If you’re looking for a medium-high output humbucker pickup then the Gibson 498T and Seymour Duncan JB Model (SH-4, TB-4) are excellent options to consider, but which is the best? In this article I’ll directly compare these two pickups to help you decide which is the best choice for your guitar. Here’s the quick answer…
The Seymour Duncan JB (SH-4) pickup sounds slightly clearer and more crisp compared to the Gibson 498T which sounds warmer and smoother but doesn’t cut through the mix as much. Both pickups use alnico V magnets, are wax-potted and have 4-conductor wiring for coil splitting.
When you look at the specifications of both pickups, you’ll notice that there are several similarities between them. Both pickups are designed for the bridge position, they’re both passive, have 4-conductor wiring, and they both use alnico V magnets.
Both the 498T and JB are wax-potted which means they don’t suffer as much from feedback issues (compared to unpotted pickups such as the Gibson Burstbucker), however the harmonics are reduced so they don’t sound quite as dynamic and lively.
They also both have balanced coils so have more of a hum-cancelling effect compared to pickups with unbalanced coils which sound less compressed and have a more open top-end, but more humming.
|Specification||Gibson 498T||Seymour Duncan JB|
|Magnet||Alnico V||Alnico V|
|DC Resistance||14.2 K||16.6 K|
Tone and Output
As we discussed in the section above, the specifications for these pickups are very similar so it’s no surprise that they also sound incredibly similar to one another. Unless you play with both pickups back-to-back it’s highly unlikely that you’d notice a difference between them.
With that said, here are a few observations I’ve:
- The JB Model pickup has a touch more clarity which is noticeable when using very high gain. The 498T still is a clear sounding pickup, but sounds a little bit muddier in comparison to the JB.
- The 498T sounds a bit smoother and warmer compared to the JB pickup cuts through the mix a bit better and sounds more crisp.
- The JB pickup sounds a bit more distorted and has a slightly higher output compared to the 498T.
In my opinion, in a lot of cases it’s not worth swapping out a stock 498T with a JB Model pickup as the difference is too small to justify the price. If you’re not happy with the tone of your 498T, I’d look further afield for something that’ll sound more different.
Check out this YouTube video where you can hear a comparison of the two pickups.
Both these pickups come with 4-conductor wiring so you can coil split them. However, the JB has more design options in terms of colors and covers. Here is a table showing the different options available.
|Design||Gibson 498T||Seymour Duncan JB|
|Matte Black Covered||No||Yes|
|Nickel and Gold Mesh||No||Yes|
|Nickel and Tortoiseshell||No||Yes|
On Guitar Centre, the Gibson 498T costs between $99-$145 (depending on the design option) whereas the Seymour Duncan JB costs $99. On the Gibson website the 498T costs between $99-$119, and on the Seymour Duncan website, the JB costs $99.
Here are links to Guitar Centre so you can check the current prices:
In the UK, the Gibson 498T costs around £90, whereas the Seymour Duncan JB costs £110 on average.
Check out this comparison between the Gibson 498T and 500T.