Went to visit my friend today. He owns some real nice high-end pieces. Both of us are out of the vintage thing, but we decided I'd bring some of my faves and compare them to his. First up 2016 Gibson 1958 Standard Historic reissue up against a Gibson "Pearly Gates" replica. The '58 has Custom Buckers measuring 7.9K/7.9K, uneven coils, Alnico III magnets. The Pearly Gates has original proprietary Seymour Duncan pickups made just for this model. They refuse to give any info, but they sound like Alnico IV mags. They measure 8.2K/7.3K (bridge/neck). All played into a Tweed Bandmaster reissue, no changes allowed between guitars. Neck pickups: Only disagreement here. I preferred my '58 which sounded open, woody, hollow and spanky. He preferred his Pearly which was darker, smoother and warmer. Neither displayed any muddiness. Both together: No opinion. The Pearly had a little more "honk", but both guitars sounded amazing, with everything you want from the middle position, some scronk, plenty of depth. Bridge pickup: OK. Pearly won, hands down. Dark but clear; complex, organic and aggressive. Don't get the wrong idea, the '58 sounded great, fat, clear and soulful. But the Pearly Gates was something else. Adjusting settings and maybe pickup height could get them closer, but fair test gives Pearly a clear advantage. Playability: Almost dead even. My buddy had a bit of trouble with the '58 all the way up the neck due to its taller frets. On the other hand, I get one more level and crown before a refret. Conclusion: My friend said his Pearly Gates was a better guitar, but not $20,000 better. I agreed. Next up 2013 SG Standard against Historic and Arts Division (OK, Gibson Custom Shop) SG/Les Paul. The Standard has SD Saturday Night Specials 8.8K/6.8K, Alnico IV, ABR-1 Bridge conversion. The Historic has replaced pickups - forgot whose, but 7.8K/7.8K, Alnico IV. I'll make this quick: They sounded identical. The Historic's body was about 3/32" thicker, the neck was bigger, different heel. Honestly, it felt better in my hands, can I say, sexy? But, honestly, exactly the same tonally, and both played slick as snot. The historic cost 3 or 4 times as much. One more guitar: no comparison. He had a Gibson Collectors Choice #22. This is a replica of the late James Honeyman Scott's 1959 Custom. Customs of this era are one piece mahogany bodies, no maple cap, an ebony board and "fretless wonder" frets. Pickups are Custom Buckers, Alnico III measured 7.1K/7.1K. Can't measure the middle without unsoldering as it is never on by itself. Guitar sounded nothing like either of the 'Bursts. Wide open it was bright and almost Strat-like. A big, fat, nasty Strat. The fun started when you start rolling off the tone controls. Fat, juicy, flutelike. Reminded me of Clapton's "woman tone". My buddy said Clapton had a '59 Custom and he used it for all of Disraeli Gears. Listen to that album, and you hear this guitar. Fun day.