Replacing Les Paul 490/498 stock pickups

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Rolsen
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Replacing Les Paul 490/498 stock pickups

Post by Rolsen » Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:12 am

I searched the forums a bit and didn't quite find what I was looking for. I've got a les paul standard, bought new around '96. I believe it has the 490/498 pickups in there. These are the words I would use to describe them: tight, clinical, modern, without character. Through Vox's, Marshalls and Fenders, the bridge position makes everything sound like Nickelback. I think I need a little more 'air' with a dash of 'nasty.' I want my chords to still be articulate and balanced but not clinical. Such talk is silly, but necessary for my inquiry. I would like something that sounds good on bridge, neck, and the often neglected 'middle' position which I find I like the best on every guitar I've owned. I play alt/indie stuff through a moderately gainy vox ac30. I know there are a trillion boutique pickup winders out there, but lets keep this at the 101 level if we could. What could I expect with 'custom 57's' as opposed to 'burstbucker' and/or their seymour duncan equivalents? I'm not opposed to p-90's, but my main guitar is a hotter jazzmaster and I believe, though could be wrong, that the p-90 is in that same family. What about the other handful of typical les paul replacement pups?

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Post by Randy » Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:29 am

I don't have much to add, other than I had an SG with the custom '57's and the sound was mushy and sorta low-mid heavy. When I backed them off the string more, they just became quieter and more mushy if that's possible.

I replaced them with P90's and it sounds great. A bit noisy though. From what I remember from playing a friend's Jazzmaster, the sounds were pretty similar.
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Post by Chris_Meck » Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:33 pm

Duncan '59's. Make a Les Paul sound like what a Les Paul is supposed to sound like.
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Post by RefD » Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:38 pm

cmez wrote:Duncan '59's. Make a Les Paul sound like what a Les Paul is supposed to sound like.
EXACTLY!
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Post by Rolsen » Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:59 pm

Intriguing! What is it 'supposed' to sound like? Can you cite a recorded example or describe it in some way, or contrast it to the 'modern' 490/498 setup?

In the meantime, I'll do a 'lil research on this duncan '59

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Post by Randy » Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:20 pm

not to worry, just keep tracking....

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Post by Rolsen » Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:57 pm

You know, I have scoured that particular resource. I?ve compared and contrasted those tones to one another, but I couldn?t find if those tones were coming from a les paul or some other guitar. No description of an amp either. Did your pickups sound close enough to the examples provided on that website? That would help me trust it as a resource, ya know?

I?ve been noticing with reviews on the various forums that no clear pattern emerges with the most common LP replacement pickups ? dudes love ?em and hate ?em in equal amounts. I try to ignore the ?reviews? from the douches rocking Sevendust covers through Crate amps?.

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Post by Randy » Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:36 pm

yeah, I wish people would clearly state what tones they like before launching into the old "this rocks" routine.

That page is only good for general notions. There are so many factors involved with how a pickup is going to sound that it's nearly impossible to tell how it's going to sound until you install them and plug in.

As far as how my P90's compare to what's on that page... Mine don't sound cheesy like their sound files do, but you can hear a little more noise than the other pickups and the sound is more dynamic than many of the others.

You know, Bill Lawrence pickups are definitely worth checking into. I have never heard anyone complain about those.
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Post by RefD » Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:05 am

Randy wrote:yeah, I wish people would clearly state what tones they like before launching into the old "this rocks" routine.

That page is only good for general notions. There are so many factors involved with how a pickup is going to sound that it's nearly impossible to tell how it's going to sound until you install them and plug in.

As far as how my P90's compare to what's on that page... Mine don't sound cheesy like their sound files do, but you can hear a little more noise than the other pickups and the sound is more dynamic than many of the others.

You know, Bill Lawrence pickups are definitely worth checking into. I have never heard anyone complain about those.
my SD '59s don't sound like the samples on the SD site, they sound far better.

of course the instrument has a big influence on the sound and will affect what the pickup hears.
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Post by louloomis » Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:06 pm

I have a lot of experience with Les Pauls and different pickups.

In spite of many of the threads on a lot of boards which say "You MUST buy a Seth Lover" or whatever, I'm going to recommend you get a Duncan '59 also. Why?

Because in my experience, it is a great all around pickup. I think that a lot of the tones you describe that you'd like are better obtained with EQ....and can be obtained with this model of Duncan. Remember, you want a pickup which can give you what you want, not a pickup which forces you into a box because there is a spike in the EQ curve of the pickup.

A lot of people say "Get a JB/Pearly Gates/whatever" but then your palette has only 1 or 2 colors and you're struggling to mix the "colors" always to get exactly your sound. The '59 gives you an open palette where you can get to basically any humbucking sound you want.

Hope this helps,
LL

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Post by oldguitars » Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:43 am

get a good set of pickups.

Let your fingers and amp do the rest....
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Post by roscoenyc » Fri Jun 13, 2008 5:33 am

Hotter pickups can only sound hot.

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Post by Rolsen » Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:19 am

oldguitars wrote:get a good set of pickups.

Let your fingers and amp do the rest....
You know, I never thought of it that way

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Post by Rolsen » Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:27 am

louloomis wrote:I have a lot of experience with Les Pauls and different pickups.

In spite of many of the threads on a lot of boards which say "You MUST buy a Seth Lover" or whatever, I'm going to recommend you get a Duncan '59 also. Why?

Because in my experience, it is a great all around pickup. I think that a lot of the tones you describe that you'd like are better obtained with EQ....and can be obtained with this model of Duncan. Remember, you want a pickup which can give you what you want, not a pickup which forces you into a box because there is a spike in the EQ curve of the pickup.

A lot of people say "Get a JB/Pearly Gates/whatever" but then your palette has only 1 or 2 colors and you're struggling to mix the "colors" always to get exactly your sound. The '59 gives you an open palette where you can get to basically any humbucking sound you want.

Hope this helps,
LL
That helps alot! I detect a theme here (sd 59) and I trust this forum above all others. Thank you for sharing your experience with these - I think I'll order them and re-vitalize the les paul. The jazzmaster has been receiving more of my love these days and the LP is jealous.

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Post by Rolsen » Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:45 am

roscoenyc wrote:Hotter pickups can only sound hot.
Well, I'm not looking for hotter - those 490/498's a pretty friggin hot. I'm looking for more 'Zep' and less 'Creed'

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