#1
Hi, I am looking to get a new bridge pickup for my Epiphone Les Paul and I have been looking at the Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB and it has got a lot of good reviews. I just want to check before I buy that there isn't something else out there that will give a better sound for the same price, or the same sound for a cheaper price!

I am looking to get that early Green Day 39/smooth and Kerplunk sound, and I read that Billie Joe used that pickup to record these albums so I assume it will be the best way to go!
#2
keep in mind that your amp will also have a huge effect on your tone/your ability to match the studio tone you're looking for, so it doesn't come down to just the pickups

with that said, the JB is a solid pickup..I've got one in one of my guitars and although I spend most of my time playing with single coil or p-90 guitars, it does what I need it to when I'm in the mood for humbuckers
#3
The JB is the most generic higher-output pickup you can get. It's good if you like the basic sound of your guitar and amp and you just want to push the amp a little further.

Compared to an Epiphone Les Paul's stock pickups, the JB gives you roughly 20% more output. It's not much of a difference. It will also have a very dark (and possibly muddy) tone. Yes, Billie Joe used a JB, but he used it in a Strat copy and with a JCM800 set to a quite bright tone. It will sound very different with an Epi Les Paul and whatever amp you may have (I'm assuming not an original JCM800).

If you want to hear how a JB in an Epiphone Les Paul sounds, check out My Chemical Romance live up until about 2007. They used a mixture of Gibson and Epiphone guitars (Epis tend to have a slightly darker/warmer tone, Gibsons are a bit brighter and clearer); one of them used the stock pickups and one used a JB, so you can get an idea of how similar they sound and the kind of tone they give in a Les Paul.



What I'd recommend you look at is a brighter pickup like a DiMarzio Super 2 or Seymour Duncan Custom, if you need more output to drive a valve amp harder, or a Seymour Duncan Phat Cat if output is irrelevant. They will give you a slightly clearer sound than the JB, which will balance the Epi's tone better.

Bear in mind this all depends on your amp; your amp dictates your tone, not your pickups.
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#4
I'm using Amplitube through a Focusrite 2i2 for my amp as I'll only be recording with it.

I've got so much choice now! Definitely want a bright tone so I guess I won't be buying the JB now, is the Phat Cat just a humbucker sized single coil? I think I need that thickness you get with a hunbucker
#5
The Phat Cat is a P-90 in a humbucker size. There is a huge difference between a P-90 and a normal single coil. A P-90 uses the same magnets as a humbucker (in fact it uses two of them) and one really big coil, about the size of two humbucker coils together. It means it does hum but it has the power of a humbucker with extra clarity. you're probably familiar with Green Day's newer material; everything from American Idiot onwards has used a P-90, so that's the sort of sound you get. Compared to a JB you get a clearer, less muddy tone, at the cost of some hum.

If you're using a software amp like that then your pickups really won't make much difference. I could stick a Telecaster through that software and get the heaviest metal tone from it, or I could put an Ibanez 7-string through it and get a shimmering country tone. Really, pickups won't make a huge difference other than in very broad strokes; P-90, Fender single coil and humbuckers will all sound different, as will high-output ceramic humbuckers compared to low-output alnico ones, but even with these extreme changes it won't be a gigantic difference. You also need to be aware that software like that ignores output. High output, low output, medium, it doesn't matter. If anything, a lower output pickup will give you a clearer and more flexible sound.

So, again I would suggest the Phat Cat, since it will give you a bit more clarity than any other pickup in an Epi LP will and with your 'amp' you won't really be missing out on anything. If you don't want to risk it and want to stick to a humbucker, take a look at the Seymour Duncan P-Rails; it is basically a P-90 and a humbucker in one, so long as you wire it up to a push-pull, push-push or other on/on switch (all of which are very simple and very cheap). The humbucker mode is very similar to a JB but just a bit brighter, and without quite as much output as the Custom/Super 2 I mentioned before. The P-90 mode is basically the same as a Phat Cat, but just a tiny bit brighter.
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#7
Depends where you are and what your budget is. You can get hum-sized P-90s that cost very little and others that cost as much as some whole guitars. Generally though, the P-90 design is one of the most basic and earliest types of pickup and it's very hard to make a bad one.
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