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Gibson 500t Replacement


guitar2005
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I've been struggling with a really bright Gibson 500T pickup in my custom explorer build. I tried taming it with a high pass filter in the guitar's control cavity but it just lacks the warmth of the T-Tops in my Gibson Les Paul Custom and is still very bright. Its also a very high output pickup and seems to sound good with a lot of distortion. Totally sucks on clean and mildly overdriven sounds. The bass strings sound tinny with little body.

Granted, the pickups are placed 1/4" closer to the bridge, which doesn't help BUT as a test, I swapped out the 500T for a Seymour Duncan Alnico Pro II and the sound was much better. It could be a still be little warmer though. The SD Alnico Pro II isn't as warm sounding as the Les Paul's T-Tops from my comparison.

I'm not too crazy about the 496R neck pickup either. It doesn't have the open'nes and body that a Dimarzio PAF or PAF Pro has.

I'd like to know what you guys suggest. I'm tempted to go to Lindy Fralin and ask him to make me a set of pickups based on my story above. I wouldn't mind a T-Top type of sound like in my Les Paul with just a tad more output.

Any suggestions?

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Have you tried using 250k pots? Also, how do the pickups react to the tone knob? If you like the pickups and still want to try and keep them, you could use the tone knob to dull out the attack/treble. Also, using a higher cap on the tone circuit may help.

It's funny that you don't like that pickup combination, especially in an explorer. I've got to say that playing an (all mahog, clearly) Explorer with 500/496 combo into the EVH amp, they were probably the best "feeling" pickups under my fingers. Reacted to my playing style nicely.

And as for clean sounds, The Edge seems to make it work for him :D Could it be more the amp than the pickups? Not all of us have an AC30...

BTW, what pickups are the T-Tops that you're referring to? I don't know Gibson's naming system all that well.

It could be a magnet issue, as well. Ceramics aren't generally described as "smooth." Maybe you could do some surgery on them and replace the magnet with an Alnico V, or even better for warmer sounds, a II.

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My suggestion for a bridge pickup would probably be something with an alnico magnet wound to arround 8-10K, lower numbers of windings lead to lower inductance which will give you a lower resonance frequency (so should be less bright), though if you're saying an Alnico Pro II is still to bright you may have a problem. You say T-Tops have you tried the SD Seth Lover pickup? Might be what you're looking for.

496R? that's one of the ceramic magneted ones I seem to remember, if you're going for something less meaty in the bridge you'll probably want to put something ballanced with it in the neck. Again I'd say something Alnico and about 7-8k depending on what you've got in the bridge. If you like the Dimarzio PAF Pro that'd probably work well.

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... if you're saying an Alnico Pro II is still to bright you may have a problem. You say T-Tops have you tried the SD Seth Lover pickup? Might be what you're looking for.

No - I never said the Alnico II Pro was too bright. I said it is much better but still not as warm a the Gibson T-Tops. I'll have a look at the SD Seth Lover pickup. Is it known to be warmer than the SD Alnico II Pro?

496R? that's one of the ceramic magneted ones I seem to remember, if you're going for something less meaty in the bridge you'll probably want to put something ballanced with it in the neck.

Yup, 496R is a ceramic pickup as well and yes, I'll have to balance the neck PU with the bridge PU

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It's funny that you don't like that pickup combination, especially in an explorer. I've got to say that playing an (all mahog, clearly) Explorer with 500/496 combo into the EVH amp, they were probably the best "feeling" pickups under my fingers. Reacted to my playing style nicely.

BTW, what pickups are the T-Tops that you're referring to? I don't know Gibson's naming system all that well.

The 500T pickups are OK but lack warmth. They fine for all out dist but are lacking in overdriven tones and the don't respond well to picking attack I find. Just not for me.

You'll info on T-Tops here:

http://www.provide.net/~cfh/paf.html

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The SD Seth Lover is not potted. That won't work for louder and higher gain music.

:D ok now I didn't expect that! B) my bad! You could always get one and if it sounds good get it potted, I would think they'd be a pickup repair shop that'd do that for you for a nominal charge, might be worth it if it'll give you the tone you want.

The Alnico II Pro from SD sounds like it would be the best bet, from SD. Any other brands to suggest?

You might also want to think about the new SD P-rails, I have one in the neck of a guitar and it sounds nice and has a lot of P90 quality to it even in humbucking mode (and not to much output even though its got quite a high DC resistance). One warning though is that this pickup seems really really sensitive to how close it is to the strings, took me a while to get it set right.

I personally like the Kent Armstrong line of pickups, a lot cheeper than SD pickups and IMHO just as good. Their standard PAF is pretty hot (8.9K) and alnico, unfortunately their PAF plus is ceramic which might cause it be to bright for your needs. They do make their 'rocker' (15K) with an alnico magnet and I have one of these in a Les Paul so I can vouch for it being a decent pickup, tones of dynamics and it'll handle high gain well too. After that they're pickup line goes all high output metal pickups (which I think I have one of each of now :D ), the super distortion is quite nice actually, don't remember that being overly trebbly but I was using it as a neck pickup so its hard to say.

Lots of people say Bareknuckle are good but I've never played anything of theres so I can't give any personal insight.

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+1 Alnico Mags

I have the same issues with my Gibson V. The 500T is a crazy beast....

I would get a 490T as a replacement. It is much nicer and smoother. Every 500T I have ever owned was way too much all around.

I have had great success with Seymour JB-4 and the Jazz pickups... And the Seymour hot rod set.

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