How should I think about pickup “hotness” vs dialing in amp gain; 490T/498T

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by Mike CT, Sep 15, 2019.

  1. Mike CT

    Mike CT New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2019
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    9
    the SG I just got has a 490T, and I see that a 498T is often cited for hard rock uses because it is hotter.

    I play a lot of modern country like Jason Aldean and Eric Church, and classic metal like Maiden, Priest and Metallica.

    How should I think of the benefit (or lack of one) of getting the hotter pickup since I play metal too, vs just turning up the amp gain dial on my DSL 40CR? I’ve heard some say the 498T can get muddy, if so, just have a less hot pickup and use more amp gain?
     
  2. shreddy bender

    shreddy bender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2012
    Messages:
    3,175
    Likes Received:
    3,041
    Location:
    Kelowna B.C.
    My 2003 Faded came with 490's. I had them in for ten years or so and changed them out for Dirty Fingers because I was curious.

    The 490's were ideal for classic metal tones if you ask me. They have a nice crunch and are very articulate.

    Here is an example of my Faded through 68 Bassman, 4 10's and a ProCo Rat.

     
    PixMix and DrBGood like this.
  3. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2016
    Messages:
    909
    Likes Received:
    836
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    Personally I've never cared for the sound of the "hot" pickups I've tried. I much prefer to use "vintage" output pickups and add whatever gain I may need afterwards.

    I believe that hotter wound pickups were an invention of the 70's to try and get higher levels of gain before higher gain amps and pedals were available. These days they seem unnecessary.
     
    PixMix, flognoth, rotorhead and 2 others like this.
  4. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2017
    Messages:
    2,640
    Likes Received:
    3,373
    My 2004 SG Special Faded has the stock 490's and they work for me. Try adjusting the pickup height and then dial in the gain on the amp and you will be golden.
     
    DrBGood likes this.
  5. arcticsg

    arcticsg Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2018
    Messages:
    716
    Likes Received:
    1,243
    Location:
    Far Side of the Sun
    Play it like it is for while. Then buy another guitar with a different set of pups in it :naughty: ...j/k

    Personally, I'd throw a 498T at the bridge and crank that Marshall up, but that's just me :D
     
    musicman2242 likes this.
  6. sazista

    sazista Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2015
    Messages:
    475
    Likes Received:
    163
     
  7. poppunk

    poppunk Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2017
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    42
    I think you can get enough gain out of a Mesa or pedal on a lower gain amp to make you happy with the 490Ts. I have a 498T in my Les Paul and had a 498T in my SG Standard, but I swapped in a 490T because the 498T was murdering my fuzz pedals for a tribute band I'm in and it made it sound like crap. The 498T in my Les Paul sounds badass, better than the one I had in my SG, and I believe it's more about the variation in the pickup, tone knobs, and capacitors than anything having to do with having a maple top or not.

    I've played my SG Special with a 490T for 17 years. I'm historically a punk rocker. It's plenty heavy and the mids are great.

    Follow cerebral's recommendations first and if you still are curious and you have a quick connect system, find a used 498T and slap it in there for comparison. I think the 490 is going to serve your needs from country to metal a little more easily, so exhaust it first.
     
  8. Mike CT

    Mike CT New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2019
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    9
    Thanks. I have only had this for two days but I can’t believe how much I love this. It’s the “older” 2019 Standard with the slim neck and white binding. I didn’t realize there were two 2019’s and mistakenly bought the newer one with he rounded neck and cream binding first and it just killed my hand. With this one though, it’s amazing. I can’t get myself to pick up my Les Paul. It’s just so freakin’ playable!

    A99A53C6-9FC6-44D4-8944-528ED110588A.jpeg
     
  9. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    7,606
    Likes Received:
    7,478
    Location:
    Michigan
    Welcome to ETSG, and let's give you a round of applause
    for finding a guitar you can bond with. If you already have a fine Les Paul, all the better. For many years, the SG Standard (and the Les Paul Standard) came equipped with 490R and 498T.

    I think your question is a really good one, and you aren't the only one who asks... we see this question over and over.

    First let me say that you can discount a lot of what is written on guitar fora about pickups. Most of it is just blowing smoke. The only one whose opinion is important is you, in your house... and me in mine. And maybe your band mates and your audience. I've seen posts that describe the 498T as "shrill" and also seen the 498T described as "muddy..." To me, all that sounds like EQ and nothing to do with pickups at all. Turn yer knob man, then get it polished.

