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Epi Humbuckers Vs Gibson '57 Classic pickups

#1 User is offline   Paulocon 

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 08:51 AM

Hi all, I know this topic has probably been covered a lot of times - but....I am considering changing out my pick ups from my 2007 Chinese made Epi Sheraton to 'Gibson '57 classic & classic plus' pick ups!! What I really want to know is how much of a 'tonal' difference will it make etc. Would it be a major difference in quality or just a minor one....if anyone could evaluate this for me, that would be great!!!!!
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#2 User is offline   damian 

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 08:59 AM

It will be a whole new guitar......Trust me on this......I find Gibby 57s cheapest at "AmplifiedParts"...And used, on the MLP forum,

the "Semour Duncan" forum, and elsewhere...........
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#3 User is offline   Vinlander 

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 10:45 AM

If like me you already bound with your guitar and like how it sounds, it will open it up in a very good way.
To fully maximize your investment, I would strongly advise to also change the wiring, pots and caps with quality ones.
I did invest about 300$ in 57/57+ and all electronics; did the job myself and that guitar is now a keeper [thumbup]
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#4 User is offline   Crow 

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 11:07 AM

View PostPaulocon, on 21 June 2012 - 08:51 AM, said:

Hi all, I know this topic has probably been covered a lot of times - but....I am considering changing out my pick ups from my 2007 Chinese made Epi Sheraton to 'Gibson '57 classic & classic plus' pick ups!! What I really want to know is how much of a 'tonal' difference will it make etc. Would it be a major difference in quality or just a minor one....if anyone could evaluate this for me, that would be great!!!!!


I changed the pickups In my old wonderful Korean Dot a couple of years ago to Gibson 57's. It has a whole different tone. And tone range with the knobs now. I did not change the pots, just the pickups. But I really like the original pickups and missed them. Though the change was good I lost some ooomph or crunch I had with the stockers, that Alvin lee, ZZtop baddass crunch. The 57's are a little less "HOT" IMHO. Smoother..I didn't get the plus for the bridge, I just went with two classic 57's... Still the difference in the tonal range with the tone knobs was very good. The tome knobs became important..lol Well worth doing even without the pots and wiring change. But I did miss the original pup's... They were better then they get credit for im opinion. So, I bought a es-339 which has very similar pickups at least to my ears. Epiphone says that the 339 pups are similar to the classics, I disagree, they are more ilike the old pups, which aint a bad thing... GO for it! If you have the money and skills to change the pots and everything, I think you will get more out of it. Then get you one of the new 339's, they are awesome too. [thumbup]

#5 User is offline   Gunner 

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 11:08 AM

Definitely a major difference. I recently did it on my 355.

#6 User is offline   Blueman335 

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 11:37 AM

View PostGunner, on 21 June 2012 - 11:08 AM, said:

Definitely a major difference. I recently did it on my 355.


+1. I have a lot of Epi's and mid-priced imports, and have upgraded the PU's in all of them. Big improvement in clarity, definition, and depth. Does more to improve the tone than everything else put together. The weakest link on an import is the stock Asian PU's. At that price-point, they're just not made to compete with high quality PU's.

Before you buy any PU's, take a look at Seymour Duncan's PAF's, especially their Seth's (which is the most authentic PAF reissue you can buy).

#7 User is offline   bobouz 

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 11:46 AM

Some of the P90s found in Korean Casinos (and other models) were quite good, but Epi's humbuckers are often pretty muddy.
Gibson '57s should do the trick, but you could also put P94s or Phat Cats in there for a terrific single coil tone.
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#8 User is offline   Blueman335 

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 02:20 PM

View Postbobouz, on 21 June 2012 - 11:46 AM, said:

Some of the P90s found in Korean Casinos (and other models) were quite good, but Epi's humbuckers are often pretty muddy.
Gibson '57s should do the trick, but you could also put P94s or Phat Cats in there for a terrific single coil tone.


I've found the same thing, Asian-made P-90's sound much better than most Asian-made HB's. Simpler design, less to mess up.

