Please Recommend Pickups for a Gibson SG

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by 4406cuda, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. 4406cuda

    4406cuda Member

    Aug 5, 2014
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    So Cal
    Finally got my SG, it is a 2011 Standard in Black. I have been playing it and the pickups, 490 and 498, are not to my liking at all. I prefer a vintage type output. I prefer PAF type pickups that have that "open woody" tone.

    My current band plays Modern Country/Blues/Classic Rock. I play through a Mesa Boogie Mark V and all of my gain comes from the amp. I also play a Tele and Customized Strat. They both have vintage level outputs.

    I plan on putting CTS Pots and modern wiring.

    I have researched a lot of pickups and I am considering the following:

    All are Seymour Duncans, 59's, Seth Lovers, Antiquity Humbuckers.

    1. 59's are suppose to sound like, well, 1959 PAF's. Alnico 5 magnet.
    2. Seth Lovers, are suppose to sound like 1955 PAF's. Alnico 2 magnet
    3. Antiquity's are the same as Seth Lovers, but the magnets and covers are aged.
    What do you guys recommend for the music I am playing and amp.

    Thanks in advance,

    JohnnyGoo likes this.
  2. 58pit

    58pit Well-Known Member

    Jan 14, 2014
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    DUNCANS NEVER let you down.
  3. JohnnyGoo

    JohnnyGoo Well-Known Member

    May 29, 2014
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    NW Oregon
    All three good choices.i gutted a Epi Les Paul Custom and put reliced hardware on i went with the DiMarzio PAFs in aged nickel.they do the job.i plan to do the same thing to my Dot some day.might try the Duncans in it.the pic is missleading.all hardware on Dot it chrome.looks like the Aged nickel stuff on the Lester

    Attached Files:

  4. eS.G.

    eS.G. Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2014
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    The SWAMP (central Florida)
    I have heard Goos the Lester they are FRIGGIN awesome with a side of garlic bread! Eh, Larry DiMarzio is Italian/American too!! lol

    Of your choices. I would have to side with Pit on the Duncans.
  5. gball

    gball Well-Known Member

    May 27, 2014
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    The beach.
    I personally like an A2 PAF in the bridge and an A5 PAF in the neck together (this is what I have in my LP), so I vote for a 59 neck and Seth bridge.
    JohnnyGoo likes this.
  6. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    Sep 29, 2009
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    Tucson AZ
    so I don't think you should mod your SG Standard. I think you should get it
    professionally set up. That plus new strings might change the tone enough to
    put it on the right track for your needs. Then play it for a good amount of time,
    practice with it, work with it. If it still doesn't give you what you want then
    maybe you should have a different guitar. Setting it up won't be wasted money
    because it will make it easier to sell. An SG Standard, unmodded and well set up
    is such a desirable instrument that you should be able to get a very fair price for
    it, and use that to get what you really want.

    If you really can't use the tones you get from an SG Standard (but you still want an SG), then I think you should trade it in on an SG '61 ReIssue from the same year or
    earlier. '61 RI has the '57 Classic pickups which ought to be just what
    you described you wanted.

    If you mod your Standard, you'll destroy its value. If you sell it to someone who
    wants what the Standard can do, you'll maintain its value and turn that into getting
    the '61. But I also don't think you should even buy the '61 without playing it first.
    If you'd played the Standard before you bought it, then you'd know how you feel
    without spending the money.

    Personally, I don't think you've given your SG Standard enough chance to show you
    what it's capable of. I don't think there's any reason you can't get the tones you want
    out of this guitar. You might consider an EQ pedal. Plug your SG into that, figure out
    how to EQ the guitar to give the sound you want through the amp you use with your other instruments. Then you can keep the EQ you've worked out for your trusty Fenders, and when you pick up the SG, stomp the pedal. problem solved at half the
    price of new p'ups.

    To me, the Gibson SG Standard is one of the best guitars ever made. I can't see ripping it apart just to solve an EQ problem. The 490/498 combo ought to be able to do anything you ask it to do. All those other pickups you mentioned sound like a downgrade to me.

    I will confess that I used my 2007 SG special faded as a mod platform, and installed all the best of everything I could buy or make. So my faded now sports the '57 Classic and
    Classic + pickups, a premium wiring harness from Martin SixString, Tone Pros Bridge and Tail, Buzz Feiten tuning system shelf nut, Grover Vintage Keystone tuners, Walnut pickguard and control cavity cover, ebony switch washer, 0-11 knobs... *laughs
    I spared no expense because I love this guitar so fiercely.

