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Rare Gibson SG-Z Bass: From Weak to Whoo-Hoo With a Custom Pickup Replacement!

by vaughn skow May 30, 2015 2 min read

Gibson SG-Z Bass weak Pickup swap to strong pickups 

I’ve ran into a handful of these super-cool bass guitars; they are in fact a tricked out EB-3 with cool visuals and two soap-bar humbuckers with a pickup switching system that allows both pickups to operate in standard series-coil humbucking, parallel coils, or dingle-coil … for a grand total of 18 separate pickup combinations!  Problem is … and this is a head-scratcher … Gibson put extremely low-output pickups in them … downright stupidly low!   Thundering bass, no way … more like a baby fart hitting a diaper!

As a bona-fide tone nut, I Love, love, love the idea of all those pickup combinations!  But what’s the point if they all sound awful?  New pickups were desperately needed!

Now, I’ve seen folks replace the pickups in their SG-Z basses with totally different designs in an attempt to get the output to a useable level, but I wanted to stick to the original design intent of this otherwise awesome bass, and so, I set out to make the pickups this base was meant to have from the start!  I stuck to the soap-bar humbucker design with a 4-wire plus ground scheme so it can do all the same coil combinations as the original, but that’s where the similarities end.  Instead of using cheap steel pole-pieces sandwiched between cheap ceramic magnets … I used Strong yet sweet Alnico 8 true magnetic pole-pieces!  Where the original used a stupidly low wind-count of fairly large magnet-wire … my design uses a beefy wind-count of small 43-gauge magnet wire.  It took weeks of R&D to arrive at the final wind-count … and I got it right.  The new pickups are high-output pickups that still retain Alnico sweetness and a perfect balance of all frequencies.  Oh, and the best part?  They sound GREAT in every single one of those 18 combinations!  If ya got a few minutes, here’s a vid running through all the combinations:


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