What year did Gibson start using PCB boards for standard models?

Discussion in 'Gibson Les Pauls' started by Mjrworks, May 27, 2015.

  1. Mjrworks

    Mjrworks Member

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    Dec 19, 2013
    What are the pros and cons?
  2. ExpatBrit

    ExpatBrit Senior Member

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    Feb 27, 2009
    2008 I believe. I can see no real advantage since no one ever released any other pickups with the connector on. Probably just a way for Gibson to make more money by using less expensive parts.
  3. matt@msscguitar

    matt@msscguitar V.I.P. Member

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    May 5, 2008
    IMHO, the pros are only on the side of Gibson in that the boards are easier to drop in from a labor perspective, thus less labor costs.
    1 person likes this.
  4. jeffy

    jeffy Senior Member

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    Aug 29, 2010
    I agree, it was done so Gibson can streamline assembly. They are supplied to them pre-made so the person assembling the guitar can just drop it in and connect it up. If there's a problem they can be removed and replaced quickly. Gibson can then have less skilled people assemble them. It also allows Gibson to get more creative with wiring schemes without having RF issues and the complexity of all that extra wiring.

    A side effect is if you so happen to have a bunch of pickups with the proper connectors, it would make for quick swaps. But then you have to go through the hassle of building the connectors on the pickups as most do not come with them.

    As for disadvantages, it really depends on what you want to do.
  5. winexprt

    winexprt Senior Member

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    Aug 17, 2008
    My 2008 Studio Faded had one.

    First thing I ripped out.
  6. Pappy58

    Pappy58 Senior Member

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    Dec 2, 2014
    I'll defer to the rest on 2008 being the first year. But look at amp makers, they have been using PCBs for decades. Ease of assembly being one reason, and also as mentioned the many different circuits offered now increase complexities when hand wiring in a small cavity. You also tend to get better consistency of quality, at least when it's all brand new. Over time plug on connectors are more prone to oxidation, and PCB's can stress crack, especially when messed with lot. They are best left alone and I'm sure that is also a Henry objective. If you are someone who likes to tinker with different PUP and POTS, plan to rip it all out if you get one. :cheers:
  7. lovesacdc

    lovesacdc Senior Member

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    Sep 15, 2012
    I am ok with the PCB approach. More consistency the better. I had a bad soldering job on my SG. Sloppy workmanship.
  8. roccster

    roccster Senior Member

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    Mar 17, 2014
    I really like the idea with PCB as well, have it in my 2011 GT, to bad that others don´t use it when it comes to pups etc. Would have made the whole swapping pups much easier. No it´s just a pain if you want to modify it...
  9. E.T.

    E.T. Junior Member

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    Sep 23, 2014
    Printed Circuit Board boards? :p
    3 people like this.
  10. John Vasco

    John Vasco I'm with the band V.I.P. Member

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    Dec 11, 2008
    Got my 2009 '08 Standard in September 2010. No problem whatsoever. Gig it regularly. :dude:
  11. grayd8

    grayd8 Senior Member

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    May 5, 2014
    I like the idea of a PCB, but the implementation is bad.
    If they did something like the fifties modern PCB it wouldn't be such a hated design.

    The one I had a bad ground somewhere. I would compare tones, but I swapped pickups at the same time.
  12. Inside Guy

    Inside Guy I am no longer @ Gibson V.I.P. Member

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    Mar 26, 2007
    This point of view is 100% incorrect. It's ok, because most people thought the same thing you did, but I was there during the process of creating the board. here is what I recall:

    A few different thoughts were part of the change:

    1) Easy modification for players. this was where the whole project started. We know that de-soldering and soldering new pickups in holds many players back from changing pickups more often. We actually had discussions with Seymour Duncan and EMG about creating a new universal EZ plug system on our pickups. Unfortunately, this never got off the ground. I think it's still a great idea.

    2) We wanted better pots in the Gibson USA guitars. We met with the folks from Bourns many times and we explored possibilities of the sound, the feel and taper (very important to us too) for custom made potentiometers. We also added gold plated plates on the back of these posts. Trust me, each pot cost much more than the pots used previously.

