Hey guys,

I've been thinking about upgrading my 2002 Epi Les Paul Black Beauty (the 3 humbucker one) with some better pickups. I was trying to decide between 57 classics or burstbuckers. I like smooth overdriven tones (57classics) but I also like grittier sounds (burstbuckers). Complex overtones are a plus and it definitely needs to sound vintage. So, tough decision. I play all genres from jazz to stoner rock, but I don't think I'll ever need modern hi-gain tones.

A year ago I had the chance to borrow a friends '83 Gibby Les Paul Standard which was completely stock. In a pretty bad state playing-wise, but sound-wise it was fantastic. Dude sold the axe but it was too expensive for me at the time. Now I'm trying to figure out what humbuckers were in that thing. I googled but couldn't find a clear answer. Anyone got an idea?

Now, I'm sure that 57 classics and burstbuckers would both sound great, but it's not like I'm not open to suggestions. If anyone knows of non-Gibson humbuckers that have the same qualities, let me know - but keep in mind I'm from Belgium. Also, coil tapping is allowed and even fun to have, as long as it doesn't compromise my actual humbucker sound.

For those who were wondering, I'm thinking about cutting the middle pickup out of the circuit. I think the extra pickup means more chance to mess up my sound, and stock the middle pickup is ALWAYS on. So maybe it's better to go for a 2 HB setup - unless anyone can convince me.

Thanks a lot guys
Most likely Tim Shaw pickups. Early Gibson attempt at making a modern PAF pickup. Not quite the same but they made a bit of an effort (new bobbins without the T mold + added square tooling mark, longer magnet bars and enamel wiring).

Could be a P490 as well. The P490 eventually became the 490t. Also could be the Super Humbucker (Bill Lawrence designed pups. People call them tarbacks) but I doubt that. The Supers were more common on SGs and Hollowbodies from what I've gathered.

They also had the Velvet Bricks in the 80s but those ones had 3 height adjustment screws so they would look a bit different and have slightly different rings. Also, they were ceramic and a bit hotter compared to other offerings.

I'd say it's either the Shaws or P490 "original" humbuckers. I'm sure somebody will pop in and give a correction if I'm off though.
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Last edited by H4T3BR33D3R at Apr 23, 2015,
I just picked up a 2014 Gibson Les Paul Studio Pro and it has a Burstbucker Pro in the bridge and a '57 Classic in the neck. I have to say that this combination is simply killer! They are both unique sounding but when they are both on the sound is amazing.

I would get these two pickups and another burstbucker for the middle.
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I love the 57 Classic which is Gibson's attempt to remake the original PAF pickups. That being said you might consider rewiring your Black Beauty so each pickup has it's own volume pot and one master tone. That way you can add or subtract any of the three pickups and get some unique combinations. There are several sites offering a wiring diagram to do this. Here is one below.

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