Okay, I like P90s. Now how do I quiet them down?

seward

Silver Supporting Member
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1,810
24 hours ago, I received a Gibson Les Paul Special Tribute that I'd ordered, with P90s. I already had the humbucker version, and I loved it, and I've been doing well with low-end Gibsons lately, so I ordered the P90 version - my first P90 guitar. The first few minutes with the pickups were touch-and-go, but now, a day later, I love the guitar and I want to know who makes the quietest P90s. I love the cleans, in particular, which are as advertised, somewhere between single-coils and humbuckers - warmth with definition. Unfortunately, I prefer the single-position tones (neck or bridge, not both), which means that I get some noise, although it's very variable (seems to depend on what other electronics are around).

Is this noise just something that P90 players put up with? I want more P90s, but I'd like a little less noise. Do higher-end Gibsons with P90s (Specials, I guess) employ superior wiring/parts in order to get a little less noise? (The Tributes, in general, are a little noisier than the Studios and Standard SGs I've played.) Are there P90 brands which are known for being a little quieter, that I might want to drop into a guitar? Any suggestions?

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The Opera Panther

Silver Supporting Member
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3,166
Get an Illich Noise Reduction System put in. Gets rid of over 90% of the hum, while keeping your original tone intact. My tech installed one in my Gibson ‘54 LPC Reissue & it did the trick!
Yup, this. I've got the Ilitch system on my Strat and my Grosh ElectraJet (think Strat/Jazzmaster mashup w/2x P-90s). Its an amazing piece of gear.
 

macrossgeorge

Gold Supporting Member
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2,843
Congrats on that guitar! It is a beauty. My number one guitar is a Les Paul Special with p90s (although mine is Epiphone). I am a fan of the stock Gibson p90 pickups. The stock Epiphone pickups on mine sound amazing. Yes P90s can be noisy and in some rooms noisier than others depending on the electricity and other various factors. Also positioning your bod at specific distances and angles from the amp can quiet it down. Not exactly an ideal solution. I have only had mine be terribly noisy in one specific livingroom where my band reharsed a couple of times. Using a different outlet when we rehearsed in a different space in the same house provided a much better experience. Both times I was using a power conditioner though. Going with noiseless p90s will sacrifice some of the tone, feel and "mojo".
 

seward

Silver Supporting Member
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1,810
Congrats on that guitar! It is a beauty. My number one guitar is a Les Paul Special with p90s (although mine is Epiphone). I am a fan of the stock Gibson p90 pickups. The stock Epiphone pickups on mine sound amazing. Yes P90s can be noisy and in some rooms noisier than others depending on the electricity and other various factors. Also positioning your bod at specific distances and angles from the amp can quiet it down. Not exactly an ideal solution. I have only had mine be terribly noisy in one specific livingroom where my band reharsed a couple of times. Using a different outlet when we rehearsed in a different space in the same house provided a much better experience. Both times I was using a power conditioner though. Going with noiseless p90s will sacrifice some of the tone, feel and "mojo".

I can't say I have any issue with the Gibson P90 tone - it's made me a P90 believer. I'm glad to hear that P90 noise does appear to be sensitive to surrounding electronics and positioning. That means it can be mitigated...also looking at the Ilich system, looks like some soldering may be necessary but that's not a deal-breaker.
 

seward

Silver Supporting Member
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1,810
For starters, turn down the gain and walk further away from the amp.

I've seen/heard a few different folks talk about the somewhat unique property that P90s seem to have, where they retain a full, usable tone with gain when you dial back the guitar's volume knob. I'm finding that to be the case. I'm still exploring what these p'ups can do. They're weird.
 

seward

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,810
I'm looking at the Ilich systems and wondering why we don't hear about it more often. It's not cheap, and it looks like there's some soldering involved, but it looks like a great solution. And I think I now understand why someone would go to the trouble. P90s sound...betterer.
 

TheClev

As seen on TV
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5,426
I know the Gibson P90 Special (with the neck binding) is handwired, whereas the tribute models use a pre-printed circuit board. I have no idea whether that makes a sound difference, but in my Gibson P90 special tribute, I haven't had any noise issues that were much different from other single coil guitars.
 

Heinz W

Genuine '66 Relic
Platinum Supporting Member
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2,679
Curious, do you have any other single coil guitars? If so, are they noisy too? Before buying anything make sure the cause isn't with your amp or your house wiring/electric. Could be a bad ground in the guitar itself. Check these things first.

