Burstbuckers v. Nice boutique PAF's -- Burstbuckers win!

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by phoenix 7, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. phoenix 7

    phoenix 7 Silver Supporting Member

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    This is a bit of a long story about my 2007 R9. It's moral is that boutique isn't always better.

    I have always loved this R9, and it has always sounded really good. Unplugged, the guitar is really warm, resonant and sweet (one of the things that attracted me to it in the shop where I bought it). But after playing it for a while, I thought it needed just a tad more harmonics. So I put in an RS Tone Kit shortly after I got it, took out the stock Burstbuckers and put in a set of Peter Florance Voodoo '59 pickups. These are really great PAF clones (and often get stellar reviews here). The guitar sounded really good, but I still thought it was lacking a bit in highs.

    So I put in a Callaham stainless bridge + "mapleflame mod" (longer stainless screws on the ABR-1). The highs I was looking for were still missing. So at long last I made the tough decision to sell it, as I just preferred the sound of my R8 and the R9 just wasn't getting played.

    Brought it to my tech to switch the pickups back to the original Burstbuckers. It was hard to let the guitar go, so my plan was to just leave it in the case after he switched the pickups back and sell it. When I got to the shop to pick up the guitar, my tech (who knew I was putting the guitar up for sale) said, "You know, this is a really smokin' guitar." I told him about the "highs" issue and he said, "I think it sounds a bit livelier now with the original pickups in it. It's a really great guitar." So I brought it home and plugged it in and, sure enough, the highs that I had always missed were finally there. In fact the guitar sounded incredible! It had never sounded like this before because I had never heard the combination of the BB's with the Pigtail bridge, stainless bridge screws and RS Tone Kit. The BB's were the magic piece of the puzzle. I've been playing the R9 for a couple of weeks now and the sound is everything I want.

    For THIS guitar, Burstbuckers are perfect!
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
  2. Lowlands Erik

    Lowlands Erik Member

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    Like you I discovered that changing the pickups doesn't always bring the desired results. Luckily there are numerous other options to tune your sound if needed: caps, pots, bridge/saddles, tailpiece.
    Nowadays I start with changing the cheapest parts (often caps) in the equasion (or a part were a known alternative exists) before buying new pickups.

    Nice story!

    cheers
    Erik
     
  3. cjcayea

    cjcayea cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce

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    burstbuckers are great PUs in my opinion.
     
  4. AnthonyL

    AnthonyL Silver Supporting Member

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    Nothing at all wrong with Burstbuckers...especially when paired with the RS kit. I've told several friends that were dead set on getting some boutique PAF's to just try the RS kit first before making the additional investment. They all still have the Burstbuckers...
     
  5. buddyboy

    buddyboy Gold Supporting Member

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    Similar story with an R8. It's a 2005 with BB 1 and 2 pickups. Guitar sounded great, a killer neck pickup. Really Bloomfield-like with great sparkle and highs, but with a woody midrange and smaller bass. Tele-like in the middle position. Bridge was pretty cool too.

    As time went on, I thought, "I must be able to get an even greater tone from this wonderful guitar." So I went out and bought the 500k audio pots with the paper in oil caps. Did the 50's wiring. Put a set of mid-90's Antiquities I had laying around, then a set of Fralin Real PAFs. Guitar sounded great, not as good as when it was in it's original configuration. I know this because I just returned to it stock last week and my killer LP is back!!

    P.S. I did keep the 50's wiring though.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
  6. corn husk bag

    corn husk bag Silver Supporting Member

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  7. JB6464

    JB6464 Member

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    Were your Burstbuckers potted ?
    Some in that are of time was potted and some were not.
     
  8. buddyboy

    buddyboy Gold Supporting Member

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    How can I tell? I guess I could unsolder the covers, but really don't want to. The pickups are original to the guitar, I know that much.
     
  9. slowerhand

    slowerhand Supporting Member

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    I think you can tell by loosening one of the screws. If they're potted you'll see wax.
     
  10. SFW

    SFW Member

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    I've tried a ton of PAFs through my Les Paul, and ended up loving a set of BB Pros. Gibson still knows how to make good pickups.
     
  11. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009

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    sometimes i like'em, most times i don't. they are often too zingy and strident to my ears but it sounds like that quality attributed to accomplish your overall objective.
     
  12. JB6464

    JB6464 Member

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    Just loosen one of the screws on one of the pickups and if it has wax , it will show . When done just screw it back down to desired level again.
    It won't hurt anything or change you sound.
     
  13. phoenix 7

    phoenix 7 Silver Supporting Member

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    Yup -- I think that "zing" is exactly what this guitar needed.
     