On the Duncan forum, P-94's aren't held in particularly high esteem, and Phat Cats have A2 magnets which make the neck very dark and bridge weak. Better sounding HB-sized P-90's are made by Lollar, and if you're on a budget, GFS Mean 90's.

#9 User is offline   Lord Summerisle 

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 03:18 PM

If changing to the '57s works for you, then go for it.

I've never been convinced by the idea of changing Epi pick-ups just for the sake of it, though. I'm not precisely sure which Epi p'ups came as standard in my 2006 G-400, but I thought they were great. The neck pick-up, in particular, always impressed me. Had a nice, mellow, almost jazzy tone to it. Plenty of bite in the bridge pick-up, too...

I often hear this argument that the stock pick-ups are the Achilles Heel of Epiphone guitars...change the pick-ups and you've got a great guitar, etc., etc....

Maybe I've been lucky, but with the recent Epis I've owned I thought the pick-ups were one of the best features of the guitar.

#10 User is offline   Paulocon 

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 01:35 AM

Hi all, very interesting responses - seems to be a mixed response. I immediately thought that to change the pick ups was a necessity and it would improve the tone and give me that 'Gibson' sound that we all look for etc. The classic 57's aren't cheap either - around 90 each here in the UK. So its a major investment to have them swapped and not something I want to do lightly unless I'm sure it will be worth while etc.

Would be keen to hear from anyone who has done it and didn't like them or anyone who changed them back etc.

Anywhere, keep the debate going its great to hear all your views etc.

Cheers as always.
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#11 User is offline   Blueman335 

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 12:04 PM

View PostLord Summerisle, on 21 June 2012 - 03:18 PM, said:

I've never been convinced by the idea of changing Epi pick-ups just for the sake of it, though. ...I often hear this argument that the stock pick-ups are the Achilles Heel of Epiphone guitars...change the pick-ups and you've got a great guitar, etc., etc....

Maybe I've been lucky, but with the recent Epis I've owned I thought the pick-ups were one of the best features of the guitar.


Yes, you're either incredibly lucky, or play with a lot of distortion and effects, or don't have a good tube amp, as upgrading PU's on Epi's invariably gives much better tones. No comparison. Example: I bought a used Epi Korina '58 V last year. Plugged it in to test the electronics. It sounded incredible, like no other Epi I've ever owned, and I've owned dozens. I was blown away by the clarity and articulation. Never heard an Epi anywhere close to that quality of tone. Took off the strings and flipped the PU's over. They were Dimarzios, the seller forgot to mention that. I've probably played and owned more Epi's than just about anyone here, and let me assure you that Asian-made Epi PU's do not, and cannot compare to high quality ones. They don't try to. PU winding and manufacture is an art, full of many closely-guarded secrets. I understand if you don't want to spend the money, but in the USA there is a thriving online market in used PU's, and you can get many Duncan's, Dimarzio's, Gibsons, etc used for around half price, like $35 to $50 in many cases.

Being content with stock PU's and actually comparing them side-by-side to quality ones are two different things. If you don't mind settling for 'okay' tones, keep it stock. If you want great tones that close the gap with $2,000 and $3,000 guitars, you ain't going to get anywhere near that unless you upgrade your Epi's PU's. For a modest investment, you can make your $400 Epi LP sound pretty close to a Gibson LP. I've done it many times with Epi's. No one is going to confuse the tones of a stock Epi vs a stock Gibson.

Maybe it's coincidence that of all the Epi's I've owned, every one of them sounded much better with upgraded PU's.

#12 User is offline   Gunner 

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 12:13 PM

View PostPaulocon, on 22 June 2012 - 01:35 AM, said:

.....or anyone who changed them back etc.


Can't imagine anyone doing that, unless they needed the money.

#13 User is offline   Blueman335 

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 01:55 PM

View PostGunner, on 22 June 2012 - 12:13 PM, said:

Can't imagine anyone doing that, unless they needed the money.


Or when they're selling the guitar!

