p90 choice - clear -> raw, jangly, squawky, growly

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by rorschah, Aug 15, 2006.

  1. rorschah

    rorschah Member

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    I'm seperating this question off a different thread of mine.

    I've searched the old threads on p90 replacements, and they all seem to say LOLLAR, but it sounds like folks like Lollar p90's for being... smooth.

    I'm looking for p90's for my Guild Blues 90 (semihollow) - but I'm not going for that 70's hard rock or smooth-grind blues rock sound. What I want is:

    1. a clean, harmonically rich, sensitive neck pickup - for Grant Green-like clean tones.

    2. treble and jangle from the bridge, for Casino-pop-esque stuff, and just so I have a lot of treble on tap. I tend to like bridge pickups that other people think are almost unusably trebly - I roll off the treble most of the time, but crank the bridge treble for middle position when I play fingerstyle ... I like the p90 bridges that feel liked amped up tele bridges.

    3. capacity to slay a little amp, raw-style, in the old Hubert Sumlin and Neil Young style - more gritty and breaky than grindy.

    4. don't need an exactly vintage tone, but a distinctly p90 tone. (I already have HD z90's in something else - love 'em, but something a little juicier for this guit.) "modern" p90 is fine, more hi-fine is fine. What I don't want is "smooth" - I like the ones that have squawk and nasality and chunk and ghurm and growl and krank and all that stuff right on the edges of things, so I can find them if I dig in.

    5. as sensitive to picking and fretting technique as possible.

    Choices so far - been looking at Lollar, Fralin, HD VP90's, Vintage Vibe, Seymour Dunc Antiquities, open to anything.

    Suggestions?

    THanks so much.

    -thi
     
  2. rmconner80

    rmconner80 Cantankerous Luddite Silver Supporting Member

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    I've tried Antiquities, Gibsons, Fralins, and vintage Gibson.

    My experience is that you can't have a single P90 that excels at the raw, nasal, early Gibson, higher output tone AND ALSO excels the complex, jangly, harmonicly rich tone. These are opposite ends of the spectrum. Sure a good P90 does both, but always does one better.

    I'm 100% sure that somebody will come along shortly and post about how the Lollar DOES indeed do it all, plus make great toast and help trim unwanted nasal hair and eliminate pet odors ... but I will remain skeptical.
    :horse
     
  3. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009

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    Jason is your man. Tell him what you want and he'll let you know if he can make it without talking smack. He's simply that good and that honest.
     
  4. rorschah

    rorschah Member

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    So which ones excel at the raw, nasal tone and which ones excel at the complex, jangly tone?
     
  5. Giraffecaster

    Giraffecaster Member

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    this may be a crazy thought but what about getting something custom that's coil tapped?
     
  6. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009

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    I have no idea. But Jason can guide you. He's not a sales monger; if what you want can't be accomplished {by him} he'll shoot straight and let you know. Personally, I think the whole point of a P90 in the bridge is specifically for a big, fat tone. You're looking for Jazzmaster & Strat bridge tones. It sure isn't going to happen in a stock P90 wind but maybe it can be done on a custom wind. Good luck.
     
  7. rorschah

    rorschah Member

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    I'm definitely looking for p90 tones, I think, though I may have exaggerated the point. I'm thinking specifically about p90 tones and p90's I've played in old guitars too fabulously expensive for me.

    The bridges I'm thinking of are fat, fat, fat, but with an edge of icepick, especially when I dig in. A fat icepick, but definitely an icepick.

    Another way to put it is: I've played a few old p90 gibbies and there's a kind of elemental fury in them that isn't in a lot of the new p90's - I'm specifically thinking of the Seymour Dunc p90's that are showing up in everything, including my Blues 90. The Dunc's have the amp breakup, but they don't have the weird noise factor/krang potential that other p90's I've had are. I'm basically just pointed in that direction - give me that krang.

    Example: the pickups on the cheapo Yamaha AES520 I have are in the right ballpark - nasal and fat with krang on tap when you dig in, totally. (They're definitely on the el-cheapo end of that ballpark though.)

    -thi
     
  8. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009

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    I hear you and I think the stock P90's that Jason winds is perfect. They are much brighter and sweeter than Seymours. I'm pretty sure the one that SD winds for the PRS bridge is a very hot, ceramic version. I think it's a harsh tone but you may love it. It's really overwound.
     
  9. Mutley

    Mutley Supporting Member

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    About six months ago I got a set of P90s from Pete Biltoft at Vintage Vibe Guitars. I put them into my McInturff Zodiac with ported top and they are killer. Clean the neck pup sounds like a Strat neck on steroids. The bridge doesn't have as much of the nasally honk that I think of with a classic P90 type guitar, but is very big sounding with no ice picky stuff going on. You can call Pete too. He knows his stuff and his price is much less and with a 30 day trial period. Lollars are certainly top shelf, but I wouldn't overlook VV. I have a Melancon T style with 3 single coils that he has done up beautifully. It had DiMarzio stacked hum free (tone free) pups in it and the improvement in tone was immense.

    Ned
     
  10. Caretaker

    Caretaker Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Wolfetone.Period. Ask Rick Derringer if you don`t believe me.
     
  11. rorschah

    rorschah Member

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    Not smooth.

    I don't want smooth.

    I want the icepick.

    Some of it, at least.

    -thi
     
  12. Caretaker

    Caretaker Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Tell Wolfe you want a set of what he made for me. Great for blues but will peel the paint off the wall too.
     
  13. Crazyquilt

    Crazyquilt Guitar Dad Silver Supporting Member

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    Two thoughts:

    First, I have the Lollars in my Hamer Special up pretty high, quite close to the strings (although no wolf-tones.) I would not characterize them as smooth -- although they can get that way with the volume rolled back. The HD VP-90s are much smoother, to my ears. I like them both, but they're different.

