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Are the best Agile P90s any good?

Iceman77

Member
Messages
103
they're probably decent pickups after you replace the pots with something good -- those cheap little pots can make a high end pickup sound like junk
 

Wilbur

Guest
Messages
517
They're OK. The ceramics in the lower model Agiles are so-so. The 500k pots gotta go though. A set of CTS 250k does wonders for these pickups.
 

dspellman

Senior Member
Messages
8,308
Geez, I'm interested in finding out about the P90's that come stock with the higher-end Agiles, but the previous line of posters just come off like absolute know-nothings.

"My Agile electronics blow" -- I've worked with the 3000-series pickups enough to know that they're actually very good, rather like '57s in feel and sensitivity. The pots are okay, too. I think only the pickup switch is particularly suspect.

"They're probably..." -- useless post from someone offering an opinion with absolutely no knowledge.

"Agile P90's are substandard at best" -- In what way? Not enough turns, wrong wire, bad magnet? What are you comparing to? At a guess, you've never owned one, probably never played one, simply have a bias against Agiles. Another useless post.

"They're OK. The ceramics in the lower model Agiles are so-so. The 500k pots gotta go though. A set of CTS 250K does wonders for these pickups." -- There's no indication that the Agile P90's at any level use ceramic magnets. The pickups in the AL-2000s are ceramic-magnet pickups (but humbuckers!) designed to be hotter output pickups and have nothing to do with P90's. Further, it's my experience with P90's that they have a magnetic inductance more like a humbucker's than a strat single coil, and that I would prefer a 500K pot to a 250K pot -- the latter would simply reduce the amount of treble that the P90 can pass through. What's the point?

I've got an original P90 pulled from a '49 model guitar that's been on the shelf for about 30 years. I've also got a couple of old P90-equipped Lesters. And finally, I've got a Lollar-equipped Collings 290 (not mine, but a friend's) to compare to. I'll have an Agile AD-2300 later this year, and I'll be happy to give some impressions at that point. Hopefully they'll be more useful than most of the previous posts.

The mass of opinions from other forums I've checked has the pickups from the AD-2300 ($259) at "pretty damned good" and very few owners have changed them.

My concern with P90's is that a lot of P90 manufacturers have reduced the power on them from the originals, while a very few have hotted them up from the originals. The ones that have reduced the power have done so to reduce the noise (this is ordinarly a noisier pickup than a Strat single coil, for example, and customers tend to get put off with dealing with that), but in doing so they've lost a lot of the cool characteristics of a P90. Those that have hotted them up have done so in an attempt to get the high-gain crowd interested. And, again, they've lost some of what makes a P90 cool.

I do want to try a couple of "noiseless" P90's in the guitar before settling on one configuration -- I've heard one set of Kinman's (http://www.kinman.com) new noiseless P90's. They've smoothed out one nasty P90 mid-range spike a bit, and that's a good thing. The power is there, but they've not gone past the P90 basics. The Lollars in the Collings are really nice, but I'm not sure if they're the same as the ones he sells directly. According to Collings, this is a special set just for them, but who knows how much of that is marketing hype?

In short, I'd love to hear from an Agile P90 owner or two with some experience with other P90's, rather than the Harmony Central boys with opinions and little to back them up.
 

Roodboy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,494
I'm bad with tone descriptions but have owned a few p-90 guitars.
I had a 3100 or 3000 goldtop with p-90's and thought the pickups sounded pretty good. I've had other p-90 guitars incl PRS se singlecut, a couple Gibson faded doublecuts and Historic R6 although none at the same time to do a direct comparison.
I liked the tone of the Agile better than the PRS, which sounded more aggressive.
The Agile tone was closer to the doublecut than the R6 which was sweeter.
However, the r6 didn't sound $2,000 better than the agile.
That doesn't mean I wouldn't buy another R6 when I have an extra $2,000 though.
 

Mike9

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,970
I had an older model gold top with P-90's and they were good stock pickups. I replaced the pots and caps first and they opened up nicely, but I eventually installed a set that Jon Moore wound for me and that was the icing on what became a great guitar.

Look - they are made just like any other stock P-90 - bobbins, screws, wire and a magnet - any magic is in the winding of them and they are factory made on a machine just like Duncan, DiMarzio, Gibson, GFS, etc, etc.

