School me on Gibson humbuckers?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Wallaby, Dec 9, 2019.

  1. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Your best bet is to play the different humbuckers at a store to decide what sound you prefer. Otherwise, any kind of recommendation seems pointless.

    My solution was after I played a huge variety of humbuckers in similar guitars like the one I have. I researched that particular humbucker's attributes (output, windings, magnet material) and then bought some non name brand similar ones on eBay for a fraction of the cost and completely satisfied.
     
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  2. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    The stock 57 classics in Gibsons are alright. What I didn't like them was that they were too dark. Apparently, this was because the guitar in them came stock with 300k pots. That's just too low in my opinion.
     
  3. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

    Sorry cough cough.

    Messiest can o' worms on the internet, everything that's true is also false and every bad Gibson pickup is also great.
    The durn things are practically all the same yet different, there are like ten different versions from Gibson alone of the original PAF and we can't agree on which are great and which totally suck.
    I've found that the used prices on BBs are lower than on 57 classics by a good margin.
    For a while almost every new LP that came with BBs had any other replacements ordered before the owner even opened the case to try the guitar.
    Buy em and try em and report back!

    I like the old mini hums and Firebird pickups.
    I've liked the Duncan JB bridge as well, but not for the same reasons or sounds.
     
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  4. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you like listening to Gary Moore, you'll like the Burstbuckers.
     
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    You'll want to do the reverse of that. Raise the screw poles and lower the pickups close to the trim rings. More clarity and dynamics. Put them up by the strings gets muddier and more distortion.

    Find the Joe Walsh GibsonUK Setup video(s) on youtube, #5 and #6 show how to set up pickups the way Joe does "to get the best tone".

    Before you charge into swapping pickups:
    -adjust pickup heights over several days (ear fatigue)
    -measure pots and caps and swap those as they are a big part of the system, and can cost under $10, check if you like the tones.
    -then swap your pickups, but start at the top of this list.

    I used to swap pickups until I figured out how much influence the controls have, even when dimed.

    .
     
  6. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I'm sensing that it's ahem subjective...

    I don't honestly have a plan to swap pickups, rather I am trying to get a handle on the sounds they make and what to expect because the last humbuckers I had were in 1985 or 1986 and I don't really remember them very clearly. It was an interesting time.

    I knew I could count on TDPRI to set me straight on this subject :)

    I really appreciate it!
     
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  7. Robert H.

    Robert H. Friend of Leo's

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    I have had many different Gibson HBs in my guitars (mostly Gibsons and mostly LP's). The Custom Buckers are at the top of my Gibson list. Not over wound, hot screamers, but legit recreations of PAF Humbuckers - which I have played enough to have a feel for them.
     
  8. Deathray

    Deathray Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I would tend to agree. I have burstbucker I and II pickups in my Les Paul, and they are the best sounding humbuckers I have ever heard. Not a trace of muddiness, but not harsh either. They are super versatile.
     
  9. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Would you all agree that a semi-hollow guitar tends more toward darkness, and pickups known to be brighter or settings known to be brighter would be a good choice?
     
  10. Mincer

    Mincer Tele-Holic

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    Seth Lovers & Antiquities are no joke. They sound amazing.
     
  11. GGardner

    GGardner Tele-Afflicted

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    These SD Antiquities sound good to me. Could probably get a used set at a reasonable price.

     
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  12. stratoman1

    stratoman1 Friend of Leo's

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    I have 57 Classics in both a 339 and LP Trad . The different body types do make their own unique sound . The 339 is a bit more open sounding but once it cranks it really will roar . I have the same year 339, mine is a Studio. Those only have one volume, one ton . I'm good with that but my only gripe is that if the volume rolls down both the volume and tone roll down too fast. Once it gets below about 8 1/2 the volume and tone are pretty well neutered. I'm going to get the wiring changed I think . It appears that pots are board mounted so just changing a pot is a bit of an undertaking
     
  13. joebloggs13

    joebloggs13 Tele-Holic

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    You have to remember that the 339 is a semi hollow body guitar. 57 Classics are great in semi hollows, as well as MHS. People may not like them in a solid body LP, because they are darker, but they really shine in a 339 or a 335.
     
