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I have an Epiphone Les Paul and have noticed that when the pickup selector is set to both pickups, my guitar plays very softly from the neck pickup.

When I play from the pickups separately the volume is similar.

Is it designed to be this way? Or do I need to have this fixed?

If so can I fix this myself or is it complex?

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1  
When the Pickup toggle is in middle position is the tone noticeably thinner or nasally sounding? –  Anonymous Apr 6 '11 at 5:37
    
I Wish I could give you all the check-mark for being so helpful Thanks to every one :) –  Anonymous Apr 6 '11 at 16:33
    
Couple of issues here. Can you clarify this: "pickup selector is set to both pickups, my guitar plays very softly from the neck pickup." If you are playing with both pickups engaged, how do you know it's the neck pickup that's playing "softer?" If you are losing volume at the middle position on the switch then you could have a wiring issue that's not related to the circuit (i.e. series/parallel). Did you purchase the guitar new? Do you know if it has any modifications or is the wiring stock? –  Jduv Apr 7 '11 at 1:55
    
Oh and be sure to up-vote answers you find useful :). It helps our community grow. –  Jduv Apr 7 '11 at 1:57
    
I have this same guitar and I've had to fix my pickup switch twice. It would only play the neck pickup when in the middle position. I corrected this by bending the little contact so that it would not shut off the bridge pick up. –  JohnOpincar Apr 7 '11 at 20:25

4 Answers 4

It's possible the pickup selector switch has a dirty contact for the front-pickup when in the middle position. I have an old Ibanez that does the same thing sometimes when I switch to the neck pickup.

I haven't seen what type of switch Epiphone guitars use, but my Les Pauls had an open-back switch, so it was possible to take off the switch cover and carefully squirt some contact cleaner on the contacts.

Contact cleaner can be found at electronic and hardware stores. It's a very light lubricant that helps to flush out dirt or debris that can affect potentiometers and switches. It is NOT the stuff you'd use to clean your contacts that go in your eyes.

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All the Epiphone's I have worked on use open back three ways as well. Unfortunately they are usually cheaply made--that's one place where it's easy to skimp and not get caught. –  Jduv Apr 8 '11 at 3:07
1  
Yes unfortunately. Some companies use horrible switches and pots. Heck, Gibson used cheap pots and switches in the old days, but at least they were CTS so they were relatively sturdy. The good thing is its easy to replace them with a little bit of good soldering technique. –  Anonymous Apr 8 '11 at 3:12

It could be that the pickups are wired out of phase with each other, so when you have both selected there is a fair amount of cancellation. This tends to present itself as a much tinnier sound, with less middle and bass.

Or you have a bad switch - as per @theTinMan's post.

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Then if it is this then you are saying it's not a problem just a different sound? ( I don't this so as it is very very soft only from the front pickup (when the bridge is set to 0 volume) meaning no cancellation is going on) –  Anonymous Apr 6 '11 at 16:07
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@Jason - that sounds much more like a switch contacts issue. Otherwise as you turned the bridge pickup volume down you would expect neck pickup volume to increase. –  Dr Mayhem Apr 6 '11 at 16:13
    
Yea that's what I thought - thanks :) –  Anonymous Apr 6 '11 at 16:32

I'll hit the "is it complex?" question.

This is the Seymour Duncan schematic for Les Paul wiring. Pickup -> volume & tone -> switch -> jack. 4 wires connecting to the switch and one is ground. If phase is reversed, one or the other pickup should have the lead and ground wires reversed. If the switch has to be replaced and not just cleaned, it's 4 wires.

This may be more than you want to take on, but in terms of electronics, this is about as simple as it gets.

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Great info thanks :) –  Anonymous Apr 6 '11 at 16:05

Its designed to split the "captation" for each pickup equally.

I think you should go to a luthier and fix that.

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What is captation? google doesn't tell me what you mean... –  Dr Mayhem Apr 6 '11 at 16:14
    
He might mean capacitance, but it's unclear. –  Jduv Apr 7 '11 at 1:53
    
The word for "pick-up" (in a guitar context) in Portuguese and Spanish is "captador" (meaning "something that captures [sound]"). I think he got caught in a false cognate and he actually meant the "pickupiness" (if there was such a word) is split. This sentence would make a lot of sense in PT or SPN, but I'd rewrite it in English as "[The middle pickup position] is designed to have the output signal be a mix of the outputs of both pickups." –  Rafael Almeida Apr 9 '11 at 13:53

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