It's a <$500 guitar and a good one at that. These higher end Agiles are tremendous bang for the buck
 

wrxplayer

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,636
My concern with P90's is that a lot of P90 manufacturers have reduced the power on them from the originals, while a very few have hotted them up from the originals. The ones that have reduced the power have done so to reduce the noise (this is ordinarly a noisier pickup than a Strat single coil, for example, and customers tend to get put off with dealing with that), but in doing so they've lost a lot of the cool characteristics of a P90. Those that have hotted them up have done so in an attempt to get the high-gain crowd interested. And, again, they've lost some of what makes a P90 cool.
That's what I found with the MIK Reverend guitar w/ three P90s the I purchased and sold last year.

In short, I'd love to hear from an Agile P90 owner or two with some experience with other P90's, rather than the Harmony Central boys with opinions and little to back them up.
Ditto.
 

dspellman

Senior Member
Messages
8,308
I don't owe you anything due to your complete and total rudeness, but here goes anyway.

I have an Agile Junior. The pickup seemed thin, harsh on the top end, and missing that big fatness that I love about P90s. I tried replacing pots, but still it didn't measure up. I ended up routing it out for a humbucker and put a SD '59 in it. It sounds much better now.

As for having no experience... wrong. I have a '54 Les Paul, an R4 Les Paul, a '61 Junior, and sold a '57 Junior. I know what good P90s sound like.
As for the "complete and total rudeness," thanks.

I try not to do things halfway.

And thanks for the more complete description of your opinion and how you formed it -- now *that's* useful. I appreciate the listing of guitars; at least one of them marries to one I have as well.

My feeling about pickups is that they're largely not "cheap and expensive", nor "outstanding and substandard," no matter what the cost. I never view exchanging one for another as an "upgrade." Pickups are simply a matter of personal taste in sound, and seem to be based heavily on not only the pickup but also on the guitar, the setup on the guitar, the music played, the amp used and the volume at which it was used. I've had friends whine about their pickups and spend lotsa loot "upgrading" and still not finding the magical combination. I've then plugged it into a couple of different amps (besides their own home bedroom amp) and they've been stunned at how good their guitars really sounded. At some point you want to take a Clue by Four to them. :horse
 
Messages
1,512
Fwiw, I have an Agile Valkyrie II (SG-type) with P-90's. I did not experience anything like what Shovelhead describes. I've owned a range of other P-90 guitars from Hamer USA (Seymour Duncan) on down (in no particular order: Schecter: Duncan Designed; Epiphone WildKat: stock Epiphone dogears; Partscaster: GFS).

Agile hasn't made those Juniors for quite awhile now, my Valkyrie II went out of production in 2004 and iirc the Juniors were already gone for at least a couple years by then. Maybe Rondo requested changes/upgrades to the earlier production specs or otherwise upgraded, or maybe Shovelhead just got a dog. With mass-produced guitars, especially those imported from somewhere else, there's bound to be variance in individual guitars. I only know about the one I got.
 

Amp360

Senior Member
Messages
4,547
I have a few old guitars with P-90s (53 ES-125, 59 Junior) and find that the older P-90s were not 'powerful' at all, but were great mellow pickups the newer ones (later 50s and 60s) had higher output but still allowed you to get a great clean tone.

It's funny to see how some people expect a P-90 or Jazzmaster shaped pickups to sound a certain way based on what they read online.
 

Wilbur

Guest
Messages
517
Geez, I'm interested in finding out about the P90's that come stock with the higher-end Agiles, but the previous line of posters just come off like absolute know-nothings.

...

"They're OK. The ceramics in the lower model Agiles are so-so. The 500k pots gotta go though. A set of CTS 250K does wonders for these pickups." -- There's no indication that the Agile P90's at any level use ceramic magnets. The pickups in the AL-2000s are ceramic-magnet pickups (but humbuckers!) designed to be hotter output pickups and have nothing to do with P90's. Further, it's my experience with P90's that they have a magnetic inductance more like a humbucker's than a strat single coil, and that I would prefer a 500K pot to a 250K pot -- the latter would simply reduce the amount of treble that the P90 can pass through. What's the point?
...

In short, I'd love to hear from an Agile P90 owner or two with some experience with other P90's, rather than the Harmony Central boys with opinions and little to back them up.
I've got a AL2500 that came with the stock ceramic P90s. Also came with 500k pots. I went to 250k pots (like Gibson used back in the '50s) and the tone was better, but I in the end I went to a set of HighOrder A2 P90s in this guitar for FTW.

I bought a set of the AlniCo P90s that came out of one of the higher-end Agiles. I liked them better than the ceramics. Again, with 250k pots.

