Am I the only one? (Stock Pickups)

gball

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
1,257
Reaction score
1,790
I’ve tried lots of aftermarket pickups and cannot say a single one was objectively better than stock. Different, yes, but undeniably better? Eye of the beholder, so I stopped changing them. There was nothing in them that was more different sonically than the twist of an amp or pedal knob.

One mod I always make: long steel tailpiece studs. That simple change has made more difference than any pickup or electronics swap.

I will put covers on uncovered pickups and switch the (IMO) stupid fake ABR bridges to Nashvilles when a guitar comes stock with them.
 

pondcaster

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2017
Messages
1,160
Reaction score
2,156
I feel that I am the one in the minority keeping my Les Paul electronics stock. I am actually a fan of Gibson pickups.

To my ears the 61’ Burstbuckers in my SG sounds the same as guitar tracks on my favourite albums by Zeppelin- Cream- Beatles- Stones… the post Henry era for me is ticking a lot of boxes… I can’t bring myself to change anything on it for fear I might alter its sound!

The beauty of the 61’ SG Standard for me is the pickups are great, has orange drop capacitors which are fine and 50’s wiring (no pcb) and the functionality is spot on too…. nothing to change here

I'm with you guys too.
I usually love the voicing of Gibson pickups.

I've kept my Gibsons stock for the past two decades+ and only recently I'm about to mod the newest of them. I already have most itens at hand - Suhr Aldrich bridge pickup, CTS XL pots and Sprague caps. I'm now looking at a Faber conversion kit.

It's purely GAS based and just for the fun of experimenting and trying new things.

But I'm no rush to go through with the mods because I also love the guitar as is, or else I wouldn't have gotten it in the first place.

Same here, glad to hear that I'm not totally alone in this... I love the '61 Burstbuckers in my Standard and am very fond of the 490/498 in my Tribute (especially the 498).

Wouldn't swap those out for pricier stuff, the nice tones are already there.
 

1allspub

Senior Member
Joined
May 26, 2015
Messages
4,653
Reaction score
5,407
Pickups... yes, pretty much always. Gibson’s modern pickups (both USA and CS) just are not the cream of the crop tone-wise (IMO/IME). They pioneered the humbucker and their vintage pickups are to die for, but they lost their mojo when it comes to pickups a long time ago and have never gotten it fully back (even they admit this). Admittedly, they are getting better of late, but still can’t really complete with the aftermarket/boutique market. In fact, I’ve yet to have a Gibson set that couldn’t be significantly bested by the proper choice of aftermarket/boutique replacement. I have not left a set of Gibson factory pickups in (for longer than a few months) in years.

Caps... sometimes, but not always. Though I do prefer PIO when I do replace them. And really do prefer a 15uF neck cap to the usual 22uF (which I do like for the bridge).

Pots... only when needed really (ie, I destroyed a pot by repeated pickup swaps, ha! Or there’s really an obvious sub-standard pot involved). Have only done a complete harness a couple times.

Hardware swaps are pretty common for me too. If it didn’t come with a lightweight aluminum tailpiece I’ll always try one. Most of the time it’s an improvement... but not always. Some guitars just like the heavier zinc (IME). Also, I always swap on Faber locking tailpiece studs—they are awesome (even on RIs)! Also, I’m not a big fan of the aesthetic of the Nashville bridge, so I’ll usually swap on an ABR-1 (with either some Faber iNserts or just the conversion posts—though the Faber iNserts absolutely are better and improve tone (IME)).

Sometimes I yank covers. Sometimes I put them on. Just depends on my mood. I like both looks. I don’t really notice any tonal change with covers on or off.

Plastics too on USA guitars. No tone benefits, but I just prefer the more vintage-correct looking stuff.

But pretty much any guitar can be tweaked and improved upon (IME), if you’re willing to put the time and effort into it. Many times, significantly so.

Late Edit: I should add, that I’m just a bedroom player. It’s a hobby for me, not a profession. And at least half of the fun of the hobby is tinkering and tone chasing. So of course I’m going to monkey with stuff! ;) But, in the process of doing so I truly have come to the conclusion that I can make my guitars so much better as a result. It’s happened time and time again for me. YMMV WAFH DSTM :cheers:
 
Last edited:

KS 5150

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2010
Messages
2,696
Reaction score
2,458
I have 4 Les Pauls and 3 have the stock pickups: '74 Custom (T-Tops), '87 Custom (Tim Shaws) & '13 R9 (Custombuckers). I have switched the pickups in my 2013 Trad (originals were '57 Classics). I liked those stock pickups but found a pair of Sigil Bluesman pickups that have been a great upgrade....and with double creams :thumb:
 

madhermit

Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2019
Messages
53
Reaction score
118
I dig Gibson stock pickups for the most part. In fact, I swapped Les Pauls with a guy (60s Original for 50s Original) and really missed the pickups. The guy ended up replacing his pickups, so I bought my old 61T/R set back.

So I will be replacing my stock Gibson pickups with other stock Gibson pickups.

