Versatile Combo

Apr 19, 2020
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I have a 2009 Gibson SG standard. It’s all stock and no matter what other guitar I own/play the SG feels like home.

I have the 490r/498t combo in along with the PCB. Great for higher gain in my opinion but a little bland on cleans. The 498 certainly overdrives easy.

For fun I’m going to throw in new pickups and switch the wiring. I’m hoping to be as versatile as possible with perhaps an emphasis on being a bit brighter.

Anyone like to offer opinions? Thanks.


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Apr 9, 2012
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@Von Trapp is correct that the stockers can get brighter simply by lowering the entire pickup and raising the polepieces if necessary. Some people also swap magnets between these two, to even out the tone and output. If swapping magnets, you might also consider having them out of phase. This is how I have the P90s in my Special. Works great in conjunction with really fat fuzz boxes!
If swapping out the pickups, Seymour Duncan is always a safe bet and they offer many versatile combos, e.g. 59 and 59/Custom Hybrid, Jazz and JB, etc. It might be worth your time to take a trip over to their forum. Triple Shot pickup rings add to the versatility, providing your are dealing with 4-conductor wiring from the pickups.


Jun 13, 2014
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Springboro, Ohio USA
My stock pups tone improved by 1. Raising screws until threads show and 2. Replacing stock Gibson pots and wiring with quality 500k pots. If you need brighter tone than that, Gibson 57 Classic would be good stary.


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Apr 16, 2014
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Mid South
Just feel like rambling for a few lines........
Covid rates are climbing in this area, so I'm staying put.
read or ignore, your choice.

Ya asked for opinions! I've been using Duncans for a long time and have some opinions.

Ya might say what music style / artists ya are playing or what sound ya are tryin to get and maybe the amp ya are usin' then I might have no idea of what to tell ya.

And first .......

Get out the screwdriver and spend some quality
time turning ... playing .... listening and trying again .... what ya already got. Might take awhile. Ya might find something useful .... Ya just might save yourself money buying new pickups.

Somehow, the warning bell dings when I think about the Jazz/JB set for the SG as I picture it as a Super Strat thing. [ This set didn't work too good in a SG Standard and sounded worse in one of my LP's ].

The Jazz is, just a flat, brighter, boring pickup [ actually it is a smooth articulate pickup and sounds good with gain ]. And no, it isn't for playing Jazz - to me - the Jazz is the closest thing in the Duncan line that is similar and superior to a Gibson 57. And there is a lot of love on this board for the 57's.......

As for the JB, it has a lower bass - upper midrange high end spike frequency curve that you might or might not want as it is an acquired taste.

Since you never said what music you are playing, I have a general suggestion:
Are you are a blues and 70' / 80's rock player? If so, go with the SD Pearly Gates Set or a SH16 Whole Lotta Humbucker set and call it a day.

As suggested above - 59 and 59/Custom Hybrid would make a good SG Set for blues rock,rock and early Priest. The 59-n has a mid range scoop and sounds great in a SG.

As for the 59b, I found it to be mid scooped and just freaking Blah. The Custom 5 is a 59 B with a bit more strength and has the v scoop.

Have you ever played a SH5 Custom thorough a good amp with some volume and gain? Solid bass, solid mids and highs. And definitely more output than a 59n or a 59b. Its a good hard rock / early metal pickup.

Now we meet the lowly 59/Custom Hybrid. It has a coil from each parent pickup. The offspring is amazing and unlike the parents. This pickup has more a more solid bass and mids than a 59 neck or bridge. At lower volume it is almost a tame pickup. Turn up the amp and maybe use a bit of boost and you'll discover this pickup comes alive when you start to dig in. It becomes aggressive, lets out the harmonics and becomes an incredibly fun pickup to play.

I currently have the following pickups installed in my SG's:

1. WLH set - This is my all time favorite set.

Dimarzio pickups
2. 36 Anniversary set
3. PAF Master Set
4. 36-n / Air Norton

PRE SE Santana
WLH - n / 59/Custom Hybrid
No! This was not a mistake! $500 [ End of the year close out guitar ] guitar sounds way above its price point with these pickups. It is well made and has a Gibson scale length and about a 11.75 inch radius. Felt right at home with this guitar when I picked it up for the first time.

What a freakin train wreck.

My first advice stands. Use your screwdriver and ears and find the tone you are looking for.
Happy hunting.
Apr 19, 2020
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I somehow missed some of these responses last year.

Update: I oscillate between 90s SoCal punk for higher gain, gritty Reverend Horton Heat/stray cat rockabilly, and even Bakersfield country.

I took the basic advice of sticking with the 490/498 combo and tweaking amp along with volume/tone controls. It really is pretty versatile and my only complaint would be the bridge pickup easily overdrives modelers.

Would lowering the pickup height a bit help?

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