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Gibson Brand Humbuckers


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A friend of mine on another forum pretty much thinks that Gibson pickups are more or less "generic" and in some cases worse than generic because many of them are only 2-conductor and hence don't even offer coil-tapping and the series/parallel and in/out-of-phase trickery that you can get with those options. He figures that the sound is also nothing to write home about and that very few people would ever use a Gibson pickup as an aftermarket replacement pickup the way that many people use Seymour Duncans.

While I agree that an SD is a more common after-market replacement, I disagreed about some of the other stuff. I felt that the tone is legendary, that many people with a "true" Les Paul will keep the stock Gibson pickups (as opposed to Epis, which many people switch out), and that not everyone wants or needs coil-tapping and therefore the 2-conductor thing is a non-issue.

In short, he feels that they're an undesirable pickup, and I feel that they're a worthy pickup. I said that it's "common knowledge" that Gibson continues to make a good-sounding and reliable pickup.

I don't mind being wrong, so if you think I'm in left field I won't take it personally. But I'd be curious to know in particular if my "common knowledge" comment was off-base, because that's the REAL point of contention between we two friends. He reckons he's never heard anyone speaking favourably of Gibson pickups and that it's not even close to "common knowledge" but rather that it's very common for people to swap them out in favour of something better-sounding.

Heh, I just restated the debate again in different words, but the point being-- am I out to lunch on the "common knowledge" thing?


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You know, it's an interesting debate, to say the least. Before Seymour, Larry, and Bill came along, there was only Gibson, and you could only get one model from them--the PAF. Granted, it evolved over the years as production methods and more modern materials came about, but it was pretty much just a basic, normal-output pickup.

Today, in order to compete with the likes of Seymour, Larry, and Bill, and maybe even Lindy, they've come out with some good modern and excellent vintage-style designs. The Burstbucker is an awesome pickup--worlds better than the 498/490 series, and the 496/500, Iommi, Angus, and Dirty Fingers are excellent high-output pickups. Your friend is also wrong about the wiring harnesses. If you purchase a Gibby aftermarket, you can get them with four-conductor. They only come in two-conductor installed on factory guitars unless they feature special controls, like the old Jimmy Page Les Paul.

Now, I replaced the 496/500 combo in my Les Paul Classic with a set of DiMarzio PAF Classics. Why? Well, I DID like the sound of the ceramic pickups and they were fun to play viscious metal on, but I wanted a clearer, more vintage sound for my Lester. I'll throw the old pickups in a supa-strat or something. Anyway, I almost ponied up for a set of Burstbuckers, but I figured out that I could buy both DiMarzios, which came with nickel covers and fully potted, for the same price as one Gibson Burstbucker. And that's the problem with Gibson's pickups. They sound great, but unless you're buying them installed stock on the guitar, their value isn't as good as the aftermarket brands.

My PAF Classics sound every bit as good as the Burstbuckers to my ears through my amps. So why spend twice as much for no gain in quality? That's the disadvantage Gibson has---not so much quality but variety and value of pickup options.

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Yeah, when I looked at aftermarket pricing, I couldn't believe how expensive some of the Gibson ones were, so I definitely don't think they win the "value for money" race. I wonder if it's just to maintain the "boutique" marketing strategy.

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Gibson burstbucker pickups are nice, but sorry, not twice as good as dimarzios or SD's. I'd say equal, but not better. Another one that gets me is PRS pickups. I got some in my tremonti SE, sound bloomin amazing, but ouch on the wallet!! All my new guitars have dimarzios (cept the strats which have lace sensors) which i have found to be the best value for money of the 'non budget' pickup companies.



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