MHS pickups review.

trapland

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I’m not going to say Gibson pickups are good or bad because people like what they like. There does seem to be little review of these even though they have been out at least 5 years.

I’m just going to say that of all the Gibson Humbuckers I’ve tried, they are way way in last place for what I’m going for.

Gibson Humbuckers that I currently either have in guitars or on my shelf that I LIKE a lot include;
Custom Buckers - 4 sets
Burst buckers - I have 1,2,3 and pros.
57 Classics - have early and recent.
T-Tops - just 3
P490s - 2 sets
490R -2 ea
490T -2
498T - 1

Now here’s the guitars I own or recently owned with MHS;
63 Es-335
59 Es-335
59 Es-175
Es-les paul
A custom shop Es-339

As you can see, my review isn’t based on a single guitar example. I also find they exact results playing guitars in stores.

To my ears, compared with all the others listed, the MHS pickups consistently are much bassinet, bookies, with very little upper midrange, yet lots of string noise. I know a couple guys that love them, and they pretty much play cleaner jazz styles with the treble rolled off. If you like Clapton’s woman tone, you’ll like them.

Other thoughts, the MHS pickups seem more dynamic to me. Of you play lightly, they change tone a fair amount and are much quieter. If y0u dig in they get MUCH louder. I like to play with dynamics, but like the guitar to help out a little more. These are the only Gibson pickups I’ve owned with such a pronounced dynamic range. To me the harder I play the louder AND darker they sound. No it’s not my amps, I have many amps and don’t use dirt boxes and it’s always the same.

Regarding the string noise, these MHS pickups seem to increase all the incidental sounds, like touching the guitar body and neck, string noise, pick touch, etc. For light touched playing it sounds nice but requires much more care.

Im curious about all your thoughts as compared to other Gibson humbuckers.
 

mdubya

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Very interesting review.

I have MHS buckers in an ES LP and a '59 RI 335.

I like them in both guitars.

IMHO, they have an interesting mix of warm tones with a treble that cuts through on the top end without being icepick-y, especially when digging in. They compare to the Wolfetone Marshallheads I have tried in an LP Replica. The Wolfetones are sweet and transparent and open. Sweeter and more open than the MHS, imho.

I am a 57 Classics fan and a P-90 fan. I have a single Burstbucker 2 in one guitar. I have no problem going back and forth between guitars and pickups and I have no plans on replacing the MHS buckers. I quite like them in the ES LP and the 335 RI.
 

trapland

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Very interesting review.

I have MHS buckers in an ES LP and a '59 RI 335.

I like them in both guitars.

IMHO, they have an interesting mix of warm tones with a treble that cuts through on the top end without being icepick-y, especially when digging in. They compare to the Wolfetone Marshallheads I have tried in an LP Replica. The Wolfetones are sweet and transparent and open. Sweeter and more open than the MHS, imho.

I am a 57 Classics fan and a P-90 fan. I have a single Burstbucker 2 in one guitar. I have no problem going back and forth between guitars and pickups and I have no plans on replacing the MHS buckers. I quite like them in the ES LP and the 335 RI.
Yours is interesting too. I can’t disagree with anything you said. Except for me I DO have trouble going back and forth. They sound so different from any of the other I listed that I would almost have to have a dedicated amp for just MHS guitars. The frequencies I miss on the MHS pickups are those upper mids that many guys say are harsh or ice picky...that’s what I like to drive an amp with.

On the other hand, if I was playing clean the MHS fills more space EQ-wise and I like that. Well at least the neck pickup does, the bridge pickup is very nasal on all of the MHS guitars I have. They are a very different animal. I almost think the bridge MHS sounds more like a vintage tele bridge than like a Humbucker.

I just tried an interesting experiment. I used 3 MHS guitars and 3 “others” (custom Buckers, BBs, 57 classics and t-tops). Although every guitar sounds different, all the “others” had at least some similar character and all the MHS had similar character. But the experiment was about compression. The MHS guitars had more dynamic volume range than the “others”. This is just an illustration, not scale or science, but let’s say;

Picking force range of light to hard gives loudness of 1 to 10 with the MHS while the “others” a picking force range from light to hard gives loudness from 4 to 8. It’s almost like all the others are more compressed. Many players will love this. I prefer a little more help when I play, especially since I don’t play high gain.
 

jlee

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I swapped the magnets in my MHS for Throbak A5s. They still aren’t quite as complex sounding as my Rewinds, Throbaks or OX4s, but I still like them quite a bit.

I like them considerably more than BB1 & 2 and ‘57 Classics.
 

mdubya

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Once dialed in, the MHS neck pickups really approach that elusive "extra fat bridge" tone territory. Where it doesn't sound like a modern neck pickup at all. Think Kossoff lead tone.

I thought about changing out the A3 magnet in the neck pickups, but have since decided I really like what I hear with these.

