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Lets See All Them Axes

Discussion in 'Musical Instruments' started by Parnelly, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. Eywadude

    Eywadude Lunatic Member

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    I'm starting to get a hankering for a mini humbucker-loaded guitar of some kind. Not sure about a mini humbucker Les Paul (70s Deluxe) style guitar, but maybe something like one of the newer offerings from Gibson like the 2018 SG Special with minis in it. I'm definitely a humbucker kind of guy, but a more upper mid-focused sound with punch while still retaining many of the humbucker qualities is something that appeals to me. I also came across the Seymour Duncan video for the Antiquity II mini humbuckers and I have to admit, I don't know what kind of amp the guy is playing through, but they sound incredible.

    Anyone with any experience with mini humbucker guitars and pickups? What aftermarket pickups would you suggest? I'm not sure a purchase is imminent, but I've got a bit of the mini humbucker bug at the moment. Your thoughts and expertise is welcome, and appreciated.

    Cheers. :)

     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018 at 8:39 PM

     

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  2. 911s55

    911s55 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I love Gibson mini humbucking and the small Epiphone (Riviera) style as well. The have more articulation, will play cleaner and with all the pedals available are more versatile than a standard. I've had early Deluxes and Epiphones, they won't get that big broad middle but they are fun. BTW they don't sound like the early Firebird pickups at all.

    That SG would be a nice rig. Lollar or Seymour Duncan maybe?
     
    Eywadude likes this.
  3. louisjames

    louisjames The "real" Louis James Subscriber

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  4. Eywadude

    Eywadude Lunatic Member

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    Yep, I'm looking for a slightly different sound within the realm of the humbucker sound. I like mini humbuckers and I think they are underrated.

    But yeah, minis are definitely different sounding than Firebird pickups for sure. Unfortunately, people call Firebird pickups "mini humbuckers" all the time and it drives me nuts. The Firebird pickups are humbuckers as well and are of a similar size with very close (but not the same) dimensions as true mini humbuckers, but their construction is completely different from mini humbuckers altogether. They are their own animal and are nothing like minis at all. The pole pieces of minis should be enough of a visual distinction between minis and Firebird pickups, but most people don't know they are far from the same, both construction and sound-wise.

    There is a really good and highly detailed article in an early 2000s issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine showing the part by part differences between the dimensions and construction of mini humbuckers and Firebird humbuckers. I am not sure which issue it is (I still have it...somewhere), but it's really worth looking for. I'm pretty sure the article was written sometime between 2001 and 2003.

    I've been looking at Lollar as well. It's too bad not many pickup makers make mini humbuckers (comparatively to regular sized humbuckers). Again, I've always thought they were underrated and deserve more attention and recognition.

    Cheers.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018 at 11:23 AM
  5. Eywadude

    Eywadude Lunatic Member

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    Which model of Firebird was it? The Firebird and mini humbuckers are of a totally different design. I'm going to have to find that Vintage Guitar Magazine article I mentioned above. I totally forgot about Fralin though. I'll have to check 'em out. Thanks.

    Cheers.
     
  6. louisjames

    louisjames The "real" Louis James Subscriber

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    Eywadue - - you're absolutely right in that the two are actually different pup's. But in general they are more alike than not other than the Firebird pup having a bit tighter / focused sound. At least to my ears and why I, erroneously, couple the two types together. My 'bird was a recent model and those pups are even closer to mini-hums than the vintage ones. And yah, Fralin would be a good bet too. Good luck with whatever you choose.
     

     

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  7. Eywadude

    Eywadude Lunatic Member

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    Well, I'd have do agree to disagree on the sound of the Firebird pickups. I am going on the sound of true vintage models with original pickups. The new Firebird pickups have a very different construction compared to the originals. Not only are the magnets in the newer ones no longer Alnico (they're ceramic now), they have many internal construction changes over the originals in order to assemble them cheaper. The originals were more complex and labour-intensive to assemble. I found the detailed article on them (seen below), as written by Seymour Duncan, which shows the internal construction differences that give the originals a very different sound. I've always thought the originals sound more like single coils than a humbucker. Even more so than a P-90. A P-90 can sound downright fat in comparison to an original Firebird pickup. The originals have even less low end than mini humbuckers and are more jangly and open sounding too. They have a very unique tone. Overdriven, they the originals can sound a little closer, but they still retain their own unique character. The newer ones have a bit of the character of the originals, but not nearly as much. They're still good pickups, but just in a different way, compared to the originals.

