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View Full Version : Best Gibson Firebird replacement pickups sounding closest to the 1960's originals


echo unit
06-22-2010, 11:17 AM
Here are the people make Firebird repalcement pickups:

Curtis Novak

Chris Klein

Jason Lollar

Dimarzio DP168/198 mini humbucker

Seymour Duncan Antiquities

echo unit
06-22-2010, 06:45 PM
Bump for more replies!

sleepingtiger
06-23-2010, 02:39 AM
I like Duncan's SM-1s.

Tony

echo unit
06-23-2010, 07:47 PM
I like Duncan's SM-1s.

Tony

Are they better than the Duncan Antiquities?


I hear they are brittle ......is this true

compared to others of course

sleepingtiger
06-23-2010, 10:30 PM
I don't find them brittle, compared to the Dimarzios, but can't really speak for the others.

Tony

echo unit
06-26-2010, 10:05 PM
People sure are playing favorites with Lollar. Many say that though Lollar pickups sound clear and even, they also don't sound very interesting and have any of the character that people love in pickups.

Rumblefish
06-27-2010, 02:38 AM
Ahem! Once again a post about Firebirds without designating reverse or non reverse?That would change the discussion a bit.Are we talking mini hums or p 90's?
The antiquity mini hums sound just like Johnny Winter or Kal David.Haven't tried Lollar or the others.Don't feel the need with the Antiquities.

echo unit
06-27-2010, 08:52 PM
I am talking about a 2009 Firebird V that I am looking for replacement pickups for.

I want organic singing natural tone with lots of character and harmonic overtones that sing.

This would be like the original Firebird V pickups from the early 1960's from what my research tells me.

I think I might give Curtis Novak and Chris Klein a shot.

The Lollars are supposed to be an "improved" version of the Firebird pickup and cleaner with less of the Gibson warts that give the vintage pickups that unique character.

The antiquities might be good but I am not really interested in putting pickups that look beaten to death on an otherwise new looking instrument!

mc5nrg
06-27-2010, 08:56 PM
This sort of begs the question-what do 60s Firebird minihums sound like- they can vary.

dougk
06-28-2010, 12:04 AM
Didn't we cover this?

http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=734916

echo unit
06-28-2010, 10:10 AM
2009 Firebird V is the guitar I am looking for replacement pickups for.

I want organic singing natural tone with lots of character and harmonic overtones that sing.

Apparently the neck pickup in the original Firebird V from the 1960's have this quality.

echo unit
07-12-2010, 09:44 PM
bump

HEY!YOU!
07-12-2010, 11:22 PM
[QUOTE=echo unit;8587307

Apparently the neck pickup in the original Firebird V from the 1960's have this quality.[/QUOTE]

My Lollar has this quality.
It's the shit.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v520/bh2285/IMG_2449-1.jpg

paul1122
07-14-2010, 10:29 AM
I use a Lollar mini in my Tele. Outrageous

TravisE
07-14-2010, 10:52 AM
Part of the problem is that you're not asking who has had experience with original Firebirds. They are one of my favorite guitars and seriously underrated, IMO. That said, if someone only has experience with recent or reissued 'birds, you're not gonna get a really valid answer. They're really not the same pickup at all. Original firebird pickups are the bees knees and I have yet to try anything that sounds the same. They're a wonderful marriage of tele (bridge), strat (neck), and humbucker. Much like a domesticated jungle cat, they can be ultra sweet but always have the ability to eat your face at any moment! :D

echo unit
07-14-2010, 12:57 PM
Part of the problem is that you're not asking who has had experience with original Firebirds. They are one of my favorite guitars and seriously underrated, IMO. That said, if someone only has experience with recent or reissued 'birds, you're not gonna get a really valid answer. They're really not the same pickup at all. Original firebird pickups are the bees knees and I have yet to try anything that sounds the same. They're a wonderful marriage of tele (bridge), strat (neck), and humbucker. Much like a domesticated jungle cat, they can be ultra sweet but always have the ability to eat your face at any moment! :D

It looks like the closest thing to the original pickups is what these two guys are offereing:

Curtis Novak

Chris Klein


I have not heard their pickups but they are doing the "made to original spec" approach.

I wonder how the Novak and Klein Firebird pickup offerings compare to the Lollar.

The Lollar pickups may sound great to many who have not tried what Novak and Klein are offering which is supposedly closer to the originals than Lollar's.

Lollar says himself that his pickup designs take off from where originals left off and that he has aimed to "improve" the sound of original vintage pickups with wider frequency response and more even sound accross the strings.

