If you’re looking for that warm PAF humbucker tone, then the Gibson Burstbuckers and ’57 Classics are great options to consider, but which sounds the best? In this article I’ll directly compare them so you can figure out which you prefer.
Burstbucker vs ’57 Classic Overview
|Burstbucker Type 1||Neck||Alnico II||6.5||Unbalanced|
|Burstbucker Type 2||Any||Alnico II||7.4||Unbalanced|
|Burstbucker Type 3||Bridge||Alnico II||8.4||Unbalanced|
|Burstbucker Pro (Neck)||Neck||Alnico V||7.4||Unbalanced|
|Burstbucker Pro (Bridge)||Bridge||Alnico V||8.3||Unbalanced|
|’57 Classic||Any||Alnico II||7.5||Balanced|
Gibson Burstbucker Overview
There are 4 main types of Burstbuckers:
- Type 1 (neck pickup)
- Type 2 (any position)
- Type 3 (bridge pickup)
- Pro (neck and bridge versions available)
Burstbucker Type 1/2/3 pickups sound warmer in comparison to the Pros. The Pro (Bridge) and Type 3 have the highest output so sound the grittiest, whereas the Type 1 sounds the cleanest. The Pros are also wax-potted so suffer less from feedback when using more gain.
Check out this in-depth comparison between the Burstbucker range of pickups to learn everything you need to know.
Gibson ’57 Classic Overview
The ’57 Classic is designed to really emulate the PAF humbucker tone. It uses alnico II magnets for that warm, rich tone. It’s a pretty low-output pickup but you can get the Classic Plus which is more overwound so has a slightly higher output.
The ’57 Classic can be used in either the bridge or neck position and comes in a wide range of designs including nickel, gold, black and zebra.
Here’s a rundown of the specifications:
- Alnico II magnet
- Wax potted
- 2 or 4 conductor wiring option
Tone and Output Comparison
Now we’ve been through the overview, let’s get into the nitty gritty. To give a more in-depth answer to this section, I’ve split it into three parts:
- Burstbucker Type 1 & 2 vs ’57 Classic
- Burstbucker Type 3 vs ’57 Classic
- Burstbucker Pro vs ’57 Classic
Burstbucker Type 1 & 2 vs ’57 Classic
Out of the different types of Burstbucker pickups, the ’57 Classic is most closely related to the Burstbucker Type 1 (neck) and Type 2 (bridge). These pickups all use alnico II magnets to get that warm, rich tone.
The Burstbuckers have unbalanced coils whereas the ’57 Classics have balanced coils. The unbalanced coils on the Burstbuckers give it a more open top-end and less compression. However, the ’57 Classic pickups with their balanced coils will have a slightly better hum-cancelling effect.
The ’57 Classic is wax-potted, unlike the Burstbucker Type 1 & 2 , to help reduce the feedback when the gain is increased. However, wax-potting the pickup does reduce the harmonics so the Burstbuckers tend to sound a bit more dynamic and lively.
The ’57 Classic and Burstbucker Type 2 have a similar output, however the Burstbucker Type 1 has a lower output compared to the ’57 Classic. This means the bridge position will sound fairly similar in terms of grit and crunch, but the Burstbucker pairing will sound cleaner in the neck position.
Check out my comparison between low and high output pickups to learn more.
Check out this YouTube video to hear the difference.
Burstbucker Type 3 vs ’57 Classic
The Burstbucker Type 3 pickups are generally used in the bridge position and paired with a Type 2 in the neck.
The Burstbucker Type 3 has a higher output compared to the ’57 Classic so sounds more gritty and distorts more easily. If you like the sound of the ’57 Classic but want a bit more output, then consider the ’57 Classic Plus which is more overwound.
The Type 3 is unpotted so produces a bit more feedback, and the unbalanced coils also reduce the hum cancelling effect slightly. However, the Type 3 sounds a bit more lively and dynamic compared to the ’57 Classic.
Both pickups use alnico II magnets so have that warm, vintage tone, however the Type 3 pickup sounds a little bit more modern and aggressive due to that higher output.
Burstbucker Pro vs ’57 Classic
The Burstbucker Pros use alnico V magnets whereas the ’57 Classics use alnico II magnets. This means that the Burstbucker Pros sound a bit brighter and more aggressive compared to the ’57 Classics which sound a bit warmer and more mellow and give you a more vintage tone.
Check out my comparison between the different types of alnico magnets to learn more.
Both pickups are potted so aren’t as dynamic as the Burstbucker Type 1/2/3, but suffer less from feedback. The Pros have unbalanced coils so will hum a bit more but sound less compressed and more open in comparison to the ’57 Classic with balanced coils.
In terms of the output, the neck version of the Burstbucker Pro and the ’57 Classic are pretty similar, however the bridge version of the Burstbucker Pro has a higher output so sounds more aggressive and distorted.
Check out this YouTube video to hear the differences in action.
Pickup Wiring and Design Options
The ’57 Classic is available with either 2-conductor or 4-conductor wiring, whereas the Burstbuckers are only available with 2-conductor wiring. This means that you can coil split the ’57 Classics if you go for the 4-conductor version, but you don’t get that option out of the box with the Burstbuckers.
In terms of colors, you also get more options with the ’57 Classics. Here is a table to summarise the options available.
The Burstbucker pickups cost between $149 and $175 and the ’57 Classic pickups cost between $129 and $169 depending on which design option you select. Here are links to all the pickups available on Guitar Center so you can check the current prices.
- Burstbucker Type 1
- Burstbucker Type 2
- Burstbucker Pro Neck
- Burstbucker Pro Bridge
- ’57 Classic (2-Conductor)
- ’57 Classic (4-Conductor)