I have never gotten along with 490 and 498 pickups though. I would swap those out pretty quickly,
 

01GT Eibach

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
1,127
Reaction score
1,909
Yes, my Les Pauls are all stock. But I did make a pickup change in my '79 SG Standard. I bought it used in 1981, and it came to me with an original Dimarzio SD in the bridge which I never thought was very well matched with the stock tar-back in the neck. So, in the early 1990s, I took the guitar to the tech for the Doobie Brothers who recommended Gibsons "new" 496R/500T pickups -- which I instantly fell in love with. It was not until many years later that I found out they are ceramic and well hated across the board by the guitaristi en masse (LOL). Regardless, those awesome 496R/500T's are very much still in my '79 SG, and I would also love to get one of those early 2000's Les Paul Classics that had the green fret-markers and came stock with 496R/500T's.

2002 Gibson Les Paul Classic w/ stock 496R/500T pickups (not my guitar unfortunately):
$_86.JPG


My 1979 SG Standard that got 496R/500Ts in the early 1990s (and they sound awesome):
hdxHfQr.jpg
 

searswashere

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2022
Messages
337
Reaction score
362
I didnt like the 498/490 til i got my 96 standard. Lowered the neck pickup and it doesnt have mud. Tweaked the amp for the presence of the bridge pickup and its bite without being ice pick. Made me understand why people leave them in lol. Also if the bridge pickup is too bright for you, roll the tone knob down to 6 (read that here i think).
 

efstop

All your base are belong to us
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 29, 2015
Messages
13,998
Reaction score
36,673
I removed the P-90s from my Tribute and installed Gibson mini humbuckers. There was nothing wrong with the P-90s, I just wanted an LP with minis.

The '07 1959 Melody Maker reissue had a goofy slug half of a Gibson humbucker for a single coil pickup. That was replaced with a Strat-sized, shiny black lipstick pickup.

Lastly, I removed the cheap, generic, humbucker from my cheap single pickup Squire Bullet. I installed a Gibson P-90 that I happened to have around...
 

ajwain

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2022
Messages
39
Reaction score
49
To me, one of the things that attracts me to a guitar is it’s sound and it’s touch response through an amp, so one of the things I’m buying into right from the get-go is the pickups an electronics.

I prefer to get to know the instrument well before I consider changing anything. One of the reasons for dissatisfaction with the sound is because the guitar is poorly set up. The pick-up height can have a massive effect on the tone, and it costs nothing to experiment.

With one notable exception, all my guitars have either the stock pickups installed or the ones fitted by the previous owner. I do spend a fair amount of time though getting the setup right.
 

rjwilson37

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2010
Messages
8,550
Reaction score
7,245
Most of the time, the Gibson Les Paul I am purchasing, I am purchasing for the Pickups, Neck profile, Color and Electronics that come on it. So I never need to change a darn thing. :dunno::naughty:
 

skydog

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2007
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
1,350
Surprised nobody mentioned the maple flame mod. The first thing I’d do to a Les Paul.
 

Christosterone

Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Messages
5,655
Reaction score
8,187
Also, friendly advice as I’ve tried most new era Gibson pups in the middle position on 3 pups…

my consensus winners are 57+ poles toward neck, 57 poles toward bridge, 496 poles toward bridge

-chris
 

ajwain

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2022
Messages
39
Reaction score
49
Yes, my Les Pauls are all stock. But I did make a pickup change in my '79 SG Standard. I bought it used in 1981, and it came to me with an original Dimarzio SD in the bridge which I never thought was very well matched with the stock tar-back in the neck. So, in the early 1990s, I took the guitar to the tech for the Doobie Brothers who recommended Gibsons "new" 496R/500T pickups -- which I instantly fell in love with. It was not until many years later that I found out they are ceramic and well hated across the board by the guitaristi en masse (LOL). Regardless, those awesome 496R/500T's are very much still in my '79 SG, and I would also love to get one of those early 2000's Les Paul Classics that had the green fret-markers and came stock with 496R/500T's.

2002 Gibson Les Paul Classic w/ stock 496R/500T pickups (not my guitar unfortunately):
$_86.JPG


My 1979 SG Standard that got 496R/500Ts in the early 1990s (and they sound awesome):
hdxHfQr.jpg
I’ve never really understood why the ceramic 496R and 500T are so unpopular on here. I guess they’re quite high output and are not quite as responsive to pick attack and dynamics… quite unsubtle really, but with a good setup, wiring harness and judicious use of the controls, they sound good to me.
They’re part of the character of the guitar, so I don’t want to change them.
 

bluesoul

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2009
Messages
857
Reaction score
2,172
I will give the stock pickups a chance. If I like them..they stay. If I don't ....they go! Normally I don't change harness and pots.
 

the1jj

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
372
Reaction score
125
I am loving all the responses. Its awesome to see everyone's different opinion here. I think some folks made some great points on "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

I am of the mindset, "If you are gonna fix it, have fun doing so. If ever in doubt, add Zebra's"

Guitars.jpg
 

Latest Threads



Top