Alan’s main choice and probably the only electric he owned was his 1954 Les Paul. This was an interesting choice due to several reasons. His guitar was not a factory stock model, but had the potential to be what he wanted. The 54 model, did not as play well as later models of the time since the period stock tuning keys did not keep the instrument in tune as well as later, sealed worm gear type Grover tuners. The stock tuners on Alan’s guitar were replaced sometime prior to Woodstock with modern Grover tuners. In addition the pick guard and bracket were also removed to provide room for Alan’s finger picking style. As with his modified harmonicas, both of these modifications made his guitar a more playable instrument to suit his particular needs. Vintage purists today would scoff at any attempts to upgrade a guitar such as this, but Alan wanted a playable instrument, not a showpiece. The 54 model had a combination bridge / stop tail piece that provided both string support and intonation in one unit. It also featured P-90 single coil pickups. Both of these features were keys to Alan’s tone. Although Alan could have afforded or even borrowed any Playing Guitarguitar he wanted, he chose the 54 Les Paul for the following reasons. The P-90s have a construction whereby multiple windings are wound around a magnet to form a large single coil. The result is a pure tone but is susceptible to outside noise or interference. It can also distort the tone slightly if played or strummed hard. On the other hand, humbucker pickups have a construction whereby two coils are wound in opposite directions of each other and the magnets of each pickup have opposite polarity. Both pickups are then connected together in series. This construction then allows all common mode signals (noise) to be cancelled out. However a side effect is that some of the signal, (music) is also lost due to phase cancellation in the pickup. This results in a quieter, more powerful signal with less music spectrum than a single coil. Alan’s preference was clearly a single coil pickup vs. a humbucker. The combination of a bridge / stop tail piece attracted Alan as well. The strings were required to run through the bridge toward the bottom of the guitar, then wrap around over the top of the bridge and onto the fret board. This resulted in better mechanical coupling of the strings to the body and increased sustain. The downside to this design is that intonation was less than perfect and was compensated using the string height adjustment screws, and the rear mounted set screws. http://alanwilsoncannedheat.com/woodstock-alans-guitar.phpmore
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