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Difference in Pick-ups


So what is the difference between the various humbucker pick-ups such as P-90, 490, 498, 50S, 60S etc? Is there some reference material available that describes each one where a novice like myself can better understand the significance of an SG fitted with P-90's versus one fitted with a set of 490R/498T's?
March 14, 2003 @05:45pm
R Whittington

The difference in most of the pickups you mentioned is the power they provide (although the P90 is a single coil pu not a humbucker). The 490 series is referred to by Gibson as a "modern" style humbucker with a balance between power and tone. The 498 offers higher output and the 500 series offers even more power. One thing to remember..with the increased pick up windings to achieve more power...comes somewhat of a tonal loss..so there's a trade off..the more power a pickup has..generally the more one-dimensional it will sound. That's why I've shyed away from super distortion style pickups and tend to go with more standard pickups like the 490 series from Gibson...and I lean more on my amp system to provide me with overdrive/distortion. One thing I'll say about P90 pickups..is they are outstanding blues pickups with just enough power to give you a nice raunchy sound..but not too overdriven....just right.
March 14, 2003 @06:04pm
Jim Wintringham

I have an old Eipiphone G-400 (sg style), that I changed pickups and tone/ volume controls to Gibson 490's. It really did make a great improvement in the sound. It isn't just louder... it is a clearer ,warmer sound than the old electrinics. I bought them used from a guy who changed out his Gibson LP to get more of the distortion/edge sound. So we are both happy now!
March 14, 2003 @07:03pm

Thanks Richard for shedding some light on the difference in pick-ups. The P-90, being single coil, must be for the folks looking for the Strat sound. I noticed the Pete Townsend Signature Series SG has P-90's whereas the Standard SG comes with a 490 for the rhythm pick up and a 498 for the treble.
Thanks for responding Jim. Did you replace the pick-ups yourself or did you have your local guitar store do it? It looks pretty straight forward but I am curious if there is a trick to it.
March 15, 2003 @11:26am
Jim Wintringham

I did it myself..... it really wasn't that hard. One thing I did, was to tie a string on the pot end of the pickup wire. When pulling the pickup out, the string came with it.... I then tied the new pickup wire to the string and pulled it back thru. It saved any trouble with hang-ups. Also make a picture or drawing of the wiring.... before you take it apart, it will make life much easier.
March 15, 2003 @02:40pm

Originally posted by Lambo
The P-90, being single coil, must be for the folks looking for the Strat sound. I noticed the Pete Townsend Signature Series SG has P-90's whereas the Standard SG comes with a 490 for the rhythm pick up and a 498 for the treble.

While the P90 is a single coil PuP, it really doesn't sound much like the traditional Fender-style single coil. It has much more midrange girth and a higher output than its vintage Fender counterparts. I think of P90s as a medium point between buckers and strat/tele-style single coils. They have more clarity than buckers. Great PuPs.
If you're decent w/ a soldering iron and can follow schematics, I'd suggest trying your hand at replacing PuPs yourself. It's fairly easy to master and for the ridiculous hourly rates a lot of techs charge, you can save yourself some $$ (to buy more gear!).
March 17, 2003 @01:56pm
R Whittington

In RE to the P90 sound...it doesn't really sound like a strat pickup at all. I'd say it's in between a strat sound and a full humbucker sound only not quite as powerfull as a humbucker. Quite a unique sound actually.
March 17, 2003 @01:58pm

When you talk of P90 pickups is that a type of a specific brand? Because I saw three types of P90 seymore duncan pickups and I was wondering if it matters on which or are most P90s simular?
April 25, 2003 @12:29am
R Whittington

P90 refers to Gibsons original design...a larger size (compared to strats/teles) of single coil pickup found on many Gibson models originating in the 50's...also sometimes described as "dog ear" because of the triangular shape on the edges...in production now are many strengths and styles of "P90" pickups from several manufacturers...
April 25, 2003 @02:13pm