Gibson ’57 Classic/ Classic Plus vs 490R/T vs 498T Pickups

If you’re looking to swap out and upgrade your guitar’s humbuckers then you’ll know that Gibson offer an extensive range of aftermarket pickups. Some of the most popular are the ’57 Classic, ’57 Classic Plus 490R, 490T and 498T. In this article I’ll compare these options to help you decide which is the best choice.

Here is a table with an overview of the features of all 5 pickups. If you are on mobile you can either scroll to the right or turn your phone horizontally to see the full table.

’57 Classic
MagnetAlnico IIAlnico IIAlnico IIAlnico IIAlnico V
Wax PottedYesYesYesYesYes
Wiring2 or 4

Key Points:

  • The ’57 Classic/ Classic Plus and 490R/T use alnico II magnets whereas the 498T uses an alnico V magnet
  • The ’57 Classic/ Classic Plus are designed for either the bridge position or the neck position. The 490R is designed for the neck position and the 490T and 498T are designed for the bridge.
  • All 5 pickups are wax-potted and have balanced coils.
  • All the pickups except for the ’57 Classic Plus have 4-conductor wiring (or the choice between 2 and 4 conductor for the ’57 Classic) to allow coil splitting
  • The highest output pickup is the 498T and the lowest is the 490R.

Tone and Output

The ’57 Classic/ Classic Plus and the 490R/T use alnico II magnets which sound warmer and more mellow in comparison to the 498T which uses alnico V magnets which sound brighter and tighter. The 490R/T and ’57 Classics sound very similar however the ’57 Classics sound a touch clearer with less low-end.

Check out my comparison between the different types of alnico magnets to learn more.

To demonstrate, check out this video comparison between the 490R/ 498T and the ’57 Classic.

The 498T has the highest output, whilst the 490R has the lowest output, closely followed by the ’57 Classic. The ’57 Classic Plus and 490T fall in the middle have a pretty similar output.

Higher output pickups send a stronger signal to the amplifier causing it to distort more easily. Hence, the 498T sounds a bit dirtier when using the same amplifier settings compared to 490R which sounds cleaner.

Higher output pickups sound louder if the amp has a lot of headroom. However, if the amp is at the top of the headroom and is starting to distort, the higher output pickup will not sound louder at this point, but instead will sound more distorted.

Check out my comparison between low and high output pickups to learn more.

Pickup Wiring and Design Options

The 490R/T and 498T are only available with 4-conductor wiring, and the ’57 Classic offers the choice of either 2-conductor or 4-conductor wiring. If you want to coil split your humbuckers then you’ll want to go with the 4-conductor option. The only pickup that doesn’t come with 4-conductor wiring is the ’57 Classic Plus.

Here is a table outlining the different color/ design options available for each pickup.

’57 ClassicYesNoYesYesYes
’57 Classic PlusYesNoYesYesYes

Price Comparison

The ’57 Classic pickup costs between $129 and $169 depending on which design you select. The ’57 Classic Plus costs slightly more at $175. The 490R costs roughly $129, the 490T costs $119 and the 498T costs $145.

Here are links to all the pickups available on Guitar Center so you can check the current prices.

Check out these other pickup comparisons:
’57 Classic vs Burstbucker Pickups
490R/T and 498T vs Burstbucker Pickups


Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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