Alternative, blues, rock, jazz, you name it – P90 pickups have the unique characteristic that makes them ideal for almost any guitarist.
Read on to find out more about some of the best P90 pickups available out there today.
Overview (The Vintage Sound of Single Coil Pickups)
In the world of music, you’ve probably heard of the statement “you can never have too many guitars”.
I, for one, believe in this.
But not all of us have the luxury of swapping guitars every now and then. It’s also a bit of a daunting task to try out new guitars and possibly own them in the long run. This is why the option of discussing pickups comes into play.
Some players (including me), often want to add more guitars to their collection. This is simply because they want to explore the variety of tones and sounds promised by certain guitar types and models.
Because we are always curious about what the next guitar brings, we end up owning more than what we actually need.
Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with owning a multitude of guitars. But for some of us who are on a tight budget, upgrading what you already have may also be a viable option.
As discussed in our previous features, simply put, pickups are plainly copper wires wrapped around pieces of magnets. At least, this is how things are better explained to people who have little to no knowledge of pickups. They are called as such because they simply sound and they come out of your amplifiers or your dedicated speakers.
Now, one thing we are discussing in particular in this article is the P90 pickup.
Before you go all panicking and afraid to tackle the topic, let me start first by explaining what exactly is a P90, who it’s for, and what makes it stand out from the rest of the pickup types.
Let’s dig right into it!
What is a P90?
The P90 pickup is backed up by a pretty strong claim amongst guitar players. It’s widely considered the best all-around pickup thanks to its authentic vintage tone and brighter sound.
I can almost hear you thinking.
“Why not go for the humbucker?”
“Why not go for the traditional single-coil pickup?”
According to a lot of users, the P90 is the perfect blend of grit, twang, jangle, and clarity. This is what makes it popular among guitar players.
Think of it as the best of both worlds – incorporating some key elements of the humbucker and the single coil, making it one of the most versatile pickups out there today.
It was first introduced in 1946 by the brand giant Gibson.
What made it stand out is that it boasted the power and grit that traditional rockers loved from the humbucker, while still managing to incorporate the clarity and brightness of the single-coil pickup.
When paired with the perfect amp and set of pedals, the P90 is one of the clearest sound-producing pickups, making it ideal for funk, blues, country, and jazz.
Now that you have a clear picture of how the P90 performs, let’s dig deeper into the buying guide, in case you decide to pick up one of these pickups (pun intended).
Right off the bat, the thing you should always consider when buying a P90 pickup is the sound you’re aiming for. These pickup types are designed to fatten up your tone and add clarity. Of course, you can always compensate with the tone using a dedicated equalizer. But the original tone from the P90 is enough to produce clarity and grit whenever needed.
Another thing you should consider is your existing guitar type. If you already have a Les Paul with built-in P90 pickups, then you should consider doing more research as to why you want to upgrade. Could it be tone quality? Pickup type?
Of course, the pickup brand will also play an important factor. Some names have been putting in research and work into their products much longer than others.
Lastly, always consider your budget. There are always cheaper options to expensive variants. But of course, if you have the means to obtain some of the best sounding pickups out there, then by all means, push the purchase!
Now that we all have the nitty-gritty out of the way, let’s get right into some of the best P90 pickups available out there today!
Starting off our list is an offering from Fralin Pickups. The Lindy Fralin P-90 Soap Bar Pickup is a popular choice for both beginners and seasoned musicians. Although it may not be as renowned as names like some of the brands found in this roundup, it still holds its own.
It’s made with Alnico IV magnets, a plain enamel wire, and it offers a hum-canceling feature. You can also choose between Alnico and Steel Rods, making it quite a versatile option for P90 purists. A lot of users however mentioned it being really close to sounding like a traditional humbucker. It’s also quite pricey, so it’s something you may want to consider and really think about before purchasing.
Another popular choice from one of the most popular names in the guitar community. The Seymour Duncan Antiquity P-90 Dog Ear takes pride in being responsive to your playing style.
It boasts the vintage feel and look, being dog ear styled and being rich and full sounding. The Antiquity P90 has Alnico II bar magnets, flatback tape, and a plain enamel mag wire. Chords and lead lines are punchy, clear, and articulate, making it a decent choice for a versatile musician.
Coming in at number 3 in our roundup is a classic selection from one of the brand giants in the guitar community.
The Pure Vintage ’65 Jazzmaster pickup set from Fender boasts a classic sound, look, and feel. This makes it ideal for players chasing the classic P90 tone. Alnico V magnets make this set give out a dynamic response. It also has enamel-coated magnet wires. It’s known to have a balanced string response, making it quite a decent option for the price you get for the set.
Another offering from Seymour Duncan is the SPH90 PhatCat P90. Its distinct metal housing assists with reducing unwanted hum that single-coil pickups are notorious for.
It also produces fat tones and a dynamic response thanks to its Alnico II magnets. Rhythm and lead players will have fun experimenting with the PhatCat.
Completing our roundup of the best P90 pickups is from Tonerider. The Hot P90 takes pride in producing some of the most vintage tones that players know and love.
Don’t let its cheap price fool you, though. It still houses two Alnico V magnets with an overwound pickup. It’s the ideal option for players looking for a hotter P90 sound. A borderline humbucker, if you will.
Regardless of the type of music you play, there can be a special place for P90 pickups in your arsenal.
If you haven’t tried it out yet, now may be a good time to put on a pair of P90 pickups on your guitar! Who knows, you may even explore your creativity even more!
Have fun playing!