Dealing with 495 mini humbuckers MOD

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by Les537, Apr 8, 2018.

  1. Les537

    Les537 New Member

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    My '18 special came with 495 mini humbuckers. People say this about minis : focused, clear, sharp, bright, like in between a p90 and humbucker, but there are actually many version of minis and these 495s do not fit the standard tonal description.

    sg special 2018.jpg

    These have output resistance of 25k and 16k. They have bar magnets inside of each coil. No string height screws. They are what people call 'firebird' style, but they are not what came in old birds.

    Everything you play sounds like it's going through an overdrive. It's very hard to play a note that doesn't have a fuzzy halo. This is not a bad sound. They bloom and sizzle with aggressive pick attack, but it's always angry. You can take some bite off with volume roll, but you lose too much volume before you get anything clean and defined.

    I've owned all kinds of guitars with all kinds of configs and my tastes have settled down to p90 and small tube amps with a natural dynamic tone. Get the amp on the edge of hot and use the guitar volume and a dirty boost for the range. I got bored with muddy humbuckers many years ago.

    I knew it was a gamble on the mini buckers, but they use a p90 hole which is an excellent safety net! I would have no tears about putting in some p90s, but I do like some aspects of the minis.

    I have a p100 sitting around that came in my '97 Les Paul special. I love the sound of a p100 in the neck of a mahogany slab. It's my go to noodle tone. It's got a dynamic like a bell or piano, a kind of round note. The p100 was a pickup Gibson made 20 or so years ago that is a stacked humbucker. It looks just like a p90, but in fact it's two coils. One main coil and one dummy coil under it. It's wired in parallel. It works great in the neck, but it does not have enough output for a bridge and everyone in the world swapped the bridge or both for p90s. It's probably the most hated Gibson pickup (because it looks like a p90 but doesn't sound like one), but I find it very useful and musical.

    I thought I might put the p100 in the neck of the SG and put the lower output neck pickup into the bridge slot and see what that does. Then I remembered that the p100 is parallel coils and the mini 495 pickups are so hot that they would still have decent output in parallel. I ripped out some wires (had already replaced the POS PCB) and tested it out. It sounded ok, so I ordered the parts and did the mod.

    I've wired buckers to toggle to single coil before and never really liked the sound, but these in parallel sound great to me. It's what I was missing. It's very fender, without the noise. It's very clean, but not limp. All the farty bass and sizzle halo goes away. Now I can take the guitar to where I like to go and also keep the angry series sizzle option in place. I'm calling it a win - for now!

    Output at the Jack in Series (from my cheap meter)
    T 25000
    R 16000
    Both 9800

    In Parallel
    T 6400
    R 4100
    Both 2500

    I used 2 push/pull 500k audio pots from CTS. Those plastic can ones. They just fit in the SG. No room to spare. No room for a washer on the inside to lower the shaft. I had to drill my knobs a bit so they would seat a bit lower. I sanded down the lip of the PCB on the pot to insure it fits in the guitar.

    cts.jpg

    pots.jpg

    I put the toggles on the volume because I use 500K no load tone pots and didn't want to lose those.

    toggles.jpg

    Wiring for CTS pots:
    .4 bridges to .2
    .C2 green, C1, white
    .3 black (hot out), .1 red + ground

    Reverse the black and red for one pickup (combine black with ground and make red hot) unless you want out of phase sounds when combined.

    Here's the factory spec of the GIbson 495 mini humbuckers.

    Pickups Rhythm Lead
    Style: 495R 495T
    Winds/Coil: Screw side/Slug side: 7,000 8,400
    Material of Wire (gauge): Copper (44) Copper (45)
    Coil Dimensions (per coil): 2.61" x 0.68" 2.61" x 0.68"
    Coil Material: ABS ABS
    Coil Winding Process: Machine Wound Machine Wound
    Pole Piece Material: Nickel plated steel Nickel plated steel
    Slug Material: Nickel plated steel Nickel plated steel
    Slug Dimensions (diameter x length): 0.187 x 0.489" 0.187 x 0.489"
    Magnet Material: Ceramic Ceramic
    Magnet Position from Nut: 19" 23.125"
    Magnet Dimensions: 2.5" x 0.5" 2.5" x 0.5"
    Qfactor: 3.28 2.46
    ResistanceDC: 14280.00 Ohms 25250.00 Ohms
    Resonant Frequency: 3448.71 Hz 2482.71 Hz

    Bonus Image : Off center holly that prevents me from ever having a sound nights sleep. Twitch.

    holly.jpg
     
    bwotw, Clifdawg, 58pit and 3 others like this.
  2. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I agree there seems to be different versions of these minis out there. I have an SG Special 2016 T and according to the site it has the 495R and 495T. Here's what I found in mine...

