In general how do Gibson humbuckers stack up to SD, Dimarzio, etc?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by jimmyohio75, Sep 20, 2017.

  1. jimmyohio75

    jimmyohio75 Member

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    I have been playing Gibson Les Paul's for 15 years. I have had just about every Gibson humbucker made including, 57's, BB and BB Pro, 490R and 490 T, etc, etc.
    I have never felt the need to swap out these stock pickups but lately I have been wondering if there are improvements to be made in clarity, punch and articulation.
    I play crunchy hard rock stuff. Think Clutch, Zeppelin and ZZ Top. Any of you guys replace the stock Gibson humbuckers with something else and been extremely happy?
    I also can't see myself paying upwards of $500-600 on new pickups so the boutique, ultra expensive stuff is out.
     
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  2. corn husk bag

    corn husk bag Silver Supporting Member

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    Played them all, love 57 classics and Tom Holmes. Other Gibson pick ups are not bad either. For high gain, don't know.
     
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  3. chillybilly

    chillybilly Member

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    I hesitate to offer the It Depends answer but...It Depends a fair amount on the guitar.

    Example: I have a VOS SG with BB1/BB2 and have no complaints.

    Imagine my surprise when I got a 2016 ES-339 with the same pickup set and found that they were very dead-sounding, especially the bridge.

    Swapped them out for Antiquities and it was like getting a new guitar. They are very well-suited to the styles you cite whether it's amp or pedal crunch/OD.

    ~$290 for the pair plus tech labor unless you're doing it yourself. With a semi-hollow I decided to let someone else deal with the neck-twisting headache of installation.
     
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  4. jimmyohio75

    jimmyohio75 Member

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    I have a 2017 Tribute Les Paul (see avatar). The Bridge pickup seems a tad muddy regardless of gain level. I am thinking of replacing it. Need suggestions..
     
  5. cvansickle

    cvansickle Supporting Member

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    I got my first Les Paul in 1980, a 1979 Custom. I don't know exactly which pickups were on it, but I kept the stock ones until 1984. I changed the bridge to a Bill Lawrence L500 for a bit, then swapped that for a Duncan Distortion. I had a Duncan Custom in the neck for a while too. I tried EMGs for a few months, a 60/85 set, and they weren't for me. When the 57 Classics came along, I tried the Classic in the neck and the Classic Plus in the bridge for a while, and I was pretty happy with that. Then I switched to another Duncan combo, a 59 neck and Custom 5 bridge, for several years. The last change was for a Fralin High Output Humbucker set, and I think those should stay for the long haul.

    I've had other Les Pauls too, and usually removed the stock 490R/498T sets for something Duncan. In the past few years, I've gained a new appreciation for the 498T in mahogany slab bodies like a Les Paul Special and an SG. As for my other Les Pauls, now I have two with Suhr Doug Aldrich humbuckers in them. LOVE THEM! Lots of output and high gain without painful top end and fizz.
     
  6. shelshaf

    shelshaf Member

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    I wouldn't think the pickup would be causing the muddiness, but rather your tone settings. Too much bass maybe? That can be a definition killer.
     
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  7. stonem

    stonem Member

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    I love the 498 but I require emg for most of my stuff. Gibson makes great pickups. I had a les paul standard for years that did 80s stuff just great good blizzard of ozz tones etc. Now that I play heavier stuff they aren't so great. As far as the high dollar boutique guys. I have a bare knuckle being delivered today. My first from them so the jury is out until tonight but I've read nothing but good things.
     
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  8. Brian N

    Brian N Member

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    IMO Gibson pickups beat the snot out of most SD's and Dimarzios. They don't have the huge selection, but what they do have just sounds so right.
     
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  9. Mincer

    Mincer Member

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    I think Gibson is a fine guitar company that makes pickups for their own guitars. I put Duncans in every Gibson I have owned, though. No Gibson pickups sound as good as Seth Lovers, Antiquities, Alnico II Pros, or 59/Custom Hybrids to me.
     
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  10. shelshaf

    shelshaf Member

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    Plus Gibson has a head start on you. They have already put a lot of thought into matching pickups with particular models. Trying anything after-market is bound to be hit and miss.
     
