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View Full Version : Getting a new Les Paul- P-90 or Humbucker?


tonepolice
01-24-2008, 11:38 PM
I am torn between the Goldtop R4 (P-90) and the Plaintop R8 (Hbucks).

Never played P-90's before. Have a 61 RI SG with 57 Classics (Hbucks). For those that know these two guitars well, how do you think they differ, and what do you like or dislike about them in every aspect (tonally,ergonomics and aesthetically)? Thankyou.

FFTT
01-25-2008, 01:19 AM
The P-90's give you the quack, clarity and definition of a single coil
with the warmth of the HB's

HB's have a smoother response, but can tend to get muddy in the lows
in the neck postition.

A well built amp makes a huge difference in responsiveness and overall tone and the choice of ceramic vs AlNiCo speaker and the design of the cabinet also make a considerable difference,
so shop comparing guitar vs amp, vs type of speaker enclosure.

Mike9
01-25-2008, 04:46 AM
Depends on how much gain you push through your amp. P-90s can get pretty loud, but there is no substitute for a well made P-90 set. You can upgrade the electronics on a humbucker guitar so they clean up and still stay bright. If you've never played P-90's before I suggest giving them a spin before committing to that large a purchase.

the_Chris
01-25-2008, 05:16 AM
I am torn between the Goldtop R4 (P-90) and the Plaintop R8 (Hbucks).

Never played P-90's before. Have a 61 RI SG with 57 Classics (Hbucks). For those that know these two guitars well, how do you think they differ, and what do you like or dislike about them in every aspect (tonally,ergonomics and aesthetically)? Thankyou.


I've owned SGs before with Classic 57s. They're pretty well balanced with good warmth and that fatness that only a humbucker can get (but with an SG there's more cut than with a Les Paul, not as much lowmid girth if you will).

A P90 Gibby will give you clearer tones than what you have now and will really bring out the midrange in your setup (they aren't as smooth and polite). The tradeoff is noise from P90s and the fact that you'll struggle to get the same beef as your humbucker equipped guitar (if you think that's something you'll miss).

The Les Paul w/ humbuckers will be fatter than your SG. You'll get more lowend chunk and more sustain out of your setup (due to more mass in the body and a more stable neck tenon). If you dig the upper mid ring of your SG, you may not care about the lower mid focused Les Paul and may want to check out P90s to add something very different to your rig.

Just a few things to think about :)

Mr.Hanky
01-25-2008, 05:34 AM
Get the R4.

pedalcr8z
01-25-2008, 05:40 AM
Well, here's my take. I owned an R-8 (until my son stole it :)) and as has been stated, humbuckers tend to get muddy on the neck p/u......actually muddy might be a bit harsh....lack of clarity might be a better description. I just took delivery on a new R-4 2 days ago from Eric at Willcutts who by the way is certainly somebody you should talk to about both of these as he gigs and is a book of knowledge and a true gentleman to deal with on a business level. I have no affiliation with them however I have been in retail management for 36 years and I'm extremely sensitive to top notch customer service....enough said. I've owned 2 P-90 guitars before both PRS McCartys and was a bit apprehensive as the McCartys had no soul or character which I would later on figure out is a trait with all PRS guitars as I then owned 3 others all being humbuckers. The R-4 just knocks my socks off.........while being very powerful and authoritative they exhibit warmth, clarity, bite and growl in all positions and doesn't slice your ear off as did my PRS versions with P-90's. As has already been stated, there's nothing quite like a knockout P-90 guitar.....it is legendary concerning the fact that they helped define the history and basic foundation of both rock n roll and jazz and from what I can tell after only 2 days, I certainly can see why HOWEVER I will again add another R-8 to the stable as certainly a Humbucker LP is also a part of history.You'll be happy either way!http://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e51/hifivic/IMG_0466.jpghttp://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e51/hifivic/IMG_0468.jpghttp://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e51/hifivic/IMG_0472.jpghttp://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e51/hifivic/IMG_0471.jpg

soldano16
01-25-2008, 05:42 AM
It really depends if you just want something different or want the classic LP sound. I only play LP's and about 4 years ago discovered P-90 LP's. I got more and more into P-90's to the point where that was all I played.

I was even looking to sell my #1 humbucker guitar of a dozen years.

But after 2 years I came back to humbuckers.

My issue with p-90 LP's is lack of note definition at medium volumes. At lowest and highest volumes - no problem. But that whole middle ground, where you land up playing most of your music, I find P-90's lack the clarity of humbuckers and also that thickness that we all love. There are times , especially on the bridge PU, where the P-90 and humbucker sound really really close. But overall, there's a reason why humbucker LP's are the most popular LP's.

Caretaker
01-25-2008, 06:00 AM
If you want classic Les Paul tones, you`ll want a humbucker. If you are looking for something loud, rude and in your face, a P90 will get you there. But P90`s can be sweet too. On the last David Gilmour dvd there is a jam part in the studio where he is playing an old Goldtop with P90s and it sounds brilliant. The clip may be on youtube. Island Jam I think is the title.

FFTT
01-25-2008, 07:50 AM
I was looking at the weight specs of the Gold Top 1954 VOS and
it's 9.6 lbs.
The pros on the guitar is that it has a fully bound body and neck.
Not sure who's P-90's they are using?
While Gold is the classic, wish it came in other colors.

The real issue is value retention with the Gibby, vs. fine detail
build quality in the Collings and Grosh guitars.