    On this forum, we usually temper our normal tendencies to over simplify discussions, by using the IMHO letters.
    These four letters encourage the reader to make up their own mind, which I personally think is important.

    So +1 on the post by Arctic, where he says play it for a while and listen.

    To answer your question: I did just this and played my new SG special with 490T for about a year before deciding
    that I would swap it for something a little hotter. What I chose was the Gibson '57 Classic plus, which is NOT as
    hot as a 498, but has more output than the 490T.

    The reason I did it (and the reason that bridge pickups like the 498 have more output) is that the placement of the pickup near the bridge saddles means that the strings themselves have less travel when you pick them,
    and a higher output pickup makes up for this.

    Whether or not you find this useful depends on your style. After playing my new SG for a good long time, I
    decided that a bit more output in the bridge pickup would be useful to me, and besides: by this time I was so head over heels for my SG that I wanted nothing but the best for my baby. *grins

    Like a man buying a lovely dress for a beautiful woman... She doesn't really need it, but he likes the way
    she behaves when she's wearing it. And after.

    I don't think you need another 498T... because you've got a fine Lester with this p'up. So IMHO if you replace. your 490T, get something else. I highly recommend the '57 Classic plus, which is now my favorite pickup, but SD and Bare Knuckles, and Rio Grande and Lollar all make excellent contenders. One of my other faves is the "Golden Age Overwound" hum bucker from StewMac, which costs about half what the rest of them do. I put one of these in the bridge position of my Epiphone Wilshire and loved the tone. I sold that guitar to a friend and he says the same.

    On this forum, we have a whole section on pickups, and you can read till the cows come home on these issues...
    but in the end, it's mostly your style, and the pick you choose (or no pick) and your signal chain that will determine your tone IMHO... the pickups are all accurate. Play clean for country, and stomp a pedal for the metal...
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
  10. Derald

    Derald Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2018
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    25
    I had a 498/490 combo that was pretty good. Not a fan of high output pickups like others have said but you can work with that.
    One thing to consider is swapping the A5 in the 498 w the A2 in the 490. That works for a lot of people. Also lowering the 498 can help. And finally you obviously just lower the 498 pickups volume to 5 or 6 and it balances nice with the 490.
     
  11. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    7,606
    Likes Received:
    7,478
    Location:
    Michigan
    Oh yes, and another thing I learned from this forum when I was working with my 490 pickups was this:
    The 490s sound better if they are level with the strings
    (not the top of the guitar). This is not true for all brands
    or models of humbuckers, but is especially true for 490s.

    On an SG with small P/G, the leveling of the pickups with the strings is done by the pickup rings.

    But on an SG with large P/G, the leveling of the strings must be done by other means. The ETSG approved method is by using a piece of stiff foam under the rear of each pickup... maybe 20mm tall for the neck p'up, and maybe 25mm tall for the bridge p'up.

    You have to remove the strings, and the bridge, and the P/G with the pickups attached in order to do this. Use a metric ruler to measure the height of your bridge wheels
    in mm before you remove the bridge, then you can set it to the same height when you put it back on.

    I read this in 2009 when my first SG was shiny new,
    and my ETSG membership was too. I thought it was interesting, and had never thought of it before. Just
    the kind of ETSG tip I was hoping to get. So I listened
    carefully to my SG before I did this, and measured everything because I had paid for a pro setup job before
    I read about leveling the p'ups.

    When it was time to change strings, I performed this
    operation, using the packing foam from some thing I bought. Then I put it all back together, re-set my action
    and listened carefully again.

    That's why I pass along this tip to anyone who's trying
    to get the best tone from their existing 490s. I listened to the before, and to the after through the same amps,
    and was convinced. Try it your self, don't take my word for it.
     
  12. smitty_p

    smitty_p Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2012
    Messages:
    4,840
    Likes Received:
    3,468
    I have the 498T in my Les Paul. I would not call it "muddy". From time to time, I've wondered about removing it for something "better", but realized the guitar actually sounds how I like it, so I'm happy with it.

    As for the 490T in your SG, I agree with others. Leave it alone and play it. See if you can get what you want with it the way it is. Most importantly, ask yourself if you like the sound of the pickup. If you do, but you just want it to have more push, consider a clean boost pedal going into the amp.
     