With my main amp I have no noise at all with either of my two old Juniors, and I don't have stand a certain way or keep my distance from the amp.
 

neastguy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
15,881
Ive gigged many times with my Hamer p90 special and cant ever remember saying to myself its noisy.. I dunno.. Im in a classic rock band and use several types of gain.. maybe its my amp or pedal board. .I dunno..

maybe you are just using a ton of gain?..
 
Messages
356
I have the same guitar and it is amazing. Very underrated! Mine is a little noisy on neck or bridge positions if I'm running gain, but if I back off the guitar volume a bit it is usually pretty tolerable (and sometimes hard to even notice). I just about never have pickup volumes dimed anyway though.

I considered the Illitch but meh, just play louder. :p
 

seward

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,810
Curious, do you have any other single coil guitars? If so, are they noisy too? Before buying anything make sure the cause isn't with your amp or your house wiring/electric. Could be a bad ground in the guitar itself. Check these things first.

With my main amp I have no noise at all with either of my two old Juniors, and I don't have stand a certain way or keep my distance from the amp.

I think that I get a lot of noise from crappy old wiring in my apartment. The noise from the P90s also seems to be affected by my computer monitor and other devices (and it can be reduced by moving away from them). I'm in a small space, and it's difficult to get far away from anything in it...unless I play in my bedroom, which isn't really an option...I do find that my other Tributes, all humbuckers, are a little noisier than the Studios and SG Standards that I've owned, so that's also a thing.

The noise is something I'd like to reduce, but it's not that big of a deal. I guess that P90s aren't for everyone, but I'm enjoying them tremendously. They really do take what I like about humbuckers, and what I like about single-coils, and combine those qualities in one pickup. I've barely even begun to explore the gain tones, but I've already heard the roar. I assume that the noise is the only reason that these things aren't more popular.
 

macrossgeorge

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,843
Having Fluorescent lights on the same circuit as your amp could cause noise too. You might try different outlets in the same room even. I lived in a crummy little apartment with terrible electricity, inconsistent voltage, and bad grounding and I had to try my rig through several different outlets before I found the least bad one which was tolerable. Now I live in a much nicer apartment and the electricity is legit. Such a difference.
 

Heinz W

Genuine '66 Relic
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,679
Yep, I'm sort of new to P-90s myself, though I've owned one of my Juniors for 20 years. Loved the sound, but it has a narrow nut ('68) and didn't play it much due to that. Now that I have an older one with the normal nut width I can't put it down! Sounds awesome, and every turn of the tone or volume changes the sound. I've barely touched my humbucker LP since getting it. My new favorite pickups.
 
Messages
356
I think that I get a lot of noise from crappy old wiring in my apartment. The noise from the P90s also seems to be affected by my computer monitor and other devices (and it can be reduced by moving away from them). I'm in a small space, and it's difficult to get far away from anything in it...unless I play in my bedroom, which isn't really an option...I do find that my other Tributes, all humbuckers, are a little noisier than the Studios and SG Standards that I've owned, so that's also a thing.

The noise is something I'd like to reduce, but it's not that big of a deal. I guess that P90s aren't for everyone, but I'm enjoying them tremendously. They really do take what I like about humbuckers, and what I like about single-coils, and combine those qualities in one pickup. I've barely even begun to explore the gain tones, but I've already heard the roar. I assume that the noise is the only reason that these things aren't more popular.

Do you notice the hum when not touching the strings more (which I think is normal)? I often run mine into my laptop and when it's on the stand I'll notice the noise (like through headphones or whatever) but when I pick it up and it gets grounded by my hands it's much quieter (but not silent).

How do you normally set your pickup volume? If usually on 10, try dropping it a smidge. It helps the noise and these pickups really do have lots of tones in them when you vary the volume (and tone)!

Keep us posted - curious how this all plays out for you.
 
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seward

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,810
Do you notice the hum when not touching the strings more (which I think is normal)? I often run mine into my laptop and when it's on the stand I'll notice the noise (like througj headphones or whatever) but when I pick it up and it gets grounded my hands it's much quieter (but not silent).

How do you normally set your pickup volume? If usually on 10, try dropping it a smidge. It helps the noise and this pickups really do have lots of tones in them when you vary the volume (and tone)!

Keep us posted - curious how this all plays out for you.

Gotta, say, this really is a thing with P90s - turning down the guitar volume knob, and retaining playable tones. In fact, turning down the volume on the guitar, and turning up the volume on the amp, gives less noisy tones at the same volume. I have some exploring to do.
 




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