Is it me or are Burstbuckers sounding better these days…

mptachenko

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I have a 2000 R9 and I thought the stock BB were great. The only reason I switched them out was I got a set of vintage Pre-T Pat. # pickups. Even then I put the original BB into another guitar that still sounds killer.
 

BenPerkins

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sorry but Burstbuckers are lame, they sound ok but IMO Seymour Duncan blows them away. just my opinion of course, same goes for Classic ;57;s ;)
I used to always (always) rip out stock pickups as soon as I got the guitar. Like gball, I have a ‘22 Classic with ‘61s and they sound great. I originally contemplated swapping them with a covered set of Whole Lotta Humbuckers, but figured the difference would be minute. Any tonal difference could probably be achieved through using a treble booster.
 

Steelryder

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It could be down to weight relief, rather than pickup heights. My Trad's BB 1 & 2 are +- 4/64” between string and pole on the high e-string side when pressing the string at the highest fret. Just in the process of tweaking the heights, I've found that a 1/32” difference either way can make or break the tone. On the low e-string side, I lower (or raise) the pup height so that the two e strings more of less are the same volume. You might prefer a touch louder low e-string or not. This will take a bit of close listening to get it the way you prefer. Then I make sure the other strings are not noticeably louder of softer sounding compared to the two e strings.

There is a thread on this forum's pickup page at the top that helps when setting pickup heights and (if necessary) pickup pole screws.

Classicplayer
Thanks for detailed feedback! Just what I was looking for. I may have to agree with the weight factor as I find myself naturally gravitating to those two guitars. I will do some tweaking in the next day or so and feedback my results. Thanks again! —Douglas
 

gball

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Thanks for detailed feedback! Just what I was looking for. I may have to agree with the weight factor as I find myself naturally gravitating to those two guitars. I will do some tweaking in the next day or so and feedback my results. Thanks again! —Douglas

I do feel the weight relief makes a notable difference. This argument has been going on for as long as they've been doing the relief, but now after owning a bunch (the only weight relieved one I have at the moment is the Classic) I think its a pretty big deal. One is not "better" than the other, players will definitely have their preference, but the non-relieved ones are definitely punchier and have a more pronounced midrange. The relieved ones are brighter with just a bit of scoop in the mids. These are generalizations of course, but this is based on my own experience over the years and with far too many guitars that I have sold along.

As for pickup height, I personally have no system so to speak. I just keep messin' around with them until my ears tell me they are right. Nice thing is its super easy to adjust them up and down with the edge of a pick while you are playing so I just make tiny incremental adjustments until I get them in the sweet spot. Every one of my Les Pauls has the pickups at different heights. I've also personally never found any use in moving the pole piece screws up and down, only the entire pickup - and I know a lot of people are advocates for adjusting the screws but I have never heard a difference myself, its only when the magnet goes up and down that I hear something change.
 

searswashere

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Pole pieces is the icing on the cake for fine tuning a neck pickup. Bridge pickups you dont need to adjust poles unless you want more bite that height doesnt give.
 

CyFan

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The BB1 and BB2 combo on my 50's Standard sounded crazy good! I wouldn't have changed them for anything else. The guitar, on the other hand, had to go to make room for my Wildwood Select.
 

rogue3

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Hit and miss, ime( only two examples here). 2010 R8 BB's sound just fine. Quite nice actually. A 2011 R8 with BB's i used to own, not so much. I sold it.
 

bluesoul

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I’m going through rotation and pulled out my 2020 Standard Gold Top. I’m not sure what’s going on but these damn Burstbuckers sure sound killer. Overall the guitar is amazing but I just do not remember Burstbuckers sounding this good. Maybe I just got a good set or something. Bought a set of Throback 101’s but I‘m struggling thinking about changing out the Burstbuckers. What are you guys experiencing?
It seems to me that the guitar has the final say! Sometimes a set really shines in one guitar but not another.
I remember when BB's first came out and everyone was raving about them. Then as usual the slagging begins :) .
I have had 4-5 LP's with them and always thought they were pretty damn good. Sometimes tho...we are searching for something better and better can come down to subtle differnces. In my historics I did replace them but moved a set to a 2005 standard....they really shine in that one!
 

Roshy Boy

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I love the BBs in my 2021 50s Standard. When I play it, I think they are the quintessential Les Paul pick up.
 

DBDM

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I have 1s and 2s in one Custom Shop Standard, 2's and 3's in another, and Pros in a USA shop standard. Which are my favorites depends on my mood that day. I think they all sound great. My 19 year old strongly prefers the BB Pros. I am not sure he is wrong! I think if forced to choose only one of the sets it would be the 2s and 3s but I would not put up much of a fuss if someone told me I could only have one of the sets for all my LPs for life. If I really got to pick of all the Humbuckers I have ever played, I would likely pick SD Antiquities but not by enough to buy them and swap them out.
 

jimijam33

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I think the custombuckers are Gibson's best sounding reissue PAF. They use ALNICO 3 which is a sweeter sounding magnet than ALNICO 2, or 5..
 

MyLesPaul462

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Yeah definitely compare Burstbuckers to similar P.A.F. style low-winds. No point comparing them to higher output stylings, Apples and Oranges. All SD's are waayyyy hotter output than their Gibson counterparts by the way, including their P.A.F. style offerings. Not for me. I want my baseline clean tone to be just that pristine clean with no hair.

