P-90 - vintage vs. Lollar, Harmonic Designs...?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by thebrownguitar, Dec 19, 2005.

  1. thebrownguitar

    thebrownguitar Member

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    Hello,

    I've got an old (1949) ES-175. It's a wonderful guitar, but I'm struggling a little with the pickup situation. I expect some here will cry heresy, but the original P-90 sounds a bit thin. I have a humbucker that Jason Lollar made for me a while back that fits the dog-ear P-90 route without modification - this pickup sounds amazing, but there's a certain something that I miss from a P-90.

    Do pickups weaken with age in a way that might result in the thinner sound that I'm experiencing?

    Would any current production P-90's might give me a thicker tone in the mid-to-low-mid range than the original, while retaining the P-90 character?

    Thanks,
    matt
     
  2. laurencer83

    laurencer83 Member

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    i really like jason lollars p90's. i currently have an original 57 lp special that sounds great. but i used to have a historic les paul special that had lollar p90's in it. i can tell you that the lollars really got the vibe and tone of the original p90's. his are a litter hotter then the vintage ones but that may because of the magnets have weakened on my 57 lp. but if you do like them with less output i know he can custom wind some for you.
     
  3. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    I love the HD's as well. I have put them in 3 of my guitars. They have the sweetest top end of any P-90 I've tried and are also a little less noisy under higher gain applications.
     
  4. thebrownguitar

    thebrownguitar Member

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    Thanks for the input so far.

    > i chose HD vp90's, for that thicker low-mid & low-end that i think you're discussing

    splatt - You'd say this compared to the vintage Gibson P-90's? That does sound what I'm looking for...

    In general, I'm most interested on how the newer P-90's compare to vintage.

    m
     
  5. BuddyPo'

    BuddyPo' Member

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    Do the VP-90's fit in a standard P90 route or are they HB size like the Z-90? I couldn't tell for sure from the HD site.

    Thanks for the clarification...
     
  6. hipfan

    hipfan Member

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    The VP90's are regular P90 sized.
     
  7. 2x6L6

    2x6L6 Supporting Member

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    I just put a pair of the Harmonic Design VP-90s in my Heatley, and find them to be phenomenal pickups, though I like them primarily for their clarity in the bottom and top-end. Also did a little comparison between the Rio Grande P-90s and the HDs, which was discussed briefly here. Good things are being said about Bare Knuckle P-90s in a thread in the small Company Luthiers Forum.

    The Rios are pretty high-powered, but are maybe a little more "vintage" than the HDs. They definitely have a big bottom, but they weren't as crisp as I wanted. They are sweet, though. The main thing I've learned is that P-90s are really cool, (potentially) complex pickups.
     
  8. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    I was looking for a real rock and roll P-90 for my guitars. After trying out a bunch I ended up with Duncan Customs in all of my P-90 guitars. (that's Duncan Custom, the model- not a custom pickup from Duncan...) I'm excessively happy with them. They're more hot and brighter than the P-90s I had in my 58 Special.
     
  9. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    I have a 54 Goldtop RI I've gigged with since 1996. It sounds great and still has the original Gibson pickups in it. In fact, it is the only P-90 guitar I have that does not have the HD's.

    The Gibson P-90's are great pickups in this guitar, and it sounds like a great old Goldtop. The HD pickups have more clarity, are louder in all frequencies and hum-cancel when used together. How Scott makes a powerful pickup that sounds this open is beyond me.
     
  10. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    I guess it depends on what you are looking for. I had one of those Duncan Customs in the bridge of my Tele Jr. It was loud, but dark and noisy. It was focused in the middle and lower middle frequencies. I did not consider it a bright pickup, but definitely rock n' roll, because the clean tones were weak, IMO. I've often compared that pickup to a noisy humbucker. It is not at all what I want in P-90 sound.
     
  11. george4908

    george4908 Member

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    >>I had one of those Duncan Customs in the bridge of my Tele Jr. It was loud, but dark and noisy. It was focused in the middle and lower middle frequencies.

    And yet the exact same pickup in a Hamer is brighter and spankier. Here's the secret -- Fender used 250k pots on the Tele Jrs., instead of the 500k that most everybody else uses. Swap 'em out and enjoy the new top end.
     
  12. aroman

    aroman Member

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    Do they sound like P-90's ?
     
  13. pacomc79

    pacomc79 Member

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    I think I would probably talk to Jason Lollar again and see if he would consider rewinding it or something. I do think pickups "age" so to speak. I don't know if that makes them weaker or stronger but they definately sound different over time.
     
  14. HammyD

    HammyD Supporting Member

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    Have you tried different pots and caps? If they are original I suspect there may be some loss due to corrosion. I had to change the pots and caps on my '53. (They were non original, but very old.) Big difference in sound.
     
  15. zenitB

    zenitB Supporting Member

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    I changed-out an original 50's P-90 for a Lollar a few years ago. To keep things Kosher, I made a whole new harness with new pots, cap, jack etc and put the original harness away in case I wanted to restore the guitar back to original. Jason's pickups are great. His P-90s have great clairity and punch particularly through my 6V6 amps.
     
  16. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    My reference tone for P-90 is a friends mid 50's LP special. A jaw dropping tonal experience that guitar was for me, never forgot it. Have played and heard other good ones. The lollars in a Collings 290 -- excellent. A set of fralins, 10% underwound neck, standard bridge, in a friends ES-135 -- excellent too, in a different way.

    I'd have gone with either when upgrading an Orville LP Special recently, but think so highly of the HD Z-90s, decided to try the VP-90s first. Excellent again. Keepers. Just like the Z-90s, they became instant favorite pickups for me. The VP-90s have great depth, clarity without mud, perfect balance assuming you set them up right (neck p/u body down low, poles up a bit, bridge body up high.) They have the volume of hotter P-90 types, but none of the negatives. What Shallbe says is true. Hard to understand how they get the power in here and keep the tone so open. Beautiful cleans. Playing these, I can almost forget that 50s LP Special ...

    You can't go wrong with any of the p/us discussed IMO. Different P-90 flavors.
     

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