In defense of the "humble" SD '59

Les Paulverizer

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I have to admit that, as my gear pays my bills, I own all top quality stuff (a 20 yrs. old The Heritage H150, a Custom Shop 1058 Reissue, and other guitars of similar quality) however few weeks ago I had the chance to purchase a black 2nd hand "Made in China" Epiphone Les Paul Custom; nothing outstanding but I thought "why not...?"
The guy I bought it from had the original pickups replaced with a Seymour Duncan "59 neck and a JB at the bridge, which is one of the most common combinations, and for a reason: it works.
Acoustically it sounded ok and the neck is very easy to play (it's very hard to find something truly awful these days, even among the cheapest stuff) however overall it's quite a "bassy/lower mid range" sounding guitar and plugged in I just couldn't manage to make it sound decent, it just sounded over compressed and like someone had thrown a blanket over the amp(!) hence I was about to get rid of it, probably even for more than what I paid for, but.....I just couldn't get out of my head the thought that the power of the JB was actually holding the guitar back for sounding acceptable and my brian kept saying "SD '59...SD '59...SD '59..."
So earlier today I fitted a Seymour Duncan '59 Bridge and the guitar just came to life!
I'm having so much fun playing it, the right overtones and stuff, it's unreal and I'm so glad I haven't sold it.
Few weeks ago, along with other guitars of course, I took it along to a session where, unbelievably, the producer loved the sound of that guitar(?) but only because A) he couldn't care less what the guitar was and how much I had paid for it! B) that particular sound fitted that particular part, however now it's just a great guitar which not only cost me close to nothing but which makes me very happy; I know I'll be using it soon in all sorts of situations and I can't wait for people to say "what?????? an Epiphone???????"
The morale of the story is that it really varies from guitar to guitar, which pickup is fitted to which guitar: a pair of OX4 's has taken my Gibson '58 Reissue to a completely different level(!), while a Seymour Duncan '59, probably the cheapest pickup in their range, has turned a cheap Epiphone into a more than usable and playable guitar; maybe on another guitar it wouldn't have had the same effect...
 

mdubya

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I think the JB tends to make guitars sound dead.

I didn't like the '59 that I had, but the demos I hear always sound good.

I had a Dimarzio AT, basically their version of a JB. I tended to run it with the volume only on 5 or 6. I guess it works for some people, but not for me. I had a V with a JB and a '59 neck, too. It was the same. The '59 neck was fine, but I didn't use the neck pickup in those days! :p The JB bridge was just dull with zero dynamics.
 

CB91710

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My go-to for guitars intended for a harder classic rock style has been the JB/59 combo since the 90s. I ran that in my Korean Epi LP, and used it in my '14 Epi SG.
I've installed that pair for a few friends as well.
My Sheraton-II got the 59 bridge and ANP-II neck... and likewise, that pair was installed in 335-type bodies for a few friends (ya, wiring those bodies sucks)

I picked up a Solo Spalted Maple LP kit a couple of years ago... if I ever get around to building it, I have a JB/Jazz combo for it.
 

ARandall

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Everyone and every guitar is different.
I have had the ideal pickup in 1 guitar be mag swapped 490R's - that handwound boutiques have come out of.

But 59's are 1 pickup I have consistently not liked in any guitar they have been in. For whatever reason we just don't get along.
 

Zoobiedood

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The 59 is a remarkable pickup for the most diverse styles and gain ranges. If you play a lot of different stuff, it is always the one I recommend. It is dynamic, chunky in the bass, but with wide open mids. It also works in hollowbodies as well as solids.
 

JohnnyN

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Congrats on a fair priced,and great combination :)
I never understood the JB's popularity. If in need of a higher output pickup the Custom (and it's variations) is a far better pickup, in my opinion.
 

CB91710

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Congrats on a fair priced,and great combination :)
I never understood the JB's popularity. If in need of a higher output pickup the Custom (and it's variations) is a far better pickup, in my opinion.
So we won't talk about the pair of Invaders I have in my Kramer "V" :dude:
 

brianbzed

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I have to admit that, as my gear pays my bills, I own all top quality stuff (a 20 yrs. old The Heritage H150, a Custom Shop 1058 Reissue, and other guitars of similar quality) however few weeks ago I had the chance to purchase a black 2nd hand "Made in China" Epiphone Les Paul Custom; nothing outstanding but I thought "why not...?"
The guy I bought it from had the original pickups replaced with a Seymour Duncan "59 neck and a JB at the bridge, which is one of the most common combinations, and for a reason: it works.
Acoustically it sounded ok and the neck is very easy to play (it's very hard to find something truly awful these days, even among the cheapest stuff) however overall it's quite a "bassy/lower mid range" sounding guitar and plugged in I just couldn't manage to make it sound decent, it just sounded over compressed and like someone had thrown a blanket over the amp(!) hence I was about to get rid of it, probably even for more than what I paid for, but.....I just couldn't get out of my head the thought that the power of the JB was actually holding the guitar back for sounding acceptable and my brian kept saying "SD '59...SD '59...SD '59..."
So earlier today I fitted a Seymour Duncan '59 Bridge and the guitar just came to life!
I'm having so much fun playing it, the right overtones and stuff, it's unreal and I'm so glad I haven't sold it.
Few weeks ago, along with other guitars of course, I took it along to a session where, unbelievably, the producer loved the sound of that guitar(?) but only because A) he couldn't care less what the guitar was and how much I had paid for it! B) that particular sound fitted that particular part, however now it's just a great guitar which not only cost me close to nothing but which makes me very happy; I know I'll be using it soon in all sorts of situations and I can't wait for people to say "what?????? an Epiphone???????"
The morale of the story is that it really varies from guitar to guitar, which pickup is fitted to which guitar: a pair of OX4 's has taken my Gibson '58 Reissue to a completely different level(!), while a Seymour Duncan '59, probably the cheapest pickup in their range, has turned a cheap Epiphone into a more than usable and playable guitar; maybe on another guitar it wouldn't have had the same effect...
Glad you found a workable combination! I fully agree, a SD '59 is a good, bang for the buck PAF-style choice. I like a bit more output....my best sounding "rock" Les Paul has an 80's JB bridge and Shaw neck....FWIW.
 

