Firebird/mini hums

musicmand

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I'm slowly building back up my guitar stable, which is something I wasn't planning to do. I like having tools that get used, and don't like just owning a bunch of things to own them.

Right now I have a Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro (57 Classic and Burstbucker 3 humbuckers, both with coil splitting), MIM Fender Stratocaster Standard (stock 1999 model that I've owned since 2003 or so - broken in really nicely), a heavily reliced Telecaster from a builder in New York (really, REALLY bright and aggressive pickups), and an Epiphone ES-339 with P-90s.

I've found really great uses for the LP, Strat, and Tele, but the 339 has just not found its own voice. It's a great axe, and is a ton of fun to play, but there's so much overlap between it and my Les Paul (which was unexpected) that I rarely find myself grabbing the 339 case for church or gigs. Since the Tele arrived, the 339 isn't even my main bedroom guitar anymore. The Les Paul and Tele both cover everything that the 339 can do (with the exception of that dark, woody jazz tone), and to my ear, they do it better.

So now to the point: There's a great Gibson 70's Tribute Firebird on Craigslist for a great price. I've been interested in this mini-humbucker guitar for a while, and I'm wondering if it might be a little more unique of a voicing compared to the other guitars I have. Has anybody been able to compare mini humbuckers, or a Firebird in particular, to a Les Paul? I've watched lots of comparison videos, but videos are often deceptive. Does anyone have hands on experience?
 

bossaddict

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To my ears, the Firebird will put you somewhere between a Les Paul and a Strat. I typically use mine in the middle position and feel like it's a tone that stands on its own. You could probably get close with one of your current guitars, but it's nice to be able to grab it and have that sound without too much tweaking. It's also quite a different feel in terms of the neck (at least on my Firebird V).
 

Guitaraxe

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That model tribute iirc, has alnico mini humbuckers that they designed as a riff on the mini's in the 70's LP Deluxe guitars.
 

MSB

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I had a '70s tribute with the minis that I regret selling. That was before I got into p90s, but I really liked them as they were different.

I still have my eyes out for one of those models in the firebird variety, worst case I swap some p90s in, win/win.

I really just want a regular firebird, but have yet to come across one with a neck substantial enough
 

musicmand

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I had a '70s tribute with the minis that I regret selling. That was before I got into p90s, but I really liked them as they were different.

I still have my eyes out for one of those models in the firebird variety, worst case I swap some p90s in, win/win.

I really just want a regular firebird, but have yet to come across one with a neck substantial enough
Glad to hear that the pickups do sound good. Some of the Youtube videos I was just watching were sort of fizzy and indistinct.

I don't know. Every time I pick up the 339 at home, I love it, but it's tough to get it to really work in a gig situation. I'm not really sure why. I still can't find a specific voice for it... Maybe I should worry about getting the guitars I have to work instead of just swapping for more... lol...
 

David Mccarroll

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If they are genuinely "Firebird" pickups they are not mini humbuckers and do not sound like mini humbuckers.

If they are mini humbuckers then your potential Firebird will not sound like a traditional Firebird.

Firebird pickup has (as I understand it) two separate Alnico bar magnets making the centre of the bobbin for each coil, whereas a mini humbucker is essentially a miniature version of a standard humbucking pickup. Vintage Firebird pickups are quite low wind and sound wonderful, later ones are wound out to something like 14K, and as you can imagine they don't sound quite the same!
 

JOC

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I recently sold a 2003 Custom Shop NR Firebird with 3 mini hums. I have the whole gamut of Gibsons, LP's, 335, 336, Johnny A. The firebird has very different but good tone. I had it about 5 years and rarely played it. It wasn't because it didn't sound good. It was the size. I think these guitars are made for 6'4" and over. It is way too big for me. Something about how the neck joins the body, kind of reminds me of a bass guitar. The other thing I didn't care for was the selector switch only allowed one pickup to be selected at a time with no option to combine the pickups. My Strats have 5 position switching that allows combining either the bridge and middle or neck and middle. I seem to always play Strats with these between settings and always wondered how the mini hums in the firebird would sound in they could be combined. The 2 volume and 2 tone knobs also struck me as odd.
My advice is to play it both sitting and standing to make sure it is comfortable for you. I find the reach to the lower frets to be a lot of work.
 

