Pickup Combos for a Les Paul Tribute

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Pickup Combos for a Les Paul Tribute

Post by meruen »

Hi folks! I have a Gibson Tribute 2021. I'm starting to replace the factory 490's. I choose a Burstbucker 3 for the bridge, and I'm attempted to get a Dimazio PAF 36 aniversary for the Neck.

Do you guys think it's a good choice? I watched a lot of videos and both are sounding very nice to me, but I don't have a single video with both being used on the same guitar on different positions.

Could you give me a hint?
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Re: Pickup Combos for a Les Paul Tribute

Post by Wonks »

Hi and welcome.

For blues and classic rock, that combo should work well. Have you a playing style in mind, or some players who you want to sound like?

There will be very few people who have both installed on one guitar, but it should be a good match. The Burstbucker 1 will be very similar in style to the DiMarzio PAF, so you could also consider that. You are more likely to find examples of those two pickups on YouTube etc. But as the PAF and the BB1 will be close in character, you could just try and find BB3+BB1 pairings and assume the BB3+PAF will sound very close

Whilst the BB3 isn't as powerful as an SD JB, the BB3 + DM PAF combo (or BB3 and BB1) will get you somewhere close to a SD JB + SD Jazz combination (I'm not a fan of the JB myself but many love it), which is one of the classic pickup pairings, without the BB3 being quite so mid-forward on the bridge pickup. So that's another pairing you could look out for.

Don't forget that on demos some of the sound comes from the player, and a lot will depend on the amp being used as well. So there's no guarantee you'll ever get quite the same sound you hear on a demo. And I always avoid any demo where everything is through a distortion pedal or fully gained amp, as that hides so much of a pickup's character.

Differences between PAF style pickups will be pretty small, and will probably get totally lost in a band context. So whatever you choose, you'll have a sound that will definitely work. It's very easy to keep thinking that the magic will be in the next pickup you get, whilst that's rarely the case.
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Re: Pickup Combos for a Les Paul Tribute

Post by meruen »

Hi! Thanks for answering me! I use an helix lt mainly with two presets. I use something very similar to Eric Johnson solo distortion when using the neck pickup, something with a lot of gain, but still soft as a cloud. In bridge position I like to do hot stuff/rock riffs like motley crue etc.
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Re: Pickup Combos for a Les Paul Tribute

Post by meruen »

Do you think it will be any positive diferences between Burstbucker 1 in the neck and Dimazio PAF 36? I mean... Could the dimazio sound better?
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Re: Pickup Combos for a Les Paul Tribute

Post by Wonks »

What is 'better'? Possibly slightly different, but both will sound good and one person may prefer the BB1 and another the PAF 36.

I know you want someone to tell you that pickup A sounds better than pickup B, but these pickups are both of a similar quality and sound.
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Re: Pickup Combos for a Les Paul Tribute

Post by Wonks »

The thing about pickups is you are never stuck with them. You can always swap them out and try something new. If you buy pickups used, then you can pretty much always sell them on again for a similar price (or build up a collection of spares).

You can also change volume pots to alter the tone a bit. Gibson invariably use CTS pots, and they tend to have resistance values slightly under the nominal pot resistance. e.g. 470k instead of the nominal 500k This makes the sound slightly darker than a pot with a value just over the nominal value e.g. 510k.

1950s pots tended to be on the higher side of 500k, so for a PAF style pickup, you'll get closer to the original 'sound' (though in reality this varied greatly due to the hand wound nature of the pickups) with pots of 500k or more.

I replace a lot of pots and pickups and have a box of 250k pots and 500k pots that I've measured the values of and marked them on the sides. I use the higher values for volume pots and the lower ones for tone pots. I do find that Alpha pots tend to be a lot closer to 500k (and above) than CTS pots, which are normally below 500k.