  14. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    The LP's have the Maple cap to help brighten the guitar while the Special's, Jr.'s and SG's are all Mahogany and can have dark tone in the neck position.
    Semi-hollow body guitars have a solid plank running through the center of body that are usually Maple or Ash with a Mahogany neck. The muddy tone in these are often from pickups that are higher output and pickup height settings. Close to the strings aren't usually the best choice for tone.
    Hollow body guitars are best with low output pickups IMO.
     
  15. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    57 Classics are great pickups capable of virtually any use. They've Gibson's OV/PV pickup.

    You can change them but you will gain something and lose something.

    They're great alrounders. I had them in a 335 Fatneck 59 Dot and didn't consider changing them for a second. They did classic glassy jazzy clean to ACDC, to almost metal.

    Play with heights, change out pots and caps. If you can't make them work for you, you aren't a Gibby/hummer guy.
     
  16. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I appreciate all the advice and pointers to resources, sounds, techniques, finer points, and the like, Gibson pickups are a lot less mysterious and a lot more interesting to me now, thank you.

    The advice to "leave 'em alone and learn how to adjust them" is excellent and what I'll be doing; I didn't buy this guitar to then force it to sound like something it isn't after all.

    I'll have actual hands-on soon, very exciting!
     
  17. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    I'm not trying to be snarky here, but you ask for guidance. You haven't even received the guitar and you're looking to replace perfectly good Gibson humbucker pickups with other humbucker pickups? I'll admit to replacing pickups on two of five electrics but never thought about doing that until long after I bought the guitars. After playing them for a few YEARS, I had a good idea about what I liked and didn't like about the pickups in them. In the case of Fender guitars, my chief complaint was 60 cycle hum from pickups wound a little on the hot side. I didn't buy new pickups based on anyone's written opinion. I went to guitar stores and played Telecasters, and then Stratocasters, until I found my sound without the hum. When in the music shop, I was always up front about wanting to evaluate pickups for an existing guitar. I was never chased away and was often offered suggestions about what to take down and play. That was a long and arduous process but I found the pickups I wanted for both.

    You can't know yet if you can get your sound from the pickups in a guitar that hasn't even arrived yet. There have been suggestions to raise pickups, lower pickups but raise the pole pieces, raise the pole pieces in a Stratocaster like stagger, pot the pickups or not pot the pickups. Are the pickups covered? Sort through all these variables first. You may find that there is a way to set your existing pickups to get exactly the sound you want. Or you may not. You may find that all you need is to spend a little time tweaking amp settings. Still not happy? That's when to go looking... but with a very important caution. It'll be hard to find an ES-339 with different pickups from those in the guitar you'll get soon. Pickups that sound great in an SG may not be what you want in an ES-339. The same pickups in a Les Paul will sound different still. Pots with caps and resistors will give a pickup a somewhat different sound from a modern Gibson PCB.

    I unexpectedly got a new guitar that I love. I'd never have expected to be pleased with its tone and playability and would probably have passed right by it in the store. I had no expectations at all when I first plugged it in but was blown away by it. I did a good setup and tweaked my amp settings for it and found that there's NOTHING AT ALL to change. I hope you have the same experience with your new guitar.
     
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  18. RyCo1983

    RyCo1983 Tele-Afflicted

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    I can't recommend a Burstbucker 2 (neck), and Burstbucker 3 (bridge), enough. Unpotted...Had a set in a beat up Faded SG Special. That thing sang!
    The 66 Bassman probably didn't hurt either!

    I thoroughly enjoyed that pickup combination.
     
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  19. JIMMY JAZZMAN

    JIMMY JAZZMAN Tele-Meister

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    Put some Wilkinson P-90'S in that guitar, and it will growl and sing.
     
  20. arlum

    arlum Tele-Meister Gold Supporter

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    Just my take on this subject .....

    A pair of 490s in a B.B. King Lucille is a pretty good reference point for 490s. Listen to some of B.B.s later recordings to get a good tonal idea.