judson

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i have had 2 FB's many strats and a few LP's...the tone from a FB is just different than the others,....it is unique in a certain way that you can tell its a FB somewhat but probably could be replicated in something else if you tried

did you score the CL one?.....if not what was the price and where is it, if you dont mind :naughty:
 

zakk_attack

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I put Firebird's tone near Telecaster's one.
But I'd buy a regular Firebird, instead of the '70s tribute. It doesn't have (almost) any of the peculiar characteristics of the "real deal".
 

gball

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I put Firebird's tone near Telecaster's one.
But I'd buy a regular Firebird, instead of the '70s tribute. It doesn't have (almost) any of the peculiar characteristics of the "real deal".
Agreed completely . I think a lot of the magic of the Firebird is in the laminated neck-through design. I feel that's what gives them the spank and the crazy sustain and really makes them unique.
 

judson

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I had a '70s tribute with the minis that I regret selling. That was before I got into p90s, but I really liked them as they were different.

I still have my eyes out for one of those models in the firebird variety, worst case I swap some p90s in, win/win.

I really just want a regular firebird, but have yet to come across one with a neck substantial enough
great idea
 

ehb

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Minis are my favorite pickup. They sound great in my Lester Goldie. Not a super hot pickup which is fine with me as I do not like nuclear pickups.

That being said, a Bird is not going to sound like a Lester regardless of pickup in my opinion. I've played/heard a few Birds and none sounded like a Lester to me. Not a bad thing, just different...
 

zakk_attack

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Firebird's tone is completely different from the Les Paul's one. Really "Fenderish" imho, you can easily funk with it. From Les Paul humbuckers-equipped, at least. (never played a Deluxe).
Just replace stock ceramic minis, too hot and cold sounding.
Try some SD Antiquities, instead.
 

Kris Ford

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Here's a testimonial from someone (ME:naughty:), who actually like the modern Firebird minis..

Either mine doesn't have the pickups everyone hates, or they work well for my sound..it is a bloody RIPPER through my Marshall JMP2203, and a nasty doom machine through my '75 Orange OR120...I see NO reason to ever swap them out, ever..KILLER hard rock, classic metal tone, came with 500k pots, wired, no PCB. Neck pickup is hollow and flutey, and the sustain is ridiculous.
It's a moaner AND a screamer. I appreciate the horsepower myself.
It is EVERY bit of a Firebird V as it's older brethren to this guy, and fits right in with what I play.

There are some of us who DO NOT want ANY Gibson to sound remotely "Telecater-ish".. :naughty:
 

cherrick

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I have an '89 Firebird. I swapped out the ceramic F'bird pickups (they are NOT mini-buckers) for a pair of original, vintage authentic '64 Firebird pickups. This guitar will light your hair on fire.

And the tone is completely its own.

However, the pickups cost an arm, a leg and a small child.
 

Lucidsounds

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I recall a wise person on here suggesting dropping the height of the ceramic Firebird pups, which takes out some of the harshness and grain.

I do love the sound of the neck PU in these, though.
 

charlie chitlins

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I dropped the height, added .047 tone caps and rolled off the tone a hair.
I was very pleased with the sound.
I often play through a tweed Deluxe 5E3 or 18 watt Marshall and I liked how the FB kept some of its slice-and-dice when things got a little wooly.
 

Kris Ford

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On my JMP2203, I usually set the Firebird's tone to 8, but am glad to have that extra bite when I need it. Really gooses it in the bum!
Through the OR120, I can keep it on 10.

Again, for me, I have zero desire to ever change them out.
 

gball

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Again, for me, I have zero desire to ever change them out.
Same here. I have not had the guitar long but I love the pickups and find them to be very versatile - I didn't buy something as different as a Firebird to try to get the same kind of sounds out of it as my LP or SG, and I am really digging it. I did end up dropping the pickups down quite a bit to tame some of the rasp but I won't be changing them.
 

Kris Ford

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See the rasp is where it's at for me! :naughty:
I like this analogy..
Traditional Firebirds are this:


Modern Firebirds are this:

I like the muscle myelf.
 


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