SG Wiki

This page lists the various pickups used on SGs over the years, with descriptions and audio/video clips to demonstrate.

Note: The dates listed are the time periods when each pickup was used on SGs, not the entire production span of each pickup.

P-90 (1961-Present)[]

Pre-dating the design of the humbucker, the P-90 was Gibson's single coil pickup, created in 1946. They are significantly wider than Fender single coil pickups, and are known for a warmer tone. Prior to 1965, output ranged more widely because it wasn't until then that Gibson obtained an automatic winding machine. Over the decades since then, specs have remained fairly consistent.

  • AlNiCo V magnets
  • ~7 - 8.5K Ohms DCR (vintage)
  • ~7 - 8K Ohms DCR (modern)
  • 42 gauge enamel coated wire
  • Black plastic covers
    • Embossed Gibson logo (late 1971 - mid 1972)

P-90 SR / ST[]

Designed for the Melody Maker, these are a recreation of a variant of the original P-90 used in some ES-125s. The "S" stands for "slug", denoting the rod magnets that differentiate it from the standard P-90. They are said to have a "slightly lower output" than the standard P-90, but it is not specified exactly how much.

  • AlNiCo V magnets
  • 7.5K (neck) 7.9K (bridge) Ohms DCR
  • Reverse wound / reverse polarity
  • 42 gauge enamel coated wire
  • Black plastic covers

You can hear the tone of a P-90 on Black Sabbath's self-titled first album and their landmark sophomore album Paranoid, where Tony Iommi uses a 1965 SG Special. After that, he had the pickups replaced with custom wound pickups made by John Birch.


Fairies Wear Boots - Black Sabbath

P.A.F. (1960-1962)[]

What is there to say about the P.A.F. that hasn't already been said? Designed by Seth Lover, these were only used on SGs for a short time, from 1961-1962 (and a little later on Customs, as gold-plated parts were not used up as quickly).

  • Humbucker
  • Long AlNiCo II magnets (late 1960 - mid 1961)
  • Short AlNiCo V magnets (mid 1961 - 1962)
  • ~7 - 9K (average 8k) Ohms DCR
  • 42 gauge enamel coated wire
    • Purple/Brown color
  • Maple spacers

PAT. # (1963-1965)[]

Largely the same as the P.A.F., Pat. # humbuckers were used from 1963 until mid-1965.

  • Humbucker
  • Short AlNiCo V magnets
  • ~7 - 9K Ohms DCR
  • 42 gauge enamel coated wire
    • Purple/Brown color (early 1963)
    • Orange/Copper color
  • Maple spacers

T-Top (1965-1980)[]

Again, though it's referred to separately nowadays, this was really just another update to the original PAF. The T-Top was so-named because of the "T" on the top of the bobbins. At this time, Gibson finally got an automatic winding machine, making the output much more consistent around 7.5K Ohms. While T-Tops were replaced on the SG Standard with Super Humbuckers in late 1972, the SG Custom kept using T-Tops until 1974, and the EDS-1275 kept using them until 1980.

Late T-Tops used white plastic spacers and the same wire as Shaws.

Note: Simply having a "T" on top of the bobbin does not make a pickup a T-Top. Gibson used these same bobbins on every pickup until 1980.

  • Humbucker
  • Short bar AlNiCo V magnets
  • ~7.5K Ohms DCR
  • 42 gauge Polyurethane insulated wire
  • Patent Number sticker (1965-1974)
  • Engraved patent number (1975-1980)
  • "Gibson" embossed chrome covers (late 1971 - mid 1972)
  • Maple spacers

The sound of these pickups can be heard on later Led Zeppelin albums and every AC/DC album up to Back In Black on the right channel.


DC - Walk All Over You (Official Video)

Super Humbucker / "Tarback" (1972-1984)[]


Designed by Bill Lawrence, this was the first significant redesign of the humbucker pickup since its introduction in 1957. The most significant change from the T-Top was replacing the traditional AlNiCo magnet with a ceramic magnet ("Indox" is just a now-defunct brand name for ceramic magnets). Another change that affected the tone of guitars with these pickups actually had nothing to do with the pickups themselves; the potentiometers were changed to a 300K value. This darkens the tone by removing more highs, and was likely done to counteract the brightness of the ceramic magnets. This pickup got the nickname "Tarback" because of the epoxy coating they were potted with, which could be seen on the back of the pickup. This pickup was first used on the newly reintroduced SG Standard in late 1972, with the earliest examples borrowing the T-Top's embossed cover. It was not used on the SG Custom until 1975. Around 1980, the date of production was ink-stamped onto the bottom, as was done with other Gibson pickups at the time. By 1983, this changed to a code printed on a white sticker where the last two digits represented the year. The last Super Humbuckers were used in 1984.

  • Humbucker
  • Indox 7 ceramic magnet
  • ~5.4K (neck), 7.5K (bridge) Ohms DCR
  • Epoxy-potted
  • Brass baseplate
  • "Gibson" embossed cover (earliest examples only)

The tone of these pickups can be heard in a few live AC/DC performances, like this one where Angus plays a 1980 SG Standard:


DC - Back In Black (from Plug Me In)

Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden uses a 1973 or 1974 SG Standard frequently in the studio and live.


