Custombuckers or...

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by Dilver, Aug 7, 2017.

  1. Dilver

    Dilver Senior Member

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    I've got a 2017 Custom Shop Les Paul Standard '58 on it's way and I'm already contemplating what mods I may need to make to it. I'm a player more than a collector, so as long as the mods are reversible, I'm okay with making it play/sound/look the way I want it.

    I'm trying to decide if I want to keep the stock Custombuckers or replace them with the following:

    NECK: OX4 neck pickup (A4, low wind, 7.3K)
    BRIDGE: Peter Florance Voodoo '59 bridge pickup (A5, 8.1K), OR, a ReWind Electric PAF-1 (A4, med wind, 8.4K)

    I have the OX4 neck pickup, and ReWind Electric PAF-1 bridge in another les paul right now and like them a lot, but I haven't tried the Florance Voodoo '59 bridge yet and wondering how it will compare to the ReWind and how it will match up with the OX4, for a middle position tone.

    I'll live with the Custombuckers for a bit to see if I like them, but wanted to hear from others that have tried them, kept them in or swapped them out.

    I'm going for a bluesy, classic rock tone e.g. ZZ Top Brown Sugar; not a modern PAF-style tone, if that makes any sense.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. clutchcargo

    clutchcargo Bionic Member Premium Member

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    I find the custombuckers to be pretty good and consistent. However a lot of the ones your thinking of could be a nice upgrade. Depending on how your guitar responds to them.
    I'm looking into getting a set of Wizz double creams for my R8. I'm just waiting for the funds to add up.
     
  3. rclausen

    rclausen Senior Member

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    You should play the guitar first. CB's sound pretty good imo. If you're going to make any mod, replace the harness first
     
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  4. Progrocker111

    Progrocker111 Senior Member

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    This. Custombuckers are great pickups from my experience, give them a chance.
     
  5. GT40

    GT40 Senior Member

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    The custom buckers in my R7 are fantastic. I can't see any reason to change them.
     
  6. michaelinokc

    michaelinokc Senior Member

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    The Custom Buckers in my R8 are awesome. I can't really imagine changing them. They do exactly what I want them to do.
     
  7. AJK1

    AJK1 Senior Member

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    Buy a set of SD Custom shop Pearly Gates pickups
    Amazing sound
     
  8. Dilver

    Dilver Senior Member

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    Well, I kept wanting to like the Custombuckers based on everyone's glowing endorsement of them, but I just found them to be too... modern sounding. To my ears, in this guitar, through my rig (either a Fender '65 DRRI or a Swar STR Tweed), I found the Custom Buckers to be very "strident". Very lively, loud and dynamic in that they are highly touch sensitive. But the bridge pickup is a little too brash for what I do (maybe better suited for heavier rock?) and the neck pickup felt a little wooly (even with a volume pot that read well over 500K).

    They're nice pickups, don't get me wrong, but my frame of reference for PAF tones right now are the Rolphs I have in another guitar and these Custombuckers are very different and more modern-sounding. I like the bridge pickup to be dry and chewy for lack of a better term, and neck pickup to be almost single coil-like - pretty bright, very clear.

    I stayed up late last night first swapping pots and caps. The stock Gibson pots each measured a healthy 515-525K (nice to see) but the sweep still felt a little short especially on the volume pots, so in went a few RS Superpots I had on hand. The Gibson Bumblebee caps were fine, but I was accustomed to a different taper (I'm used to getting that Allman Brothers Stormy Monday tone at a setting of about 6 on the bridge tone knob).

    In went the OX4 low wind A4 neck pickup and the Peter Florance Voodoo '59 bridge. I had the OX4 in another guitar, so I kinda knew what to expect, recognizing that pickups will behave differently in each guitar. The OX4 neck pickup needs be dialed in just right for it to sing. But it's a great pickup that I'd recommend to anyone. Again, that almost single coil-like tone that's bright and very clear - the Custombucker didn't have that.

    But the big surprise was the Florance Voodoo '59. These pickups got a lot of attention several years ago before Wizz, Throwbaks, OX4, and Fralins all the rage, but you don't hear too much about them these days. I am unexpectedly blown away by the Voodoo. I bought this used and had no previous experience with Peter Florance pickups, but knew I had to find a good bridge pickup to pair up with OX4.

    I never know how to describe in words the bridge pickup tones I like, but I guess I'd say they were clear and bright but with no harshness, and certainly not weak. Dry and chewy, tight, crisp. Shimmering chords. But the real standout is that there's a usable tone in practically every position of the volume and tone knobs. And it matches extremely well with the OX4 in terms of output, tonal character and blended in the middle position for chirp and click, despite the fact that it's an A5 mag and the OX4 is an A4. The Voodoo is as good, if not better than the Rolph '59 I use as a benchmark. That's saying a lot.

    I think it's all about finding the right pickups for each guitar and I'm always so happy when I find gear that actually exceeds my expectations. For someone as cynical as me, that's a rarity. This Les Paul plays like a dream and now that I've gotten the pickups and electronics squared away, it's sounds as good as it looks!
     
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  9. AJK1

    AJK1 Senior Member

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    Until you change it again....
     
  10. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    Don't make the mistake in pre-judging a guitar before it even arrives.

    If you assume the guitar will be lacking in some way then you'll do your best to fool your ears/brain into believing it even if it isn't.
    Find out what the guitar does well first.......look for the great parts of the tone and you'll more likely see those more than its failings.
     
  11. NotScott

    NotScott Premium Member

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    I would second everyone's advice to live with a guitar as-is for a good while so you can really know what it is and what it will never be. This will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

    As for your observations above, I think your assessments of the OX4 and Voodoo are spot on. I found my OX4 Hot Duane set to be very picky about heights and polepiece adjustments, particularly the neck. It took a long time for me to finally find the sweet spot for them but it was well worth it and I am quite happy with the set.

    I have been using Voodoos for over 15 years and have never been disappointed by them. I have no idea why they are not more popular. They compare very favorably to real PAFs. For the tone you describe, I think the 59 is perfect for you. If you want something with a bit more warmth and thump for the bridge, try the 57. My favorite combination is the 57 with an A5 in the bridge and the 59 with an A3 in the neck.

    Enjoy!
     
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  12. Guitar Rod

    Guitar Rod Senior Member

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    When I first got my R9 I thought the Custombuckers were a bit bright and "strident" as you said. Later on I thought I'd try Gibson's Vintage Reissue pure nickel strings just to see what they were like, not really thinking how they'd affect tone. Immediately I notice the tone was less brash and bright, and had a much more lower output vintage tone. Now I love them and have no want to change anything on the guitar. The Custombuckers and Gibson pure nickel strings are a permanent team.
     
  13. Dilver

    Dilver Senior Member

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    Thanks all. I've moved on from the Custombuckers and they're not going back in this guitar anytime soon. I may be in the minority, but they really just weren't my thing. Feels like a lot of people have been trying to convince me otherwise. Please know that I'm not putting Custombuckers down. They're fine pickups and I'm glad Gibson is finally making a set that lot of people seem to love.

    But the OX4/Florance Voodoo '59 combo just "fits" this particular guitar's tonal character perfectly.

    I'll hold onto Custombuckers though, in case of... ahem, unexpected future acquisitions. Thanks all...
     
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