P90 question...

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by blownirocz, Jan 20, 2015.

  1. blownirocz

    blownirocz Suppoutin' Memba Since Dem Oud Dayz... Silver Supporting Member

    Sep 5, 2007
    SF Bay Area, CA
    I've been a Les Paul with humbuckers player for very a long time, and I love 'em. I also have really started to enjoy Tele's recently. Love the clarity.

    Would it be correct to say that a Les Paul with P90's is somewhere in between them? The oomph of a Les Paul with humbuckers, but with more of the clarity of a single coil Tele?

    I realize this question is a bit simplistic in nature, but please humor me and answer in whatever direction your interpretation of the question leads you.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015
  2. sickboy79

    sickboy79 Member

    Aug 17, 2006
    Yes, that's basically spot on. No where near as twangy as a Tele style pickup. But, the clarity of a good single coil with grunt/bark of a HB. My personal favorite pickup style. Hope that helps.
  3. Rumble5

    Rumble5 Member

    Jan 11, 2015
    I was also a Les Paul/SG humbucker player for a long time when I wasn't playing a Tele but now play a Les Paul Junior Special with P-90s. Your description isn't bad, but I'd say that the P-90 is a lot closer to the humbucker than it is to a Fender single coil. Humbuckers were originally intended to replicate the P-90 sound, just without the buzz. The P-90 will sound a lot more articulate and aggressive than a Gibson humbucker, which has a mellower and smoother sound. The P-90 will push an amp almost as hard into overdrive as a cranked humbucker will. It doesn't sound much like a thinner single coil to me. In other words, if I heard a P-90 but didn't see it, I'd be much more likely to mistake it for a humbucker than for a regular single coil. The kind of thick, raunchy, low-fi aggressive tone is what I love about the P-90. Through my Pro Reverb or JMP it just exudes old school crunch.
  4. doc

    doc Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    Middle Tennessee
    Here's my take (on some points I obviously hear it different than Rumble5):

    Humbucker (PAF version) vs. P90: Humbucker with more high treble and edge than P90. More defined in both treble and bass. Kind of a "hyped" and "in your face" presence to the tone. Doesn't push the amp harder than P90 but generally sounds better with overdrive because the edgy high end retains clarity and because on a P90 the hum seems to cause more intermodulation distortion and causes ghost notes and mush earlier. The PAF has a slightly metallic clang to it. The P90 sounds more "natural" and "organic", with more mids, but the treble slightly rolled off. To me the P90 seems to have a smoother change when rolling back the treble. It also generally sounds smoother overall, but can generate a great "grind" to it, especially a dogear in a Junior. The P90 sounds more "liquid" with distortion, and does have a bit more of an "acoustic" sound to it. The PAF sounds "clearer", but the P90 has a different type of clarity that somehow sounds more accurate. Its kind of like in HiFi - sometimes a system that measures better doesn't sound as much like real music as one that measures worse. The PAF sounds like great solid state, the P90 like tubes. Played clean, the P90 sounds a bit "plummy", while the PAF sounds clear and defined. The P90 hums, to the point of being almost unusable in some situations - the hum is worse than Strat or Tele pickups. I think the reason some refer to the P90 as more aggressive than a PAF is because it tends to push the amp a tad harder, and our ears are most sensitive to high mids.

    P90 vs Fender single coil: P90s have less high end, they trade this in for gobs of mids. They also push the amp harder, and can have a great grindy thickness that is similar to a humbucker, but without losing some of the definition of a single coil. The Fenders and PAFs both have edge and articulation, the P90 has both clarity and thickness. P90s don't have much "chime". Like P90s, Fenders sound "natural".
  5. jklotz

    jklotz Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    Damn Doc, I'd say that kind of nails it. Nice write up!

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