Pros: This is a fabulous guitar pickup.
GIBSON P-90 SINGLE COIL GUITAR PICKUP
Whether you are considering buying a guitar with Gibson P-90 Single Coil Pickups, or whether you are considering replacing the pickups on your current guitar, the Gibson P-90 Single Coil Pickup is a great choice. A Gibson P-90 lists for $128.15, but it can be had at most musical instrument chain stores for $109.99. The Gibson P-90 comes in two familiar colors, Black and Crème. Read on and see if you feel the P-90 is the type of pickup that has that special kind of distinctive sound that you are looking for.
Just like a finely tuned race car relies on the performance of its engine, the sound engine of any good electric guitar is its pickups. When the P-90 was introduced in 1946, it was the most powerful single coil pickup made, and it probably still is. As many of you who are reading this probably already know, Gibson P-90’s are single coil pickups, with Alnico V Magnets. These pickups of course preceded the introduction of the humbucking pickups in 1957, and they are capable of producing a very vintage sound. The Gibson P-90’s are in fact “super vintage,” in that they were the first good single coil pickup that was produced by Gibson, and they can be found on some of the earliest electrified acoustic guitars.
The P-90 single coil design is based on Gibson’s successful original single coil pickup, and features two-conductor, braided, shielded wiring, for noise reduction. The design of the P-90 Pickups predates the introduction of the famous “humbucking” or dual coil pickups that were introduced in the late 1950’s. P-90 pickups have a high output, and more treble response than is usually found on a dual coil pickup, such as a humbucking pickup, which tends to accentuate the midrange frequencies more than a single coil pickup. These Super Vintage P-90 Pickups have a sound that can produce searing leads and crushingly powerful chords, and they have more bottom end than would typically be found on other single coil pickups, such as on a Fender Stratocaster.
The Gibson P-90 is a remarkable pickup, and it is amazingly versatile. It was first used on older model jazz guitars, as it was capable of giving a warm and silky sound. It was the pickup of choice for the Rockabilly sound of the 1950’s because it could twang like no other. It was the pickup that was preferred by Pete Townsend of the Who because of its ability to snarl, rock, and bite (i.e., listen to the Live at Leeds Album). It was the pickup that Leslie West had on his Les Paul Jr. when he played Mississippi Queen with Mountain and obtained such a sweet signing sustain. The P-90’s are astounding pickups. The use of the Alnico V magnet makes the P-90 a powerful pickup with a high output that places a bit more emphasis on the mid-range and high end, thus making it suitable for any type of contemporary rock.
Gibson P-90 pickups can produce a wide variety of sounds, and enable the player to reproduce classic blues, rock, jazz, country, and just about anything in between. The P-90’s are more prone to feedback than humbucking pickups. To those who like feedback, well, the P-90’s tend to squeal a bit, and as such, they do not produce the warm and full sounding feedback that humbucking pickups do. On the other hand, Hendrix did not use humbuckers on his Strat, and few people would criticize his use of feedback. The P-90’s are also not as warm and midrange sounding as humbuckers, but on the other hand, variety is the spice of life, and I love the sound of P-90’s on a good guitar.
P-90’s have always been one of my favorite sounding pickups. The P-90 is a good choice for either placement in the bridge position or in the neck position. In the bridge position, with the treble and volume knobs cranked, these pickups can deliver snarling leads, soaring highs, smashing power chords. When a P-90 is placed in the neck position, one of my favorite sounds is obtained by pushing the tone control back to zero, and then cranking the volume 10. The resulting sound is a sweet silky sustain that is to die for. Remember that although the P-90 is famous for its classic rock tones, that it was originally a pickup that was used on big box hollow body guitars, and it is capable of fabulously mellow jazz tones, and its response was precise and distinctive. These pickups can produce a wide variety of sounds, and enable the player to reproduce classic blues, rock, jazz, country, and just about anything in between. I love the sound of P-90’s on a good guitar. The upper frequency highs and distinctive harmonic overtones on the mid and low end are simply incredible.
For those concerned about the noise, well there is some, but it is not a serious problem, and the P-90 is not as noisy as a Fender single coil pickup. Obviously, a humbucking pickup is less noisy, but it is not as bright, as crisp or as clear as a P-90. If you are considering a guitar that combines the sound of a humbucking pickup and a single coil, a good choice in my opinion would be to place a Gibson P-90 in the neck position, and a Gibson BurstBucker Type III Humbucking Pickup in the bridge position. Another option that I like is a Gibson 498T Humbucking Pickup in the bridge position and a P-90 in the neck position. If you want to place the P-90 in the bridge position, a good choice for the neck position would be either a Gibson BurstBucker Type II Humbucker or a Gibson BurstBucker Pro Humbucker.
Well, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my review. But now, if you will excuse me, I must get back to my practicing.