You'd think that I'd have played 408s a long time ago, but I got to the party late. Still, it's one heckuva jam! These are stunning sounding pickups (Twinfan is rolling his eyes and going, "Hey, Les, I've been saying that for the last year or more"). OK, I get it now.
My favorite bridge pickup has been the 57/08 on an SC58 or Stripped 58. The 408 bridge pickup has all of that woodiness, transparency, clarity, and tone, plus a great coil tap that really does sound like a first-class single coil. The pickup is highly responsive to pick attack, it handles volume and treble rolloff beautifully to get a huge range of color, it can be bright, or classic, or whatever you want.
The tapped single coil mode sounds a lot like the bucker mode, but it's got more top end, and sounds a little more open, just like a good single coil ought to. The wonderful news is that the bucker has a huge range of tones, however its "base" sound is a great starting point, which can't be said for all humbuckers by other companies.
The neck pickup is phenomenal, too. I've never heard a neck pickup on any other electric guitar that can respond to the pick as subtly as the one on my 53/10 equipped SC58, until playing with this 408 neck pickup. But it can go pushed and dirty, too. The bass response sits right between my A-V's neck pickup, which isn't very bassy, and the SC58s, which by virtue of the guitar's design pulls a lot of bass.
So I get all of the tone, and yet don't overload the bass end as much, which means less EQ when recording.
I've seen some comments that the split coils sound close to the buckers -- well, the overtones are clearly different, and it's easy to hear that with any clean amp. I'm using the HXDA, and it cleans up really well with the volume on the guitar.
All in all, I think these pickups are fantastic, and I'd say that if you can only have one PRS, get one equipped with 408 pickups and you can cover all the bases.
Just great stuff! A special thanks to Twinfan for his reporting on these and piquing my interest.
One thing I forgot to mention: These pickups may be a modern design, but they have a ton of personality. I really love the way they sound! Not in the least bit sterile or bland. Just nice all the way around.
Also - you can dial a lot of sounds in, and control the tone very well with the controls on the guitar, which I think is important with any guitar, and that's also true of these pickups. Use the knobs!