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Whizzinby

SG - 490 pickups tone range (BB or P90 differences)

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Hey everyone, new Gibson SG owner. Had the guitar for about a month and love it. That said, the stock 490 pickup range is giving me some difficulty with amp EQ. Neck pickup is warm and the bridge pickup bright, which in and of themselves is fine, but I find to get the best tone out of either requires a notable shift in EQ, which makes it difficult to use them together in a song etc. They almost cover too much of a tonal range. I’ve tried rolling back the tone know on bridge pickup but even that only helps so much before you dull that pickups attack.

So, I was looking at a potential pickup replacement. When I was guitar shopping I did find an LP Studio Special that I loved which had a Burstbucker #1 in the neck and Burstbucker #2 in the bridge. Has anyone here done this on an SG and have feedback on it? I found only one example on YouTube of someone doing this and it sounded great to my ears but he was playing entirely clean. (Are Burstbuckers higher or lower output pickups than the 490’s) 

I also though maybe something a little more drastic like P90’s but I don’t know if I want to bail on Humbuckers a entirely, though they do seem to have a gritty charm about them that seem cool. (I do have more of a background with single coils) 

Anyways, any thoughts or opinions would be greatly appreciated. Curious about your thoughts on either setup and what tonal differences I should reasonably expect going either direction. 

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Have you tried lowering the pickup height?

Backing it away should change tone and unfortunately or fortunately will lower the output a bit

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I have not, what is the generally accepted clearance between the string and bride pickup? 
 

And what’s the general spec for height that bridge pickup should be above the pick guard etc

Edited by Whizzinby

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1 hour ago, Whizzinby said:

I have not, what is the generally accepted clearance between the string and bride pickup? 
 

And what’s the general spec for height that bridge pickup should be above the pick guard etc

There is no hard and fast rule - you have to do it by ear. All pickups are different; even identical models will have slight variations in their output. The way I do it (and it may not work for everyone) is to plug in, play a chord on each toggle position and then adjust the pickups to the point that there is no appreciable difference in volume when I switch between them. At that point, if I need to back off treble or make it slightly brighter, I raise or lower accordingly. Be aware that raising your pickups too close to the strings will cause the magnets in the pole pieces to attract the string as it vibrates, subtly pulling the string out of tune. Have a look on Youtube for a tutorial video if you need further guidance; there is a good one from Stew Mac that I saw the other day about the subject.

Edited by Filbert

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57 minutes ago, Filbert said:

There is no hard and fast rule - you have to do it by ear. All pickups are different; even identical models will have slight variations in their output. The way I do it (and it may not work for everyone) is to plug in, play a chord on each toggle position and then adjust the pickups to the point that there is no appreciable difference in volume when I switch between them. At that point, if I need to back off treble or make it slightly brighter, I raise or lower accordingly. Be aware that raising your pickups too close to the strings will cause the magnets in the pole pieces to attract the string as it vibrates, subtly pulling the string out of tune. Have a look on Youtube for a tutorial video if you need further guidance; there is a good one from Stew Mac that I saw the other day about the subject.


thanks for the feedback I’ll look for that video.

you have any experience with that BB1/2 config? (Or the P90s)

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Just now, Whizzinby said:


thanks for the feedback I’ll look for that video.

you have any experience with that BB1/2 config? (Or the P90s)

This is a good example of the Stew Mac videos on the subject:

 

I don't have any experience with that model but just yesterday, I got a Flying V off ebay that needed the pups setting and I just used the method I gave above. Eyeball (or earball, if you will) and adjust to taste. There is no right or wrong; what works for your ears may not work for me or for my amp setup, for that matter.

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I have the 57 Classics in my 61 Reissue, they're  worth getting although there's nothing wrong with the ones that you have.

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19 hours ago, SteveFord said:

 

I have the 57 Classics in my 61 Reissue, they're  worth getting although there's nothing wrong with the ones that you have.


Great video. Not sure what difference it would make with me having an SG versus the LP they used.

57’s sound more “natural” and BB’s seem more “hot”.  
 

Curious to know if the BB’s are hotter than the 490’s. 

Im assuming lower output pickups will have more natural warmth and depth, and higher output pickups will provide more dynamics. 

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Higher output pickups actually provide less dynamics, they hit the amp too hard no matter what you do back at the guitar end of things.

rct

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3 hours ago, rct said:

Higher output pickups actually provide less dynamics, they hit the amp too hard no matter what you do back at the guitar end of things.

rct


Are the BB’s higher or lower output than the 490? (How do P90’s compare output wise) 

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43 minutes ago, SteveFord said:

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If it were me, I'd stick with what you've got in there already.


Thanks for the chart!!!

Wow, I would have never guessed the BB’s had less output than the 490’s, P90’s and 57’s.

Before I do a swap I am going to check the setup. I think I have an old string gauge somewhere I bought once upon a time and never used. Can at least check the pickup height and string height etc. Just trying to get enough firm specs and watch enough YT videos to feel comfortable before I start cranking on stuff. 

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As to pickup heights I use the Gibson Custom Shop set-up as a starting point.  They say "Fret on the last fret of the guitar.  Pole pieces should be 3/64" from the bottom of the string".

Then go up or down to taste.  You may find your bridge pickup is closer than 3/64" now and just going to standard spec will solve your problem.

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20 hours ago, Twang Gang said:

As to pickup heights I use the Gibson Custom Shop set-up as a starting point.  They say "Fret on the last fret of the guitar.  Pole pieces should be 3/64" from the bottom of the string".

Then go up or down to taste.  You may find your bridge pickup is closer than 3/64" now and just going to standard spec will solve your problem.


Questions:

1. Since the strings angle down from the bridge I’m assuming the measurement should be from the center of the pole screw? (Since the measurements would differ from the edge of each pole screw since we are talking about measurements down to 64ths)

2. I’m assuming strings sizes matter, so if I’m using 10’s now I might need to raise the pickups ever so slightly when I go back to 9’s.

3. I watched a video where a luthier said that the strings should never touch the back of the bridge traveling down to the stop bar. Looking at mine I think every string except the G string touch the back edge of the bridge going down to the stop bar. I presume If this is notable enough to warrant fixing, I would need to raise the stop bar to decrease the angle and this get the string off the bridge? 
 

 

3B4511B7-0F31-4BFB-AFB2-1DD333482582.jpeg

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Just lower the bridge, and the bridge pickup.

And I wouldn't believe everything you hear from every "luthier" on YouTube.

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Does Gibson publish a baseline speck for bridge and tail height? Would be great to just restring this and set everything up to their spec out of the shop, then go from there.

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