    But I was starting with a much lesser guitar than the Standard. So I just think you should give it some more time, and see if you can't learn how to value what this instrument is capable of. Use it as an alternative to the ones you already have, which
    is likely why you bought it in the first place. Assume that it's capable of giving you
    what you want, and mess with the EQ until it does.
    Batwing58 and Poti.Sanchez like this.
  7. michaelinokc

    michaelinokc Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2012
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    Oklahoma City, OK
    You might look into a set of '57 Classics.
    AC 30, ypnos and smitty_p like this.
  8. 4406cuda

    4406cuda Member

    Aug 5, 2014
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    So Cal
    Thanks Col

    I had and have all my guitars set up by Eric Chaz, Eric's Guitar Shop in Van Nuys, CA. I have been going to him for years and he does amazing work.

    My SG feels great, how ever the pickups are way too hot and harsh. They do not have any of the qualities of a good PAF type pickup.

    I am playing out of a Boogie Mark V that has both individual channel eq and a global graphic eq. Replacing pickups and a wiring harness with the pots is easily reversible.

    Have you ever heard Billy Gibbon's SG with the Seymour Duncan Antiquity bridge pick up? He played it on Live at Daryl's. It sounded great on his SG.
  9. alans sg

    alans sg Well-Known Member

    Apr 10, 2014
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    Hi 4406cuda ,i have a set of the SD 59's in a 2011 sg special , fitted out with a wiring harness with cts pots and pio caps wired up 50's style and i have to say they sound excellent played through my marshall jcm800 stack , no pedals .
    I also have a few other sg's with different flavours of pickups
    an 07 special with 57 and 57 plus
    epi sg custom with 490 , 490 and 498
    epi korina with iron gear blues engines
    89 epi sg 400r with a SD pearly gates and a bb1
    and my recently purchased 04 sg std which is stock at the moment ( i did move the cap leg to the center leg on the vol pots but it could still do with cts pots
    Have you tried lowering the pickups a bit to reduce the harshness ?
    i play mostly 60's rock on my sg's , cheers
  10. Huntroll

    Huntroll Active Member

    Feb 9, 2014
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    Do it my way ! ! !

    Install a SD pearly gates (8K ohms) in the neck position.

    Install a SD JB (15K ohms) in the bridge position.

  11. GTSG

    GTSG Active Member

    Oct 26, 2012
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    The SD Lovers and Antiquities are decent, but imho the 59 tributes of Gibson from last year sound much better and so do the Livebuckers which they started using in a few Historics and are selling aftermarket now. The Livebuckers are Alnico III magnets.

    I heard a lot of good about the DiMarzio 36 Anniversary also. These I still haven't played though.
  12. smitty_p

    smitty_p Well-Known Member

    Mar 20, 2012
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    I would suggest you look into the '57 Classics.

    However, I do have Seymour Duncan SH-1's in my Washburn HB-30. I like them a LOT. They have plenty of gain, can deliver that classic rock tone, and they are more articulate than the 490/498 pickups in my Les Paul.

    I would definitely combine them with 500K pots, though.
  13. bea

    bea Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2013
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    Mhmm, a set of Gibson's 57 classic would probably not change the value of the guitar significantly, wouldn't it? And if it would - where is the problem to keep the original electrics with the guitar (it has a cease large enough for a little bacg with those parts) an sell it with the original parts. Better - do not sell but play as long as You can...
    JohnnyGoo and shreddy bender like this.
  14. guitarded

    guitarded Member

    Jun 25, 2014
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    57 Classics are a more desirable pickup for most, so if anything i could see it making the instrument a better sell.. Just save the originals and make sure the 57's get installed right.

    All that said i have a Mark IV with a Mesa halfback bottom (EV + Black Shadows) and my SG's with 490T / 490R sound pretty good. I find your situation surprising because the Mark series has so many tweak points you should be able to dial in just about any guitar.
    Col Mustard likes this.
  15. ypnos

    ypnos Well-Known Member

    Jun 12, 2013
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    +1 on the classic standard wears them and she can give birth to ethereal sounds and tones

    i haven't played with any of your options, but the classic 57 will do the souns you chase..
    though i believe you can get these sounds wih the 490/498 compo

    please show ua a pic of that beatiful standard
  16. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    Sep 29, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Tucson AZ
    Well, the OP is way ahead of me, having had his guitar set up already
    and played it enough to know he likes this individual instrument.
    That answers a lot of questions right there.
    I sure do love the '57 classics in my SG, and that answers his original question.
    Those are the p'ups IMHO.

