The Gibson BurstBucker pickup first appeared in 1996 in response to a surge in interest in vintage 1950s-era Gibson "Patent Applied For" (PAF) humbucking pickups on the Japanese guitar collector market. The BurstBucker uses similar materials and methods in an attempt to reproduce some of the idiosyncrasies of the original PAF sound.
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Like the original PAF pickups, Gibson BurstBucker pickups are wound on unpolished Alnico II magnets with a different number of winds on each coil. This unequal winding gives the pickups a warmer, edgier tone. The number of winds also varies from pickup to pickup, meaning that each one has its own unique sound. No two BurstBuckers are exactly alike.
BurstBucker 1 pickups are under-wound, medium output humbucking pickups that are a bit softer than a typical humbucker. Gibson recommends the BurstBucker 1 as a neck-position pickup. BurstBucker 2 pickups use more winds than the BurstBucker 1 and therefore have a more powerful sound. BurstBucker 3 pickups are overwound humbuckers and the most powerful of the three standard BurstBucker models. The BurstBucker 1, 2, and 3 Pickups have approximate DC resistance output ratings of 8.4K, 8.7K and 9.1K ohms. Introduced in 2005, BurstBucker Pro Pickups feature a more powerful Alnico V magnet instead of the Alnico II used for the standard BurstBuckers. BurstBucker Pros are sold in calibrated pairs said to have an similar output to the BurstBucker 1 and BurstBucker 2.
As of 2010, all BurstBucker Pro pickups are wax-potted, but standard BurstBuckers ordered from Gibson USA are unpotted. The original PAF pickups were unpotted, which was an aspect of their particular sound, but also left them susceptible to feedback and hum. Potting involves dipping pickups in melted beeswax or paraffin. This fills the empty spaces beneath the humbucker cover, seals the coils in wax and isolates the different elements of the pickup so they can't move. Gibson has mentioned that they may begin to wax-pot all BurstBucker models in the future.
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