Gibson Burstbucker vs 490R/498T Pickups


Gibson make a great range of top quality pickups designed to work with Les Paul’s, SG’s, Explorer’s and Flying V’s. Very popular options include the Burstbuckers, 490R/T and 498T, but what are the differences between them?

In this article, I’ll directly compare these Gibson pickups top help you decide which are the best options for your electric guitar.

Burstbucker Pickups

There are several types of Burstbucker pickups:

  • Burstbucker Pros
  • Burstbucker Type 1
  • Burstbucker Type 2
  • Burstbucker Type 3

There are two variants of the Burstbucker Pro pickups, one designed for the neck position and the other designed for the bridge position.

Burstbucker Type 1, 2 and 3 are more closely related and designed to work as a system. The Burstbucker Type 1 pickup is designed for the neck position, the Type 2 works well in either position and the Type 3 is designed for the bridge position.

Burstbucker Pro pickups use Alnico V magnets, whereas Burstbucker Type 1, 2 and 3 pickups use Alnico II magnets. Burstbucker Pro pickups have more treble emphasis and sound more crisp compared to Type 1/2/3 Burstbuckers which sound warmer and fuller.

In general, the Pros have a higher output than the Type 1 and 2, but the bridge Pro has a slightly lower output than the Type 3. Here’s a table for comparison.

Burstbucker PickupOutput
Type 16.5
Type 27.4
Pro Neck7.4
Pro Bridge8.3
Type 38.4
Output of Gibson Burstbucker pickups

Check out this video to hear a comparison between the Burstbucker Type 1 and 2, and the Burstbucker Pros.

In terms of the cosmetic options, here’s a list of colors and designs available for each pickup.

  • Burstbucker Type 1: nickel and zebra
  • Burstbucker Type 2: nickel, gold and double black
  • Burstbucker Type 3: nickel
  • Burstbucker Pro: nickel

490R/T and 498T Pickups

There are three pickups to consider here:

  • 490R: designed for the neck position, uses Alnico II magnets
  • 490T: designed for the bridge position, uses Alnico II magnets
  • 498T: designed for the bridge position, uses Alnico V magnets

Hence, the pairings you’ll often see are 490R/490T and 490R/498T.

The 498T pickup has a higher output compared to the 490T. The 498T has more upper-mids which gives it a punchier tone compared to the 490T which sounds cleaner.

For metal and hard rock, the 498T is often selected due to its punchier and more aggressive tone, whilst the 490T is often considered more versatile due to its lower output vintage tone.

If you want to learn more about the difference between the 490T and 498T, check out this article.

These pickups are available in the same following designs:

  • Nickel
  • Chrome
  • Gold
  • Double Black
  • Zebra

Tone and Output Comparison

In terms of brightness and clarity, the Burstbucker Pros sound the most crisp, followed by the 498T, then the 490T and Burstbucker Type 2 and 3 pickups. This is primarily due to the fact that Burstbucker Pros and 498T pickups have Alnico V magnets.

PickupMagnet
Burstbucker Type 1, 2 and 3Alnico II
490R/ TAlnico II
Burstbucker ProAlnico V
498TAlnico V

Check out this YouTube video to hear a comparison.

The output for the neck pickups are the same when you compare the Burstbucker Pro and Type 2 with the 490R. However, the Burstbucker Type 1 has a lower output than the other three pickups.

Neck PickupOutput
Burstbucker Type 16.5
Burstbucker Type 27.4
Burstbucker Pro Neck7.4
490R7.4

When looking at the bridge pickups, the 498T has the highest output, followed by the Burstbucker Type 3, Burstbucker Pro, 490T and finally the Burstbucker Type 2.

Bridge PickupOutput
Burstbucker Type 27.4
490T8.1
Burstbucker Pro Bridge8.3
Burstbucker Type 38.4
498T9.0

Price Comparison

Burstbucker pickups are typically $30-$40 more expensive than 490R/T and 498T pickups in the USA, and around £10 more expensive in the UK. Here is a table comparing the average price of each pickup at the time of writing.

PickupAverage Price USAAverage Price UK
490R$135£100
498T$135£100
490T$142£100
Burstbucker Type 1, 2 and 3$175£110
Burstbucker Pro$185£120

Which Guitars Use Burstbucker Pro, 490T/R and 498T Pickups?

Here is a list of currently available Gibson guitars which use either 490, 498 or Burstbucker pickups as stock.

Gibson GuitarBridge PickupNeck Pickup
Les Paul Tribute490T490R
Les Paul Special Tribute490T490R
SG Standard490T490R
SG Tribute490T490R
Les Paul Studio498T490R
Les Paul Custom498T490R
Les Paul Axcess Standard498T490R
Les Paul Axcess Custom498T490R
Jerry Cantrell Les Paul Custom498T490R
Joe Perry Les Paul Axcess498TNone
SG Custom2-Pickup498T490R
Flying V Custom498T490R
Explorer Custom498T490R
Firebird Custom498T490R
Les Paul ModernBurstbucker ProBurstbucker Pro
Les Paul ClassicBurstbucker 61TBurstbucker 61R
Les Paul ‘50s StandardBurstbucker Type 2Burstbucker Type 1
Les Paul ’60s StandardBurstbucker 61TBurstbucker 61R
Adam Jones Les Paul StandardDC High-Gain HumbuckerBurstbucker Type 1
Slash Les Paul StandardCustom BurstbuckerCustom Burstbucker
SG Standard ‘61Burstbucker 61TBurstbucker 61R
SG ModernBurstbucker ProBurstbucker Pro
Kirk Douglas Signature SGBurstbucker Type 3Burstbucker Type 1
Flying V StandardBurstbucker Type 3Burstbucker Type 2
Explorer StandardBurstbucker Type 3Burstbucker Type 2

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Heather

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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