Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Pickups' started by red_bull, Oct 7, 2014.
Alphabetized for your convenience...
Wizz vintage wire
ECP Hallowed Ground
Gibson Tim Shaws
Assuming we are talking about modern production units:
Duncan Bonamassa 2nd set
OX4 Hot Duanes
Stephens Design HD 59 bridge/ HD PG neck
Throbak PG-102 MVX LTD
Voodoo 57 bridge/59 neck
In this order. Last being the best current choice for what I like.
Gibson Custombuckers. I had a love/hate relationship with these. The middle position was the cat's meow. But the bridge was one dimensional and the neck was too muddy. I think if I was playing with cleaner tones more often without any crunch they could of worked. Though still wished I had kept them.
Gibson '57 Classic/Classic+. I'm speaking of the original wind before Gibson changed the specs. These have a nice sizzle and a voice I would associate with a proper sounding Gibson guitar. Like most pickups from Gibson I've tried these could be a little too compressed and unclear at louder volumes. Also IMO a little too dark over all for a PAF type of pickup.
Seymour Duncan Antiquity. Really can't go wrong with these. I would tell anyone who didn't care for going down the infinite rabbit hole on finding the "right" pickups to start with these. The neck and middle tones are really vintage sounding. The bridge could be a little under wound and loose sounding under gain. But overall pretty solid.
RC Pickups. I have two sets of these, a '59 Bloodline with an A5 neck/over wound A2 bridge and a T-Top set. Great, musical pickups wound by Rob Conley in CT. He gives great attention to detail and you get exactly what you ask for. The T-Top set is my favorite of the two, a nice grind to them and enough juice on tap to turn down the guitar's volume for some sweetness.
Big Mike's Custom (formerly Guitar Works). Another winder in CT, Mike Mascagna. This time hand wound with three different builds (vintage, modern, hybrid) all based off the same idea, a bright (think Mike Bloomfield) cutting, PAF voice. I have all three sets. These pickups are for the guys like me who love to mess with the volume and tone knobs on their guitars and hear those PIO caps work. Very flexible pickups that can really cover an array of tones. I would say out of all the pickups I've tried these to my ears sound most like the classic PAF tones I hear on the old albums.
P.S., I have an older, hand wound set of Jim Wagner (WCR) Fillmores on the way. I'm hoping I can add those to the list.
1. Gibson Custombuckers
Then the rest in random order....
ECPs Low Winds
Gibson 57 Classic (with 550k pots)
I have several paf style Duncans on the shelf, they’re ok. I love Custombuckers but have had one set that just don’t work together.
I really like the ECPs I have, I’ll have to try more. I’m getting to have so many Gibson pickups (and others) that I can usually find a great match for any guitar I want to experiment on.
The only PAF style pickup Gibson makes that I REALLY DONT LIKE are MHS. I’ve had 3 guitars with them now and I find them consistently dull and devoid of any character. I still have a set in my ES-175 but since I rarely plug it in, I’ll probably leave them.
1) CustomBuckers in the R9
2) The MHSs in the ESLP
3) SD 59s in the TradProII
4) Dimarzio SD I had in my 83 Explorer
5) 500T I had in the '99 Explorer
and the flipside
Disliked the C57/Super57 that came the TP2, and not happy with the 490R and 490T pickups in the SG Special faded. To me all 4 sounded alike thin and mundane. But after 1800+hrs flying, my ears are shot, WILL SOMEONE ANSWER THAT DAMN PHONE haha
In no order whatsoever......
Lawrence XL500 (God uses these.)
MMK45 (old Aria pickups)
Ibanez V2 (LOVE these)
Ibanez V7/V8 combo (Fantastic in guitars NOT made by Ibanez for some reason.)
DiMarrzio Super Distortions. (if there was ever a pickup that said 70's rock, these are them!)
Not in a particular order:
- Gibson 87 - suspect they're Shaws based on resistance readings down in the low 7 range, but I have not investigated any further. Whatever they are, they're light and airy.
- Sunset Zuma/Venice sent - Sunset is a local SoCal guy that probably winds a few pickups in his spare time. I just bought these to put an old Kramer Focus for fun. They really sound good. I'll have to move them to a better guitar in the future, the wide neck on the Kramer is just not the fun to play.
- Seymour Duncan Custom - this just fits an 83 Kramer Pacer I have. Smooth and woody. Just a perfect match.
- Zhangbucker Handwound Brownbucker - this is for an old Charvel. When I bought it, it had an EMG that wasn't my thing, I tried other pickups including the Duncan Custom...but it never got that woody tone I liked in my Pacer...until this one. I don't know if the true handwinding made a difference, but it's a great pickup that is just right for the warm/smooth but still bright overdrive tone I like (kind of in between Ratt and 70s VH). I got the sweet heat option as well because more is more.
- Whatever Ibanez puts in their low end Artcore AS73. Is it on par with the pickups above? Not really, but it's such a great sounding guitar for the price ,the pickups deserve some credit.
12-screw is a secret weapon on bridge pickups. The extra 6 screws is like having a mid boost/cut built into the pickup.
My Top 6 (apologies to the OP’s initial request for a top 5... I happen to have 6 I have had great luck with).
In no particular order except the first one (the BKP Mules)... they are definitely my #1!
Bare Knuckle Mules (unpotted)
These are my favorite pickups of all I have had and/or tried over the years. So articulate, so much texture, very open and 3D sounding, very woody. Love at first strum and I still have a love affair with them each time I pick up the LP I have them in.
Mojotone 59 Clone (unpotted)
Similar in many ways to the BKP Mules... many of the same characteristics (articulate, textured, open/3D, woody), but with their own voice that is maybe a bit brighter than the Mules.
Gibson 1959 Tributes
Best pickup that has come out of Gibson USA in years! I had a heavy (too heavy for me) 2014 Trad with these and regret selling the guitar just because it meant having to give up these pickups. I am always on the lookout for a reasonably priced used set (which doesn’t come around very often).
DiMarzio 36th Annivsary PAFs
Just a great all-around, ubiquitous, and affordable PAF option. Always sound good in whatever guitar I put them in.
DiMarzio Super Distortion (paired with a 36th Anny neck)
The Super Distortion is just one of those pickups whose tone is in my head. Many of the guitarists I grew up listening too played the Super D at one time or another and its tone just always sounds “right” to me. I make it is point to always have an LP with a Super D in it (with the 36 Anny neck paired to it).
Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates
My favorite Duncan pickups thus far... they have a cool and unique voice to them. Great crunch!
SD JB-circa 1986
PRS Dragon I
Gibson Shaw PAF
SD Pearly Gates
Gibson Burstbucker Pro
In no particular order, and what I have owned and used:
Gibson '57 Classics
Gibson Burstbucker 1/2
Gibson Dirty Fingers (1983 SG)
I don't yet have a #5
I will always regret the guitar I sold these in. I don’t know if it was the guitar, or the pickups, but these pickups were absolutely the best pickups I’ve owned. I would buy another one on the spot, should it arise.
I own a Lord of the Blues set in my 13 Chicago Blue traditional. Amazing pickups. Split gives you some very true single coil sounds, and the drop off in volume is nothing short of beautiful. There is something about these pickups that force you to be honest with yourself when you play.
Another sale I regret. They had so much oomph and string separation. I’m having trouble finding another pair of these.
Big shout out to Wolfe for nailing the sound in my head. He has amazing customer service and winds a hell of a pickup. Amazing pickup and wonderful individual.
Sadly I haven’t bonded with any other pickups to really find a number 5. Not for lack of trying, $2k+ and counting.