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  11. ant_riv

    ant_riv Supporting Member

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    I have never purchased a Gibson that had the stock pickups and felt a need to swap them.

    I have purchased Gibsons that already had the pups changed and have tried others in those.

    There are lots of great choices available and, as chillybilly said, it depends on the guitar.

    As Mincer said, you should be able to match a SD set to your preferences easily enough. They are easy to get, very reasonably priced and excellent quality.
     
  12. InkStained

    InkStained Member

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    I have Seymour Duncans in a Strat and a Tele, and Gibson pickups in two Gibson guitars. Never felt a need to change any of it.

    For what I do with my ES-339, 57 classics are outstanding.
     
  13. EtaCarinae

    EtaCarinae Member

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    Gibson stock pickups are great. I will talk about a few examples below, but they really make good pickups. Some are not my taste, but none of them are bad. I like Gibson, I would not consider myself a fan boy as I have pretty mixed opinions on their offerings overall, but I have almost only good things to say about their pickups.

    498t is in JB territory (which is about the most popular pickup out there), but I actually prefer the 498t. Their more PAF styled pickups are some of the best of the style - 57 classics in particular get a lot of love, and I prefer them to almost any other iteration of the PAF (bare knuckle mules beat it out slightly for me). If you want higher gain / output pickups, the 496r/500t set are excellent (ceramic) pickups. Dirty fingers are another Dimarzio distortion-esque option (and I prefer them to the Dimarzio). The Tony Iommi signature set is another real winner for a darker sounding mid-high gain option (reminds me of bare knuckle holy divers a bit).

    There are a couple I do not love. The 490R that pairs with the 498t - it is a little too bassy and muddy for me. It does beautiful buttery sounding leads with gain, but that is about the only way it sounds good. Does not sound great clean to me, too dark.
     
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  14. MR.K

    MR.K Member

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    It's a matter of taste. I bought a '16 custom shop '58 ES 335 with MHS pickups. I've read posts that some praise them and others don't. They were just ok to me. After several sets from other small company winders I settled on a Wolfetone Dr Vintage set. I was pleased their voice but wanted them tweaked a little so I called Wolfe again. He wound me another set that now live in that guitar. You just have to find a set that works for you. For me having a relationship with a small company winder is important. Talking about what you'd like to hear from your particular instrument I believe increases your chance of success. Buying off the shelf seems like a crap shoot to me.
     
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  15. Mr. Bertha

    Mr. Bertha Member

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    I'm a fan of not fixing what isn't broken. That said, I'm also someone who thinks it's fun to alter/personalize my guitars. In my experience Gibson pickups are pretty great. If you have 57 Classics and decide you need high output pups, then by all means swap. If, on the other hand, you're basically happy and just itching for something 'different' I'd recommend making sure the pot and cap values are to your liking and hang onto the Gibson pups. Choosing pot/cap values that work for you will get you more mileage and more useful change than spending a lot on a similarly designed pickups.
     
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  16. bettset

    bettset Member

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    once in awhile a gibson will have their pickups in the guitar and it's all good. dimarzio's are good pickups. i've been using duncan's for a bit though now. the 59 and the custom 5. they're working best with my amps :munch
     
  17. GT40

    GT40 Member

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    I haven't felt the need to change anything from stock in my Les Paul. I'm sure other pickups would be slightly different, but that doesn't always mean better.
     
  18. winterblu

    winterblu Supporting Member

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    I lean toward Dimarzio's but a set of Gibson 57 Classics is a very good choice as well. It's pretty subjective, depends on what you're looking for.
     
  19. ProfRhino

    ProfRhino Member

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    don't get hung up about brands, it makes no sense.
    try a certain PU in a certain guitar with a certain rig in your current band / studio context - then you'll know.
    over time you'll find some things that work for you more often than they don't, but this certainly has got nothing to do with brand names.
    ymmnv,
    Rhino
     
  20. jens5

    jens5 Silver Supporting Member

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    I generaly like Gibson pick-up's. I love the 57 classics. Still getting used to the Custom buckers. Don't feel the need to change.
     

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