500T is Gibson´s hottest humbucker pickup. To make myself clear, hottest means the pickup in Gibson line which has highest output. It is a passive pickup with ceramic magnets, which means it sounds a bit edgier that a pickup with Alnico magnets (for example like many Seymour Duncans). This pickup is or was fitted in many Gibson models, like Les Pauls and Flying-V reissues. Even early nineties Jimmy Page – signature model Les Paul had this pickup in bridge position which caused some stir in the old-school guitar department. It is unknown if Page did use this pickup himself in the nineties, but it is arguably positive he did not have pickup this hot in the heydey of Led Zeppelin.
Sounds and features:
This pickup drives a tubeamp to full preamp distortion very easily as the output is hot. Sound clears up nicely when you roll down the volume to 7-8 position. On full setup and a good solid tube amp you get great Eddie Van Halen or Warren DiMartini – type sound and if you add more distortion after the guitar you have enough dirt for the grimmest of metal sounds. I feel this pickup is best suited for hard rock, heavy metal, or dirty blues where you need to have a lots of power from the pickup. To be clear, while this pickup is the heaviest of Gibson-pickups, it is not singlehandely a heavy metal pickup, there are lots of dedicated metal pickups with even hotter output on the market. If gain is your game, you probably like this pickup. If you need more clean sounds and lighter, textured sound – I´d say look elsewhere (probably non-ceramic pickup). I deduct one point because of the one-sidedness.
Quality and reliability:
It is built as fine as most of the big-name pickups, no flaws to be found.
My favorite 500T Humbucker settings:
Guitar volume on 10: great for metal riffing and screaming leads.
Guitar volume on 6-8: you get a little cleaner rhythms, but still mantaining a heavy sound