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what was Gibson thinking when they designed the Burstbuckers ?

Guitar Magic

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Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
98
Did you compare these pickups in the same guitar? PAF type humbuckers will sound very different in each guitar. They are not battery operated EMGs that sound exactly the same in a canoe paddle, a Jackson or an R9. I personally had sets of BB1 & 2 that sounded a little more to my liking than Custombuckers and I even prefer them if I had to choose. Both are exceptionally good pickups in the Gibson lineup and the difference is far from being night and day in the same guitar. Boutique pickups are highly overrated, just my opinion. It's the sum of all parts that make a Les Paul sound good and the pickups - talking about PAF types with similar attributes - have a much lesser overall impact than it's hyped up on internet forums.
 

Amp360

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Feb 16, 2012
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855
I have a 2010 B7 that came with Burstbuckers. They didn’t do much for me either. Now that guitar has SD Antiquities. Very happy with them.
I have an old LPC (not sure of the year) that came with Thro-Baks. The guitar played great, sounded meh.
Put Antiquities in it and I love it. Plus I sold the TBs for a bunch of money. I like Burstbuckers so YMMV.

318573496_10228435038769937_5765583095583943591_n.jpg
 

mjross

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May 11, 2019
Messages
197
I have an old LPC (not sure of the year) that came with Thro-Baks. The guitar played great, sounded meh.
Put Antiquities in it and I love it. Plus I sold the TBs for a bunch of money. I like Burstbuckers so YMMV.

318573496_10228435038769937_5765583095583943591_n.jpg
Those inexpensive Harbor Freight caster carts are pretty handy…lol!
 

slammintone

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Jul 19, 2001
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2,003
Most of the 25 or so Historic Lester’s I’ve owned had Burstbuckers. A couple of them sounded really good, a couple not so great and the rest serviceable. The 2017 and 2020 R9s I now have with Custombuckers are staying stock. I love them more with each passing year.
 

58Plaintop

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Jun 18, 2023
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Didn't the Burstbuckers replace the '57 Classics in the Historic line? If that's the case, the answer is simple: Gibson wanted to design a more historically accurate pickup. The main difference being unbalanced coils and no wax potting in the Burstbuckers. I loved the BB1 and 2s in my 2004 R8. Yes they were slightly microphonic, but, IMO, that's the only way to go for "vintage" tone. I have a 2021 R8 now with the Custombuckers, and they are more microphonic then I remember the BBs being.

With that said, I think the BBs were more "plug and play," and the Custombuckers need way more dialing in, experimenting with, and fussing over. I do like them very, very much though and have no desire to change them out.
 
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Bumhucker

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Jun 1, 2020
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After several magnets swaps and futzing with pup and pole height adjustments, I’m pretty happy with the BB 1/2 setup I removed from my ‘07 R9. Installed in a 10+# 1991 LP Studio with a newish Emerson Harness.

Never was happy with the BB’s in that R9. It has Ants now (but with A4 in the neck/UOA5 bridge). The Ants with degaussed A2’s just didn’t float my battleship. They’re naturally thicker and darker than BB or CB’s, regardless of the magnet.

My only CB experience is in a 2017 R7…where I really liked them for a while, but the thin sound wore on me (Playing blues/classic rock through a vintage Super Rev, Deluxe Rev, and a clone/build 5e3 and 6g16). A UOA5 in the bridge and setting it up higher gave it the balls to make noise when you dig in, and much better. The neck with the A3 is very good (I think). CB‘s are brighter/thinner sounding than BB’s (mine were, anyway).
 

58Plaintop

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Jun 18, 2023
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After several magnets swaps and futzing with pup and pole height adjustments, I’m pretty happy with the BB 1/2 setup I removed from my ‘07 R9. Installed in a 10+# 1991 LP Studio with a newish Emerson Harness.

Never was happy with the BB’s in that R9. It has Ants now (but with A4 in the neck/UOA5 bridge). The Ants with degaussed A2’s just didn’t float my battleship. They’re naturally thicker and darker than BB or CB’s, regardless of the magnet.

My only CB experience is in a 2017 R7…where I really liked them for a while, but the thin sound wore on me (Playing blues/classic rock through a vintage Super Rev, Deluxe Rev, and a clone/build 5e3 and 6g16). A UOA5 in the bridge and setting it up higher gave it the balls to make noise when you dig in, and much better. The neck with the A3 is very good (I think). CB‘s are brighter/thinner sounding than BB’s (mine were, anyway).
I had the BB1+2 in an '04 R8. I liked them a lot. The Custom Buckers in my '22 R8 are thinner and brighter, but they sound more like "the real deal." I read somewhere that Gibson was going for the tone in Jimmy Page's #1, and I think the CBs are the closest they've come to that. From your post, it sounds like you like a thicker Les Paul tone. The CBs through those fender amps you mentioned along with a good pedal should be able to get very close to Page/Greeny/ Beano/ AllmanBros Fillmore East tones.
 

