Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates VS 59 Blues Set (Comparison)
Our pick: Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates
These two pickup sets both produce a PAF-style tone, leaning more vintage than modern. We like the Pearly Gates a bit more because the sound just seems stronger and more polished, and also has a little more warmth and subtlety.
The Pearly Gates and Blues 59 pickup sets are both from Seymour Duncan, each with Alnico magnets, and designed to produce a PAF-style tone with more of a vintage bend. Getting any kind of concrete difference between the two is really going to come down to a matter of tone preference.
In our case, we like the tone of the Pearly Gates a little better than the 59 set.
The 59s sound good, but they're a little too biting and sounded almost more like a single coil pickup set rather than a humbucker set.
So we'll take the warmth and superior tone of the Pearly Gates, despite the significantly higher price tag.
Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates VS 59 Blues Set: Simple Comparison Tool
Note the price difference between these two sets. While it's disappointing for Pearly Gates buyers, this difference tells you that you're getting a better pickup. While you could certainly go with the 59 set and save some money, we'd be willing to put in the extra investment given the better results.
Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Humbuckers
Seymour Duncan SH-1 Vintage Blues '59
Note in the SH-1 59 demo, they're comparing the 59 set directly to a set of cheaper Wilkinson pickups. Maybe our ears aren't that good, but it seems darn hard to tell a difference between those two. On the other hand, the Pearly Gates give us the sweetness and bluesy PAF quality that we're looking for in this type of humbucker.
Pickup Spec Sheet
In this case, the spec sheet only tells a small part of the story. Most identifiable features of the pickups match up, like Alnico magnets and resistance levels. They're also both passive pickups, meaning they don't need an external source of power (no battery).
Bridge and neck (set)
Bridge and neck (set)
Number of Conductors
1 wire plus shield
Which one would we choose?
Based strictly on tone quality, we have to give the nod to the Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates set. The 59s just seem like they were built to be cheaper, and much to the dismay of the bargain shopper, $160 is not a lot for two humbuckers. You'll get a better tone in the Pearly Gates that - in our opinion - is worth the added cost.
PAF and vintage style humbuckers should have a subtlety and nuance to them. They should manage to be both aggressive and sweet at the same time.
The Pearly Gates do a good job of achieving this, so we'll go that direction if choosing between these two.
Questions about the pickups
What about you?
Maybe you disagree with our Pearly Gates VS 59 set comparison. Would you give the Blues 59s the leg up?
Let us know about it in the comments section below.
Questions about the pickups are welcome there as well.
Dixon Hill says
I reckon the Pearly Gates would sound a tad less harsh than the ’59 since the Pearly Gtaes have alnico 2 magnets in ’em while the ’59s have alnico 5 magnets. I mean, that says a lot right there. Alnico 5 is a little stronger magnet, resulting in a slightly brighter tone while Alnico 2 is a little weaker, resulting in a slightly warmer tone. The Alnico 2 tends to sound just a little more organic, woody and vintage sounding. I read (long ago) that Gibson did in fact change the magnets in mid ’59, for some reason. I don’t recall.
Bobby Kittleberger says
Thanks for sharing, Dixon. I would assume Gibson wanted the more harsh tone? Hard to tell.
Dixon Hill says
Gibson is said to have used Alnico II, III, IV and V somewhat indiscriminately from 1956 to ’61, depending on what was available, and the sound and feel of these pickups can vary somewhat as a result as you probably already know. That may explain why current winders use any one of those types. Makes sense to me.