Alnico Classics or 490R and 498T


Gibson Guitars, a name synonymous with legendary craftsmanship and iconic sound, has been a driving force in the world of electric guitars for over a century. Their meticulously designed pickups are central to the allure of Gibson instruments, which serve as the heart and soul of these beloved instruments. This article focuses on the Alnico Classics and their higher-output counterparts, the Alnico Classic Plus and the famous 490R and 498T pickups.

These pickups have played an integral role in shaping the distinct tonal character of Gibson guitars, and we’ll explore the unique qualities and sonic nuances that set them apart. Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist or an aspiring musician, understanding the differences between these pickups is essential in unlocking the full potential of your Gibson instrument.

The Alnico Classic and Classic Plus humbucker pickups by Epiphone are the imported counterparts of Gibson’s 490R/498T pickup set. For several years, they have been the default choice for several Epiphone solid-body and hollow-body models.

What are Alnico Pickups

Alnico pickups are a type of electric guitar pickup that uses magnets made from an alloy of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt (hence the name “Alnico”). These magnets are known for their unique tonal characteristics and have been used in guitar pickups for decades. Many guitarists favor alnico pickups for their warm, vintage-inspired sound and ability to capture guitar strings’ nuances and provide a rich, dynamic tone.

There are several different types of Alnico magnets, including Alnico II, Alnico III, Alnico IV, Alnico V, and Alnico VIII, each with its magnetic properties and tonal characteristics. Different guitar manufacturers and pickup builders use various Alnico magnet types to achieve specific sounds and tones in their pickups.

Alnico pickups are commonly found in single-coil and humbucker configurations and are often associated with classic guitar designs from brands like Fender and Gibson. They are known for contributing to the warm, smooth, and well-balanced tones related to vintage and classic rock music.

Alnico Classic Pickup

Alnico 2 Classics

The Alnico Classic pickup is a renowned choice among guitarists, cherished for its distinctive tonal qualities and rich history. These pickups are crafted using Alnico magnets, known for their warm and vintage-inspired sound. The Alnico Classic pickup boasts a well-balanced output, delivering a harmonious blend of clear highs, robust mids, and smooth lows. Its exceptional sensitivity and responsiveness make it a preferred choice for musicians seeking that classic, timeless tone often associated with vintage rock and blues. Whether you’re aiming to replicate the iconic sounds of legendary guitarists or simply seeking a pickup with character, the Alnico Classic is a compelling option for any guitarist looking to infuse their music with a touch of nostalgia and authenticity.

Alnico Classic Plus Pickup

The Alnico Classic Plus pickup is a renowned magnetic pickup designed for electric guitars, celebrated for its exceptional tonal qualities and versatility. This pickup is characterized by its Alnico V magnets, contributing to its warm, vintage-inspired sound. It offers a balanced blend of clarity, sustain, and harmonically rich tones, making it popular among guitarists across various genres.

The Alnico Classic Plus is often featured in the bridge position, delivering powerful and expressive lead tones with a hint of midrange bite. Its versatility makes it suitable for various musical styles, from classic rock and blues to heavier genres like hard rock and metal. Musicians appreciate its ability to provide a distinct character to their playing, making it a preferred option for those seeking both traditional and modern sonic textures in their music.

490 R Pickup

Alnico Classics or 490R and 498T
490R – “Modern Classic” (Rhythm, Double Black, 4-Conductor, Potted, Alnico 2, 8K)

The 490R pickup is a renowned component in electric guitar pickups, known for its distinctive tonal qualities and versatility. Characterized by its warm and well-balanced sound, the 490R pickup offers musicians a rich, creamy tone with a pronounced midrange presence. This pickup, often found in the neck position of Gibson guitars, boasts Alnico II magnets, contributing to its vintage-inspired, PAF (Patent Applied For) humbucker sound.

The 490R’s key features include a smooth sustain, exceptional clarity, and responsiveness that caters to a wide range of playing styles, making it a favored choice among rock, blues, and jazz guitarists. Its ability to produce both clean, melodic tones and gritty, overdriven crunch makes the 490R a versatile pickup suitable for various musical genres, making it a staple in the toolkit of many professional and aspiring musicians.

498 T Pickup

The 498T pickup is a powerhouse of tone and performance in electric guitar pickups. Known for its high output and articulate sound, this humbucking pickup is a favorite among rock and metal guitarists. It boasts a ferocious and cutting midrange bite, with a healthy dose of sustain that can make your solos sing.

The 498T is characterized by its powerful Alnico V magnets and overwound coils, resulting in a pickup that delivers a thick, rich distortion while maintaining clarity and note definition even under heavy gain. Its searing treble response and tight bass make it a popular choice for players looking to push their amplifiers into sonic overdrive.

Whether you’re cranking out blistering riffs or soaring solos, the 498T’s uncompromising output and gritty character make it a must-have for musicians seeking aggressive and raw electric guitar tones.

Alnico Classic vs. 490 R

Gibson P 498T

In the world of guitar pickups, the choice between Alnico Classics and 490R/498T pickups is crucial for musicians seeking the perfect tone. Alnico Classics and 490R pickups share the common trait of using Alnico magnets, which offer a warm and vintage-inspired sound. However, the Alnico Classics tend to have a slightly brighter and more balanced tone, making them well-suited for genres like blues and classic rock.

On the other hand, the 490R and 498T pickups, with their Alnico II and Alnico V magnets, respectively, deliver a hotter and higher output sound. This makes them ideal for players who crave a more aggressive and modern tone, often favored in heavy rock and metal genres. Musicians should choose between these pickups based on their preferred style and desired sonic characteristics.

Both pickups utilize Alnico magnets when comparing the Alnico Classic Plus and the 498T, but there are notable differences. The Alnico Classic Plus offers a well-rounded tone with a slightly boosted midrange, making it an excellent choice for guitarists looking to add a touch of warmth and character to their sound.

In contrast, the 498T, with its Alnico V magnet, is known for its powerful and aggressive output, making it a top choice for players who want their solos to cut through the mix easily. Musicians should consider their musical preferences and their genre when deciding between these two pickups, as the Alnico Classic Plus leans more towards classic tones. At the same time, the 498T excels in delivering a modern, high-energy sound.


In conclusion, the world of electric guitar pickups offers diverse choices, each with unique tonal characteristics and applications. The Alnico Classic, Plus, 490R, and 498T pickups have distinct qualities, making them suitable for various musical genres and playing styles.

The Alnico Classic and Alnico Classic Plus pickups share the everyday use of Alnico magnets, providing warm and vintage-inspired tones. However, the Alnico Classic leans towards a brighter, more balanced sound, making it ideal for blues and classic rock. In contrast, the Alnico Classic Plus offers a slightly boosted midrange, adding warmth and character to your sound.

The Impact of the Gibson PAF Pickup

On the other hand, the 490R and 498T pickups differ significantly. The 490R, with its Alnico II magnets, offers a creamy and well-balanced tone, suitable for genres like rock, blues, and jazz. Meanwhile, the 498T, equipped with Alnico V magnets and overwound coils, delivers a high-output, aggressive sound perfect for rock and metal genres.

In summary, your choice between these pickups should align with your preferred musical style and desired tonal characteristics. Whether you’re seeking vintage warmth, modern aggression, or something in between, this lineup has a pickup to meet your needs. So, as a guitarist, the key lies in selecting the pickup that best complements your unique sound and playing style.

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