I'm bringing this up because the Collings 290
comes in weighing 7.4 lbs and cost $1000.00 less.
The drawback is that the body and neck are not fully bound.
Not sure if full binding is available on a custom order or for how much.
http://www.collingsguitars.com/images/Electrics/290_red_full_LG.jpghttp://www.collingsguitars.com/images/Electrics/290_bw_full_LG.jpg

The Anderson and Grosh P-90 offerings are also quite impressive.
http://www.andersonguitars.com/images/guitarImages/03,03,2000_12-21-24.jpg
The Anderson Cobra Special is VERY cool with 2 or 3 P-90's, strat type PU switching and wammy bar.

The Grosh Set Neck with P-90's weighs around 8 lbs
and does come with a fully bound body.
I'm reasonably sure you can order a bound neck if desired.

Stunning craftsmanship!
http://www.fatsoundguitars.com/store/images/electrics/dongrosh/5_setneck_lg_lg.jpg
http://www.fatsoundguitars.com/store/

Just something to think about.

mainsale
01-25-2008, 08:11 AM
+1 for P-90's in a Les Paul. I love their clarity and snap, so much so, that I'm selling off all of my LP's with humbuckers. Lindy Fralin's P-92 is a nice humbucker sized pickup in the noiseless P-90 camp. It's become my favorite pickup and it works great in a LP. If I could only have one LP it would have P-90's in it.

http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b61/Mainsale/Gibsons005.jpg

gregc
01-25-2008, 08:27 AM
I bought a '56 GT RI with P-90s. It was a little bright for my tastes, and I'm a P-90 lover. I think it's the combo of maple/P-90. P-90s in a pure mahogany solid body rule, IMO. I sold it and bought a '58 RI. It's a keeper.
If I was gonna have more than one LP I might have kept the P-90 guitar, but only keeping one LP, I wanted that classic LP humbucker tone.

FFTT
01-25-2008, 08:47 AM
[QUOTE=mainsale;3558600]+1 for P-90's in a Les Paul. I love their clarity and snap, so much so, that I'm selling off all of my LP's with humbuckers. Lindy Fralin's P-92 is a nice humbucker sized pickup in the noiseless P-90 camp. It's become my favorite pickup and it works great in a LP. If I could only have one LP it would have P-90's in it.

I so much prefer the Black with binding to the Gold.

Nice!

tonepolice
01-25-2008, 09:03 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions...keep em coming. Financially I can only afford one historic LP right now. I am just so torn between these two models. Like everyone stated I love the tone and history attached with both the models but I can only get one. More over I live in Nepal so I really cant try any guitars and decide which one I like better. So I will just have to trust the advice of all you experts here in this forum. Thanks again.

operanonverba
01-25-2008, 10:16 AM
One more suggestion- you might consider the Gibby BFG. P-90 and bucker in one guitar. If it's too fugly for you I think that they are offering it in a studio with the same pup and wiring configuration. I'm seriiously wanting one of these but I would have prefered that the P-90 be in the bridge position instead.

davess23
01-25-2008, 10:54 AM
I have an R6 and an R8. Ergonomically they're alike, about 9 lb., same scale length, same general feel on the strap, and both have similar thick necks, but sonically they differ a lot. (If they didn't, I'd sell one.) As many above have said, if you want what people think of as classic LP tone, get the R8. If you want that kick-ass P-90 tone instead, get an R4 or R6. But don't put that kind of money out, unless money isn't an issue for you, until you've determined that you like P-90's. In my opinion they're fantastic pickups that can snarl and also sing sweetly, but they're susceptible to interference from fluourescent lights and other electrical noise, so they can be a hassle when you gig.

Aesthetically, I love goldtops and I think my R6 is the balls. The R8 is a plaintop washed cherry burst with interesting grain, and I dig that, too, but goldtops just do it for me, for some reason.

joesnewmatch
01-25-2008, 10:55 AM
I have a Les Paul Custom Shop Classic with P-90s and a PRS McCarty Soapbar, both are night and day different, yet similar guitars. The body of the LP adds a lot thickness to the P-90s sound. A P-90 LP is fantastic for rock and blues, so is a regular LP. The P-90 might have a slight edge on traditional blues. You really have to play them and then decide. I have an SG when I need '57 PAF action and Fenders when I'm looking for traditional single coils. They are ALL DIFFERENT and you NEED one of everything. Right?

FFTT
01-25-2008, 11:05 AM
The bargain hunter's P-90 is the PRS Soapbar SE and the St. Blues Mississippi Bluesmaster, both MIK but great sounding guitars.

karmadave
01-25-2008, 11:13 AM
If you buy the R4 I'd highly recommend investing in a set of Lollar P90's. 5% overwound bridge and 5% underwound neck. RS Historic upgrade kit and you will have a KILLER guitar! Mine is actually a Tokai LS-80S which is a copy of the R6, but with a medium neck and more reasonable price tag. If you are used to humbuckers, P90's are a bit brighter. Great for Blues and classic Rock.

-KD

FFTT
01-25-2008, 11:29 AM
A good P-90 is very responsive to the player's attack.

Playing light, you do get very strat like tones and lots of chime,
and as you increase the attack, it goes from a very satisfying crunch to lead tones.

To me the most noticable difference was the clarity in the neck position
with mild attack, totally different from the Tim Shaw HB's I was A/Bing against.

Mr.Hanky
01-25-2008, 02:26 PM
Tele+R7=R4