#14 User is offline   Crow 

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 04:56 PM

View PostPaulocon, on 22 June 2012 - 01:35 AM, said:

Hi all, very interesting responses - seems to be a mixed response. I immediately thought that to change the pick ups was a necessity and it would improve the tone and give me that 'Gibson' sound that we all look for etc. The classic 57's aren't cheap either - around £90 each here in the UK. So its a major investment to have them swapped and not something I want to do lightly unless I'm sure it will be worth while etc.

Would be keen to hear from anyone who has done it and didn't like them or anyone who changed them back etc.

Anywhere, keep the debate going its great to hear all your views etc.

Cheers as always.


Well I already put in my $.02, but honestly tho I enjoy the 57's and they did seem to add some more tonal range, I was a little let down at first. I expected more for my $200 "Upgrade". But I had already had it done so I just enjoyed it. But in my non expert mind I thought..hhmmm wasn't nuthin wrong with those old pickups after all. And I did miss some of the punch the originals had. I have never owned a Gibson, so I didn't really know what sound I was chasing..lol. I do wish I would have put the 57+plus in the bridge, instead of just two 57's. And like I said also, the new 339's I bought (2) Have that old punch I was missing. I didn't have the skills to change out the pups, especially thru those slim fholes. And There is no luthier near where I live, so I just kept the old pots. They guy that changed out the pups for me said he has heck because the original wires were very thin and hard to work with. I would imagine one place the skimp on these guitars is on the elctronics.
Mine is a 99 Korean model.. I don't know what Humbucker pickups were in it, they have no numbers or identifying stickers on the back. But I used to love'em..lol
Tell me this. Do YOU like it as it is? If you do, then maybe it's not worth it. Only you know how much you want to spend. I am 61 years young and have learned a few things. One thing I have learned that the market has changed in the last 15 years, and not everyone can afford a Gibson. And most manufacturers have learned that there is a market for lower price range buyers. And in many cases the same people are building all the guitars now. Except for the Custom Shop Variety. We the po people are enjoying that. We are now able to buy "nice" guitars at a budget price. I have a nice USA made Fender Strat, but I also have three chinese made Fender Squier CV's, two tele's and one strat, and they are every bit as nice as my USA made Strat.I also bought two PRS SE guitars last year, which are the affordable models. REALLY nice guitars. The SE Custom 24 is amazing.The SE Santana is excellent. I also Ride Suzuki Cruiser, which is an 01 model, a big long comfy bike, and I wouldn't trade it for a 2 Harley's...lol.. I have put almost 50,000 wonderful miles on that bike and am keeping it till it's dust or I am.
Even after changing the pups, my guitar is still an Epiphone Dot. Nothing will change that. Even tho the truss rod cover has Gibson on it..lol..And it's a danged nice guitar with or without the Gibson pups. There are probably a lot of more astute, knowledgeable people on here, so don't pay any attention to anything I say..lol.. if you have the itch, go for it. But I would go all the way with the pots and wiring. The Epiphone Dots are or were one of the best kept secrets out there I tell ya. Very nice guitars as is...Nothing wrong with affordable guitars these days. I bet you love your Dot right now.
AM I rambling? Yes I think so. Good luck with your decision, you will love the guitar either way. [thumbup]

#15 User is offline   bobouz 

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 05:06 PM

View PostBlueman335, on 21 June 2012 - 02:20 PM, said:

On the Duncan forum, P-94's aren't held in particularly high esteem, and Phat Cats have A2 magnets which make the neck very dark and bridge weak. Better sounding HB-sized P-90's are made by Lollar, and if you're on a budget, GFS Mean 90's.

