PRS 57/08 pickups


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I just got in a pair of new covered 59/09 that I'm going to drop in my black gold sc58. :)


Silver Supporting Member
I started this thread back in 2009 and 6 years later I still like my 57/08's over every humbucker I've tried. Whether or not they are identical to PAF's I don't really care because I've had the opportunity to play many vintage instruments in my life and some were awesome and some were dogs, but the consistency of the 57/08's is very good. I have three guitars with them and they all sound incredible. I also like the Artist V pickups & the DGT pickups and the latest Santana pickups, I have never liked the HFS or #7's from PRS.


If Sustain is your thing, and it is for me
the 57/08's do not stand up..

I have Motor City Blackbelt A2 in my guitars ...
They are going back into my mcarty with the a2 magnet in the bridge swapped for an A3

I tried the 57/08 on the recomendation of a friend who claimed they were
"as good as the motor city a2 & blackbelt" I will have to slap him with a wet fish when I see him next

I have tried and played the Gibson Custom buckers which are Gibsons current best effort and quite nice,
but they fall short of the real deal PAF sustain as well

I will add that I am very aware that the composition of the tone cap, and the carbon strip on the volume and tone pots
can dramatically impact the sound of a set of pickups, possibly as much as the pickups themselves, and I did not alter
these elements in my swap.

I will also add that if your tone cap is a ceramic disc cap you probably wouldn't hear the tail end of the note
even if the pickup was tracking it

here are some of the pickups I have tried and removed from guitars because they did not cut it

Gibson 57 classic various years
Gibson 57 classic with a3 magnet swap
1982 shaw buckers
Gibson 496 with a2 and a3 magnet instead of ceramic (surprisingly good)
Original Tom Holmes
Lindy Fralin paf clone identical to old VG shootout winner
lollar imperials
bare knuckles unknown PAF clone model
dragons (overwound poop)
hfs better with a magnet swap to a2 or a3 but still not up to snuff
sd seth lover
endless duncan 59, a2, jazz, PG ect

over the years I have had about 25 pickups rewound by my local rewind guy
interestingly we once rewound an 18k PRS dragon to 7.2k using Gibson specs and vintage wire and it still suffered from the darkness inherent in the original dragon
I then swapped the keeper bar with one from a dead t-top and it brightened up

at that point I gave up on rewinds and started searching for winders who
spec custom alloys for the metal parts

there is some type of metal added to modern steel alloys that was not present in the 50's
this metal changes the magnetic properties of the steel masking upper harmonics
and introducing a kind of magnetic noise floor which decreases the ability of modern pickups to "hear" string motion below a certain threshold
so as a plucked note decays it drops out from being amplified even if the string is still vibrating
unless a pickup builder uses the correct vintage steel alloys their best effort
will simply be just another pretty good pickup
so while the 57/08 is pretty good they did not bother to use the proper steel alloys

of the few who do this Wade at Motor City was the most willing to experiment
and the Blackbelt A2 was a result of those experiments

he also makes me a very nice 6.0k - 7k special neck humbucking pickup that I find as satisfying as the neck pickup in a good strat ... and this really rounds out the versatility
of a typical dual humbucker setup

its also worth noting that if you use a modern channel switching amp with lots of gain
you are probably not listening for the same things I am in a pickup and
many of the pickups I am not interested in might float your high gain boat

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Last night i did what i've been meaning to do for awhile, to swap in any gibson pickup set i had into my SC-58 (which has 57/08's), so i used my BB1 and 2's from my R8..I was quite enlightened hearing the i understand what folks meant by prs guitars/pickups sounding 'character-less'..the 57/08s are a great low output PAF-y but ultimately too clean for my liking..the BBs in the SC-58 made the tone develop a raw midrange 'awww' sound and overtones that i could never get from the 57/08s. I always thought that an LP's honk was somewhat inherent as i've played Gibsons that had that honk acoustically. PRSi as we know are missing the low end girth and has this upper mid spike that may sound unpleasant.. The BB's gave it somewhat more low-end and altered the mids in a more pleasing way..gonna try a 57 classic set next..


Supporting Member
I bought a PRS Prism recently and I've been impressed with the new 57/08 pickups that came stock on it. I owned a couple of PRS guitars in the mid-90's but could never bond with the HFS or Dragon pickups so I eventually sold them. The 57/08's seem to have more personality to them and have just the right amount of output for blues and rock, their not muddy at all, even the split coil sounds are pretty good. I've tried the guitar with the following amps and had excellent results:
Orange Retro 50, Orange Rockerverb 50, Fender Deluxe Reverb Reissue and Gibson GA15RV.

This has really renewed my interest in PRS guitars, their workmanship has always been outstanding and I love the way they carve their necks. Anyway, I was just interested if anyone else has had a chance to try these pickups.
Agreed. I've owned (and still do) too many Gibsons over the years to tally, but I'd agree. PRS of that vintage and those pickups are outstanding...the pickups that came after also have their distinctions and are very good as well. Very articulate and I'd agree with you on the coil splitting too.


