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Burstbuckers and High Gain

ngjenkins

New member
Joined
Jan 19, 2024
Messages
14
Hello all!

So, looking for advice. I have a 2020 Les Paul Standard (Tri-burst) that I really love the feel of, but I am STRUGGLING with dialing in high gain tone on these Burstbuckers. Incidentally I had the same thing happen on a 2019 LP Standard I had a few years ago and I think it's just the nature of Burstbuckers.

Basically, once I get close to enough gain to function with my hands and style, I've got noisy tinny pickups. SO much high end that they borderline squeal and a floppy low end that gives me almost nothing in terms of punch or saturation. Incidentally, my 498t pickups in my Custom have kind of the opposite problem (very dark and saturated, don't take much to push them into Metallica levels of distortion that's saturated). But having a darker pickup I find easier to correct in the amp.

I've done some searching on YouTube and haven't found much so I wanted to ask some experts!

Is this just the nature of Burstbuckers or am I doing something completely wrong?

Thanks in advance!
 

jb_abides

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 6, 2005
Messages
5,382
It would help others weigh-in if you define your idea of high-gain, and your amp and pedals.
 

ngjenkins

New member
Joined
Jan 19, 2024
Messages
14
You got it.

My idea of high-gain. Black album Metallica I think is a good generic tone. I can get there very easily on my LP Custom. So, super saturated, thick and responsive to palm muting and "chugging" for lack of a better word. I'm currently in a Soundgarden cover band and I struggle to get to Kim's tones on Badmotorfinger. So it's not an active pickup issue as Badmotorfinger was mostly recorded with SGs (Edit: sorry, it's a Guild that just looks like an SG) and Chris' LP Delux.

And I've gotten the same result out of my three amps/pedal combinations. THEY ARE:

1. EVH 5150 Stealth (50w). Blue or Red channels.
2. Fender Hot Rod (50w) with a 5150 Overdrive pedal.
3. Boss Katana Mk2 (either through the speaker or through Tone Studio). It doesn't matter if I use my own pedals through the clean channel with a little breakup or if I use high gain on the amp itself. Same results. Noise, squawk, floppy low end.

Hope that's helpful.
 

Pj32Sr

Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2023
Messages
18
Same with my custom
50s standard 61t bb1 (can get closer to my ibanez grgr131ex-bkf n other ibanez gain wise) controlling brightness more
Tube screamer
Boss eq
Behringer gmx212
 

ngjenkins

New member
Joined
Jan 19, 2024
Messages
14
Same with my custom
50s standard 61t bb1 (can get closer to my ibanez grgr131ex-bkf n other ibanez gain wise) controlling brightness more
Tube screamer
Boss eq
Behringer gmx212
I'll jump back into tone studio and see if I can use the eq more to cut some of the high end.
 

jb_abides

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 6, 2005
Messages
5,382
It sounds like you are reaching practical limits of BB1/2 design intended to emphasize high-end when overdriven and being un-potted at least with your rig.

Perhaps adjusting height and pole pieces first, before a swap.

Or backing off guitar volume and tone, letting the rig do more of the 'heavy lifting'.
 

ngjenkins

New member
Joined
Jan 19, 2024
Messages
14
It sounds like you are reaching practical limits of BB1/2 design intended to emphasize high-end when overdriven and being un-potted at least with your rig.

Perhaps adjusting height and pole pieces first, before a swap.

Or backing off guitar volume and tone, letting the rig do more of the 'heavy lifting'.
I'll do some research on adjusting pole pieces. I've seen some videos pop up about it.

One of my solutions has been a little similar. I typically combat it by taking tone down to 8, switching to middle position and taking the neck pickup down to about 6 or 7. It helps, but ALSO cuts the overall drive, which is also part of the problem I'm trying to solve haha.

Thanks for this. It gives me stuff to think about.
 

Classicplayer

Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2002
Messages
230
The Burstbuckers 1 & 2 in my Les Paul are very height sensitive. Check your measurements. My bridge is 1st string 4/64” from the pole screw when played at the highest fret. The bridge is 1/8” on the 6th str8ng side when using the same method. My neck BB 1 is 6/64” at the 1st. string side and the 6th string side is almost level with pickup ring.

I've also tweaked several pole screws to even out the volume differences between strings on both neck and bridge pups. I don't play heavy metal styles, and Burstbucker 1 & 2 may not be the best pickups for that style without help from a pedal designed to get that tone. Burstbuckers have a type of “roar” going on that can cover Classic Rock and other genres, but would no be my first choice for Jazz' mellower tones or Heavy Metal at the opposite end of the music spectrum.

Classicplayer

Edit: OP. I can try and send pics of my Burstbuckers to show what they currently look like. Message if interested.
 