    Other than that though, what model was your Firebird? Was it a V or a VII model? I really want another Firebird myself. The last one I had was a non-reverse bodied 1966 Firefird I with two P-90s in it. I'm still kicking myself for selling it. What a killer sound it had. I'm going to have to look into those Fralins as far as mini humbuckers go though. Thanks again.

    Cheers.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018 at 12:27 PM
  8. Eywadude

    Eywadude Lunatic Member

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    Here's the detailed article showing all the construction differences between the Firebird pickups and mini humbuckers, as written by Seymour Duncan in the November 2001 issue of Vintage guitar Magazine. This is a great reference.

    Firebird:Mini Chart.jpg
     
  9. 911s55

    911s55 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I had a '93 Firebird V and the stock pickups were absolutely dreadful, congested and toneless. They had some insanely high ohm reading. I installed a set of Lollars and they are very nice, close to the originals but a bit stiffer, not a fair fight, they were new after all. Firebird pickups will tear your head off if your not careful.
     
  10. Eywadude

    Eywadude Lunatic Member

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    Yeah, original Firebird pickups can be quite bright. I think they are inherently on the brighter side, but I've always wondered if the tone cap value on the tone controls had something to do with that as well. As I've heard though, recreating the Firebird pickup is hard to get right. Once you use two magnets and insert them into each bobbin like the originals, there are a lot of variables that can affect the tone. I always wondered if the originals used Alnico II, IV or V magnets though. Rumour is that Gibson was using Alnico Vs in their Pat. # pickups after the P.A.F.s. If there's any truth to that, that could perhaps help explain why Firebird pickups have a sharper high end, because Alnico Vs tend to have a little more treble content. There are many variables of course, but regardless, Firebird pickups are kind of a unique entity in the range of Gibson pickups for sure.

    Do you still have your Firebird with the Lollars in it?
     
  11. Eywadude

    Eywadude Lunatic Member

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    Also, as a side note, before selling my 1966 Firebird I, I took it into a local shop who had a 1976 Firebird Bicentennial (like a reverse Firebird V) that I wanted to do a trade for, but the shop owner wouldn't trade it because he questioned my motives about trading a '66 for a '76 Centennial! He was like, "Why do you want to downgrade on a trade?" I told him because I always wanted a Bicentennial Firebird (which was true) and couldn't afford an original 1963-'65 model, but the guy wouldn't budge! Like, what the hell? :confused:
     

     

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  12. 911s55

    911s55 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Nah, sold the '93 here local a couple years ago, guy got a great deal. I ended up eating the pickups and they aren't cheap.

    Mine was a nice reissue, many have the incorrect burst on the back, none is correct, and they all were wrong with the stop tailpiece but what the hey. The other specs were good but I just find them a struggle due to the goofey shape. I had a '67 non reverse V but the real long neck heal and skinny post '65 neck profile is a deal breaker for me, same with my '66 & '67 335 and '67 Riviera. All sounded good though.

    One of my first experiences with Firebirds was the '72-'73 Medallion series, they were/are great. They are dead nuts to an original except for the medallion of course and the Gibson logo on the pickups, great guitars! A friend bought the Medallion Flying V when introduced, it was speced as a '67 not a '58, still fun for the Wishbone Ash stuff and whatever else, just not for sittin down but built in guitar stand.
     