    3) We knew that the traditionalists would poo-poo a circuit board right off the bat unless it was badass. Much thought time and expense was put into those boards. We made sure to include ultra wide traces for the skeptics. We were going for a hi-tech ultra badass look. We even put smokey translucent covers on the back to show it off.

    4) All of this put together was a significant material cost increase. It did not off-set the labor costs. I know this for a fact as I helped create the BOMs and was part of the whole process.

    I have not been at Gibson for a while now, so I have no reason to mis-lead or toe the company line. At no time did the team ever say "let's build it cheaper". We wanted to move the Les Paul forward. We wanted to move in a different direction from the historic collection. The custom shop had the old school covered....we wanted to be the new school. This is why you also saw that huge neck joint and other changes to the LP in 2008. That was the mind-set for the 2008.
  13. Frogfur

    Frogfur Senior Member

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    Jan 18, 2013
    Sounds good to me..
  14. HCRoadie

    HCRoadie Senior Member

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    Sep 29, 2014
    That is some wonderful insight as to what went down. It is a shame that the connector has not become universal. Or at least easier to add a connector to other pickups. Where in Nashville are you at? I live in Inglewood/East Nashville
  15. oliver87

    oliver87 Junior Member

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    Sep 18, 2013
    mjrworks, I think the PCB approach is simple and hassle free. Not only does it significantly reduce the total manufacturing time for a product, it also increases the reliability of the product. If the connectors are assembled properly, they can simply work for years instead of taking a chance with soldering where one could suffer a lot. Secondly, I think this would significantly reduce their total repair time and cost as well since replacing a PCB with connects is way easier and you don't have to go fishing for problems in a damaged PCB to repair it.

    Oliver J
  16. Juan Wayne

    Juan Wayne Senior Member

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    Nov 15, 2012
    That would be nice, one universal connector, and another version of the same pickups without it, or you could even just remove it since they're dirt cheap.

    Anyway, it'll never happen. Last week I was choosing an IDC connector for a project I'm working on. 40 pins, two rows, 100th pitch, pretty straightforwad. From there, I had to choose from a total ef 157000 items, all of them slightly different. It wasn't easy.

    We haven't even managed to make the USB universal, event though that's what the U stands for.
  17. bordonbert

    bordonbert Senior Member

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    Apr 2, 2014
    It's a non-issue. It's better in every way to have the plug/socket PCB setup except in terms of "vintage authenticity" and "user fiddlability". The only people who argue openly against it are the vintage nuts, (and good luck to them with their chosen taste, it's perfectly valid), and those who cannot ever enjoy playing their guitars because they are always waiting for the next crop of "improvements" to arrive.

    We need to stop pushing the idea that, because some may prefer a pseudo-ancient guitar or the exclusivity of a wildly modified guitar it makes it sound better and be more reliable too, it plain doesn't. There is absolutely no way that a hand wired setup is more reliable than a PCB one in a production environment. And, at the end of the day, your LPs are mainly production items. Industries like aerospace where reliability is the number one aim prove it. Was the shuttle hand wired? Of course the complexity is greater but the principles are the same and are passed down to us with our guitars.

    And the argument that Gibson do everything to get their own production costs down is again an old gripe. Of course they do, they are a business! But that does not mean they always sacrifice quality on the altar of cost, and at the same time those reductions in costs are passed on to you when you buy. How much do you think it costs to get someone to build a harness by hand in the third world? How much do you think it costs to get the same company to use a machine to populate and flow solder one?

    Just because they are expensive guitars does not mean Gibson are always trying to rip us off or use the cheaper option if it compromises quality and reliability. It just means that you have to pay for what you get. And we do demand hand finished bodies and unbelievably accurately made necks which are inordinately costly to produce and a far greater factor in pricing the guitar than any of the electronics is. I do wonder why some of us don't stop bitching and buy a Vintage (the make) model instead? They are so playable it is untrue. And they are cheap as chips!
  18. skysc

    skysc Senior Member

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    Jun 1, 2013
    Leave it if it's there , don't install it if it's not !!!
    No need to change if it work fine . doesnt affect tone so no point of dropping one in .

    both My 2012 LP standard have it and doesnt bother me at all .
    1 person likes this.

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