“This wasn’t Seth Lover’s instinctual way to create a pickup. This was Les Paul in his ear saying, ‘This is what you should do”: The story – and tones – behind Gibson’s distinctive Alnico V ‘Staple pickup’

Gibson Les Paul Custom
(Image credit: Future / Adam Gasson)

Many years ago, in one of the first issues of Guitarist magazine I ever read, there was a report from a vintage guitar show. Among the pics of Paisley Telecasters and ’Bursts was a shot of a black Les Paul Custom fitted with what, to my inexperienced eyes, appeared to be an unusual neck pickup. 

It had chunky rectangular polepieces and looked like a relic from an earlier era. This, I later discovered, was Gibson’s Alnico V pickup, also known as the ‘Staple’ pickup because of those evenly spaced rectangular polepieces. 

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Jamie Dickson

Jamie Dickson is Editor-in-Chief of Guitarist magazine, Britain's best-selling and longest-running monthly for guitar players. He started his career at the Daily Telegraph in London, where his first assignment was interviewing blue-eyed soul legend Robert Palmer, going on to become a full-time author on music, writing for benchmark references such as 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and Dorling Kindersley's How To Play Guitar Step By Step. He joined Guitarist in 2011 and since then it has been his privilege to interview everyone from B.B. King to St. Vincent for Guitarist's readers, while sharing insights into scores of historic guitars, from Rory Gallagher's '61 Strat to the first Martin D-28 ever made.