  13. Eywadude

    Eywadude Lunatic Member

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    Yeah, Gibson never seems to get the burst right on them. I guess the stop tailpiece was cheaper to make and install than the Lyre vibrola with its trem system and engraved cover. I guess they decided to save that for the Firebird VII reissue only. Again, probably to save money so they didn't have to do separate plating for each model: nickel ones for the V models and gold ones for the VII models. Firebirds certainly are different to play though. While their scale length is the same 24 3/4" as all other Gibsons, their necks are mounted further up on their long body and stick out farther, giving them a longer feel and causing you to extend your arm out more. Same thing with the 1965 1/2-'69 non-reverse Firebirds. The '66 Firebird 1 I had, had a slim neck to it for sure. Even slightly slimmer than my 1968 SG Standard. It never bothered me though and neither did the neck length, but it was certainly noticeable for sure.

    I always liked the Medallion series too. I've always heard good things about them. They did have the unusual Gibson logos embossed on the front, just like all 1972 Gibson models as I recall. I guess 1973 with the same covers was just a carryover from whatever they had left from the first year run. The Medallion Flying Vs were nice too, but as you said, they were spec'ed as a '67 model instead of the original '58 construction. Good guitars though and they seem to hold their value.

    Cheers.
     
  14. 911s55

    911s55 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I was referring to the fact original Firebirds don't have a burst on the back, but some reissues for whatever reason do. I gave up a long time ago trying to figure out why Gibson couldn't, wouldn't accurately replicate their own guitars. Then in bit by bit increments features would get corrected. I don't pay any attention to what they do anymore, there are more than enough used instruments to choose from and only a few models and years I would pursue.
     
  15. Eywadude

    Eywadude Lunatic Member

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    Oops! Yeah, I actually meant that, I just didn't word that very well. lol :oops: But yeah, my '66 was the same. No 'burst on the back. The weird thing is that you think it would take less time for them to do it that way instead of doing the sunburst on the back as well like they do now.

    I haven't been overly-excited about Gibson's modern product range, but occasionally they come up with something that piques my interest. One of them was the 2017 and 2018 Les Paul Tribute model. I really like its stripped back and basic look with its natural maple "binding". But for 2019 Gibson has gone with dot markers on the fretboard instead of trapezoid inlays with a crappier sunburst finish, and they also did away with the goldtop model. It's just stuff like that from them that drives me nuts. The 2019 model just doesn't appeal as much as the 2017/'18 did.

    Same with the 2018 SG Special with the minis in it. Again, it has a stripped back and simple look, but it only lasted one year. Additionally, if you compare its body carve to other SG models (particularly on retail sites with pictures of specific guitars and not just factory pics) it has a deeper bevelled carve on the horns than other models, making it look a bit more vintage in overall shape.

    That's the one thing that drives me nuts about the current SGs is that the bevelling of the contours are nowhere near as deep and sculpted as the original SGs. Especially the ones from 1961-'65. After that, the contours gradually started to change. The contours on the early 1965 SG Standard I had were much deeper and more sculpted than the 1968 SG Standard I have now (particularly on the backside of the horns), and the new SGs are even less sculpted than the late 60's SGs. Granted, they aren't nearly as badly sculpted as the 70s SGs, which were the absolute pits styling/contour-wise, but they're still way off. Even the '61 reissue and some of the Custom Shop SGs are way off in the carve department too. It drives me nuts, because the way the body and horns of the early SGs were bevelled and contoured was just so much better looking than the later stuff that came after it, especially when compared with the newer stuff. It just doesn't compare.

    The 2018 SG Special seemed to be a bit of an aberration countour-wise. IMO, it is better sculpted than the rest of the SG line. Again, it's not as good as the early SGs, but it seems to be better than all the current non-Custom Shop models. I compared many pics between current SG models and the 2018 SG Special seemed to have a unique (and better) carve for some reason. But now it's gone. Typical Gibson. :rolleyes:

    Anyway, too many guitars wanted and too little money though. lol
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018 at 5:14 PM
  16. 911s55

    911s55 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Love me a good SG too. My two main working-gigging guitars from '74-'85 were a '62 SG/Les Paul Standard and '64 Strat. Used guitars back then.

    I've got two new guitars on order, Jazzmaster and Strat styles. I've owned only 2 new guitars since '72, out of over 150.
     

