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Are your P90's too polite?

DC1

Member
Messages
15,391
I remember a thread a while back where there was some discussion about how few of the current PU guys are making the really old-sounding kind of snarly P90's that we rock players like.

My S style has a Lindy P90 in the bridge.



and that was one of the P90's that was supposed to lack that sort of grind. I gave it a good listen, and indeed, it sounded more Fendery than Leslie West, if you know what I mean.

So, I tried an experiment...

Lowered the screws almost flat to the top of the cover and raised the whole PU back where the screw heads had been (height wise)

Holy cow!

There it is...

Snarl, bite, and Leslie all there.

Turns out you can tune these PU's to be more of a Fender sound, or more middy and traditional P90 by the relationship between the screw height to the top of the cover, (taller screws = more of a Fender sound) and the closeness between the PU (with lowered screws) and the strings.

The difference is not subtle and all factors are interactive.

So, if you have a polite P90, try this, and see what happens.

dc
 

CitizenCain

Member
Messages
4,821
Yes, this is basically the same info I got from Jason Lollar when I was emailing him about P90s one time. Here's the text of one of the emails where Jason talks about setting up P90s;

Jason Lollar said:
It all depends on the guitar but I would start at the bridge, it needs to be pretty close to the strings or your mids wont be prominent enough in this position. You want to adjust it with the amp set at a volume where it will just start to distort lightly. Raise it up to just under the point where if you dampen the strings they don’t hit the pole pieces. If you lower it down a couple turns too much the mids will drop out, subtle but noticeable so set them right before that happens. with the amp turned up like that check the low E string and make sure it doesn’t blat, if it does either lower the whole pickup on that side or lower the pole, often 1/2 to 1 turn of the screw will clean it up.

Then go to the neck and do the same thing. With the volume control on the guitar all the way up its going to be pretty thick sounding with very full midrange, some people confuse the thickness of tone as being louder than the bridge pickup but its just different frequency response, if you play the top strings and switch between the neck and bridge you can tell that they are of equal volume, if you play chords your ear may fool you into perceiving the neck as being louder. The trick to P-90's is to get a clearer sound you roll the volume off on the guitar 10-20% and the mids will drop out and they will clean up. The highs will still remain as long as you don’t roll the volume down too much. So if you want a tight sound in the neck roll the volume down or go to the center position for tight clear rhythm tones.
Jason
 

Crazyquilt

The Fool
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,613
Yup. I learned this from Dave Stephens a couple of years ago, then read Lollar saying much the same thing. I have quite a few P-90 guitars, and this has always proven to be the case: For a real P-90 sound, lower the screws and raise the coils.

Unlike Fender single coils, the string pull is not nearly as much of a problem -- the bar magnet's field seems to be much more diffuse than that created by a Fender's slug magnets. In that, they're more like humbuckers.

Mojocaster teases me because I bring this up at nearly any chance I get, but it's true -- if you want great P-90 tone, and you think your Lollars are too polite, then RAISE 'EM UP! You have nothing to lose but thin tone!
 

DC1

Member
Messages
15,391
Yup. I learned this from Dave Stephens a couple of years ago, then read Lollar saying much the same thing. I have quite a few P-90 guitars, and this has always proven to be the case: For a real P-90 sound, lower the screws and raise the coils.

Unlike Fender single coils, the string pull is not nearly as much of a problem -- the bar magnet's field seems to be much more diffuse than that created by a Fender's slug magnets. In that, they're more like humbuckers.

Mojocaster teases me because I bring this up at nearly any chance I get, but it's true -- if you want great P-90 tone, and you think your Lollars are too polite, then RAISE 'EM UP! You have nothing to lose but thin tone!

I was amazed at the difference. Years ago, I had raised the screws and lowered the PU to see what would happen and it got thinner-sounding. I liked it for what I was playing, so I left it alone. Recently I have been playing heavier stuff and was thinking about pulling the P90 out and going HB, when I remembered the changes I made. Glad I went back and I am really enjoying the P90 now.

dc
 

A440

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,721
I think Dave Stephens (stephens design) also recommended the same thing re P-90's. adjust the pole pieces down and bring up the pickup.

I think I'm still getting a little bit of magnet pull (similar to strat-itis)

I'll have to adjust the neck pickup down a bit I think.
 
Messages
3,041
When you raise the pole pieces on any pickup you'll get more twang. Lower 'em, raise the whole bar, and you get more bite.
 




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