Holy grail Greeny tone from any Les Paul? Gibson just made its Greenybucker pickups available as a standalone set for the first time

Gibson Greenybuckers and Kirk Hammett's USA signature Greeny Les Paul
(Image credit: Gibson/Future)

Last October, Gibson announced the opening of its flagship pickup store, whose opening lineup included a host of Historic, Original and Modern Collection units.

Now, Gibson has further expanded its pickup shop offerings with an all-new Artist Collection – a collection that’s been debuted in rather notable fashion.

For its first Artist Collection set, Gibson has made its Greenybuckers – the same pickups found in Kirk Hammett’s recently released Greeny signature guitar – available as a standalone set of humbuckers for the first time.

The pickups themselves are steeped in history, having accommodated the playing of Peter Green, Gary Moore and now the Metallica maestro – all of whom have utilized the guitar’s mythical out-of-phase middle position tone and the upside-down, polarity reversed neck pickup.

Gibson says these exact tones can be harnessed with the new Greenybuckers, which were created in line with the Greeny’s original humbuckers. These, in turn, were 1950s Patent Applied For humbuckers, and as such the original schematics were also consulted in the development of the set.

That means, yes, the neck pickup features reverse magnetic polarity, with the set also offering asymmetrical coil windings and unpolished Alnico 2 magnets for a faithful Green, Moore and Hammett tone.

Hammett himself, who now has a few Greeny signature models to his name, was also involved in the creation of the pickups, which were previously only available as part of the $3k USA Greeny Les Paul model.

This new set, therefore, marks a far more affordable option for those wanting to tap into Greeny’s tone without splashing out for an entire new guitar – in fact, these might be the most cost-effective way of exploring such tones, weighing in at $299.

In hindsight, a standalone Greeny pickup set from Gibson seems long overdue. Multiple pickup companies have all had a stab at replicating the guitar’s tone – Monty’s Bethnal Greens, Seymour Duncan’s Green Magic and Bare Knuckle’s PG Blues sets immediately spring to mind – but the Greenybuckers are Gibson’s first attempt at meeting this demand.

“The Gibson Patent Applied For humbucker pickups from the 1950s are considered by many musicians to be the 'holy grail' of vintage electric guitar pickups,” Gibson wrote on its website. “Among them, the unique set that was installed in the legendary Greeny Les Paul are some of the most famous.”

Head over to Gibson to find out more.

Greeny made headlines last week when Kirk Hammett revealed the legendary guitar recently suffered a gut-wrenching injury, which left him “bawling like a baby”.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.