Neil Young Inspired 490R/498T Replacements...


Senior Member
Mar 19, 2009
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Looking for advice...!


I am looking to replace the 490R and 498T pickups in my 2000 Les Paul Standard.

Recently I decided to sell my Stratocaster leaving me with one electric, I don't intend to get another. Over the years I've experimented with pedals, guitars, amps, tubes, everything really - but not pickups which I have failed to take much notice of actually.

I never ever use the 490R neck pickup, it may as well not be there. It's way too dense, suppressed, overbearing and yet woolly and muffled at the same time - in my opinion. I'm not looking for 'creamy' lead tones from a neck pickup and I don't see how this one could be considered for rhythm due to lack of clarity.

The 498T I don't mind, however the Blues Deluxe is quite a harsh amp already despite improvements made (see below). It can be quite a biting pickup and I don't know, 'brash', over-trebley. I seem to struggle to get the mids 'right' with it (generally I set mids lower than most). As in, more, or less, whatever - adjusting the amp doesn't seem to satisfy. I like the attack though. It's more a case of upgrading the bridge pickup.

Favourite tones - Neil Young's 'Ragged Glory' tones are my favourite of all time in terms of lead. The rhythm tones on 'Zuma' and 'Are You Passionate?' likewise.

What I think I'm looking for:

Neck - I'd like the neck pickup to be a lot closer characteristically to a bridge pickup. Not such a huge divide in any case. So that it can be used for chords a lot. To that end it needs to be way way clearer. It still needs to have solid low end though. Ideally a sort of growly low end as support but very transparent on top and throughout. Think 'Cortez', 'Words', Albuquerque', and lots on the 'Are You Passionate?' album. Edgy and harmonic. Harmonic! Before I looked at Young's pickups I guessed P90 however I don't like the 'fizziness' I've heard in P90 Goldtop videos.

Bridge - I know Young uses a microphonic Firebird pickup. I'm not a fanatic though, particularly. Still I'd love to have feedback on tap. That crazy route is an option. In general, something more balanced, that 'sings' would be brilliant. Again, something harmonic, in terms of overtones.

Generally - I do like a lot of other music and would like versatility, especially as mentioned given this will be my only electric. I'm not especially into rock, definitely not modern. I like overdrive as opposed to distortion put it that way.

Budget - ideally I'd like to buy used however I don't see many Fralin P90s or Lollar Firebird pickups in eBay 'completed listings'! Availability may be an issue in that case, so I'm open to various alternatives. Guitar shops where I live are extremely limited so it will be a blind purchase.

Tone affecting equipment:

Amp - Fender Blues Deluxe. V1 - 5751 JAN PHILIPS. V2 - 12AX7 Tung-Sol. V3 - Mullard 12AT7WA (CV4024). Power - JJ 6L6 GC. Speaker - Jensen C12N. Biased properly, just the slightest bit hot, according to Weber guides. Able to re-bias myself if necessary.

Pedals - overdrives: Timmy, Way Huge Green Rhino, Catalinbread Formula 5, fuzz: Blackout Effectors Twosome.

Current guitar wiring - 50's, all CTS500XL pots. Bridge cap is Sprague 225P100V orange drop 223K, neck is the same except 103K. Able re-wire etc myself if necessary.

Pickup heights set at Gibson recommendations and aware of effects of pole-piece height adjustment.


Senior Member
Apr 16, 2012
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You know, I'd be going a humbucker shaped p90.....if not for both then certainly the neck. The clarity you get from the singlecoil reduces the muffled tone (which is in spades with a stock 490R) and the nature of the p90 is for a fat yet sizzling tone anyhow. If you try one of the forum winders (ReWind and Zhangbucker are 2 I've dealt with who do this type) then you can specify the elements you want in the pickup. The width of the string the pickup 'sees' may well assist in making the tone fatter without reducing the bite

The bridge can be slightly overwound p90 for thicker tone but with a sonic match to the neck, or you could choose a PAF type humbucker wind which would keep the clarity due to the low turn count (or even offset coil strength) but be hum free. The 498T is perhaps the worst of the bright and harsh pickups Gibson has ever done - anything would be better IMO.


Senior Member
Jan 24, 2010
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The idea of using a neck pickup for distorted chords just doesn't work IMHO.

Neil is using the bridge pickup for distorted chords.

I would consider Lollar or Duncan Mini PAFs with custom sized pickup rings, or maybe Fralin P-92s.

If you can't get usable sounds out of those, the problem is not the pickup choices.

That said, both will sound miles better and different than the 498/490 combo.


Senior Member
Sep 5, 2011
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I would suggest this :

Bridge : Creamery Classic Black Cat / Neck : Creamery Hum-90

Filtertron Style Design in a standard Gibson / Humbucker Size

Currently, the brightest pickup in the whole Creamery range. The Humbucker sized Filtertron style bridge pickup is Jangly & bright, but designed to break up the amp at gain for a biting attack. My modern interpretation of the old classic Filtertron pickups of yesteryear in a standard humbucker size. 12 Pole screws for individual string balance give you the option to follow your neck radius and define your own tone.

The Neck pickup has a sweeter voice due to its position but still with the brightness needed from this kind of pickup.

........................ o0o ....................

Humbucker Sized P90 Pickup

A true P90 pickup design in standard Humbucker sizes. The Creamery Humbucker sized P90 pickup houses two unpolished Alnico 2, 4 or 5 magnets and a wide/short 43AWG coil wound around my custom made Humbucker sized P90 bobbins, shaped to fit a standard Humbucker cover & mounting ring. Fat single-coil tones still with clarity, presence & a defined voice. Get the grit of a P90 in a standard humbucker size. Great fat, rounded clean tones.

The geometry of the standard Humbucker size as opposed to a standard P90 means there will always be a slight difference in tone between the two pickups - Its for this reason I don't call it a "true" P90 although I've voiced this pickup to sound close with a fat single-coil tone.


Senior Member
Jun 19, 2011
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Neil plays most of his rhythm parts still on the bridge pickup, but it looks like he uses his fingers a lot for that (as well as switching down the distortion on his amp). The Greendale album was all goldtop P90 neck pickup though as Old Black finally had to be refretted when that was recorded.

I second Sir Jack's suggestion, Jaime winds a fine pickup. An option for bridge pickup could be the Baby '71 which is a wide range style pickup in a regular humbucker format.

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