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Burstbucker 61 or 57 Classic for SG?

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I am currently trying to decide which of these two pickups to get for my SG Standard. Here's what I know so far: the Burstbucker pickups have Alnico 5 magnets and have a higher output, are found in the Standard 61s and a couple Les Pauls that I know of, the coils are rounded the opposite way I think, have really good clarity in the clean sounds, and provide the player a little more punch and bite than the regular Burstbuckers. The 57 Classics, on the other hand, have Alnico 2 magnets and have lower output than the 61 Burstbuckers, provide a sweet tone and great clarity in the clean sounds, and have really good crunch. 

I could be wrong in my description or may have forgotten something to consider, so feel free to let me know! 

I am trying to get a sound that's vintage, versatile, and fits the classic SG sound. I have heard that both pickup sets are great for this kind of sound. 

If there are any other pickups to recommend, do let me know and I will check them out. 

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I don't play heavy stuff. Just minimal gain most of the time. I prefer 57 Classics. I cant find anything usable about BBs. But the point is, it suits what I do. You might play completely differently, with different sensibilities & taste too.

BBs might be right for you (?) 

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Everybody hears things differently. So what might sound good to someone else...may not sound the same to you. I know you know this. But you need to keep that in mind.

I had an SG with 61s. I did not like them. I then put some BB pros in that I had taken out of another guitar. Did not like them.

Then I bought a pair of Gibson 490r/498t pickups. I like them. A lot.

I like 57 classics. Have them in an LP.  But I like the the 490r/498t more.
It does somewhat depend on what style of music I am playing at the moment.

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^---  I didn't like BBs either,  I have two Gibbies with 490R/498T, I find them very versatile. 

I do really also like Classic 57/Classic57+  My bro-inlaw has a LP with a set of those in there, they sound great to my ears.

I think the hotter pickups actually lack the better tone, so there is a fence to walk between output and tone...  if it's the choice higher out put, better tone, then I'm in for the lower output all day.  Just turn up the amp a bit.


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Both the pickups you mention are very good.  The 61s have a more classic tone, a little more mid-range and not quite as clear.  The 57 classics are a little brighter and cleaner to my ear.  You should be pretty happy with either choice unless you are one of those guys who is on the endless quest for tone in which case it doesn't matter what pickups you get,  you'll always think there is something better out there 😄 

Edited by Twang Gang
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  • 5 months later...

The ‘61s are honestly probably my favorite pickup ever.  If the ‘57s are anything like the 490s, go with the ‘61s.  They may have Alnico Vs, but they are not overly bright and are still very articulate.  Very well-balanced and capable of stuff that isn’t super heavy.

Here’s my amateur demo of a 2020 Epiphone LP Standard ‘60s, 2021 Gibson LP Standard ‘60s, and a 2020 Gibson LP Tribute.


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