From george490–(at)– Sat Feb 15 19:21:54 CST 1997
Article: 145112 of alt.guitar
From: george490–(at)– (George4908)
Newsgroups: alt.guitar
Subject: Re: Poll: Best P90s??!!
Date: 15 Feb 1997 23:07:28 GMT
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Message-ID: <19970215230700.SAA0773--(at)>
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My P-90 experiences/opinions:

Gibson P-90: The original, obviously, and the standard for comparison,
though I believe they changed over from Alnico to ceramic at some point,
then in recent years, back to Alnico again as the interest in the “real”
vintage P-90s grew. Can someone confirm this? I have played a number of
old Les Paul Jrs. and ES-125s with P-90s, i.e., late 50s and early 60s. I
don’t know which ones they were, all I know is they sounded great. Lots
of gain, lots of midrange, but with enough top end to give more sparkle
than a humbucker. At low volumes they are warm and make a great jazz
pickup — if that surprises anyone who thinks of them as a Lesley West or
George Thorogood type pickup only, keep in mind that Gibson developed
these in the late 40s when jazz guitars were all the only electrics
around. It so happens they have a great rock and blues sound, though
nobody knew it at the time. Noisy, though, especially in high-gain
applications, so not ideal for metal. You often need to stand in one
position all night to avoid picking up the local radio station. Also,
older ones are unpotted, so they can squeal at high volume. I do not know
if current Gibson P-90s are potted or not, though I have heard they are
not. General comment: P-90s sound best with medium to heavy gauge
strings, not .008s or .009s.

Gibson P-100: A humbucker version of the P-90. I have only tried these
once, in a shop. Seemed to have a bit less output and a bit thinner
sound, but still not bad. At least Gibson is trying to do the right thing
by addressing the noise problem. P-100s get roundly dismissed by most
people, but I have a hunch that if P-90s did not exist to compare them
against, P-100s would get pretty good, if not exactly glowing, reviews.

Gibson P-92: At least I think this is what it’s called (might be P-94).
Another attempt by Gibson to build a humbucking P-90. Currently available
only in the Blueshawk guitar. Haven’t tried or heard it yet.

Seymour Duncan Vintage P-90: I have a pair of these in a old mahogany
solid body Guild and they sound great. Punchy, great string-to-string
articulation, especially in light of the gain. Incredibly warm clean
tone. No complaints whatsoever, he seems to have nailed it. So why buy
these over the Gibsons? These definitely are potted, so you know they
won’t squeal. I think the price is about the same.

Seymour Duncan Hot and Custom P90s: These are two more flavors of P-90s,
but I’m lumping them together because this is how you most often find
them. Hamer puts a Hot P-90 at the bridge of their LP Jr. clone (Hamer
Special), and a Custom P-90 at the bridge. Fender does the same thing
with their Tele Jr. (I have one of these — great little guitar, by the
way). The Hot P-90s are a bit higher gain, with more midrange than the
Vintage (tons ‘o punch); the Customs are the highest gain of the three,
with a bit more top end added back in (which is why they find their way to
the bridge so often). So in A/B’ing the pair of Vintage P-90s I have in
one guitar with the Hot/Custom combo I have in another, I would say that
the Hot/Custom combo is definitely louder, a little less string-to-string
articulation, better at overdriving your amp, a little warmer/darker than
the Vintage, and even more noise to contend with. Which do I prefer?
Hmmm, I haven’t decided yet. The Vintage are probably better if your
volumes are low to medium; the Hot/Customs are probably better if you play
at medium to high levels. That make sense?

Some others out there that I haven’t tried:

Kent Armstrong (sold through WD)

There are probably more. And by the way, I recently E-mailed Seymour
Duncan to see if he’d build a humbucking P-90. Guess what? He’s working
on it.


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