I'm confused!!! P90 content

bilbal

Member
Messages
8,485
So I'm looking through a gear catalog this evening and I see it written "P90 single-coil" I have never noticed the single-coil terminology used in the description of a P90. I'll admit I know nothing about P90's other than I dislike their appearance. That being said, I think of Leslie West whenever I hear P90. Is a P90 really a single-coil pickup? I'm correct in thinking that Leslie West uses P90's aren't I? For some reason I associate the "Mississippi Queen" tone with P90s. Also, do they make a P90 that isn't as ugly as all of the ones I have seen? I would give my left n** for the Mississippi Queen tone but I think P90's take away from a guitars beauty. That's just me.

Bill
 

RvChevron

Member
Messages
2,464
So I'm looking through a gear catalog this evening and I see it written "P90 single-coil" I have never noticed the single-coil terminology used in the description of a P90. I'll admit I know nothing about P90's other than I dislike their appearance. That being said, I think of Leslie West whenever I hear P90. Is a P90 really a single-coil pickup? I'm correct in thinking that Leslie West uses P90's aren't I? For some reason I associate the "Mississippi Queen" tone with P90s. Also, do they make a P90 that isn't as ugly as all of the ones I have seen? I would give my left n** for the Mississippi Queen tone but I think P90's take away from a guitars beauty. That's just me.

Bill


Single coil refers to any pickups with just one coil as opposed to two like a humbucker.

P90, strat, tele and some gretch and dearmonds are all in the sinlge coil family.

There are stacked single coils which look like one but really are two coils one stacking on the other for cancelling hum.

So to answer your question, a real p90 is a single coil, and a large one compared to say, a strat pu.

There are also humbucker size single coils designed to sound like a p90.

Also, as long as it is single coil, comes along the inevitable "hum".
 

Chiba

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
8,328
Yes, you're correct in associating the P-90 with Leslie West - that was his classic tone generator during the Mississippi Queen days.

A P-90 and a Strat pickup are both single-coil pickups, but they're different from each other. Chevron's correct in saying any pickup with one coil is technically a single-coil pickup, but there's a reason a Strat pickup and a P-90 sound so different.

Humbuckers and P-90s are built with bar magnets; the pole pieces pass through them and that's what creates the field that is disturbed by the strings.

Strat/Tele pickups are built with pole pieces that are themselves magnets.

There's more differences than that, but that's the basic, bottom-line differences that makes them sound different.

--chiba
 

Dave

Member
Messages
3,547
So to answer your question, a real p90 is a single coil, and a large one compared to say, a strat pu.
Yes, but they're constructed differently. With a typical Strat or Tele single coil the pole pieces are magnets. With a P90 the poles are steel with a bar magnet beneath, like a humbucker.

Edit: Chiba beat me to it. :)
 

bilbal

Member
Messages
8,485
Yes, but they're constructed differently. With a typical Strat or Tele single coil the pole pieces are magnets. With a P90 the poles are steel with a bar magnet beneath, like a humbucker.

Edit: Chiba beat me to it. :)


Thus giving the sound more of a humbucker in respect to the balls?
 

Rosewood

Member
Messages
1,859
Thus giving the sound more of a humbucker in respect to the balls?

The bar magnet, screw poles, wide flat coil and fairly loose winding all together makes the pickup hotter and fatter than a strat/tele. Even though the p90 has a single row of screws the coil being wide and close to the strings help the output. That's why I think they sound better when the coil itself is closer to the strings. (within reason of course) Drop the pickup and raise the screws and the tone should get cleaner and brighter.
 

ManliusGuitar

Member
Messages
964
Yeah, with the P90, your magnetic field kinda really surrounds and encompasses the whole pickup, whereas with a strat or Tele it is much more focused up and down (with the magnets serving as poles). This will help give the P90 a thicker, fuller, ballsier tone ( or anyway you want to describe it). The strat and tele will be brighter and focused in general with the focused magnetic field.

Also, a P90 coil is shorter and fatter, which also gives you that darker, fuller tone. A P90 coil is only 1/4" tall, but a Strat is .45" (or so) and a Tele Bridge is even taller.

But all this can be manipulated as well with different wires, magnets, outputs and other materials used... FWIW

Mick
 

stratdev

Member
Messages
112
I've always viewed the P90 as a versatile pup. There is the old Paul mahog/maple cap sound. The mahogany slab sound like the old LP Jrs, Specials, SG's. Then the hollowbody P90 sound ala the ES5 Switchmaster (think T-Bone Walker).

Of all of them, the most appealing to me is Scott Lentz's pairing of a P90 neck and Broadcaster bridge on a slab of his swamp ash. Two volumes/one tone. The magic is in the mid position and having the various ratios of neck to bridge volume handy. Scary....:eek:
 

yegbert

Member
Messages
4
Humbuckers and P-90s are built with bar magnets; the pole pieces pass through them and that's what creates the field that is disturbed by the strings.

Strat/Tele pickups are built with pole pieces that are themselves magnets.

Strat and Tele pickups can have bar magnets underneath with steel for the polepieces, instead of magnets as polepieces. Fender current production MIM Standard Strats and MIM Standard Teles are made this way.
 

WahmBoomAh

World Crass Guitarist
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,702
I would give my left n** for the Mississippi Queen tone but I think P90's take away from a guitars beauty. That's just me.

Bill

Just a thought ... Having a great P90 on an aged plank( I`ve heard the gibson stock in the 50`s was 100 year old wood ?) of choice honduras mahagony with hide glue , nitro finish,BRW board oh .. and Leslie`s hands ..all add up to that sound ,
If you took the same pickup and put it on a modern axe with a poly finish .well......you might be expecting too much from the pickup .

I played my friends `59 LPjr last week and couldn`t believe the definition and dynamics .. it SCREEEEAMED .. Of course . unplugged the guitar was almost as loud as an acoustic .
After all ,,, a pickup is a microphone . The voice is the guitar...same mic with a different voice will sound different ..oh , I LOVE P90`s !!!
 

NoahL

Member
Messages
1,427
I believe you can buy P90's that look like and fit in place of humbuckers.

duncan phat cats and fralin p-92s are two humbucker-sized p-90-sounding options. i have had them both in the neck of guitars. the phat cat's a bit crisper and the p-92's a bit airier (to my ears), but both are really musical, versatile pups.
 

JohnK24

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,940
Strat and Tele pickups can have bar magnets underneath with steel for the polepieces, instead of magnets as polepieces. Fender current production MIM Standard Strats and MIM Standard Teles are made this way.

True...these are cheap, ceramic bar magnets and have higher output and to my ears, don't sound like a real strat or tele pickup should.
 




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