, Firebird, Flying V, Explorer as well as most thinline and full depth semi-acoustics.In the 1980s Gibson started to use 300k audio taper pots. These tend to make the neck pickup in particular, sound flabby and lifeless. If your guitar is one of these models give it a new lease of life by fitting 500k pots, which are available in standard and long shaft models to fit certain Les Paul models with encased electronics.

59 Les Paul Circuitboard

59 Les Paul

’59 Les Paul
The holy grail of guitar electronics. Pictured here is an original wiring harness from a 1959 Les Paul Standard – CTS pots (500k audio taper), Switchcraft selector switch and jack socket, Bumblebee 0.02mf capacitors, and shielded cloth wire. They do not make them like this anymore. When combined with an old PAF humbucker, the subtleties in response and tone are noticeable to the select few, the elite.

3 pickup Les Paul schematic

3 pickup Les Paul schematic

Gibson Les Paul Custom – Standard 3 Pickup Schematic
This is the standard circuit for the 3 Pickup Les Paul and SG Custom used by Gibson since the 1950s. The toggle switch selects the bridge pickup in the down position, the neck pickup in the up position and the middle position selects the bridge and middle pickups together. The middle pickup is out of phase with the bridge pickup which gives a thin hollow sound.

3 pick up modified schematic

3 pick up modified schematic

Gibson Les Paul Custom – Modified 3 Pickup Schematic
This is a modified circuit for the 3 Pickup Gibson or Epiphone Les Paul and SG Custom. Here the toggle switch selects either the bridge pickup, the neck pickup or both, like a 2 pickup guitar. Then a separate volume control for the middle pickup is added to allow the middle pickup to be used in any combination with the other two pickups or on its own. The trade off is the loss of one tone pot but very few guitarists use the tone pots independently. The remaining tone pot acts as a master tone pot for all three pickups.

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13 Responses to Inside the Les Paul – Schematics

  1. Mike T. says:

    Thanks for posting the Les Paul schematic. I just finished building my electric guitar, and needed a schematic.

  2. nikola radakovic says:

    very useful , especialy thing about north/south pole pckup . just solved big problem with mixed picups on some vintage sg custom….

  3. Steve Miller says:

    I have a grounding hum noise in my Les Paul and can’t see how the grounding wire shown in the wiring diagram is supposed to route to and attach to the bridge. Can you explain?
    THanks

  4. Oscar says:

    Hi!
    All audio taper pots should be 500K on 59 diagram?

  5. Arturo Garcìa Valdès says:

    BUEN DIA.

    SABES TENGO UNA DUDA CON MI LES PAUL CUSTOM. ES EL MODELO QUE UTILIZA SLASH, LA ADQUIRI HACE POCO Y ME DOY CUENTA KE ESTA MAL CONECTADA POR DENTRO, YA CHEKE LOS DIAGRAMAS Y YA LA PUEDE CONECTAR MEJOR , MI DUDA KE TENGO ES KE QUE TENGO UN POT QUE DICE
    B20K KE PARECE SER ACTIVO YA KE TIENE UNA TOMA DE BATERIA DE 9V , UN CABLE TRIFACICO Y APARTE HAY UN SWITC COLA DE RATA KE NO ESTAN CONECTADOS.

    ME PUEDEN AYUDAR A SABER COMO SE CONECTA TAL POT.?

    • lpeg says:

      Sorry, I don’t speak Spanish. Anyone?

    • daniel says:

      hola amigo, lo que yo lei en internet acerca de las custom de slash es que vienen conectadas diferentes porq asi las usa el… igual que los valores de potenciometros y capacitores… si consigo el diagrama lo posteo! saludos!

  6. Stephen Cheong says:

    Hello there,

    I have a question I hope you can help me with.

    For double humbucker LP/LP-style guitars, if I set the pickup selector switch to mid (blend) and set 1 volume knob to zero and the other to >zero, will there be any sound from the pickup that is not at zero? Or must both knobs be at >zero?

    I’m having an argument with a guitar tech about this and wanted to get a 2nd opinion.

    Thanks,
    Stephen

    • lpeg says:

      This looks like a trick question but its not… wouldn’t it be AWESOME if you could control the output of each pickup by using its volume knob when the selector is in the middle! I get what you’re asking but I have no idea. You’d need to talk to an electrical engineer who understands signal interference and is familiar with pickup construction.

      Good luck!

    • Rigby says:

      Both knobs have to be set to >zero. When the selector switch is set to the middle position then both pickup circuits have been placed in parallel. Volume pots are essentially variable resistors. When two resistors are put in parallel, the sum of their resistance becomes less than the lesser value of the two resistors. As a result, the overall volume is controlled by either volume pot. As you decrease the volume you are decreasing the resistance of the pot so when you turn either pot all the way down, the sum value of the combined resistance is zero. Therefore, both pots must be set to greater than zero.

    • Hi!

      If you want to have a blend setup in the middle position, use a wiring like a jazzbass:
      just change the input and output at both volume pots. When turning down one pickup, you still hear the other one.

      Regards,
      Ferdinand

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