Epiphone ProBucker Challenge

At their 140th Anniversary Celebration, Epiphone put their ProBucker pickups to the test with an informal "blind test" challenge.

Epiphone ProBucker Challenge

They had their visitors pick out their preferred pickup from a group of Les Pauls, without knowing the specific pickup installed.

The ProBbucker pickup is Epiphone's affordable take on the now rare first generation Kalamazoo-made PAF pickups. It is meant to cater to guitarists that want satisfactory vintage humbucker tones, without having to spend too much money.

Richard Akers, Epiphone's Director of Research and Development, said: "These ProBucker pickups are not just slight improvements over previously produced pickups. They were completely designed here in Nashville and tooled from the ground-up at a new factory dedicated to high end pickup production. These pickups use only the highest quality components and are based on the most sought after humbuckers of Gibson's history. I spent many, many hours making sure these came out great and I am really happy with the results. They sound fantastic."

Saying that you can get great PAF sounds from an affordable pickup is a big claim, but Epiphone is not backing down. Instead they put this claim to the test by having an informal blind test during their 140th Anniversary Celebration.

They setup two sets of three Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pros (in vintage sunburst and heritage cherry sunburst finish) and encouraged their visitors to try the guitars out. All the Les Pauls are equipped with ProBuckers except for two, which come with expensive boutique humbuckers. After trying the guitars out, the participants then choose which guitar sound they preferred without knowing the specific pickup used on all the instruments.

The result of the challenge showed that majority of the participants (61%) picked out the Epiphone ProBuckers! These participants include professionals, guitar magazine editors and guitar collectors, some of them were surprised to find out that they were not able to pickout the boutique pickup - and preferred the sound of the more affordable ProBuckers.

Here is the video that showed how a guitar magazine editor picked out a ProBucker during the challenge:

The Epiphone ProBuckers come with the same alloy that Gibson uses, featuring 18% Nickel Silver unit bases and covers. The shape and size of the bobbins are also strictly based on classic PAFs. Each pickup comes with 4 conductor lead wire and sand cast Alnico II magnets, they are vacuum wax potted to remove microphonics.

A good conclusion to this story is provided for by Akers: "Of course the sound is subjective. There is a reason there is more than one flavor of ice cream and more than one pickup on the market. People like different things. But before you automatically assume you need to rip your pickups out of your new Epiphone Pro Series guitar and spend another couple hundred dollars give the ProBuckers a chance."

To read more about the ProBucker Challenge, you can go to Epiphone.

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