Iron Maiden - Different World

Velvet Brick (1979-1984)[]

Velvet brick
Velvet brick 2

This pickup was created in 1979 and originally referred to as the "TGA Super Humbucker" but was quickly renamed the "Velvet Brick" in 1980. Its design is typically credited to Bill Lawrence. These typically use zebra bobbins, which originally still had a "T" on them, as they used the same bobbins for every pickup until new ones were designed for Shaw in 1980. These are often confused with the Sonex Deluxe pickups, which were NOT Velvet Bricks. Velvet Bricks only came in the bridge of The "SG" / Firebrand and in the neck of the Victory MV2. They were made by Schaller in West Germany and like most Gibson pickups at the time, had their production date ink-stamped on the bottom.

  • Humbucker
  • Indox 7 ceramic magnet
  • ~7.8K Ohms DCR
  • White plastic spacers
  • "T" on top of bobbins (1979-1980)

Note: The Firebrand / The "SG" models also used a neck pickup that was likely just a lower output Velvet Brick.

Dirty Fingers (1979, 2012-2013)[]

Dirty fingers 2

Introduced in 1978 as a response to Dimarzios, these were originally only featured on the SG Exclusive. It was designed with a very high output in order to drive amplifiers. The pickup was reissued in 2004, now with "Dirty Fingers" silk-screened in gold onto the top of the bobbins.

Dirty fingers 3

1979 catalog image showing T-Top bobbins

  • Three ceramic 8 magnets
  • ~16k Ohms D.C.R.
  • Balanced coils
  • 44-gauge enamel coated wire
  • Four conductor wiring
  • Dual adjustable polepieces
  • "T" on top of bobbins (1978-1980)
  • Engraved patent number

Shaw Humbucker (1983-1988)[]

PAF stickers 1985

In 1983, a new humbucker appeared on the SG Special, designed by Tim Shaw. It was first introduced in 1980 on the Les Paul Heritage models as the first attempt at recreating a PAF. They were not used on SG Standards until early/mid 1984. This marked a return to AlNiCo V magnets like were used on most 1960s SGs, at a time when '60s features were slowly returning to the SG. These pickups can be identified by the engraved patent number (like T-Tops had after 1974) and ink-stamped codes on the bottom of the pickup (eliminated in 1986). These pickups were referred to in catalogs as "1959 Les Paul Reissue" pickups. They could often be found with a little black sticker on the pickup rings that read "Pat. Appl. For" in gold lettering. These pickups were phased out from 1987-1988, and SGs built in those years could have either them or The Original Humbuckers that replaced them (or a mix of both).

  • Humbucker
  • AlNiCo V magnets (rough cast, un-oriented)
  • 7 - 8K Ohms D.C. resistance
  • White plastic spacers
  • Enamel coated wire

1983 Gibson SG Special

The Original Humbucker / "Circuit Board" (1987-1989)[]


Gibson re-hired Bill Lawrence to design another new humbucker, resulting in "The Original Humbucker", introduced in 1987. In Gibson catalogs, they were referred to as "R-4 / L-6" pickups (or sometimes L-8 instead). They are often referred to as "Circuit Board" humbuckers because of the circuit board on the baseplate, which the lead wires were soldered to. This was a solution to the problem of pickups that get the lead wire cut down and require rebuilding in order to fix. With the circuit board, you can simply solder on a new lead wire very easily. Another big change with these pickups was the significantly increased output of the bridge pickup, almost 2X that of the pickups that came before it.

  • Humbucker
  • AlNiCo V magnets
  • ~8K (neck), 14K (bridge) Ohms D.C. resistance

1988 Gibson SG Standard

490R / 490T (1990-Present)[]


These pickups introduced 4-conductor wiring to allow coil-splitting. The name is a nod back to the original PAF's internal part code: "PU-490".

  • Humbucker
  • AlNiCo II magnets
  • 7.5-8k (490R, neck) & 8-8.5k (490T, bridge) Ohms D.C. resistance
  • Wax potted


  • Ceramic V magnet
  • 8.5k Ohms D.C. resistance


  • AlNiCo V magnet
  • 9-13k Ohms D.C. resistance


  • Ceramic V magnet
  • 15.5k Ohms D.C. resistance

498T). cherry Part (clean)

'57 Classic (1992-Present)[]

57 classic

Designed by Tom Holmes, this pickup was introduced in 1992 as Gibson's new signature pickup, to be used in their most high-end models. It was yet another attempt at recreating the PAF, adding Maple spacers this time.

  • Humbucker
  • AlNiCo II magnets
  • 7.5 - 8.3K Ohms D.C. resistance
  • Wax-potted
  • Balanced coils
  • Maple spacer
  • 42 gauge wire
    • Enamel coated (1992-2005)
    • Polyester coated (2006-Present)

'57 Classic Plus (2007-Present)[]

  • 8.5K Ohms D.C. resistance

Super '57 (2018-Present)[]

Same as '57 Classic Plus but with 4-conductor wiring for coil split capability.