    '57 Classics and Burstbucker 1, 2 and 3s are all takes on Gibsons original PAF. They all use AlNiCo II magnets. The '57s have been around for quite awhile and sound pretty close to Burstbucker 2s. The difference between Classic and Burstbucker has to do with build. Burstbucker are unbalanced winds with no wax potting. A bit edgier and more prone to microphonics, (just like the originals). The '57 Classics have a balanced wind with wax potting. They tend to sound more controlled, smooth, less edgy and microphonics are not a problem. '57s were Gibsons offering of a refined PAF. Original PAFs used different magnets, wire, windings,, smooth or scattered, etc. At the time they were Gibsons new humbucking pickups and as far as Gibson was concerned the humbucking part of the equation was all that counted. When some users of the '57 classics told Gibson they just didn't seem to have the magic of the original PAFs Gibson answered with the Burstbucker 1, 2 and 3. The 2 had what was considered the normal amount of windings for a PAF. The 1 was underwound and the 3 was overwound. Since multiple pickups from Gibsons '58 to '60 PAFs have been gone over and found to occur in all three winding types Gibson created three to cover all the bases. Still .... you can't please everyone no matter how hard you try so ...... in response to whatever crap players were giving them ..... they created a much more modern version of the Burstbucker in the form of the Burstbucker Pro. The Pro throws everything a burstbucker is created to be out the window. The Pro adds modern wax potting and switches from AlNiCo II to AlNiCo V. Think of the Burstbucker Pro as a '57 Classic sporting AlNiCo V magnets while retaining a slightly unbalanced winding. We guitarists are a fickle lot.

    The 498 is pretty much a 490 with the AlNiCo II switched out for an AlNiCo V magnet. Louder, brighter and more aggressive than the 490. It was created to be a bridge model to pair with the 490 for a more modern take on pickup tone.

    The 496R neck and 500T bridge models used to be the standard pickups on all Les Paul Classics in the early 2000s. Their main ingredient that makes them different is their use of Ceramic magnets. Very hot compared to other Gibson Pickups and having nothing to do with anything PAF. Strong and "in your face".

    The "Dirty Fingers" was an '80's tone pickup from Gibson. Most players who gravitate to Gibsons didn't really care for them. Ceramic magnets on steroids. The most famous example I can think of for their usage would be Gary Moore who installed a pair of Dirty Fingers in a Strat to blast everyone back in their seats. He somehow made them work beautifully. Of course .... these were long in the past when Gary got to the "Still Got The Blues" portion of his life.

    My own opinion and nothing more .........

    Other than the Wildwood spec Gibson Custom Shop pickups in my CS-336 ...... I don't use any other pickups from Gibson. The "57 Classics are quite good but there are after market pickups that are much better for delivering the same target tone.

    The 490R / 498T Gibson pair is my least favorite pickup set Gibson's ever produced. There was nothing PAF, (expected tonality), about them.

    I've found pairing a Burstbucker 1 & 2 or a Burstbucker 2 & 3 probably create the closest tone Gibson currently offers to revisit their classic PAF tone. They sound good. At higher volume levels microphonics can be problematic but probably not more so than the players back in '59 had to deal with. Still ...... there are at least three or four aftermarket pickup builders that will build you a better example for the same or slightly higher price.

    The Burstbucker Pro is actually a very good pickup for modern music. It's very versatile and fits multiple styles. Again ... it's nothing PAF. It's modern and bright and powerful within the AlNiCo magnet range.

    The 496R / 500T pairing has always messed with me. Why? As a rule of thumb I hate ceramic magnet pickups. I've found a couple by Ibanez that somehow sound OK but still don't overly impress me. The Les Paul Classics from the early 2000s sported this magnet without a cover. Other than providing less than my preferred clean tones, in every other usage these are the best ceramic pickups I've ever played. Go figure. I don't like ceramic magnets. Ceramic magnets provide virtually anti-Gibson PAF tone. Other than the Widwood Spec Gibson Custom shop pickups ....... the Gibson 496R / 500 T pickups are the only Gibson Pickups I would purchase to replace other pickups for use within their genre .


    My 2018 Les Paul Traditional sports a pair of Jim Wagner "GodWoods". I love them.

    My 2002 Les Paul Studio sports a pair of Suhr "Doug Aldrich" humbuckers for a much more modern soloist type of sound. Again .... they're wonderful.


    Again ..... this is all based on my personal opinions.
     
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