Upgrading pots on an Epiphone Les Paul

When I came back to this hobby/obsession, I vowed I would not buy any more gear. Famous last words. I’ve already bought an attenuator to tame my amps and just ordered an audio interface for the computer!

I guess my “strat” username is a bit of a hindrance as I love Les Pauls too and do have an Epiphone Les Paul that my late wife got me for my 40th. I’ve hardly played it but was using it for some work on the Justin course. I play on the controls and noticed that when I turned the tone down it lost volume and if the tone went to zero the guitar went off completely . Something wrong so I thought I’d rewire it. I’m not a stranger to the soldering iron as my other hobby/obsession is making model trains from metal kits. I’ve also wired up Strats.

I bought the guitar new from a local retailer but looking under the hood it looked as though it had already had some work. Maybe it got damaged in the shop as it was on display:


One of the volume pots was 250K which is not spec for a Les Paul so I replaced that with one I had in spare and rewired it in “modern” wiring. That solved the problem of losing volume but, in common with other Les Paul’s, it lost treble when the volume was turned down. So I decided to rewire again in “50’s style” Les Paul wiring as championed by Seymour Duncan. I bought a couple of American CTS pots on the way home yesterday and that was this morning’s task to fit them.

Having taken the old volume pots out the imperial dimensions of the new ones meant they did not fit the holes in the import spec guitar so I had to redrill them. Not something for the faint-hearted. I do have a pillar drill so that helps:

I masked off the holes to prevent any damage to the finish:

Rewired with some orange caps I had in the spares box. Not the world’s best soldering job but it works:


All back together now and it sounds great though I am tempted to change the pickups!

I hope the admins are ok with this under the topic of maintenance. This is not something I would suggest a beginner should attempt but it is good to understand how a guitar works.


Absolutely OK, Peter. An asset to be able to do this sort of thing.

A string change and basic setup of an electric is about my lot. And I’m full of anxiety about the moment when the time comes and I need to change strings on my new PRS since it has a tremolo system. All my pevious experience was on an Epi LP.


I envy you for your ability to buy pots on your way home. For me, that is an online order and a few days to a few weeks of waiting. I’m not in a rural location either, I’m in a city with a population of over 300,000.

I miss Radio Shack. . .


@Richard_N Ah Radio Shack. I still play through a loudspeaker from them I got in the 80’s.

I am lucky in that when I moved to Warrington, Cheshire, there were 3 high street music retailers including Dawsons where I got the LP and also their Manchester and Liverpool City centre branches all closed now. However, North West Guitars happens to operate from an industrial estate in Warrington a short walk from the station and they have a retail counter so I popped in there.


My local music store would typically have them in stock but it’s such a rare thing to actually find them with inventory that I just assume this is the new status quo. Just doing a random check now shows only 3 of the 15 locations in my province have an inventory of CTS pots.

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Talking of tremolos, today I set up a trem on a Strat. I’ve never used the trem on a Strat before. I’ve had hardtail Strats and also blocked off the trem mainly to maintain tuning. I have one whammy bar so thought I’d give it a go. Also changed the strings for the first time in about 10 years. See if it stays in tune but I’ve already practiced some dive bombs.

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