Modern Firebird Woes

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by PeteyNaf, Mar 18, 2015.

  1. PeteyNaf

    PeteyNaf Member

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    So, I've been playing my 2014 Firebird for the past 6 months or so. I love the look and playability, but I'm really frustrated with the pickups. I skimmed through mostly negative comments about the pickups before buying, but I figured there was no way they could be as bad as everyone described.

    Today, I've come to the consensus that yes, they are that bad. Brittle, tinny, and cheap sounding. I tried for months to get used to the sound, hoping I'd warm up to them.

    Now I pose the question, are there any after market firebird pickups that sound more like a regular humbucker? I realiise that's not what the traditional firebird pickup sounded like, but I'm just wondering. I was hoping to have a sound closer to an sg/les les paul rather than a $100 piece of garbage you buy at target/walmart.
     
  2. jklotz

    jklotz Supporting Member

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    Any of these would be miles ahead of the stock clunkers:

    http://www.seymourduncan.com/products/electric/specialized/mini-humbucker/

    I noticed Rob Di Stefano is winding firebird pickups now:

    http://www.cavalierpickups.com/#phoenix

    For what you say you are looking for, you'd probably be better off going with a mini hum bucker as opposed to a vintage style firebird pickup. Lollars are always a good choice.

    I went with zangbuckers in mine. Took almost 4 months to get them. Not sure I'd go that route again, but then maybe he's managed to tighten up his delivery times?
     
  3. SPROING!

    SPROING! Member

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    I don't like playing firebirds but I love firebird pickups...vintage style firebird pickups.
    No idea why Gibson doesn't get this, but not many people like the "new" high output versions.
    My Duncans are sweet, smooth and sound like a strat with a big fat voice.
    Replace those suckers with a more accurate reproduction and you'll be in good shape.
    Lollar, Klein, Duncan and others all make beautiful sounding versions.
     
  4. Dave Wakely

    Dave Wakely Member

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    You have two schools of thought to pursue, I think. Firstly, more authentic Firebird pickups - several suppliers, some of whom will customise. Original Firebird pups don't sound like humbuckers particularly: best description I've heard is 'Tele on steroids'. I went with Mojo Pickups, who wound me a set with A3 magnets that were 10% overwound - not quite trad, but nothing like the ceramic monsters it came with. Or secondly, conventional mini-humbuckers (Firebird pickups are constructed fairly differently). Lots of choice here, and tone may move more towards SG/Les Paul Deluxe.

    Either way, like with a Tele, remember that the tone controls have settings other than '10'. Firebirds are naturally fairly bright sounding guitars.
     
  5. Alvis

    Alvis Member

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    You could always rout it for a p-90 and be happy ya did



    I put a soapbar p-90 in the bridge and a Les Paul mini in the neck ....perfect

    [​IMG]
     
  6. p19978

    p19978 Member

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    Tele on steroids is exactly how id describe lollars
     
  7. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    Check out DiMarzio too.
     
  8. big mike

    big mike Moderator - EL34 Emeritas Staff Member

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    Duncan SM2 Bridge, SM3 neck.

    Or hit up doug kauer for some thoughts...dude's a fierebird junky.

    I think he's using Klein's.
    P90's are good too. I use a duncan SM3 in the bridge of my firebird esque guitar.
     
  9. Jazzydave

    Jazzydave Seeker Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm not impressed with any of the '14/15 Gibsons I've played lately...whether it be dull electronics or shoddy craftsmanship or a combination of both. I'm sorry to hear you're having issues with yours. Tone is subjective, sure, but at $2k for a new Firebird, there shouldn't be so many people complaining.
     
  10. GrungeMan

    GrungeMan Supporting Member

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    The Gibson Firebird pups from the 90's on are not authentic in any way but looks, they're over wound and have ceramic magnets. As stated Lollar's Klein's Novak's Biltoff's SD's all have tasty offerings. Not sure of the Gibson Tributes but a recent discussion with someone who frequents this board thinks they're good.
     
  11. BMF Effects

    BMF Effects Supporting Member

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    I seem to recall reading an article from ToneQuest Report years ago that said something to the effect that current Firebird pickups are way over wound, like 14k as opposed to vintage ones which are around 7-8k. They swapped out the stock pickups for a set of Lollars and were very happy.
     
  12. DrumBob

    DrumBob Gold Supporting Member

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    Mojotone made Johnny Winter pickups for his Firebird, and if Johnny liked tham, I think that's a pretty good endorsement. They're $130 each from Mojotone.

    I also feel like the pickups on my Firebird Studio Tribute are the weak point of that guitar. They're coming out soon. Ceramic magnets=tinny tone.
     
  13. gibsonES330

    gibsonES330 Member

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    I had Lollars on one of my old Firebirds and Seymour Duncan FB pickups on the other - both sounded great to me.
     
  14. SPROING!

    SPROING! Member

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    I played several at the shop and they sounded a lot like my Duncans. I'd say more "strat on steroids" than tele, but you get the idea. They sound like a nice single coil with a small dose of humbucker girth.
     
  15. PeteyNaf

    PeteyNaf Member

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    I put a soapbar p-90 in the bridge and a Les Paul mini in the neck ....perfect

    [​IMG][/QUOTE]


    That looks like the epitome of sex appeal.
     
  16. PeteyNaf

    PeteyNaf Member

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    I couldn't agree more. The Firebird was always a dream guitar to own, and now I'm semi dissapointed. I was hoping my $1600 would go farther.
     
  17. octa805

    octa805 Member

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    Did you not play it first? This makes no sense to me. You determined the value when you paid full price on a a new one. No pity party after the fact if you bought something sight unseen or that you didn't like immediaoand didnt return

    I own a firebird as well. I paid less than you 2 years ago but I love mine. Good luck on the pickup hunt
     
  18. PeteyNaf

    PeteyNaf Member

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    I played a 2010 (ebony) in store many times but I wanted a white one and couldn't find one locally. I'm not asking for a pity party, just pickup suggestions. I love the guitar I'm just not IN love with it.
     
  19. Dave Wakely

    Dave Wakely Member

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    Given the tone you say you're going for, I'd say the Seymour SM-3 is probably a good bet for you (I have one in the neck of a guitar rather different from a Firebird, but it's a good pick-up). The SM-1 is more 'vintage correct' (which I think you may find too thin/bright) and the SM-2 is a little mid-scooped. But I'd try talking to a winder who will customise a wind/magnet choice and outlining the tone you're looking for - worked for me in 'upgrading' a 2009 Firebird V. (The ceramics weren't as bad as some people had claimed, to be fair, but they were brittle and a bit characterless.)
     
  20. dougk

    dougk Silver Supporting Member

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    If you want HB sounds but in a mini case the Zhangbucker are probably the set to get. Honestly, the Kent Armstrong's are pretty good too for this.

    I've been using Arcane lately and though the wait time can be a bit hit and miss, he is winding a special set for our Banshee's that is a pretty true Firebird neck but a hotter, almost on the road to a p90 bridge mini that is just an amazing combo. I tend to think most vintage voiced Firebird pickups don't have nearly enough output at the neck to be truly balanced.
     

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