1997 Gibson SG '61 Reissue, Part1

Burstbucker (2006-Present)[]


The Burstbucker was introduced in 2000 as the latest PAF replica (but not offered on an SG until 2006). A unique feature to these is the unbalanced coils, as original PAFs were wound by hand and not always perfectly matched in the number of winds per coil. It is said that this brings out a more single-coil tonal quality. Early examples were not wax-potted, as PAFs were originally, but Gibson later began lightly wax-potting them because of feedback complaints. Over time, it seems the output of these pickups has been increased by Gibson.

  • Humbucker
  • AlNiCo II magnets (un-polished)
  • 6.5-7.5k (I, neck) & 7-8k (II, bridge) Ohms DCR
  • Lightly wax-potted
  • Un-balanced coils
  • 42 gauge enamel coated wire
  • Maple spacers

Burstbucker III[]

Same as Burstbucker I & II but with a 7.5-8.5k output.

Burstbucker Pro[]

  • AlNiCo V magnets (un-polished)
  • ~7.6k (neck) & ~8k (bridge) Ohms DCR
  • Fully wax-potted

Burstbucker '61 R/T (2018-Present)[]

This pickup essentially takes a Burstbucker Pro and flips it around, with the opposite coil being the dominant one (because they are mismatched).

  • AlNiCo V magnets (un-polished)
  • 7.74k (neck) & 8.0k (bridge) Ohms DCR

2010 Gibson SG STD "Les Paul SG" VOS

Custombucker (2013-Present)[]


The Custombucker is essentially a Burstbucker but with AlNiCo III magnets instead.

  • Humbucker
  • AlNiCo III magnets
  • ~8k Ohms DCR
  • Un-potted
  • Un-balanced coils
  • Maple spacers
  • 42 gauge enamel coated wire

Super '74 (2018)[]

Described by Gibson as an underwound Custombucker.

  • AlNiCo III magnets
  • ~7.4k Ohms DCR
  • Un-potted
  • Un-balanced coils
  • Maple spacers
  • 42 gauge enamel coated wire

2015 Gibson SG STD, VOS Custom Shop, white, Part2

Angus Young Signature[]


Created for the 2000 Angus Young Signature SG, this pickup appears to be based on either the 490T or '57 Classic with a very high D.C. resistance and was only made for bridge position applications. It also uses thicker than usual wire for a hotter output.

In the AY Signature SG, this pickup came with standard 2-conductor wiring, but when purchased separately from Gibson, it comes with 4-conductor wiring.

Note: Not all examples have identifying sticker on underside.

  • AlNiCo V magnets
  • 9 - 14k Ohms DCR
  • Balanced coils
  • 43 gauge enamel coated wire
  • Double wax-potted

Tony Iommi Signature[]

01 iommi PUPS

First released in 1997, this pickup uses the same thicker wire as the Angus Young Signature and has a similarly high output. It uses a unique combination of both a ceramic magnet and an Alnico II magnet.

Like the AY Signature SG, this pickup came with standard 2-conductor wiring in the Iommi Signature SGs, but when purchased separately from Gibson, it came with 4-conductor wiring.

  • AlNiCo II & Ceramic magnets
  • 15 - 16k Ohms DCR
  • 43 gauge enamel coated wire
  • Wax and epoxy potted


The P-94 was designed to allow a P-90 style pickup to fit in a humbucker-routed guitar. It uses the same magnets and wiring as a P-90. The neck version has a reverse polarity to cut down on hum when paired with the bridge version.

  • AlNiCo V magnets
  • ~9.8K Ohms DCR (neck & bridge)
  • Fully wax potted
  • Enamel coated wire

P-90H Sidewinder[]

This pickup was designed for the Futura series released in 2014 as Gibson's latest attempt at a hum-cancelling pickup that captures the P-90 sound. It was based on the design of the EB-0 bass pickup. In Gibson's words, "The center point design rotates the coils (which have the same Alnico V magnets and pole shoes used in a conventional P-90) 90 degrees, with the polarities configured to be a true humbucking pickup; both magnets facing inward to create an induced magnetic field. However there’s only a single row of pole screws, and because this row senses the strings at a single point, the result is a convincing, fat single coil voice."

  • AlNiCo V magnets
  • ~15.5K Ohms DCR (series)
  • ~7.8k Ohms DCR (coil split)
  • Black plastic cover


These pickups were made for a limited run model exclusive to Chicago music Exchange called the SG Standard T-Type. They are a replica of T-Tops.

  • AlNiCo V magnets
  • 7.45k ohms D.C.R.
  • Polyurethane insulated wire

'68 Custom[]

This pickup was introduced on the Custom Shop '68 Les Paul Reissue, and first used on an SG for the Jimi Hendrix Signature '67 Custom. Despite the name, these pickups are not very similar to a T-Top that would have been used in a 1968 Gibson, and are most similar to a Burstbucker.

  • AlNiCo II magnets
  • ~6.8k Ohms DCR
  • Lightly wax-potted
  • Un-balanced coils
  • 42 gauge enamel coated wire
  • Maple spacers