Last edited:

Yelly

Active member
Joined
Aug 29, 2001
Messages
1,534
Hello all!

So, looking for advice. I have a 2020 Les Paul Standard (Tri-burst) that I really love the feel of, but I am STRUGGLING with dialing in high gain tone on these Burstbuckers. Incidentally I had the same thing happen on a 2019 LP Standard I had a few years ago and I think it's just the nature of Burstbuckers.

Basically, once I get close to enough gain to function with my hands and style, I've got noisy tinny pickups. SO much high end that they borderline squeal and a floppy low end that gives me almost nothing in terms of punch or saturation. Incidentally, my 498t pickups in my Custom have kind of the opposite problem (very dark and saturated, don't take much to push them into Metallica levels of distortion that's saturated). But having a darker pickup I find easier to correct in the amp.

I've done some searching on YouTube and haven't found much so I wanted to ask some experts!

Is this just the nature of Burstbuckers or am I doing something completely wrong?

Thanks in advance!
Potting required for high gain
 

Yelly

Active member
Joined
Aug 29, 2001
Messages
1,534
Hello all!

So, looking for advice. I have a 2020 Les Paul Standard (Tri-burst) that I really love the feel of, but I am STRUGGLING with dialing in high gain tone on these Burstbuckers. Incidentally I had the same thing happen on a 2019 LP Standard I had a few years ago and I think it's just the nature of Burstbuckers.

Basically, once I get close to enough gain to function with my hands and style, I've got noisy tinny pickups. SO much high end that they borderline squeal and a floppy low end that gives me almost nothing in terms of punch or saturation. Incidentally, my 498t pickups in my Custom have kind of the opposite problem (very dark and saturated, don't take much to push them into Metallica levels of distortion that's saturated). But having a darker pickup I find easier to correct in the amp.

I've done some searching on YouTube and haven't found much so I wanted to ask some experts!

Is this just the nature of Burstbuckers or am I doing something completely wrong?

Thanks in advance!
Your only real solution is potting the pups.
 

ngjenkins

New member
Joined
Jan 19, 2024
Messages
14
Your only real solution is potting the pups.
Yes, this seems to be the common theme. The burstbuckers are kinda microphonic so, potting them would make sense. But, at that point I'd prefer to just replace them. I do really like how they sound under just a LITTLE gain, but they're just unfortunately not very versatile for me. ***Emphasis on "FOR ME." haha
 

El Gringo

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 8, 2015
Messages
5,665
Check out ThroBak pickups www.throbak.com Believe it or not this was my problem about 6 years ago . A really bad set of Burstbucker 1&3 pickups that squealed so bad thru my Marshall 2555X's that I gave ThroBak a shot ThroBak MXV-SLE-101 Plus pickups , wax potted with A5 mags . Long story short I love these pickups so much that I have them in all of my Les Paul's .
 

Classicplayer

Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2002
Messages
230
I wonder if any Burstbucker 1, 2, or 3 users has tweaked the pole screws to experiment with diffferent tone
”variations” I wasn't hearing what I wanted from my neck BB 1, until I tweaked a few pole screws to even out string to string volume and at the same time, diminish somewhat, any excess of lows that can lead to “mudiness”.

I achieved my goal (largely) from the experiment and (additionall) my middle position tone noticeably improved. What I didn't expect from the middle position was a slightly louder than usual unwound G-string. I decided to leave well enough alone as it seems to add “character” and complexity to the guitar's tone in the middle position. Has anyone found something similar and found it to their liking? I found myself playing more triads on the 3 unwound strings just get this particular sound.

classicplayer
 

LCW

New member
Joined
Nov 29, 2021
Messages
15
OP - maybe try either BB Pros (A5) or 57 Classic/Classic+ (A2). Both are potted.

I had similar issues with Burstbuckers. Too squealy. Nature of unpotted I guess.
 

NickiC

Active member
Joined
Jun 30, 2022
Messages
112
Adjusting the pole screws flush with the cover or bobbin is a good place
to begin. It keeps the harshness down and has better string separation when hitting chords. Especially with gain suitable for metal.
I approach BB this way to get more of the slug coil, less of the screw coil that has more windings. The BB 3 isn’t that much louder than BB2, more midrange. Highs are smoother.
 

CK6

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
453
Yes, this seems to be the common theme. The burstbuckers are kinda microphonic so, potting them would make sense. But, at that point I'd prefer to just replace them. I do really like how they sound under just a LITTLE gain, but they're just unfortunately not very versatile for me. ***Emphasis on "FOR ME." haha

I don’t think you need to pot them. Place some tape on the inside of the cover on the slug side and make sure you re-solder them nice and tight. Keep in mind that the room size and where you are standing has more impact on the squealing. Many great players that played with high gain, such as Gary Moore, used unspotted PAF pick ups.
 
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