    [​IMG]

    I kept the stock mini in the bridge which measures close to the same DCR as above and installed a Lollar P-90 in the neck. Could not be any happier.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
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  3. cheshiergrin

    cheshiergrin Active Member

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    nice project, I love mini's and Firebirds and P90's. Nice lookin Axe BTW:thumb:
     
    Dale likes this.
  4. Les537

    Les537 New Member

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    Here is the sticker on one of mine.

    Rhy Mini
    860-17058-L
    12/14/17

    I notice the output of your mini equals the output of mine when I wire it parallel. I wonder if they are the same-ish and your's came wired parallel stock?
     
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  5. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    That is highly possible. If it was done by accident, it most certainly worked out in my favor.

    Nice work on those CTS pots making them fit. I wonder if push-push pots are available in that form factor? Those are great at keeping the knobs from being pulled off.

    I like the finish on your SG. It looks like a translucent gold. Very unique.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
  6. Les537

    Les537 New Member

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    Yeah, push/push would have been better (didn't think of it) or even wiring them so that series is the pull state because I think series will be the spice and parallel will be the meat of my playing on this axe. A possible project for down the road if I keep this config and I can find a switch to fit the cavity.

    There's that switch on the fender road house strat where the center of the knob pushes in (almost bought that dog instead of this SG for the 12in board). That would be a great control if such a thing exist in gibson top hat style. Something for me to google around with later.
     
  7. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    I had to smile when I read your post as I had a similar disappointing experience when I bought a beautiful '14 SG 70's Tribute.



    2012 Gibson SG 70's Tribute in Rock Garden closeup.jpg

    The problem for me was I owned several older mini-humbucker Gibsons before buying that '14 and I just had a certain preconceived expectation of the tone I was going to get with that new SG. I mean I LOVE the vintage mini-humbucker tone I get & I've actually experienced guitar players tell me after a gig how beautiful sounding several of my vintage Les Pauls with mini-hums sounded and we all know how hard that type of compliment can be to come by.

    So, I fell for the Gibson hype about these new pups being so frik'n amazing but to me in the end I can't help but find it was all simply an excuse to make a cheaper pickup. And of course for you guys that are happy with these new mini-pups I'm genuinely happy for you. The thing is I'm me & you are you. It is just a we bit redeeming to hear another player with the similar complaint is all. Hey Buddy, I feel your pain & know to well your disappointment!

    So Les, my question to you is, have you thought about putting in a vintage rocker of a mini-hum & light'n that guitar up??

    I know I'm sharing one of my best Rock 'n Roll guitar sound secrets I use but If I may suggest an older unpotted Patent # sticker mini-hum or 2 from back in the day??

    [​IMG]

    The 71-72 model years came with embossed Gibson pups & signal the end years of the type of Gibson mini-humbucker construction I love so much.

    [​IMG]

    Although they are un-potted & can squeal at very high gain volumes when too close to an amp, the fact that they are somewhat open & slightly microphonic only ads to the voice & versatility of these pups. Controlled microphonic influence is a magical skill well worth mastering. As Dr Frankenstein exclaimed, "It's alive !!"

    Unlike the newer pole-less mini-hums these older Patent # sticker minis are truly Gibson gold.

    Glad you worked it out brutha.
     
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  8. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Well-Known Member

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    "POS PCB"? Another person who doesn't know any better chimes in.

    How much do you want for it?

    Tom
     
  9. Les537

    Les537 New Member

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    Tom, I don't know any better? What's to know?

    I know how to wire a simple guitar and the PCB doesn't have no load tones, 50s wiring and push pull pots. It does have an input jack that contacts the service plate and wobbly and cheap feeling pots. No value except for gibson factory so that an untrained monkey can build a guitar. No disrespect to monkeys intended.

    I'm keeping the PCB for the ability to restore the guitar to stock if such a thing is required. Check ebay. There are lots of people there looking for a sucker to buy their gibson PCB.
     
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  10. Les537

    Les537 New Member

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    Relic61, if I had a pile of minis laying around I would try them, but I won't spend money for the experience. I'm either going to rock the minis it came with or go full nuclear option and stick p90s in there.

    I'm pretty happy right now with the parallel sound. It's very pretty and sharp. Time will tell.
     
  11. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Well-Known Member

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    OK, you want to wire your guitar differently, I get that. The circuit board is not a POS.

    Tom
     
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  12. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    What is with the circuit board love?? I'm guessing you must own a guitar with one and are feeling some paternal need to defend it like it's personal or something.

    He (Les) simply has a different opinion & agenda. He is on his journey to find the sound he likes. Try not to take it as a personal insult or affront to your sensibilities.

    We are all individuals here & as such we are free to have differing opinions on things. To fight that would be an exercise in futility.
     
  13. Les537

    Les537 New Member

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    Tom, when I bought the guitar I had no intention of changing parts. I was looking forward to NOT having to do anything just like the other 2 gibsons I bought years ago. The last guitar I bought I was a '16 epi casino coupe which I changed all the hardware, cause epi, and it was the biggest nightmare to work on. I really didn't want to do it again.

