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Mini Humbuckers or Real Firebird Pickups?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by WilburBufferson, Apr 13, 2021.

  1. WilburBufferson

    WilburBufferson Friend of Leo's

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    After about a year searching for one, I finally landed a Gibson Firebird. Nice guitar, but the previous owner(s) installed a P-90 in the neck and a mini humbucker in the bridge: both GFS. The guitar sounds ...okay... but I'm looking to take things up a notch. I don't like single coil hum, so a humbucker of some ilk is in order.

    Current contenders: Cavalier Phoenix, Gibson mini hums, SD Antiquity mini hums or FB pickups. I'm coming from the Fender family, so I like single coil sounds. I don't use high gain pickups. My other main guitars have WRHB SD custom shop pickups. I like Jaguar and Jazzmaster sounds, but find them a bit thin and don't like the hum. So I'm thinking a FB pickup might fit the bill? Similarly, a mini humbucker might do the trick too? I will also say that I like the plink of a good "in-between" sound too.

    What say you, TDPRI brothers and sisters? Here is a handy video that might assist with the discussion.

     
  2. KingRazor

    KingRazor Tele-Meister

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    Funny that you ask this today as I've been looking at Firebirds all day. I'm really taking a liking to them.
     
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  3. WilburBufferson

    WilburBufferson Friend of Leo's

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    I will add this to say that I know that many modern FB pickups, including those from Gibson, often masquerade as vintage-correct, when they are nothing more than "proxied" humbuckers. At this point, I'm interested in the real deal, or some sort of (true) mini. I had the SD Antiquity mini hums in a SG for a while, but they were so microphonic that I couldn't keep them. So, something wax-potted like the Gibsons edge out the SD offering (though I could pot them myself).
     
  4. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    FB pickups ARE HBs, but, instead of non-magnetic pole pieces with bar magnets on the bottom of the coils, they have bar magnets inside the coils, and solid covers with no exposed adjustable pole pieces, which I believe gives them a fatter and darker sound than LP Deluxe style minis. If I'm wrong about any of this, please feel free to correct me.
    firebird-mini-humbucker-pickup-kit (1).jpg deluxe-mini-humbucker-pickup-kit.jpg
     
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  5. Fearnot

    Fearnot Poster Extraordinaire

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    Just sayin', but if I had a Firebird, I'd want real Firebird pickups. Mini-hums are fine, but they're not the same. It baffles me how few authentic FB-design pickups there are out there.

    And Firebird pickups are NOT dark.
     
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  6. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Nah, FB pickups are up there with real-deal Filtertrons. Bright, lots of high end string information. Mini HBs are dull by comparison, but not as much as their bigger cousins.
     
  7. Jay Jernigan

    Jay Jernigan Tele-Afflicted

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    Minis are forgiving and sweet in the neck position. Look toward a bright, possibly underwound example.
    My limited experience with a mini in the bridge was disappointing, to say the least, so I tend to recommend a soapbar sized humbucker of some variety. Various side by side types are available.
     
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  8. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Tele-Afflicted

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    LP mini humbuckers are great sounding pickups FWIW...
     
  9. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I went with a Mojotone Johnny Winter neck pickup, A5, 6.3k. The bridge is a stock Epi FB pickup, similar to the one in a Joe B. FB-I, which is also a ‘real’ FB pickup. That’s AlNiCo wound up to 8k, and if it really is the same as the JB, then it’s A2. Really good pickup just too muddy in the neck position, hence the swap out for early 60s spec JW. A really good combination, though I like twang/bright and may get the JW bridge pickup eventually.

    Latest state of affairs, but I decided, it’s Vibrola time.

    [Edit]
    The JW is about 410 gauss vs the Epi FB720NI pickup @390 gauss, for the nerd of it. I had to do it over again, because there is likely a steel plate over B (maybe G) plain strings. Probably why people complain about string volume weirdness on these Epis. Either the pickup got flipped the wrong way or the steel plate moved around at the factory.

    B211F494-FBCE-402C-84FC-3D939D05361C.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
  10. John Owen

    John Owen Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    If I'm not mistaken both Lollar and Klein make FB pickups that are true to the original design (as described by @DougM above). I have a Klein FB in the neck position of one of my Teles and I love it. Like @BorderRadio said above, they are bright compared to a mini hum. At the same time, they have more girth and warmth than a single coil. Kind of a perfect combination.
     
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  11. Drak

    Drak Tele-Holic

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    So then, this is like a single coil Firebird.
    If I put two of these together, I'd have a really big Firebird!

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Friend of Leo's

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    The modern Gibson FBs are wound way too hot & have ceramic mags. Nothing like the originals. Seymour Duncan winds some excellent FB pups.
     
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  13. Mad Kiwi

    Mad Kiwi Friend of Leo's

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    Do you have a source for Vibrolas?
     
  14. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I do but I can’t tell you on here. Look at the Bigsby situation. I had to sell a kidney to find this here B5. Before you know it, they’ll all be sold out and the remainder will be absurdly priced.

    Jk. Reverb.
     
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  15. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    I didn't say they were dark, but that I thought they weren't as bright as minis.
     
  16. voskarp

    voskarp Tele-Holic

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    I found the Mini Humbuckers sounding weak compared to the Firebirds (clean sounds) in the video (haven't heard them in real life). Are the Mini HBs so much lower output, or was it something else not being equal?
     
  17. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    .

    +1 original FB pickups were a lot brighter than mini-humbuckers. I've found MHs often too muddy.

    However, outside of your preference to drop the P90 for low noise hum protection, you can fix most tone problems by selecting Pots 'n Caps. If you need brighter then find a higher kohm in the spec for a '500k' pot by measuring a few. Or jump to a '1Meg' pot (like classic Jazzmasters use). Tone caps can push the tone around too, lower uF to get more highs through, even when dimed.

    Certainly try a more conventionally built FB pickup, but also look into something like gold foils, lipsticks, a noiseless or stacked Strat neck pickup, or some sort of mystical Filtertron sized for a P90/MH slot. Perhaps a custom low wound build from one of the budget pickup builders.

    .
     
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  18. WilburBufferson

    WilburBufferson Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks so far. Here's the guitar in question. Whatever I do, I will need to address the wood that was removed for the P-90, to install the mini humbucker ring. I think I can conceal the rout with a normal sized FB ring, but does anyone know of where I can find one *slightly* larger? I understand that the dimensions of FB pickups (the inner rectangle) are variable too.

    WHITE FB - 01.jpg WHITE FB - 02.jpg WHITE FB - 09.jpg
     
  19. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    What about mounting the FB pickup in a cream colored P90 shell, like these?

    s-l300.jpg
     
  20. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Firebirds - raw, gritty, alive.
    Mini-hums - polite, bit bland, bit dead.

    IMO

    But I actually think a good vintage PAF style can be a lot more alive and even bright than a mini-hum.

    YMMV.
     
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