Short shaft or long shaft pots for my Les Paul, which will I need?

When it comes to Les Paul wiring queries, the question I probably get asked most is, "Will I need long or short shaft pots?". Unfortunately it can sometimes be a long or a short answer too, depending on your variation of Les Paul. Gibson are of course known for lots of transitional changes to specs from the golden era right up to modern day so the info can be a little cloudy as to which you'll actually need, particularly if you're not sure by physically checking them. The reason why some models require long shaft pots and others require 'short' shaft so to speak is down to the maple top or cap used on that model. Some Les Pauls have a carved maple cap which is a thicker and others a flat maple cap which is thinner. 

Les Paul long or short shaft pots

But! The simplest answer is that ALL types of Gibson or Epiphone Les Paul will fit a long shaft pot. How come? Long shaft pots come supplied with two adjustable nuts, which you can adjust to suit the maple cap depth in the body. So even if it's routed flat maple cap Les Paul, you can adjust the two nuts so the pot sits correctly in the body. If you're really not sure, the safest bet is to go with long shaft as it'll fit both. But you can certainly find out which you'll need with the info below. A good piece of info for Epiphone players, is that all Epiphone Les Paul's with exception of the Elitist model use short shaft pots. Also, in my experience of researching and helping customers through inquiries over the years is that import build Les Pauls, such as far east build instruments usually have short shaft pots installed. You can also check by opening the body cavity cover and looking inside. 

The photo above is a great example of a les paul with short shaft pots. The cavity is nice and clean here, so you can see the maple cap has been routed so the pots sit on a thinner cap therefore short shaft pots suit this model! for reference, this is a Gibson R9 1959 Standard reissue.

There is quite a noticeable difference between long and short shaft pots as displayed in the main photo for this article, the measurements are - 

CTS Short shaft - Thread Height: 3/8” (9.52MM)
CTS Long shaft - Thread Height: 3/4” (19.05MM)

Les Paul long shaft or short shaft pots?

For Gibson USA players, I've compiled a general list of which USA Gibson Les Paul models take either type. This might not be a definitive list, there are so many specific model variants over the years, as well as I mentioned earlier, Gibson are prone to transitional changes too. But it serves as a pretty solid guide I've found so far - 

Gibson Les Pauls that take long shaft pots:
50's & 60's Tributes
Historic '68 Custom RI
1977-current Custom's
1977-current Deluxe's
1977-1982 Pro's

Gibson Les Pauls that take short shaft pots:
Historic R4/R5/R6/R7/R8/R9/R0
1952-1977 Standard's
1954-1977 Custom's
1968-1977 Deluxe's
Historic R7 Custom
The Paul's
Les Paul Special's
Les Paul Jr.'s

I hope this helps you pin down which type of Les Paul harness or replacement pot you'll need. If you're planning to order replacement pots from my website, or order a pre-wired guitar wiring kit, and you're not sure which size to order, please do drop me an e-mail with some clear photos of either the inside of your Les Paul's control cavity, or the pot(s) removed from the guitar and I'll be able to help identify which you'll need.

Les Paul long or short shaft pots

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Are 2002 gibson historic special les Paul vol & tone pots good for a ‘07 epiphone custom
(& are the gibson vol & tone ctm 500 pots) you think I’ll see a notable difference from epiphone pots to the gibson historic special pots ? Sincerely

James Gascoigne

James Gascoigne said:

Hi Donald, thanks for your comment. Technically speaking the pots from a Gibson Historic LP 2002 would fit the Epiphone but it would potentially require some modification. Usually Epiphones are equipped with smaller shaft diameter pots from the far east factories, whereas the Gibson Historic pots will have the 9.5mm shaft diameter so the holes in the body will need widening to suit. I would imagine there would be an improvement over the factory Epiphone pots, but if they’re used or 2nd hand old pots then I would personally always recommend fitting new pots. A quality CTS pot like the ‘TVT’ series I stock are superb.

Rick Clark

Rick Clark said:

On my 1987 Pre Historic 59 Les Paul
which shafts would i need for this guitar?
Short or Long?
I am looking into purchasing one of your superior wiring kits for my baby!

James Gascoigne

James Gascoigne said:

Hi Rick, I’ve just e-mailed you, but wanted to note the reply on here as well in case it helps others on the same search :)
I would be inclined to say long shaft pots, as they will fit any variant of Les paul, whereas short shaft pots will only fit specific variants. But the best way to check is to inspect the control cavity and the pots themselves, the difference between short and long shaft pots is a clear one, as displayed in the main photo on this website and I’ll certainly help identify which your specific guitar model has no worries at all, hopefully my e-mail reaches you so we can look into that.

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