Pickup output question

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by SMG, Feb 20, 2014.


  1. SMG

    SMG Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2000
    Location:
    metro Detroit
    This post is a question about a Gibson Firebird guitar, not a bass, but hopefully someone will have an answer...

    My brother has a 1982 Gibson Firebird (reverse) with 2 pickups that always seemed to have an output problem...or actually lack of output problem. It has had the stock pickups, Duncan Hot Minis, and custom made "Four Seasons" pickups (from Holland). The guitar has always sounder very good, but has always had much lower output then any of his other guitars, including similar Gibson Firebirds. As far as we can tell, all of the wiring is stock and though one of the volume pots that stopped working was switched out, I replaced it with a new Gibson pot of the same value.

    Does anyone have any idea of why the output of this particular guitar would be so much lower then other similar guitars?
  2. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Location:
    Spokane, Washington
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    Is the output of each pickup in balance with the other? Or is one significantly louder? Also, is there any noise in the signal of any kind?
  3. SMG

    SMG Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2000
    Location:
    metro Detroit
    The output is even across the two pickups and no unusual noise.
  4. Cadfael

    Cadfael

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Location:
    Germany, EU
    If the guitar is made of heavy wood, the strings might not vibrate as much as on guitars with normal weight??? It might not be the weight but another "wood / vibration reason" ...

    From your post, the PUs can't be the reason as all PUs acted the same. The electronic can't (or shouldn't) be the reason, too. Wood influendes the vibration of the strings - and maybe the wood makes the strings "sound silent" ...

    The "way of string vibration" also causes the sound and output.
  5. Register to disable this ad
  6. uOpt

    uOpt Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2008
    Location:
    Boston, MA, USA
    Is the distance between pickup and strings the same as the other guitars?
  7. SMG

    SMG Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2000
    Location:
    metro Detroit
  8. JellinWellen

    JellinWellen

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    I would suspect maybe there are issues with the electronics, maybe a bad solder connection?
  9. maturanesa

    maturanesa

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Location:
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    the other guitar's pups have 30 years old too?
  10. line6man

    line6man

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2008
    Location:
    Close to Los Angeles, CA
    Not all pickups are designed to have a high output. Some are underwound, for a brighter and clearer tone.
  11. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Location:
    Spokane, Washington
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    How are the controls configured? And what are the pot values?
  12. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2013
    Location:
    phoenix, az
    It could be this, or perhaps over time the pickup magnets have demagnetized to some degree, which would lower output. Unless there's some kind of grounding issue.
  13. SMG

    SMG Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2000
    Location:
    metro Detroit
    Thanks for the suggestions so far. I guess I have to state a few things clearer. My brother purchased the guitar used in the late 80's or early 90's. At that time all appeared to be stock, including the mini humbuckers and all wiring. My brother always complained about the guitar having low output compared to his other Gibson's, two other Firebirds, a couple of SG's and a couple of LPs. When I moved back to metro Detroit in 2004, I got him a pair of Duncan Hot Mini Humbuckers for his birthday, thinking that would surely solve the problem. Since one of the volume pots was extremely scratchy from sweat, when I put in the Duncan pickups, I replaced the pot with a new Gibson pot that matched what was in the guitar, 500k audio.

    To both of our surprise, little changed as far as the volume is concerned. A few years ago my brother had Four Seasons, a Dutch company, custom make a set up mini humbuckers for him to install in this guitar, as he uses their pickups in another of his guitars. Surprisingly, still no change in output when these were installed. This has left me scratching my head and my brother quite frustrated as this is his favorite guitar in the way it feels and plays. One can say just turn the amp up, but he relies on the ability to use the pickup output with moderately low powered amps in his style of playing, with a lot of extended sustain and controlled feedback. (Imagine MC5 meets John Lee Hooker with the drive of Geo. Thorogood.)

    Controls are typical Gibson with two volume, two tone and a three way selector switch.
  14. JellinWellen

    JellinWellen

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    are the pickups too low? I'm sure its not that simple but that seems like it could be a cause.
  15. SMG

    SMG Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2000
    Location:
    metro Detroit
    No, actually they are as close to the strings as one can get and still do all the string bending that my brother does
  16. Lownote38

    Lownote38

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2013
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    I would personally re-do the entire wiring (including replacing all of the pots) and match the values on everything to his other guitars. I don't think you're dealing with a pick up problem, but rather bad wiring, pots, etc.

Share This Page