Re P94s & Phat Cats, I'm thinking more of clean fingerstyle oriented tones (Travis/Atkins), since that's what I play. It certainly is true that there are other good P90ish options out there that'll fit into a humbucker opening.
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Epis: '66 FT45n Cortez / '00 AIUSA-JLH Sheraton / '04 Peerless Casino
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#16 User is offline   Lord Summerisle 

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 01:44 PM

View PostBlueman335, on 22 June 2012 - 12:04 PM, said:

Yes, you're either incredibly lucky, or play with a lot of distortion and effects, or don't have a good tube amp, as upgrading PU's on Epi's invariably gives much better tones. No comparison. Example: I bought a used Epi Korina '58 V last year. Plugged it in to test the electronics. It sounded incredible, like no other Epi I've ever owned, and I've owned dozens. I was blown away by the clarity and articulation. Never heard an Epi anywhere close to that quality of tone. Took off the strings and flipped the PU's over. They were Dimarzios, the seller forgot to mention that. I've probably played and owned more Epi's than just about anyone here, and let me assure you that Asian-made Epi PU's do not, and cannot compare to high quality ones. They don't try to. PU winding and manufacture is an art, full of many closely-guarded secrets. I understand if you don't want to spend the money, but in the USA there is a thriving online market in used PU's, and you can get many Duncan's, Dimarzio's, Gibsons, etc used for around half price, like $35 to $50 in many cases.

Being content with stock PU's and actually comparing them side-by-side to quality ones are two different things. If you don't mind settling for 'okay' tones, keep it stock. If you want great tones that close the gap with $2,000 and $3,000 guitars, you ain't going to get anywhere near that unless you upgrade your Epi's PU's. For a modest investment, you can make your $400 Epi LP sound pretty close to a Gibson LP. I've done it many times with Epi's. No one is going to confuse the tones of a stock Epi vs a stock Gibson.

Maybe it's coincidence that of all the Epi's I've owned, every one of them sounded much better with upgraded PU's.


Well....the only effect I commonly add to my tone is to drench it in reverb. Here's an example, recorded using a (stock) Hagstrom Viking: http://www.soundclic...&songID=9532411

I absolutely agree with you re: valve amps. I notice the original poster has a Marshall "Mini-Stack," I'm guessing that this is a digital modelling amp (like the Line 6 Spider IV 30 I currently use)? I don't know about his, but I think of mine as basically being a "computer hooked up to a speaker" - and hence is another factor I take into account when deciding not to change pick-ups. Deep down, although I quite like the Spider, I don't think of it as a "real" amp - I own it for convenience and because, when I bought it, it was cheap at a time when price was a huge factor. But I don't think of digital amps as being amps to get the best tone out of a guitar.

However, I have owned valve (tube) amps in the past - notably a Laney VC 30 and Fender Blues Jr. In fact, I used to gig my G-400 through the Blues Jr - so here is where I do differ from your approach to this question of upgrading pick-ups.

Basically, I think you can buy a cheaper guitar (like an Epiphone) and tweak it to make it closer to something it isn't (such as a Gibson). And if you want to do that, then cool - more power to your arm. Sometimes, though, these cheaper guitars can be very rewarding in their own right (I once went to a gig where a guitar teacher friend of mine was playing - the guy is a phenomenal guitarist - but at one point he laid down his custom shop Strat and picked up a stock Danelecto (and I mean stock, all he'd done was to change the strings on the damn thing) - and for the numbers he used it on it sounded great, he cranked some really nice sleazy blues tones out of what was basically a cheap, plywood guitar with those crappy lipstick pick-ups.

My point, really, is that it is possible to get great tones out of a stock Epi (and many other cheaper guitars). If someone feels a pick-up change is essential for their tone, then so be it. But I've never been convinced that a guitar like an Epi fundamentally lacks tone until its owner has had the chance to pry out the stock pick-ups and drop in a first-rate set of pick-ups. Sometimes, it is possible to be pleasantly surprised with what is already in there. Of course, if the stock pick-ups aren't working for a particular player, then he should go ahead and yank them - but I'll never be convinced that a mandatory step in getting the best out of an Epiphone guitar will always be to replace the pick-ups...

#17 User is offline   Blueman335 

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 11:52 AM

View PostLord Summerisle, on 23 June 2012 - 01:44 PM, said:

My point, really, is that it is possible to get great tones out of a stock Epi (and many other cheaper guitars)...I'll never be convinced that a mandatory step in getting the best out of an Epiphone guitar will always be to replace the pick-ups...