The point behind the 250k pots is the P90 tones I admire and strive for were made with guitars with 250k or 300k pots. 500k pots are way too bright (for me).

Where do you get off with the rude-assed posts to folks who are answering your questions? Nobody posted anything but the best intents and you go on the warpath with personal attacks.
 

dspellman

Senior Member
Messages
8,308
It's funny to see how some people expect a P-90 or Jazzmaster shaped pickups to sound a certain way based on what they read online.
It's even funnier with humbuckers. I've played 16 different (by serial number) original 59 bursts over the last four years. I've now got a pretty good idea how they sound, for whatever that's worth. People who pick one up for the first time, however (and who've avoided the little bit of pee in their pants) are almost always struck with how the pickups do NOT sound like the pickups they're used to. Almost everything we listen to today is overwound and hotted up compared to those. Further, both pickups are identical on a '59. There's no "bridge" and "neck" pickup. In a blind listening test, most people prefer what they're used to hearing. If you were to hand them a '59 with the headstock inlay removed, they'd probably assume it was a cheap old MIJ copy or something and they'd immediately upgrade the pickups and electronics. Probably with something from GFS. And they'd bitch about the originals not having enough crispness or power; about not being able to drive an amp very well.
 

Scott Auld

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
12,312
My feeling about pickups is that they're largely not "cheap and expensive", nor "outstanding and substandard," no matter what the cost. I never view exchanging one for another as an "upgrade."

I think you will find that this is a minority opinion here.
 

Scott Auld

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
12,312
It's even funnier with humbuckers. I've played 16 different (by serial number) original 59 bursts over the last four years. I've now got a pretty good idea how they sound, for whatever that's worth. People who pick one up for the first time, however (and who've avoided the little bit of pee in their pants) are almost always struck with how the pickups do NOT sound like the pickups they're used to. Almost everything we listen to today is overwound and hotted up compared to those. Further, both pickups are identical on a '59. There's no "bridge" and "neck" pickup. In a blind listening test, most people prefer what they're used to hearing. If you were to hand them a '59 with the headstock inlay removed, they'd probably assume it was a cheap old MIJ copy or something and they'd immediately upgrade the pickups and electronics. Probably with something from GFS. And they'd bitch about the originals not having enough crispness or power; about not being able to drive an amp very well.

Again, you have some very strong opinions about what other people would do or what they would like. I'm not sure I can agree with your perceptions.
 

Scott Auld

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
12,312
Where do you get off with the rude-assed posts to folks who are answering your questions? Nobody posted anything but the best intents and you go on the warpath with personal attacks.
IMHO his warpath approach is based on his assumptions about what other people think or will do. He is projecting one set of behaviors on TGP and I'm not sure where he gets the idea that folks think like that around here.

:facepalm
 

dspellman

Senior Member
Messages
8,308
Where do you get off with the rude-assed posts to folks who are answering your questions? Nobody posted anything but the best intents and you go on the warpath with personal attacks.
I don't judge intents.
Nor did I say anything personal. "Your mama cooks socks in hell!!!!"

What I did comment on was the lack of content in the posts; they were largely useless in answering the questions (which I did not ask, by the way -- those were the original poster's questions). The subsequent posts by the same people have been brilliant and far more helpful.

I am curious, however, how you know that the magnets used in the P90's in the 2500's are/were ceramic. I see no mention of that anywhere in the specs currently on the Rondo site.

While on the subject of ceramic magnets, I have to toss one thing in there. Ceramics are not inherently bad sounding or harsh pickup magnets. Ceramic magnets are more powerful for a given weight and size, and thus have shown up more frequently in production high-output pickups. But I've also had hand-wound ceramics that were NOT wound for high output that have been wonderful and sounded nearly identical to the various alnico types in pickups.
 
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dspellman

Senior Member
Messages
8,308
IMHO his warpath approach is based on his assumptions about what other people think or will do. He is projecting one set of behaviors on TGP and I'm not sure where he gets the idea that folks think like that around here.

:facepalm
Actually, it's you who have just projected your assumptions on my motives in that statement.

In Your Humble Opinion.

You could simply ask.

I have no preconceptions about TGP or DDT or MLP or AGF or LS/MFT.
I noted that the posts' content offered to that point was largely useless, and that they left a specific impression on me. The posts since then have been, for the most part, very useful. Except for yours.
 

tnvol

Ufologist
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,899
This thread was doomed from the start because of the word "Agile".
 




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