    When I plugged the input jack into the guitar it pressed against the back service plate. Raise it up about an 1/8 inch in one corner. Was I surprised? Only slightly - it's Gibson. They can't even put the tuners on straight on my les paul so I knew what to expect. When you play the guitar and your body contacts the service plate it would produce snaps and pops. That was the end of the story for the PCB. It failed to function on the most basic level and so I label it a POS.

    [​IMG]

    That's not even my biggest cry over this guitar. I've been resisting the urge to have a big public cry here over Gibson quality, but here you go. You see the holly off center in the first post. The fret markers are off center too. Gibson, you there?

    One of the screws that hold the plate on is half the size of the other 3 and does not catch threads. What?

    The part that really burns my mid section is that 2 of the Gibson deluxe tuners are completely shot. Like they didn't even tighten the shaft to the gear. Having to buy new tuners is a real kick right in the pants. I have never in my life had to replace tuners on over 50 guitars. I won't defend Gibson against the endless stream of nay sayers any more. Gibson deserves all the mud that can be slung.

    To be clear, I still love Gibson. I will hopefully buy more, but I wont buy them blind on line and I wont defend their honor, cause they have none.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
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  14. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    Yet to him & so many others it is. That's their opinion & feelings on the subject. Are you going to fight some gallant war in defense of some circuit board with every person that holds an opposing opinion than yours?

    It is easier & frankly best to simply acknowledge peoples right to feel the way they do about things & freely voice their opinion. There is no right & wrong here when it comes to personal opinion & no winner in this battle.

    Once it reaches the point of name calling & insulting someone because they feel differently $#it has gotten intellectually lazy & dumb & that my friends, essentially brings the whole forum down to a base level.

    If we can't contribute with facts or convincing opinion there is little good served by turning to personal insults.
    .
    ...Unless of course you are really into that sort of thing & get off on such battles & conflicts.:naughty:
     
  15. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    And there is the reason for the opinion! This goes beyond simply liking or not liking something like the color blue or red. There is a fault with how this actually worked & performed. A man needs no other reason to find something a POS than that.
     
  16. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Well-Known Member

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    I defend the circuit board because my decade as an electronics technician tells me there's no goddamned thing wrong with it! It performs just as well as point-to-point wiring does, and in some cases, better. If you want to change it because you want a different circuit, that's a valid reason to remove it. You want a different value pot, you can source PC-mount pots if you try hard enough, but if you don't know how, fine.

    What I want to avoid is some guy coming to this forum, reading a dozen people saying "PC board is ****!" and spending time and money replacing something that doesn't need replacing just because he reads a bunch of people here whining about it.

    You only have a right to an opinion when it is informed. If the only electronics you know is swapping pickups, then you might want to listen to someone who actually knows more than you do.

    Les, if your guitar is that bad... why didn't you take it back? If you couldn't, I share your pain, but I would have sent that sucker back in a second.

    Now, let me reiterate. If you have a valid reason to change it, go ahead. If you do it because hurr it's different, then I'm pointing and laughing. In and of itself, there's nothing wrong with the circuit board unless you have a guitar like Les ended up with.

    Tom
     
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  17. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Just as an observation, I find it odd that crowns started appearing on the headstocks of SG Specials the past few years since the 2014 SGJ. Historically, SG Specials never had that marking on the headstock that I am aware of. I have only seen the crown as an inlay on the SG Standards, SG 61 RI, ES-335, and acoustics in the past.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
  18. Paul G.

    Paul G. Well-Known Member

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    I purchased a 2014 Firebird that had either the same, or very similar pickups in it. Neck pickup sounded ok, but bridge was awful. Brittle, flat, utterly devoid of character.

    A set of vintage style pickups, wound light, A5 magnets. The guitar came alive. Bright but rich. Rolling the tone back gave richness.

    I had an SG special that somebody put some 70s minibuckers in. It was awesome.

    I don't know why they're trying to sell these overwound, ceramic pickups. I guess I've heard enough Bumble Bee sounding fuzzed out players to know there is a market, but Gibson should be a leader in tone, not marketing.

    P.
     
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  19. cheshiergrin

    cheshiergrin Active Member

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    In my opinion the PCB is not necessary and obtrusive. When I swapped the pickups out of my 2010 les Paul the easiest and " best" option was to remove it and wire the guitar in a manner that made it the most accessible and available to any modifications i wish. I don't have to have an electrical engineering degree to know this to be " better" but that is my uneducated opinion after working on guitars for 30 years or so. But arguing is much more satisfying.

    Oh and in my opinion the overwound ceramic minis are not my cup of tea and I much prefer vintage wound minis and firebird pickups.
     
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  20. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    True dat.
    It takes a college degree to break it and a high school diploma to fix it.
     
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