  14. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    Huh, maybe I gravitate towards thicker treble tones, but I've had at least 12 Burstbucker pickups in various guitars (personal and demo guitars). I've done the blind taste test thing during demos with my clients.

    I'll hand them Les Pauls with the exact same pots/caps/50's wiring/wood/strings/etc and 19 out of 20 choose the boutique PAF clones over the Burstbuckers.

    I've had BB 1, 2 & 3's, both potted and unpotted, and they are just too bright, and thinner than my other pickups (WCR, Motor City, Voodoo, etc) in the same guitars.

    I've got a pile of them in my extra parts box I just found, so if anyone wants to try some, shoot me an email and I'll sell them for reasonable $$. They aren't getting used here, but maybe they'll work for you.

    YMMV based on tone needs, etc.
     
  15. whitehall

    whitehall Member

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    I put Gibsons own 57 classics in my 7 and 8. I just always find the bridge BB a little harsh. 20 years and 200+ guitars later I never buy aftermarket anything. I always find that I like production things - like Mesa and Marshall so much better. I always find the forum stuff to be mostly hype from vendors. But, hey, I guess they gotta eat too.
     
  16. phoenix 7

    phoenix 7 Silver Supporting Member

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    BB's in some guitars may be too bright. I actually found them a bit thin and bright in my R8, so they went. That one's got Lollar Imperials now and sounds absolutely killer. But this R9 is a warm, woody guitar and was lacking a bit in high end. So the BB's were perfect. I've got plenty of nice boutique pickups in my guitars -- Wolfetone Dr. Vintage, Frailin Real humbuckers, Lollar Imp's, Voodoo '59's.... I no longer think that BB's can be judged an 'inferior' pickup. I had to recognize that my R9 with the BB's sounds as good as any of them, in spite of my previous prejudices.
     
  17. buddyboy

    buddyboy Gold Supporting Member

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    I like a trebly kind of Les Paul, or at least one that can get like a Tele if I fiddle around with the tone knobs. The boutiques I've used really sounded great, but they lacked what I call a sort of "sparkle." They did more of the Cream thing as opposed to a Bloomfield thing.
     
  18. omfg51

    omfg51 Member

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    This same thing happened to me. I still love handwound boutique PAF's, but for the price, Burstbuckers are too good to pass!!
     
  19. halcyon

    halcyon Supporting Member

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    I love the BB 1, 2 and 3s. The BB Pros not so much. Yuck...

    But yeah, the 1, 2 and 3s are great pickups. I certainly wouldn't buy an Historic and then rush out to replace the pickups as soon as possible. Give 'em a fair shake, imo.

    Why do the Pros suck so bad in comparison? Why, Gibson? ;-)
     
  20. Deathmonkey

    Deathmonkey Member

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    I think it's all about the alchemy :D I've been trying pickups like a madman over the last few years, and it's been an interesting voyage of self discovery.

    I have a theory that in general, boutique stuff tends towards a more singular vision than mass produced items designed to appeal to a broad spectrum of players. So the boutique stuff - usually a manifestation of one person's idea of idealized tone (or playability or whatever) - will be a bit more idiosyncratic. They usually have a bit more of a specific character, a more defined voice. More production oriented gear, however, is usually designed to have much broader appeal, by more than one person.

    So if you find a boutique maker - of guitars, pedals, pickups, amps, whatever - that SHARES your tastes and needs, with a similar tonal aesthetic, I think you can get places production stuff can't get to. I personally think that's often worth it. However - the tones so many of us chase was MADE with production gear. So it stands to reason that there will be times when production stuff will be exactly what someone is looking for, more so than a boutique piece. And that's totally valid.

    I just traded for a Gloss Series V, which came with the 500T/496R set (I think). I've had this set is a few SG Gothics, and I've haaaaaated em. In this V, tho? Fantastic. I've been on a ceramic kick lately, and the Smits Dirty Boy and Wolfetone Blisterbucker are 2 of my favorite new finds, but these hang right there with them - in this guitar.

    Somewhere between the boutique fanbois and the boutique haterz is the idea that you use your ears and not your wallet to decide :D I'm with Scumback Speakers, I tend to favor boutique stuff... but the pickup I keep coming back to for my band stuff is the mighty Seymour Duncan Alternative 8. I've tried to dethrone it, with BKPs, Motor City, Wolfetone, Smits, Rio Grande, etc etc etc, and I've found some great pickups that have found permanent homes in my guitars for other flavors, but nothing has beaten it for what I consider to be "my tone".

    I think it's also worth mentioning that the piece of the puzzle you might be missing isn't always the piece you think it is. You guys are making me a convert to changing pots and caps.

    Cool thread, bro. :aok
     

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