I wonder if doing this loses some of the MOJO of the vintage pickup?

I mean, electric guitars are meant to live in the midrange. They are a midrange voiced instrument. Vintage pickups tend to voice the guitar more in the midrange. More modern desings may open up higher and lower frequencies, making the guitar take up a much larger amount of sonic space but in the context of a band and recording, this is not a good thing.

You want the guitar to live in the mids.


On the other hand, so many people go on about Lollar's firebird pickups that I really do need to hear them.

dougk
07-14-2010, 01:33 PM
MY god man, just buy a set. Any of those guys, if you don't like them just buy the next set and sell what you have they'll retain most of their value even in used form.

Seriously, we can all give you opinions till were blue in the face but in the long run its YOUR guitar, YOUR ears, YOUR hands, YOUR amp and YOUR hopes, dreams and desires. Thats the only way you're going to know for sure.

At this point it feels like were making mountains out of mole hills.

echo unit
07-14-2010, 08:15 PM
MY god man, just buy a set. Any of those guys, if you don't like them just buy the next set and sell what you have they'll retain most of their value even in used form.

Seriously, we can all give you opinions till were blue in the face but in the long run its YOUR guitar, YOUR ears, YOUR hands, YOUR amp and YOUR hopes, dreams and desires. Thats the only way you're going to know for sure.

At this point it feels like were making mountains out of mole hills.


Just figured I would exhaust all posibilities with words before I plunk down the cash.


I'm going to try the Lollars, the Novaks and the Kleins. If those don't do it for me then I am going to try the Seymour Duncan Antiquities and if those don't do it for me then I am going to sell the Firebird and buy a motor scooter.

GrungeMan
07-14-2010, 08:20 PM
Just figured I would exhaust all posibilities with words before I plunk down the cash.


I'm going to try the Lollars, the Novaks and the Kleins. If those don't do it for me then I am going to try the Seymour Duncan Antiquities and if those don't do it for me then I am going to sell the Firebird and buy a motor scooter.

ah which model scooter?

Grungy :rotflmao

EADGBE
07-15-2010, 04:26 AM
If they fit I'm thinking either DiMarzio or Duncan. They both make great pickups.

echo unit
07-15-2010, 08:42 AM
If they fit I'm thinking either DiMarzio or Duncan. They both make great pickups.

I haven't tried the Antiquity series pickups but all the other Duncans and Dimarzios I've tried were rather sterile sounding.

mad dog
07-15-2010, 10:42 AM
I now have a frame of reference for this discussion. A buddy brought over his '64 Firebird V a few weeks ago. Spent hours listening and playing it throught he Gibson GA40 and the Sewell Wampus Cat.

Bottom line, these p/us seem to be in a separate category all their own. Don't sound at all like regular hums, not all that much like other vintage mini HB pickups I've heard. They are somewhere squarely between the best tele single coil sound and a somewhat hotter PAF, old style vintage HB tone. With a unique hint of out of phase in certain positions (even though these were not wired out of phase.)

They sounded so effing perfect, it has kept me awake nights. If any of these modern winders can do anything like that, I'm in. The only pickups I know that are anything like this are the older Guild Humbuckers. Reminiscent only in the way they suggest tele single coil at times.

The Firebird itself was a trip. I have long arms and thank god. It's like playing a surfboard, watching your left hand from afar.
MD

Birdy
07-15-2010, 12:02 PM
Lollar's wired 50s style in my '96 Firebird V.
Can't say enough about 'em.
Phone or e-mail Jason....he's a cool, knowledgeable guy.

RocksOff
07-15-2010, 01:29 PM
Yeah. The Novaks seem pretty spot on. The Lollars are a bit wider in the frequency response when played by themselves, but in a mix they sound pretty much the same. Its cool when the guitar goes into a passage by itself or intros the song. They seem more authoritative. When the rest of the band kicks in, it's just old school FBird goodness. I wouldn't play a 'Bird without Lollars.

paulg
07-15-2010, 02:15 PM
Two things critical to the discussion and your search:
1) Mini HB's and Firebird pickups are very different. The FB's have a bar magnet inside the coils. The Mini's have pole pieces like it's big brother. Both styles can sound great, but you really can't compare the two.
2) the original FB's weren't potted. They are typically very microphonic. Some say this gives you more harmonic content and presence. I agree, but it is at a cost. Noise and feedback.

Not sure about some of the manufacturers listed, but I think the Antiquities follow the original recipe.