Indeed, I do have to be careful when dialing in amps (let's be frank, I use an AX8 modeler 99% of the time, but have played my MHS equipped guitars through my Champ and my 2204, plenty) with the MHS buckers, because I will drag the settings too far away from what is good for the 57's and P-90's. My one wild card guitar (NR CS Firebird) has a DiMarzio AT in the bridge (I hate it) and has the BB2 in the neck. It doesn't fit in with the others. Amp settings are way off the mark for this one, vs dialed in for the MHS buckers.
 

trapland

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@mdubya Once again Your experience seems like mine. Even though I’ve not learned to like any of my MHS pickups, at least we all seem to be hearing the same thing...and from there it’s just a matter of taste.

Hopefully all our thoughts about MHS will help someone else in the future.

I swapped the magnets in my MHS for Throbak A5s. They still aren’t quite as complex sounding as my Rewinds, Throbaks or OX4s, but I still like them quite a bit.

I like them considerably more than BB1 & 2 and ‘57 Classics.
What change did you hear withthe A5s? And how do you compare them NOW to the bb1,2 and 57s?
 

morbidalex666

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To my ears, compared with all the others listed, the MHS pickups consistently are much bassinet, bookies, with very little upper midrange, yet lots of string noise. I know a couple guys that love them, and they pretty much play cleaner jazz styles with the treble rolled off. If you like Clapton’s woman tone, you’ll like them.

Other thoughts, the MHS pickups seem more dynamic to me. Of you play lightly, they change tone a fair amount and are much quieter. If y0u dig in they get MUCH louder. I like to play with dynamics, but like the guitar to help out a little more. These are the only Gibson pickups I’ve owned with such a pronounced dynamic range. To me the harder I play the louder AND darker they sound. No it’s not my amps, I have many amps and don’t use dirt boxes and it’s always the same.

Regarding the string noise, these MHS pickups seem to increase all the incidental sounds, like touching the guitar body and neck, string noise, pick touch, etc. For light touched playing it sounds nice but requires much more care.
IMO, the differnces that you describe have to be more a result of the semihollow or hollow construction and less a result of the pickups themselves.
 

mdubya

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@mdubya Once again Your experience seems like mine. Even though I’ve not learned to like any of my MHS pickups, at least we all seem to be hearing the same thing...and from there it’s just a matter of taste.

Hopefully all our thoughts about MHS will help someone else in the future.

I agree. I thought most of your description sounded very positive. :thumb:
 

jlee

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@mdubya


What change did you hear withthe A5s? And how do you compare them NOW to the bb1,2 and 57s?
More punch, a bit more output and tighter lows with a bit more highs, but no icepick. Thickened up the bridge a bit and it drives the amp a bit harder. Not as much as my Love Rocks or SG, but I was just looking for a touch more power and not a steamroller.

Neck pickup especially benefited. The neck was a bit too loose in the lows and I wanted a little more push and definition as well. Probably could have spent more time adjusting the heights, but I felt the attack and definition was not there with the A3. A5s instantly gave me what I was looking for.

I think I used a short oriented A5 in the neck and a long unoriented Illinois in the bridge, both Throbak.

They’re smoother than the BB1 & 2. Not as hot sounding and not nearly as hollow in the neck position.

It’s been soooo long since I’ve used 57 Classics, but I could never get the mud out of the neck pickup. These were all in different guitars...so take everything I’ve said with a grain of salt. Never had all 3 pickups in the same guitar.
 
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trapland

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IMO, the differnces that you describe have to be more a result of the semihollow or hollow construction and less a result of the pickups themselves.
I agee guitar consrtuction can have a huge effect on tone. In this case I’ve already accounted for that and still my description stands.

IvE tried BB, 57 classic and Custombuckers in my 335s and they all sound like whoa the pickups sound sound like with just a touch of wood hollowness. The basic EQ curve is as expected for the pickup type. I’ve also tried the MHS pickups in a les Paul and I think they sound the same, bassy to the point of a distracting rumble even with bass control on amps tuned off. lacking mids and upper mids, yet sparkle in top.

I am not saying these are bad pickups. They don’t suit my tone. For the guy playing drop C in a bedroom, or the jazz player that always bass comps himself, these are probobly great pickups to match the guitar.

For funk/rock/punk/bebop/swingthey have all the boxy you could ask but still way to much bass. Again, just my prefs. I’ll start with the tightest lows best upper mids in the neck, probably a 57 Classic. Then I’ll either match a 57 or a BB23 in the bridge. That elusive middle position chirp ala JPP at MSG is absolutely necessary .


I should try a mini in the neck. I need more spank.
 

trapland

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IMO, the differnces that you describe have to be more a result of the semihollow or hollow construction and less a result of the pickups themselves.
No. There are tonal differences from a thin line to a solid,but that’s not what I’m describing.
 

PierM

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I'm one of those that loves the MHS. Very soft/mellow voice, nice headroom. They sounds great if you have a soft touch and don't use to much the picker, since they have a very snappy attack, with lot of bass rumble, and a strong picking style does really smash the notes. They sounds "compressed" for rock imho. Not their territory. It's not a pup that you can hit with an hammer, like a 490/498/BBs etc. I'd like to try those MHS on a full body Les Paul. Curious to see how they would work without the semihollow contribute. I think we can say that they are not versatile like those other in the list and maybe this is because you don't like them much, but this is also part of the semihollow limits.

BTW, apart CBs and BBs in that list, I usually like them all.
:cheers2:
 


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