     

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  17. 911s55

    911s55 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Here's my passed along '93
     

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  18. Eywadude

    Eywadude Lunatic Member

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    That wasn't an ebony block (tailpiece) SG/Les Paul by any chance, was it? Always wanted one of those. I missed out on a P.A.F.-loaded one before I got my '65 SG Standard. Sad to say, but the vintage market is just WAY too much for me to afford anymore. I remember when I got interested in the vintage market about 20 years ago and early SG Standards could still be had for $1,500, or a little more than a new one. Now they're several multiples of that. I still have my stripped finish '68 SG Standard (page 75 of this thread), but I sold the '66 Firebird I and the '65 SG Standard I had (see page 67 of this thread). Sadly, I sold both of them due to unforeseen circumstances, but selling my '65 SG still haunts me to this day. That guitar had incredible tone. I'm still tear'ing in my beer over that one. :(

    And yeah, I think I've only owned one new guitar out of the many I've owned too (I've lost count). I still have it too. Laugh if you will, but it's a Squier '51 and I'd probably lop off my own left nut before I sold that guitar. It's not worth much anyway, but I love the tone of it. For me, it's all about the bridge humbucker. Somehow it manages to sound between a humbucker, a Tele and a Strat at the same time. It's a really unique tone and I love it. I'm mostly a Gibson guy, but it's a pretty good looker too.

    The only other new guitar I bought was a Squier "Vintage Modified" (or whatever) Thinline Telecaster in Shoreline Gold metallic. Bought it about 10 years ago, but promptly returned it. It was the only guitar I have ever played that actually caused pain and bruising on my hand! Seriously! The "Seymour Duncan Designed" pickups sucked too. It quickly grated on me, so I took it back. I still would like a Tele in the collection though.

    Looks nice. I'd still take one. Have you seen the ones with the sunburst on the back as well? Looks weird. One day I'll have my own reverse Firebird. Be it newer or vintage...99.99% it'll be newer though. Can't afford the original reverse ones. Sky high prices. Oh well! :rolleyes:
     
  19. 911s55

    911s55 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yep, all my favorite Gibsons and Fenders are pre '65. Too much $ for me to be interested in.

    My '62 Les-G had a very unusual factory long Bigsby (B7) which were generally used on archtops including Standard Les Pauls. It was cool but a big Bigsby on that smaller body was too much. I removed it and installed a stop tailpiece, there were no holes for the studs so a true factory ordered Bigsby.
    I remember dragging that tailpiece around when we were playing on the road and got tired dealing with it and pitched it into the trash in a motel room. Sheesh!

    I've had quite a few Japanese and Mexican Fenders since about '89, they can be good for what they are. Strip the electronics out and have at it.

    Good Firebirds are out there, not a ton of money. Medallions and first two generations are the best but reissues of some sort can be a good value.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018 at 11:03 PM
  20. Eywadude

    Eywadude Lunatic Member

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    Huh, I don't think I've ever seen a long Bigsby on an SG before. Only the shorter B5 "horseshoe" Bigsby. Cool beans.

    I'm not opposed to cheaper guitars either. Strip 'em and build 'em. I've got a few on the back burner. Got a cool looking ash bodied 70s Japanese Les Paul, a trashed "Planet" (Teisco) guitar, a nice looking 80s Epiphone Strat with an Explorer headstock and another Squier '51 that I am going to strip the finish off of and put a P-90 in the neck position (keeping the stock '51 bridge humbucker of course). Got lots of projects, but too little time, and money is getting siphoned off toward other things at the moment, so they sit for now. One day!

    If I get a Firebird, it'll probably be a reissue V. I still like the sunburst finish, even though it's not correct. I've also seen a couple of Pelham Blue ones come up here recently at surprisingly good prices for such a desirable and relatively rare colour (original or reissue). I've always been a fan of Johnny Winter and liked the unique tone they have. A Firebird is on the wish list, but it's going to have to wait for awhile. Again, one day! :p
     

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