GuitarTone
07-15-2010, 02:31 PM
Just a question.

Is the bridge pickup supposed to be so much higher than the neck pup on the Firebirds?

Just got some in, I think they're awesome.

http://img338.imageshack.us/img338/6594/firebirdvintagesunburst.jpg

Jahn
07-15-2010, 02:41 PM
I now have a frame of reference for this discussion. A buddy brought over his '64 Firebird V a few weeks ago. Spent hours listening and playing it throught he Gibson GA40 and the Sewell Wampus Cat.

Bottom line, these p/us seem to be in a separate category all their own. Don't sound at all like regular hums, not all that much like other vintage mini HB pickups I've heard. They are somewhere squarely between the best tele single coil sound and a somewhat hotter PAF, old style vintage HB tone. With a unique hint of out of phase in certain positions (even though these were not wired out of phase.)

They sounded so effing perfect, it has kept me awake nights. If any of these modern winders can do anything like that, I'm in. The only pickups I know that are anything like this are the older Guild Humbuckers. Reminiscent only in the way they suggest tele single coil at times.

The Firebird itself was a trip. I have long arms and thank god. It's like playing a surfboard, watching your left hand from afar.
MD

Yep, this is the only reason why I haven't jumped back into getting a Guild Starfire from the 60's again, since I miss that mini HB-1 humbucker tone pretty badly. My Bowery Tele has a genuine '63 Firebird pickup in the neck and it holds court with the Area T in the bridge. Perfect balance of that snarl with beef when pushed, and cleans up with bite but not as cheapo-garagey as the mini HB-1. Here's my old SFII and my current Bowery Tele (closeups for the pickups):

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v449/jahn0603/Starfire%20II%20Special/Picture003.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v449/jahn0603/Bowery%20Tele/pics013.jpg

bazooka47
07-15-2010, 04:20 PM
I cannot answer most of your questions, as I 1( do not have access to an original Firebird, and 2) haven't tried Kleins, SD, or Novaks.

I will say that I have a BUNCH of other pickups from Novak (Jazzmaster, Filtertron, WR Humbucker), and have yet to be disappointed.

For my Firebird (1990 Reverse FB V Reissue), however, I had the same concerns as you, and after doing my internet 'research', opted for the Lollars. To place my opinion in context, I am using the FB for relatively loud Southern Rock, Classic Rock and Blues cover band, through a blackface Bassman with a few pedals in between. The FB is the only electric I take to our shows. The Lollars can do it all. Whether or not they nail vintage FB tone, I have no idea.

Hope this helps.

dougk
07-15-2010, 08:25 PM
Here's my old SFII and my current Bowery Tele (closeups for the pickups):

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v449/jahn0603/Starfire%20II%20Special/Picture003.jpg

Jahn, if you still had that Guild I'd trade you any guitar (or combo there of) I own in a heartbeat for it. My bandmate has that exact same guitar and every freaking time we go play together I want to steal it.

One of my absolute favorite guitars on the planet... those guild mini's are GREAT sounding.

mad dog
07-15-2010, 08:35 PM
Jahn:

That telly is sweet! I can only imagine how good that FB pickup sounds in there. Damn, it's raging GAS time! BTW, the Guild HBs I have are early 70s. The larger ones. Quite remarkable tones. My beat old S-90 really kicks up loud with open E and the slide.
MD

echo unit
07-16-2010, 07:22 AM
I guess I'll have to try all of them and decide which I like best

treedroppings
10-04-2012, 09:27 PM
You can get zhangbucker firebirds now, too . www.zhangbucker.com/index.html Roll down to the middle of the link to see the Firebird pickup.
The guy's real name is David Plummer.


I think on his Pure Handwounds Cost would be $170 + $6 Paypal and $6 USA shipping.

His regular firebird pups :

$100 plus $4 Paypal and $6 shipping.

Don't quote me on the price, though.

gmann
10-05-2012, 03:19 AM
This sort of begs the question-what do 60s Firebird minihums sound like- they can vary.

As can all pickups. I had a Lollar in an FB1 and it sounded great. I've also used Antiquities and they sounded great as well. Both sounded tons better than stock Gibson pups.

johnfv
10-05-2012, 05:11 AM
I did own an original Firebird I for about 15 years so am pretty familiar with the original pickups. I just put a Lollar in the neck of my '08 Firebird V and it sounds fantastic, much more of the smooth top end and articulation of the originals. I thought I might like the hot mids of the stock bridge as a contrast to the Lollar neck but the neck sounds so much better I will be buying the Lollar bridge soon. That said, I have not tried any of the other options mentioned here, only original Gibson pickups, the "reissue" Gibson pickups and the Lollars. I've been so impressed with other Lollar pickups the choice was a no brainer for me...