But if changing pots, do make sure they have similar shaft length and spline count to the originals, so that's 24 splines for CTS pot compatibility (as opposed to 18 splines for most Asian-made pots), otherwise your knobs won't fit the shafts.
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Re: Pickup Combos for a Les Paul Tribute

Post by Wonks »

If you want to, you can also put more of a semi-gloss finish on the satin finish of the Tributes (and Gibson's other satin nitro finish guitars), which I think gives them a much more expensive/classic look. All it takes is some car paint rubbing/polishing compound and a fair bit of manual polishing with a cloth. vest to start with a medium rubbing compound before moving to a fine one.

I did this to a friend's P90-equipped Tribute and we both thought it looked a lot better than the straight satin finish. I also swapped the 'Tribute' truss rod cover for a plain one.

Image

Because of the small particles they put in satin paint, it's never going to be as shiny as clear gloss nitro, but to me it does give a pleasing aged nitro look.
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Re: Pickup Combos for a Les Paul Tribute

Post by Sam Spoons »

That does look good Wonks. And I guess it will prevent the players forearm polishing the top opposite the controls?
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Re: Pickup Combos for a Les Paul Tribute

Post by Wonks »

Yes, the top will get polished by your arm/hand over time, giving an uneven appearance.

But it’s just something you can do if you want to. Some people may prefer the straight satin finish, and that’s fine. But worth mentioning it as many people may not know it can be done.

I must admit to polishing all my satin-finished electric guitars.
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Re: Pickup Combos for a Les Paul Tribute

Post by BigRedX »

meruen wrote: Tue Mar 28, 2023 1:19 pm Hi folks! I have a Gibson Tribute 2021. I'm starting to replace the factory 490's. I choose a Burstbucker 3 for the bridge, and I'm attempted to get a Dimazio PAF 36 aniversary for the Neck.

Do you guys think it's a good choice? I watched a lot of videos and both are sounding very nice to me, but I don't have a single video with both being used on the same guitar on different positions.

Could you give me a hint?

If you are going to change the pickups in any instrument your starting point would be to ask yourself what you don't like about the pickups that are currently fitted and work from there.
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Re: Pickup Combos for a Les Paul Tribute

Post by arkieboy »

Wonks wrote: Tue Mar 28, 2023 4:39 pm If you want to, you can also put more of a semi-gloss finish on the satin finish of the Tributes (and Gibson's other satin nitro finish guitars), which I think gives them a much more expensive/classic look. All it takes is some car paint rubbing/polishing compound and a fair bit of manual polishing with a cloth. vest to start with a medium rubbing compound before moving to a fine one.

I did this to a friend's P90-equipped Tribute and we both thought it looked a lot better than the straight satin finish. I also swapped the 'Tribute' truss rod cover for a plain one.

Image

Because of the small particles they put in satin paint, it's never going to be as shiny as clear gloss nitro, but to me it does give a pleasing aged nitro look.

showoff ;-)
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Re: Pickup Combos for a Les Paul Tribute

Post by GCKelloch »

BigRedX wrote: Wed Mar 29, 2023 9:54 am
meruen wrote: Tue Mar 28, 2023 1:19 pm Hi folks! I have a Gibson Tribute 2021. I'm starting to replace the factory 490's. I choose a Burstbucker 3 for the bridge, and I'm attempted to get a Dimazio PAF 36 aniversary for the Neck.

Do you guys think it's a good choice? I watched a lot of videos and both are sounding very nice to me, but I don't have a single video with both being used on the same guitar on different positions.

Could you give me a hint?

If you are going to change the pickups in any instrument your starting point would be to ask yourself what you don't like about the pickups that are currently fitted and work from there.

Absolutely! Why change something if you don't know what about it you want changed? A low Capacitance cable and a 1M pot in the neck or Ni cover removal might address your issues. If you must change pickups, I defy anyone to point out what about DiMarzio or SD makes them better than something like Tonerider. You want a smooth balanced mid-60's Gibson sound? Get the AlNiCo IV classics. If you are concerned about neck pickup articulation, get the Birmingham neck and/or the AIV neck without the cover. Ni covers reduce above 1kHz by 2dB at ~6kHz, and may also reduce string pull. Turning the tone knob down a bit does virtually the same.
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