  13. poppunk

    poppunk Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2017
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    42
    What I typically see people say the 490 is the "muddy" pickup and the 498 is better against it. This exposes a massive problem when discussing anything on guitars, but pickups are a particularly bad space.

    The Internet adds a massive layer of stupidity to discussing pickups. There are very strong opinions all over the place, and we have no way of knowing what the deal is with these people with strong opinions.

    Yeah, I can hear a difference between the 490T I put in my in my Standard over the 498T that was in there at the same settings. But I put it in there because the output was too high and it was pooping all over my fuzz pedals I need for a band I'm in. It just had too much output. I could have attenuated it before it went in or something like that, but getting a used pickup was easy and one less thing I have to worry about.

    I can tweak EQ settings to the point that I can't really hear that much of a difference between the two pickups. When I start playing a guitar for a little while I don't hear those differences anyway, only when I can do a side-by-side comparison; my perception adjusts. When I play a show, nobody, except for some random guitar gear nerd guy, is gonna hear the difference between those pickups. Especially when my amp is mic'ed and the sound tech does whatever with the EQ.

    Playing mostly on the bridge pickup, I mostly rotate through two SGs with 490s, a EBMM StingRay, a Yamaha Revstar 820CR, and a Fender/Warmoth hybrid Jaguar with a SD Pearly Gates Plus in in. These pickups all have their own sound going on (some are Alnico II, some are Alnico V and windings are different), but the one thing I really care about is keeping a reasonably similar output level going into my setups for the bands I'm in. I can tweak EQ settings for each guitar if I need to. But it just doesn't matter between most of these; nobody cares when I'm playing live whether I get more high upper mids or lower mids or whatever. I mostly care that I get enough mids out of the thing so people can hear me through the mix, not so much highs that I'm murdering people's ears, and not so much bass that I'm muddying things up and messing with the bass player and drummer.

    15 years ago I recorded with a band. I didn't know anything about pickups. I played my SG Special with 490s in it. It sounds amazing on the recording. The sound engineer/producer just turned some knobs and made it sound great; the 490s are good pickups, even though some people on the internet will tell you how horrible they are. Sometimes it's fun to explore other things in guitar gear, but at some point I have to put it all out of my head and focus on music; that's why I have guitars in the first place.

    I know there are a contingent of people who play at home and try to get really specific sounds out of things. That group I understand obsessing over pickup and everything configurations. But I think there's often way too much focus from musicians who play shows over their sound. You don't want to sound bad, but as long as you sound pretty good, nobody except guitar nerds care beyond that.

    If it's an output level thing you're actually struggling to work with your pickups, okay, I've been there. But I think worrying about the difference in overall sound between 490s, 498s, 57 Classics, whatever is generally not worth it for most of us. If it's fun for you and you have the money, okay. But if you really just want to play music and rock it out, I'd focus on songwriting and practice.
     
  14. Dadou

    Dadou Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2013
    Messages:
    586
    Likes Received:
    348
    Location:
    Paris, France
    If anything, my biggest complaint about the electronics in my 490R-498T equipped 2012 SG Standard are about the pots rather than the pups themselves. I believe it has 300k pots. I love the 490R in the neck which I dialled exactly where I want it. The bridge pup however sounds like I have a wha pedal engaged at all times. Almost a "Santana-esque" sound if you will.
    My 2014 SG Special with 490s sounds much better and truer but I believe it has 500k pots.
     
  15. Derald

    Derald Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2018
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    25
    Dadou you could just replace that bridge pot with a 500k one no problem. The 2012 models were hand wired and I believe they used 300k linear pots.
     
  16. Dadou

    Dadou Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2013
    Messages:
    586
    Likes Received:
    348
    Location:
    Paris, France
    Derald my bad I made a typo. My Standard is a 2011 model and has the PCB with quick connectors.
    It's the main reason why I have avoided touching it till now
     
  17. realcooldude

    realcooldude Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2019
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    29
    I'd probably want to use something with an alnico 5 magnet for a stiffer low end when playing the heavier stuff, but not wound too hot that it's got nasally mids when playing your country stuff. Seymour Duncan Custom 5 would probably be a good fit. It's a little hotter than a PAF style humbucker, but it's not super hot so you can roll the volume down to clean up decently.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice