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How much of the Firebird tone is the pickups?

Mr. Papa

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As in, if I put a set of Firebird pickups in an SG or LP, how close would it get to sounding like a Firebird? Or do I need the “full bird” for the magic?
 

gmann

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Neil Young has a FB pickup in the bridge position of Old Black and I don’t think it sounds like a Firebird.
 

Mr. Papa

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Perhaps, but his tone is often fuzzed out so is that the best/only representation?
 
Last edited:

Tommy Tourbus

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Apart from the pickups the only real diff is a Firebird has the multi-ply neck, is neck through, and sports a 6 in line headstock that is flipped. You have to buy into that these things make a difference in tonality, as otherwise it's basically no different than any other Gibson
 

mdubya

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You may be asking the wrong question.

🤔

HnYk153.jpg
 

stumphead

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Apart from the pickups the only real diff is a Firebird has the multi-ply neck, is neck through, and sports a 6 in line headstock that is flipped. You have to buy into that these things make a difference in tonality, as otherwise it's basically no different than any other Gibson

thats a falsehood ..... I have had both

here is some classic true vintage 60s Firebird tone .... no way you get it from a Les Paul

( give it a try ... let me know how that works out for you )

 

mdubya

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Does your humbucker firebird sound the same as the one with firebird pickups?

In a word, no.

But, with the volumes rolled down, you can get in the neighborhood. Very pleasingly, too.

The Tom Holmes H450/455 are very bright and aggressive. But backed off (quite) a bit they do all kinds of great glassy beautiful tones.

The Firebird V has the usual ceramic minis. It does not have nearly the output of the Holmes or of the P-90s. If it was my only guitar, I might get more out of it through familiarity. As it is, I use it for how I am familiar with it. A different/better set of Firebird pickups might really impress.

They all have their charms, they all can produce very pleasing "vintage" tone. They all take fuzz very eagerly. The Holmes and the P-90s can comfortably wade into nwobhm territory. The Firebird minis are a bit thin in that territory.
 

Mr. Papa

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I’m going to try a set of Firebird pickups in an SG or LP Special if I can find a good one on Craigslist. I’m guessing that 75% or more of the Firebird sound is the pickups, I’ll let you know how it works out.
 

jrgtr42

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A Les Paul Deluxe would have very similar pickups - it's all the mini-humbuckers. There might be differences in the build, like Bustbucker versus custombucker and so forth. But if you can get hold of one (I don't think they're making them right now) you can hear the differences and similarities.
However, it's all an equation. Like the thread on Backstage asking if the wood makes a difference, it is in the wood of the firebird - or the lack of maple top affecting things, but also the construction itself - the through neck build will lead to a different tonality than the same thing built with a set neck, and vastly different than a bolt-on.
 

Mr. Papa

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A Les Paul Deluxe would have very similar pickups - it's all the mini-humbuckers. There might be differences in the build, like Bustbucker versus custombucker and so forth. But if you can get hold of one (I don't think they're making them right now) you can hear the differences and similarities.
However, it's all an equation. Like the thread on Backstage asking if the wood makes a difference, it is in the wood of the firebird - or the lack of maple top affecting things, but also the construction itself - the through neck build will lead to a different tonality than the same thing built with a set neck, and vastly different than a bolt-on.
I was under the impression that Firebird pickups are built differently than a mini humbuckers, but I generally follow what you’re saying.
 

Mwoodbro

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Feb 22, 2002
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Another issue that arises with mdubya's 3 Firebird picture is, if we are talking about the inherent sound of a Firebird independent of the pickups, then the Reverse and Non-Reverse are very different guitars.
 

Flogger

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A Les Paul Deluxe would have very similar pickups - it's all the mini-humbuckers. There might be differences in the build, like Bustbucker versus custombucker and so forth. But if you can get hold of one (I don't think they're making them right now) you can hear the differences and similarities.
However, it's all an equation. Like the thread on Backstage asking if the wood makes a difference, it is in the wood of the firebird - or the lack of maple top affecting things, but also the construction itself - the through neck build will lead to a different tonality than the same thing built with a set neck, and vastly different than a bolt-on.
Another issue that arises with mdubya's 3 Firebird picture is, if we are talking about the inherent sound of a Firebird independent of the pickups, then the Reverse and Non-Reverse are very different guitars.
They are very different. A FB pickup is like two Melody Maker pickups, the magnet is in the middle of the coil, on edge, so it's a blade pickup. PAFs and minis have one magnet below the coils and the screws/studs redirect the magnetic field up.
 

Mr. Papa

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They are very different. A FB pickup is like two Melody Maker pickups, the magnet is in the middle of the coil, on edge, so it's a blade pickup. PAFs and minis have one magnet below the coils and the screws/studs redirect the magnetic field up.
I thought the pickups were different, so this is helpful. As for mdubya's 3 Firebirds, I'd believe that the neck-through with laminated wood will sound different than an all mahogany SG or LP with a glued neck, and I expect that a Korina glued neck guitar would sound different, but I am not sure how much different a glued neck mahogany Firebird would sound than an SG or LP if they had the same pickups. This is essentially my point / my question. How much work are the pickups doing in the equation, and if I don't want the wingspan of a Firebird, can I still get the elemental sound by dropping the pickups into another shape?
 

jrgtr42

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Wonder what a Korina reverse with a laminate thru neck and original FB pickups would sound like?
I'm gonna guess chainsaw bright... Korina is a bit brighter than mahogany, the laminate accentuates treeeble frequencies (or the glue used would, anyway,) etc etc.
 

mdubya

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I thought the pickups were different, so this is helpful. As for mdubya's 3 Firebirds, I'd believe that the neck-through with laminated wood will sound different than an all mahogany SG or LP with a glued neck, and I expect that a Korina glued neck guitar would sound different, but I am not sure how much different a glued neck mahogany Firebird would sound than an SG or LP if they had the same pickups. This is essentially my point / my question. How much work are the pickups doing in the equation, and if I don't want the wingspan of a Firebird, can I still get the elemental sound by dropping the pickups into another shape?

Yeah, so much going on. The Non Reverse is more like an SG but the neck joins the upper bout at ~ the 16th fret (almost) like a Les Paul. Very unique in that respect.
 
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