Amp360

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Feb 16, 2012
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855
Another thing to consider is the volume you play at. I tend to play pretty loud most of the time. I mainly use a Vibro King on about 6 or an SLO through 4 EVs.

If you're playing through a 5-watt amp your pickups are going to work differently. Something to consider.
 

Amp360

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Feb 16, 2012
Messages
855
Call me old fashioned, but when I play a guitar without getting the sound I want, I change the tone knobs on the amp rather than buy a new set of pups.

I have guitars that have high end stuff (Lollars, Monty's); yeah, they're different... but not "better". A few tweaks of the TMB usually get me right where I want.
agree. i've seen people order or ask about new pickups before a guitar even arrives. i don't get it.
 

Wizard1183

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Jan 20, 2018
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787
agree. i've seen people order or ask about new pickups before a guitar even arrives. i don't get it.
You could put a set of original PAFs in it and it’d never make a difference. It’s just playing style over parts. Amp create more of the tone than a guitar no matter what parts you change
 
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Bumhucker

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Jun 1, 2020
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Im not sure a real deal PAF would sound remarkably different than any my custombucker, ants, burstbuckers, 57 classics, ThroBaks or Mojo 59 Clones sound. Who’s to say? Guitar and electronics dependent, amp, tube and speaker dependent - 100’s of variables. And then which era PAF?? Underwound (gotta go take a smoke break), overwound (stayed too long on the smoke break), an early version, a post 1960 iteration, an A2, A3, 4, 5 version?

Some guitars have ‘that sound’, some don’t. It’s amazing how a really good player rarely has a guitar that sounds bad.
 

Wizard1183

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Jan 20, 2018
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787
Im not sure a real deal PAF would sound remarkably different than any my custombucker, ants, burstbuckers, 57 classics, ThroBaks or Mojo 59 Clones sound. Who’s to say? Guitar and electronics dependent, amp, tube and speaker dependent - 100’s of variables. And then which era PAF?? Underwound (gotta go take a smoke break), overwound (stayed too long on the smoke break), an early version, a post 1960 iteration, an A2, A3, 4, 5 version?

Some guitars have ‘that sound’, some don’t. It’s amazing how a really good player rarely has a guitar that sounds bad.
Because it’s the player. Doesn’t matter the guitar. Whether it’s burst, a Strat doesn’t matter. You can play or you can’t? Peter Green played a strat live on “I need your love so bad” and was still leaps and bounds above. EVH Frankenshit guitar changed necks and pickups like underwear but it never changed his playing….
 

BurstPipe

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Jan 31, 2003
Messages
116
Whatever it was, they clearly had a rethink.

I broadly agree with what I have seen above. When I got my 03 Brazilian R9 I immediately found myself running the bridge tone control between 4 and 5.

I’ve always wondered if I should try different pickups but I have a Brazilian neck PRS Singlecut and found the “7” pickups to sound similar to the BBs. I changed those to warmer pickups and it didn’t improve the instrument at all. What recently transformed that instrument is changing the anodised stoptail to PRS latest adjustable stoptail with big brass saddles and brass body screws. As stated the just instrument plays a big part.

Also I took the opportunity to get a 2018 Brazilian R9 and it’s a totally different instrument to the’03. Weight, pickups, and the bridge seems different. When one comes up at a good price I will probably change the bridge on the ‘03 before I do anything else. Don’t get me wrong, the 03 is still a great instrument and nothing like regular production standards. I just find I use it in a different way to he ‘18.

Finally, I also agree that Classic 57s were actually good pickups. I had a 61 SG LP custom. I wanted to sell it but it had so many issues that I kept the 2 remaining PAFs that were in it and installed 3 x new Classic 57s. Honestly I couldn’t tell them apart from the PAFs. The one odd pickup that was in the neck position along with PAFs was weak and to my ears like a BB1. Coupled with the swimming pool route that guitar was generally a big disappointment but we learn as we go along.
 

MarcB

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Sep 1, 2023
Messages
948
From now on.. when anyone talks about tone/amps/pickups and the search for the “holy grail of sound”.. I’ll be posting this:
IMG_7008.jpeg

Bonjour.
 
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