Each to his own.
I'm not a disciple of any particular humbucking pickup, but I have PRS w/ a rosewood neck that has 57/08s and they hardly "too clean"? I would say they are more middy and a tad thicker on the top end. I would agree that they sound better clean - I'm not quite sold on them for OD tones but not because they are too clean - I find them a bit too thick. But every pickup (even same make) sounds a tad different in my experience and also will sound different in a different guitar. I have found Gibson Classic 57s to be variable like this but I have 2 Gibsons (hollow and semi) in which the 57 Classics sound great.


when i said 'clean', i meant that there was no flavor or character or added overtones, while the burstbuckers immediately presented a really unique LP-ish overtone.. haha these guitar jargon are really hard to convey without hearing...


Teleshred. Thanks for your followup. It maybe different in different instruments. My 57/08s are in a Modern Eagle and have loads of overtone. I think I know what you mean by no "flavor". I have other Gibsons and the 57/08s I have sound every bit as warm and full (maybe fuller) than the Classic 57s in my Gibson. A friend let me borrow an early 2000s LP Custom that sounds quite nice but its not warmer than the 57/08s (maybe a bit clearer/ brighter) but the 57/08s have lots of "bloom" and sustain on my MEII.

Otto Tune

Aren't the 57/08 pups made with some NOS wire from the 50s?:huh
According to their promotional material, the PRS people bought the machine that wound the 57's in the Gibson factory, and then bought the rights to the original wire used in the same. 42 ga?

Anyway, I have them stock in my 2008 McCarty 22, and they are fantastic, IMO.


I started this thread back in 2009 and 6 years later I still like my 57/08's over every humbucker I've tried. Whether or not they are identical to PAF's I don't really care because I've had the opportunity to play many vintage instruments in my life and some were awesome and some were dogs, but the consistency of the 57/08's is very good. I have three guitars with them and they all sound incredible. I also like the Artist V pickups & the DGT pickups and the latest Santana pickups, I have never liked the HFS or #7's from PRS.

Question for you (and anyone else who is familiar with PRS's current pickup lineup) if you don't mind. I have already swapped out the Archtop pickups from my Hollowbody 1 with inividually splittable 57/08s. They are awesome. I love everything about them.

I am now faced with a decision. The PRS Tech Center was just working on my '94 CE24, and long story short, I have to send it back to them for some more work. While it's down there again, I'm also going to have them swap out the HFS and Vintage Bass pickups for something else. The HFS is too hot for my tastes and the VB is too boomy. For whatever it's worth, I still have the 5-way rotary selector on the CE, which gives me those Fenderish, "in-between," single-coilish tones in positions 7, 8, and 9.

I'm torn on what pickups to have them put in. I could have them do another set of 57/08s again (since I already know I love them) but there's something in me that is telling me that I'm sonically limiting myself by doing that instead of getting a different pickup. Conversely, I hypothesize that those pickups would sound pretty different in a '94 CE24 than it would in a Hollowbody. The alder body, the nitro-finished maple neck, the 24-frets and their resulting pickup distance difference, the wide-thin neck carve, the lower string gauge (.010s vs .011s), the 5-way rotary selector with the coil tap settings, and the tremolo system with the strings being fed through the body would all contribute to making the CE sound vastly different from the HBI, regardless of the fact that the pickups are the same. Do you even think they would sound like the same pickup in those two guitars?

I rarely play with super high gain or metal sounds. My amp is a Fender Deluxe Reverb. I tend to play rock, funk, classic rock, blues, jazz, jammy stuff (Phish, Dead, Allmans, etc.) and bluegrass. For those genres, and with a '94 CE24, which pickups would you recommend trying? I'm going between another set of 57/08s, a set of 59/09s, or most interestingly, a pair of Artist V pickups.

Anyone know how the Artist V pickups fall within the line of 5x/xx PRS pickups? I've read anecdotally that they're right in-between the 57/08s and the 59/09s, both output-level wise and sonically, while being a tad brighter. Anyone played them? I'm curious about the tone of those pickups, and if they'd lend themselves to being installed in a CE24.

My knee-jerk reaction tells me that I'd think the 59/09s would be too hot for my tastes. Please do correct me if I'm mistaken here. So I keep flip-flopping on whether to go for the 57/08s again, counting on the fact that they'll sound totally different in such a different guitar, or go with the Artist Vs, which apparently would give me a slightly higher gain option if I wanted, while still maintaining clarity and somewhat of a vintage PAF vibe.


Supporting Member
I am a 57/08 fanboy. I have them in 2 PRSi. Duncan antiquities will give you similar tone/dynamics for a lot less coin. I don't think you are compromising much either with the Duncans. Worth a try.


Gold Supporting Member
I have a set of 57/08s in my PRS Cu24.


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