DGDGBD
10-05-2012, 07:50 AM
I've played a gibson SG with the minihums swapped out for SD antiquities FB pickups. Played mostly with the bridge pickup and it sounded a lot like a single coil tele bridge pickup - but stronger, more balls.

Keyser Soze
10-05-2012, 08:19 AM
Just a question.

Is the bridge pickup supposed to be so much higher than the neck pup on the Firebirds?

Just got some in, I think they're awesome.

http://img338.imageshack.us/img338/6594/firebirdvintagesunburst.jpg

Two things.

1. On most any guitar, to get balanced response the treble pickup will need to be closer to the strings. A vibrating string has the most deflection closer it's middle, and pickup output is all relative to the magnitude of that deflection.)

2. The neck is angled relative to the body, so even if both pickups were set at the same height relative to the strings the treble pickup would still protrude further from the body.

mark norwine
10-05-2012, 08:57 AM
Y'all realize that this is a >2 year old thread, right?

And that the OP hasn't logged on to TGP in over a year....

cherrick
10-05-2012, 10:40 AM
Here are the people make Firebird repalcement pickups:

Curtis Novak

Chris Klein

Jason Lollar

Dimarzio DP168/198 mini humbucker

Seymour Duncan Antiquities

Left some out:
David Plummer of http://www.zhangbucker.com

rummy
10-05-2012, 10:51 AM
Lindy Fralin.

sleepingtiger
10-05-2012, 11:30 AM
Duncan SM-1s

Tony

Whiskeyrebel
10-05-2012, 11:52 AM
I've played a gibson SG with the minihums swapped out for SD antiquities FB pickups. Played mostly with the bridge pickup and it sounded a lot like a single coil tele bridge pickup - but stronger, more balls.
Did you have a chance to play it with the stock pickups as well? If you did, are there any similarities, and what are the differences?

johnfv
10-05-2012, 12:47 PM
Y'all realize that this is a >2 year old thread, right?

And that the OP hasn't logged on to TGP in over a year....

DOH! nope, I just saw the thread pop up and happened to have just put a Lollar in mine.

DGDGBD
10-05-2012, 03:16 PM
Did you have a chance to play it with the stock pickups as well? If you did, are there any similarities, and what are the differences?
yes, I played it a few times with the stock mini hums as well. Not as bright as the SD antiquity FB pickups. They are a little stiffer and more focused than standard humbuckers. The neck minihum pickup sounded a little muddy, but I should note that it wasn't my guitar and I never had it set up to my liking.

Sweetfinger
10-05-2012, 03:45 PM
I find it amusing that the pickup ahead in the voting is one that is not built like an original Firebird pickup and by the maker's own description, does not sound like an original.

johnfv
10-06-2012, 10:06 AM
I find it amusing that the pickup ahead in the voting is one that is not built like an original Firebird pickup and by the maker's own description, does not sound like an original.
Lollar's description is pointing out that Firebird pickups (theirs and the original) are not constructed the same as a mini humbucker, they also compare to a full size humbucker. I read nothing that says it is different from a Firebird pickup. Regardless, I use my ears to judge (not manufacturer's description). I bought the Lollar Firebird pickup because of how impressed I am with the Imperials and P90 pickups in my other guitars. As I mentioned before, having played an original '65 Firebird as my main gigging guitar for over a decade, I am am very familiar with Firebirds and am very pleased with the Lollar pickup. Much more like the originals than the Gibson reissues. As always, YMMV...
Here's a picture of my original when I first bought it. Sold it many years later when I needed money, regret it of course.
http://johnviehweg.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Firebird1_small.jpg

Jason Lollar
11-01-2012, 02:07 PM
"I find it amusing that the pickup ahead in the voting is one that is not built like an original Firebird pickup and by the maker's own description, does not sound like an original."
Huh? Isnt made like an original and the maker says it doesnt sound like an original????? Someones in left field

Sweetfinger
11-01-2012, 05:23 PM
The Lollars are supposed to be an "improved" version of the Firebird pickup and cleaner with less of the Gibson warts that give the vintage pickups that unique character.

