Someone put Gibson's $1,000 PAF humbucker pickups in a $400 guitar

(Image credit: Future)

There's been a fair amount of brouhaha about Gibson's new 1959 Humbucker Collector’s Edition. A limited run recreation of 1000 pairs of the hallowed PAF pickups for $1,000. Collectible limited runs of everything from watches to action figures for premium prices are commonplace, but something about pickups hitting four figures had feathers ruffled. 

And I can see their point – nobody likes the feeling of being priced out. This idea of what could be the best contemporary version of Gibson's best pickups being reserved for a select group doesn't play well with some people. But when it gets to the point when people are moaning about the use of a case the expensive pickups are being packaged in, I start to zone out (you'd use it as a lunch box, obviously). But that might not be an issue anyway – some people will have bought them purely to hoard and never install them in a guitar. 

Gibson PAF

You could easily get your sandwiches in there  (Image credit: Gibson)

And plenty of people are buying these "most accurate recreations of the legendary Patent Applied For humbucker pickups ever made" as they become available in batches, and the good news for the rest of us is many other options are obviously available.

Epiphone installs excellent ProBuckers inspired by the PAF in guitars like its Les Paul Standard 60s that cost considerably less than the price of these pickups alone. 

Gibson PAF

The 1959 Humbucker Collector’s Edition  (Image credit: Gibson)

And yet, like many others I wager, I continued to wonder what it would sound like if you fitted these expensive 'ultimate' PAF pickups in an affordable guitar

I've done my own versions of this – installing some great creations from brands like Seymour Duncan, plus UK makers Sunbear, Bare Knuckle and Monty's Guitars in my own relatively affordable electrics. These brands all offer their own takes on an 'ideal' PAF (the originals could be inconsistent). Of course, there's a lot more to upgrading the sound of a guitar than pickups alone – pots and wiring all play their parts. I've ever heard a rumour the players themselves have some influence on tone. But I digress, who bought these pickups and has anyone tried them yet?

Enter YouTuber Company Grip (AKA Ben) above, who has recently sold a guitar so happened to have the cash and opportunity to grab a set of the new Gibson pickups before they sold out. He's not here for sensationalism or to flip them on Reverb either – he's done his homework and is looking for answers about what makes a great PAF. Even noting that it's not entirely clear which components constitute one. 

His ultimate plan is to install the Gibson 1959 Humbucker Collector’s Edition pickups in a Les Paul, which makes sense. But until he buys a suitable candidate, he's putting them in a Relish Trinity guitar he managed to get for $400. That's a bargain price for an innovative model from a company that is now sadly out of business, and a very logical guitar design for this particular comparison as it turns out. 

Ben's also going to wire up the same guitar $500 Custombuckers from Gibson's Historic Collection and $250 Seymour Duncan Seth Lovers. The great thing about the Trinity is it allows him to make quick pickup switches so he can compare firsthand with fresher ears.

So, how do the 1959 Humbucker Collector’s Edition pickups fare? Well, check out the video above to hear for yourselves! 

Check out Company Grip's YouTube channel and find out more about the pickups at Gibson

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.