    Second, I would talk to Dave Stephens of Stephens Design Pickups. I think he makes some of the most interesting pickups around, unlike anything else on the market. I, personally, really want to give his P-90s a try; he says, "I have done extensive research trying to recreate the tone of the very earliest P90 coils, achieving those beautiful tones in my latest Zephyr Blues set. I use magnets and wire that were used before 1953, when Alnico formulas changed for both GibsonĀ® and FenderĀ®. Listen for youself to see if this fits you." You also might want to look at the Kay-Bars & Dirty Harry pickups ... they may or may not be what you're after, but there's definitely some serious rawness going on -- especially with the Harry.
     
  14. riffpowers

    riffpowers Member

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    Nope, I agree with you 100%.I've got SD p90's, KA p90's, Gibson P90s, Lollar P90's.I personally didn't like the lollars (puts flameproof jacket on) and they certainly won't do trebley jangle and they certainly aren't raw.I find P90's tend to be either too trebley or too smooth for me.My favourite P90 by a long shot is the deymour duncan custom in my hamer korina Jr, to me these have just the right trebley cut, harmonic richness when the vol is rolled off and raunch dirt when you crank it, and you have the bonus of having trebley cut or roll off the tone a bit for thicker sound.These are pickups for people who lurve dirty sounds, so not for everyone!!
    I personally think they'll sound great for what you want.You've got enough treble for jangly sounds, roll off the tone a bit for thicker heavier sounds, roll off the vol a bit for some tasty cleans and they're not smooth , they really excell at dirty sounds.They're my favourite by far.
    I'd say either go for something like that or a set of Gibson P90s.I think you won't go wrong with either.
     
  15. Ron Thorn

    Ron Thorn Gold Supporting Member

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    Harmonic Designs - glassy, fat "single coil" tones.
     
  16. eric102673

    eric102673 Member

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    Ron's is a really good suggestion. You'll get all the low end meat plus the snappy brash high end. A good full range P-90.

    For what you are describing, I'd also look at the Duncan Customs. Hot and ragged for sure. A bit too brash for me and not to my personal taste but sounds like they'd fall in line with what you are searching for.

    One other to consider, thought the cork sniffers may raise their noses, but the P-90s Gibby was putting in their production guitars a couple years ago would really fit the bill as well. Hot, gnarly, lots of kerrannggg, but jangle when rolled off. Plenty of rough and ragged bark and bite. Full highs and low end. I've not played any newer than those so I'm not sure if they are the same now as they were then.

    To me the stock Lollars are much more refined in the highs and they definitely don't have the ass that a few other P-90s do. They don't fatigue the ear at higher volume, especially with gain on them. Definitely a smoother and richer sounding mid and top end but with less low end content than other pickups. I'm sure if you talked to Jason though he could probably wind you something else that would work.

    Rios are smoother but with no bright high end. I've heard them called smokier and that's as good a description as any. Plenty of heat, really fat and rich but completely lacking any icepick at all. Not really up your alley.

    If you combined the less ice picky richness of the Lollar's high end with some of the more open, woody qualities and low end of the Gibson production PUs you'd be 95% of the way to my old Jr's PU.
    None of the individual PUs above sounded like my '59 Jr's bridge PU. Different ones were similar in different ways, but of course nothing was dead on. Compound that with the issue that no 2 "vintage" Gibby P-90s are likely to sound the same, and you can see why so many claim to capture the true vintage sound. Because there's no such thing.

    Take this all with a grain of salt though as different P-90s will accentuate certain characteristics of a guitar depending on the woods they are paired with, at least in my experience. I just tend to swop in whatever will do the job on a specific guitar. Often times using one as a bridge PU and dropping in the neck PU from another will compliment each other and their positions on the guitar perfectly.

    My personal dream P-90 combines the punch and ass of the Rio with the rich high end smoothness of the Lollar. No one makes one yet that I've heard, but I'll keep my fingers crossed.

    -e.
     
  17. rorschah

    rorschah Member

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    Wow. Thanks for the barrage of info.

    Good terms for description. I guess what I'm looking for is: on the open, woody end of p90's, with a clear p90 juiciness, (the "butt & waist" i think splatt once called it), some vocal nasality, and some jangle available and definite high end harmonic complexity/sensitivity/presence.

    I don't think I'm looking for anything super weird, it's just that a lot of the high-end boutique stuff and stock "hot" stuff seems to have engineered out some of the qualities I love in a p90.

    Do you think the Duncan Customs would give a good clear jazz sound on the neck?

    I'm leaning VP 90 right now.

    Anybody have any comments about Dirty Dog and Vintage Vibe?

    -thi
     
  18. M@tt C

    M@tt C Supporting Member

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    Actually, the stock pu's in the Guild are a Duncan Custom in the bridge a Hot in the neck....they're not bad at all, IMHO. If anything it will give you a good tonal baseline to compare other makes to.
     
  19. gitman

    gitman Member

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    i have a set of Harmonic Design Z-90's in my Hamer Monaco ( semi-hollow/Bigsby ) and that guitar now jangles, twangs and rips to my heart's delight - the Z-90's are not true "P-90" copies but clearly they are the closest relatives - being
    the size of normal humbuckers must have some influence on their tone. i'm pretty sure you can find your pickup within the Harmonic Design range.
     
  20. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    One man's smooth is another's ice pick, so I'm not certain this is the tone you are looking for. Anyway, the clip in my soundclips post (link below) was recorded with Fralin P90s, and they ooze the tone I'm looking for in a P90. Hope this helps. I seek smooth with an edge in a P90, and the Fralin delivers IMO.

    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=162465
     

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