This ^^^ and reading the ad copy at the time for the Lollar FB pickups led me to believe that they are not exact copies. True or not?
Correct wire? Nylon bobbins? Little sheet metal plate under the cover?
The poll asks which is the closest sounding to the originals, NOT which is best sounding. If Lollars are tweaked or sweetened somehow, then they would not be closest to an "original". They may sound better but that wasn't the question.
I've got Lollar P-90s in a guitar. They sound very good but aren't built like Gibsons and don't sound quite like Gibsons either.

heisthl
11-01-2012, 11:29 PM
No one has mentioned their impression of the Klein's - they seem to be made identically to the originals. I want a set of three Firebird pickups for a Baker B3 I have and was looking seriously at the Klein offering.

Sweetfinger
11-02-2012, 01:43 AM
^^^ Are you following me? ^^^:hide2

I need to come over and see ya, just been really busy. I've got no intel on the kleins but I'll bring you a Duncan vintage I've got.

Jason Lollar
11-02-2012, 02:52 PM
"The Lollars are supposed to be an "improved" version of the Firebird pickup and cleaner with less of the Gibson warts that give the vintage pickups that unique character."
I never said that but I can tell you where that came from and that was way back when I started making them people asked me on the lp forum what they were like so I described firebirds as tighter, punchier and they stay clean on the bass longer than a PAF or in otherwords you can turn your amp up more before they distort. A few people objected to that and said no way- original firebirds dont sound like that and every since then its followed peoples comments around even though other people that have original firebirds have posted they sound like thier old ones. Everyone an expert on the net even if they have never personally played an original firebird- I have owned 7, 5 originals, one bicentennial and a 1990 .
There are lots of reasons one guitar will sound different than another and a guitar played through one amp sounds different than through another like a silverface fender and a supro or even one player will sound different than another. i have been doing this along time so sometimes its funny how peoples impressions will vary.
I actually make most of my own parts or have them made for me, i have my own nylon bobbins made- I have 15,000 of them, I cut my own sheet metal inductance plate, I have my coil wire made for me, I have lead wire made for me I designed the covers and baseplates and have them made for me. etc
as far as P-90s i am one of the few that use a built up bobbin similar to what gibson used in the 40's

johnfv
11-02-2012, 04:10 PM
...people that have original firebirds have posted they sound like thier old ones. Everyone an expert on the net even if they have never personally played an original firebird...
As I mentioned I spent many years with my original Firebird and currently have a Lollar in my reissue. The Lollar is the closest thing I've played to the original, well done Jason.

But then, I'm just some guy on the internet that happens to have a picture of a Firebird... :)

Sweetfinger
11-16-2012, 09:43 AM
"The Lollars are supposed to be an "improved" version of the Firebird pickup and cleaner with less of the Gibson warts that give the vintage pickups that unique character."
I never said that but I can tell you where that came from and that was way back when I started making them people asked me on the lp forum what they were like so I described firebirds as tighter, punchier and they stay clean on the bass longer than a PAF or in otherwords you can turn your amp up more before they distort. A few people objected to that and said no way- original firebirds dont sound like that and every since then its followed peoples comments around even though other people that have original firebirds have posted they sound like thier old ones. Everyone an expert on the net even if they have never personally played an original firebird- I have owned 7, 5 originals, one bicentennial and a 1990 .
There are lots of reasons one guitar will sound different than another and a guitar played through one amp sounds different than through another like a silverface fender and a supro or even one player will sound different than another. i have been doing this along time so sometimes its funny how peoples impressions will vary.
I actually make most of my own parts or have them made for me, i have my own nylon bobbins made- I have 15,000 of them, I cut my own sheet metal inductance plate, I have my coil wire made for me, I have lead wire made for me I designed the covers and baseplates and have them made for me. etc
as far as P-90s i am one of the few that use a built up bobbin similar to what gibson used in the 40's
Good to know. Thank you- I stand corrected.

talpa
11-21-2012, 12:19 PM
When the Johnny Winter FB was at it's end run, got a new one for dirt $. Asked Mr.Lollar to design a custom set of aged FB's. They look/sound great, but ended up keeping the stock bridge (only) because it is not a true vintage tone & wanted a more rock bridge tone. The neck Lollar is sweet toned. Again both Lollar p/u's in the set are truer to vintage (benchmark off Clapton on the FBI '68 tour)...just have 2 different looking aged pickups installed.

Zhangliqun
11-21-2012, 12:38 PM
I had always thought that little hunk of sheet metal was just to ground the magnets. At least that's how I use it on my Firebirds.