    >But the retail price is high. I played my stock p'ups until I found the '57s marked
    down for a hundred dollars each. Still a big hit compared to other pickups,
    but for me they are worth it. The only reason to pay it is if you are as in love
    with the neck and the resonance of your SG as I am with mine.

    Which is why I recommended the '61! If there's any guitar that's equal to or better
    than the Standard in quality, it's this. With '57s as stock equipment. If you're bonded
    with the guitar you have, then this isn't as good a choice as I thought at first.
    You'd know right away if you went where they sell them, and played one.
    When you buy a guitar blind on the internet, you're just asking for this kind of hassle IMHO.

    But there are so many ways to mod the tone of your guitar without
    replacing parts, including raising or lowering the pickups, raising one side
    or the other, there's no reason the tone has to be harsh. And I still think your
    trouble is in the signal chain, not the p'ups

    >I recommended an EQ pedal because I figured the OP had his other guitars dialed in
    and was happy with that... the pedal can be devoted to only the Gibson and ought
    to give you complete control over whatever p'ups are in there. Plus you
    can use it for other instruments too...

    >And yes... I've watched that Billy Gibbons video multiple times, totally
    fascinated. I don't think there's anything you can buy that will get you sounding
    like that... He's playing a world class guitar modded by his world class guitar
    tech, and playing through world class rack mounted equipment and signal chain
    with world class sound men on the board, to make a world class video, the best
    he can afford.
    The rest of us get to stand outside the window and drool on our boots.
    He uses sevens for strings, and doesn't sound tinny at all. excellent EQ and mix.
    Love it.

    Yeah, actually what you should do is keep your SG Standard and get a '61 RI as well.
    I'm a 'gimme both...' kind of person myself. If there's a choice to be made:
    Gibson or Fender... Rhythm/Treble... Beer or Whiskey... Karen or her sister Sharon...
    Harley or Vincent, J-Bass or P-Bass... Standard or '61... Gimme both!
    JohnnyGoo likes this.
  17. lunchbox

    lunchbox Active Member

    Apr 18, 2013
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    I had Seth Lovers in my '91 LP Standard, and they were awesome. Had a lot of P-90 type 'honk' to them. Very articulate for leads, and nice and smooth for chords. I'm going to put some into the next axe I get (have to sell all my gear to afford to move for a new job).

    SD '59's are nice too; a little less mids than the SL's, a little more scooped, but very smooth as well.
  18. Kris Ford

    Kris Ford Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Detroit FTW
    500Ks are a must.
    "50's" wiring is overblown and faddish..I can prove Gibson used both the "50s" wiring and "modern" wiring INTERCHANGEBLY in the 50s...more hype then real function...
    The 498T can be hot, but you'd be surprised how much better a 490R sounds going into 500K pots.
    I'd say leave the 490 and get a 57 Classic Plus...SGs often suffer from " thin bridge/boomy neck" syndrome, so you may need something hotter in the bridge, but not as hot as a 498T..
  19. AC 30

    AC 30 Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Too far from Memphis
    I think the 57' Classic is the greatest pickup that I've ever used, heard or installed.
    It just sounds great with just about every kind of music you throw at it.

    I would check out the 57's, everything I put them in sounds better after they are installed.
    I've got them in one of if my SG's and that's where they are staying.

    The only other vintage style pickup that really nails it is that Lollar Imperial - but they are not cheap.
    The Lollar low winds are really nice but the standard Lollar Imperials are just about as good as it gets for vintage vibe but cost more than the 57' Classics.

    But just for fun here's Lollar Imperial standard winds in a Strat.
  20. Gemini75

    Gemini75 Active Member

    May 7, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Gemini Lounge.
    Some of the best pickup advice I got was try and dial in the EQ on your amp before you try a pickup swap.

    If you're still intent on swapping out the pups take a look at the vintage offerings from Bare Knuckles and The Creamery.

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