Yes, to get the best out of an Epi, you have to change the PU's, regardless of whether you like the stock PU's or not. You can get decent, acceptable tones from a stock Epi (whatever model), but to get tones that qualify as 'great' you have to take that next step. I upgrade PU's, do my own set ups, swap magnets in PU's when needed, and I get compliments on my tones everytime I play on stage. It's the PU's that make the difference.

#18 User is offline   alfunkz 

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 02:53 PM

View PostBlueman335, on 25 June 2012 - 11:52 AM, said:

Yes, to get the best out of an Epi, you have to change the PU's, regardless of whether you like the stock PU's or not. You can get decent, acceptable tones from a stock Epi (whatever model), but to get tones that qualify as 'great' you have to take that next step. I upgrade PU's, do my own set ups, swap magnets in PU's when needed, and I get compliments on my tones everytime I play on stage. It's the PU's that make the difference.

i have to disagree its a combination of pickups, amp and pedals that make the difference, if you have the right setup you can make a tone work, even with stock pickups, i have a vox pathfinder amp, and a number of pedals, i play the beetles, acdc, metallica, pink floyd to name but a few, on my firebird, strat, and tele, they all have stock pickups all this talk about "you must change your pickups to get a great tone, or make your guitar better" what a load of twoddle.

http://www.northwest...caster-pickups/
Have a watch of the video on this page, then take a look at how much the pickups cost on the same website. I have a set of these in a partscaster strat and they are on par with the pickups in my squier CV strat, which are made on the same production line as toneriders, yet they retail around half the price

My point is you dont have to spend a fortune on pickups, you just have to dial in the correct tones within your setup believe me the tone is there you just have to find it.

The stock "alnico classics" in my firebird are (according to reviews) voiced similar to gibby 57 classics why should i upgrade them?

Apologies to anyone this may upset, i just dont believe you have to spend money that isnt necessary
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2009 Squier Classic Vibe Strat (Olympic White/Gold Pickguard)
2005 Squier Standard Tele (Antique burst)
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#19 User is offline   Blueman335 

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 03:34 PM

View Postalfunkz, on 25 June 2012 - 02:53 PM, said:

My point is you dont have to spend a fortune on pickups, you just have to dial in the correct tones within your setup believe me the tone is there you just have to find it.

The stock "alnico classics" in my firebird are (according to reviews) voiced similar to gibby 57 classics why should i upgrade them?


I don't spend a fortune on PU's, I buy almost all of them used, for around half price or less. I just bought a nickel-cover Gibson 60ST/50SR set (from an Epi Elitist) for $50 delivered. That's less than a pair of new GFS or Duncan-Designed would cost, and they're much better than either of those.

Actually, the Epi alnico classics are nothing like Gibson '57 Classics; the Epi's have A5 magnets, which have a lot of treble and bass, scooped mids, a sharp high end, tight low end, buried in wax, and are fairly high output. Gibson '57's are PAF's with A2 magnets, which have a lot of mids, not much treble, a loose low end, very little wax, and are low output. Gibson '57's are an accurate remake of an original 1950's PAF; Epi '57 Alnico Classics are not. Very different PU's.

#20 User is offline   alfunkz 

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 04:20 PM

Sorry that wasnt a personal assault on you, yours was just the last post so i replied to it. There just seems to be this big thing about pickups and so on. All i am saying is just try and find the tone in your setup its normally there it just needs to be coaxed out of hiding. I'm not against modding by a long shot my strat and tele have upgraded electrics to fender spec and have been shielded to reduce sc hum, my strat has a full block trem rather than the standard thin block, my tele has upgraded saddles, and my firebird is completely stock and in my opinion doesnt need anything changing.

My amp settings change slightly depending on which guitar i use, and my pedals do the rest, once you know what the settings are that you need there isnt really any need to change pickups. I buy a guitar because i like the way it sounds and plays as it is.

But thats just my opinion, everyone has one
2011 Epiphone Firebird studio special edition (Black)
2009 Squier Classic Vibe Strat (Olympic White/Gold Pickguard)
2005 Squier Standard Tele (Antique burst)
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