Even when I go for my 2nd LP (for latter day tones) I'll probably go with Gibson PU, more subtle, I prefer to gain stage subtly. Instead of 16k pickups that just go "Bwahhh!!" right out the gate.
 

thefees

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BB > 57 classics > 490/498 if you gotta rate em but really theyre all great and have their own sounds. Best to have a few of each

one thing that is pretty understated is that gibson makes hands down some of the best pickups on the market.
How can I keep this short? When Guitar Center had their Les Paul special sale they took all of the top shelf LP's and brought them down to a special display on the floor. I asked my assistant manager friend which ones had which pickups on it so I could try them all and get a side by side comparison. So, they pointed them out to me. Out of them all I really loved the 490/498's and bought a new set of them right away to put on my Epi LP circa 1995 Made in Japan.
That being said, I also at another time bought an Epi LP Ultra III which I believe had the burstbuckers on it, as well as the piezo pickup, and it was clearly one of the best sounding guitars I ever heard. Unfortunately, I had to return it because where the scarf joint in the neck was under the 2nd fret, they must have assembled it wet, and when it shrunk it created a valley right in that spot, and no matter what I did when fretting it there it had fret buzz. I'd have to raise the action so high that you could put a sandwich under it :) so back it went. Also, the flame on that one was outrageous. I almost cried dropping it off.
By the way when I tried the LP pickups on the floor that day when I tried them all, I felt like the 57's had a lot more brightness, which reminded me of the Elvis Presley days, nonetheless, in a mix with a band it may be just the right blend to stand out above the splashing cymbals etc. I really love deep tubular jazz type tones in the clean settings. I have super high gain pickups in a couple of my other guitars which really make pedals come alive.
 

moreles

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I haven't picked up a new Gibson in many years. It's good to hear that players are liking current HBs as it always bugs me to read how someone can't wait for their guitar to arrive so they can drop in some Magic Pickups to replace whatever is stock. With all due respect, I really like the OP's take because they explored how the guitar sounded, rather than coming in with a list of preconceptions and probable conclusions -- like the guys who throw Throbaks in everything because, well, Throbacks, you know? I find that almost all pickups are really quite good and versatile, with the exception of the "hot" ones, which are more of a one-trick pony. My Gibsons are older guitars, and their pickups, such as the Shaws in my Les Paul/SG Custom, are generally highly-regarded today and sought-after. Maybe the PAF mythos diminishes the standing of all other Gibson pickups, which would be too bad. Of course, at Gibson prices, their PUs had darned well better be good! Glad you like yours, and that others are having a similar experience.
 

StringKing

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I’m going through rotation and pulled out my 2020 Standard Gold Top. I’m not sure what’s going on but these damn Burstbuckers sure sound killer. Overall the guitar is amazing but I just do not remember Burstbuckers sounding this good. Maybe I just got a good set or something. Bought a set of Throback 101’s but I‘m struggling thinking about changing out the Burstbuckers. What are you guys experiencing?
The CustomBuckers on my 60th Anniversary 1961 Les Paul/SG are so much better than my other four guitars with the same pickups that it’s astonishing!
I called Gibson because I couldn’t believe it had A3 magnets and yet it does
 

mjross

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The CustomBuckers on my 60th Anniversary 1961 Les Paul/SG are so much better than my other four guitars with the same pickups that it’s astonishing!
I called Gibson because I couldn’t believe it had A3 magnets and yet it does
Yeah, it’s hard to explain. It‘s a mystery, no really!
 

DaveSG

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sorry but Burstbuckers are lame, they sound ok but IMO Seymour Duncan blows them away. just my opinion of course, same goes for Classic ;57;s ;)

I've had a few Duncans - the JB, and some 59s. The 59s had a very distinct flavor, very good if you like that sort of thing. Other than that, I'll have to disagree about the BBs and especially the 57s. The 57 Classic and 57+ Classic do something with my amp that I have found no other pickup to do, not burstbuckers, nor T-tops, nor anything else - they do this thick, midrangey snarly balanced attack that I can't get from any other pickup. When I had my 2016 LP Standard Faded (equipped w/ 57s), it instantly took me back to that SG Reissue I used to own that also had 57s in it - the tone palatte was unmistakable. That LP didn't work for me (also being that it was right handed :laugh2:) but after getting a taste of that pickup, I hunted for a 57+ of the same vintage and found one, and it has not disappointed. It is in my El Cheapo, a beat up modded Epiphone LP Special II, and it blows most of my other guitars (including several Gibsons) away. Strange how life works like that sometimes.
 

rfrizz

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I hunted for a 57+ of the same vintage and found one, and it has not disappointed. It is in my El Cheapo, a beat up modded Epiphone LP Special II, and it blows most of my other guitars (including several Gibsons) away. Strange how life works like that sometimes.
I did a similar trick in my LP Special II. I bought it in '03, and put a 57 classic in the bridge. The guitar is one of those rare, cheap instruments which actually play well.

A friend of mine said it was a bad move "because you can't get your money back out when you sell it." Uh, OK. The guitar cost ~$150 new, and the 57 pup was ~$100. The guitar already played well, and with the good pup, it sounded as good as a $1000 guitar. (In mid-'00s dollars.)

I still have the guitar.
 

rfrizz

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I’m going through rotation and pulled out my 2020 Standard Gold Top. I’m not sure what’s going on but these damn Burstbuckers sure sound killer. Overall the guitar is amazing but I just do not remember Burstbuckers sounding this good. Maybe I just got a good set or something. Bought a set of Throback 101’s but I‘m struggling thinking about changing out the Burstbuckers. What are you guys experiencing?
I have a 2018 Gibson Flying V with a BB2 in the neck, and a BB3 in the bridge. Through either my Epiphone jr or Monoprice/Stage Right* amp, it has sort of a Cream/LZ I/LZ II tone to it.


* $280 15W tube amp
Monoprice 611815 15Watt, 1 x 12 Guitar Combo Tube Amplifier with Celestion Speaker & Spring Reverb
 

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