LtKojak

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Modded '59 sets' been the most successful overall, covering from high-end custom-made instruments to humble pawnshop Epis in my over fifteen years as a moonlighting Guitar tech.

I currently use an A3n/A2b-modded, nickel-covered '59 set with my ES-339, which is my main axe for my Smooth Jazz project.

Just sayin'... ;)
 
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Les Paulverizer

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Glad you found a workable combination! I fully agree, a SD '59 is a good, bang for the buck PAF-style choice. I like a bit more output....my best sounding "rock" Les Paul has an 80's JB bridge and Shaw neck....FWIW.
As I said before it varies from guitar to guitar: I did have a JB in a Gibson Les Paul few years ago that made that guitar sound killer, however the JB made this particular guitar, an humble Epiphone, sound dull...
The same thing happened with a set of Seymour Duncan Antiquities: in one Les Paul they sounded harsh whereas when I fitted them to another Les Paul they sounded absolutely glorious!
This has taught me that yes, one can read reviews and specs and get a general idea of a product, however the ultimate test is when you hear that pickup in your guitar, and it can be go either way, that's why the natural unamplified acoustic sound of a guitar is so important.
 

brianbzed

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As I said before it varies from guitar to guitar: I did have a JB in a Gibson Les Paul few years ago that made that guitar sound killer, however the JB made this particular guitar, an humble Epiphone, sound dull...
The same thing happened with a set of Seymour Duncan Antiquities: in one Les Paul they sounded harsh whereas when I fitted them to another Les Paul they sounded absolutely glorious!
This has taught me that yes, one can read reviews and specs and get a general idea of a product, however the ultimate test is when you hear that pickup in your guitar, and it can be go either way, that's why the natural unamplified acoustic sound of a guitar is so important.
Truer words were never spoken!
 

ezra1

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I didn't care for Seth Lovers, but liked the 59s and JB. But not in the same guitar.
 

David Garner

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One of the best tones I’ve ever heard was a guy with a 61 Reissue SG going through a Fulldrive 2 into a Twin Reverb. When I asked him what pickups were in it, he said “Duncan 59s.”

Lesson learned. In large part due to that lesson, I have gone back and forth a bit, but I’ve settled on the stock pickups for my 93 Standard (490r/498t, modded only with UOA5 magnets and removed covers), and they are working well after a long struggle back and forth with them.

I have Duncan Custom Shop Pearly Gates in the other one now (they were in this one), and I’m still debating whether to leave them or put the Antiquities that were in there back in.

All of that to say this. One day I will get an SG. And if I don’t like the stock pickups, I fully intend to get a set of 59s. Seymour Duncan knows how to wind pickups, and cheaper is often better (witness the stock pickups in my 93).
 

freefrog

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Yes, humble mass produced Duncan's can be "the" solution as well as boutique PU's and that's why I use Duncan's since the early 80's. :)

Now, personally, I'd not talk about "the" 59: I've took apart SH1's ffrom different eras and what I've found suggests that Duncan 59's have periodically changed since the first Seymourized SH1's 40 years ago. Early and modern ones are clearly different, at least.

FWIW (my humble 2 cents).
 

mdubya

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Now, personally, I'd not talk about "the" 59: I've took apart SH1's ffrom different eras and what I've found suggests that Duncan 59's have periodically changed since the first Seymourized SH1's 40 years ago. Early and modern ones are clearly different, at least.
Agree.
 

LtKojak

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Well, the ones from late '70s seem to have a higher tonal quality than nowadays', although the newer ones are more than decent, specially modded with any alnico magnet but the stock one.
 

red_bull

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JB/Jazz doesnt do it for me either...very flat sounding. The antiquity version of that pair is outrageous and does deliver the goods of a 70's rock machine, but it's a squeal machine and hard to tame the feedback. I agree 59' is better.
 

Gtarzan81

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I once swapped a JB for a Whole Lotta Humbucker and it was a big improvement.
 

BKS

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I have 2 guitars with the JB jazz combo and they both sound great. One is my Fernandes apg 100 the other an old Jackson RR5 (came stock with the set)
I have a studio with '59 bridge but don't really like it in there, might try the combo JB bridge with '59 bridge in neck position. Just my only other JB is now combined with 2 sds1.... For my partscaster.
 


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