Frank Zappa Interview: Guitar World Magazine, March 1982
Note: Image and article text © 1982 Guitar World Magazine.
This is the magazine that features Frank Zappa playing his cherry sunburst Les Paul, and the article contains a description, by Frank, of the mods he made. I went by this description when modifying my Greco LP, above.
From page 37:
Guitar World: What kind of modifications did you build into the Les Paul?
Frank Zappa: The Les Paul has a pre-amp and it has two different kinds of pickups, and it has a Dan Armstrong pickup in the neck position and it has a Carvin pickup in the bridge position. It has a Dan Armstrong gizmo called The Green Ringer built into it, which I can dial in. It also has an EQ circuit which in one position gives you about an 8db boost at 8-K and the other position gives you an 8db boost at 500 cycles, so you can either go from a bright sound to a more mid-rangery wah-wah kind of sound, all built into the guitar. And then it has a pickup selector switch that has nine positions. It changes the wiring between the pickups in a lot of differtent ways, so it's got a lot of tonal variation. I can make it sound just like a Telecaster if I want. Unfortunately, in that position it's not humbucking and under the lights it makes a lot of noise but in the studio it's usually okay. And then there's a little toggle switch on it that goes from series to parallel on the pickups and depending on where the pickup selector switch is set that gives you yet another whole series of variations. And so, I have eighteen time three different tone selections on that guitar.
Chuck's Mods: I couldn't replicate everything Frank did to his guitar, so I first concentrated on some cosmetics. You can see from other pictures of his guitar that he had either Ibanez or Gotoh pearloid velvetune tuners, so I added those (mine are Ibanez). I installed a brass nut too, since other pictures show one. I made sure I also had the same style control knobs. For the pickups, I'm not sure if the article was correct about "Dan Armstrong" pickups, but I found a great "Kent Armstrong" pickup to use in the neck position. I used a Carvin Super Distortion (SD) for the bridge. Both pickups are wired with tri-sound switches that give me humbucker, parallel-humbucker, and single-coil modes. I don't have a sustainer/pre-amp in mine, though I might put in a Fernandes Sustainer someday.