Question for Chiba: P94 Vs Phat Chat?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by beNsteR, Jan 14, 2005.

  1. beNsteR

    beNsteR Member

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    Dear Mr Chiba

    Been reading quite a lot of your posts and i see that you've had experience with both Gibson P94s and Duncan Phat Cats.

    I am currently jonesing for humbucker-sized P90 replacement pickups for my McCarty IRW. What i am looking for is something that as close to authentic vintage P90 tone as possible, and would work well with the rosewood neck (worried about muddiness).

    Tonal ballparks i am aiming for include '56 Les Paul Goldtop, Les Paul Special, and IRW McCarty Soapbar tone.

    I have written off Rio Bastards as some have commented that they are made too deep for a PRS pickup route, and even if it fits there will be very limited adjustability. Also will not consider HD Z90's as they don't have adjustable polepieces. i also do not think that both of these were intended to sound like a real P90, but rather their own twist or take on the P90 theme.

    So it boils down to the Gibson P94s and the Duncan Phat Cats, both of which are advertised to go after the vintage P90 tone.

    *The P94s are advertised by Gibson to be made exactly like a P90, with the same Alnico V magnets and Enamel wire as their vintage P90s.

    *The Phat Chats have Alnico II magnets and nickel covers.

    Any opinions on how they would sound in a IRW McCarty? I'm not looking for better/worse.. just the differences..

    Thanks so much for hearing me out.. on a quest for tone here..

    Anyone else who has experience with these, please feel free to chip in too =)
     
  2. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Supporting Member

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    I'm not Chiba, but I do have a suggstion, at least to llok at: the DiMarzio Bluesbucker. It's a P90 sound alike with a dummy coil that cancels hum. We just put a pair in a guitar last week and we were all completely blown away by them. Here's a link to a thread I posted pn the soundclip page. There are a few more details and a clip in the thread.

    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?s=&threadid=63933
     
  3. WayneM

    WayneM Member

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  4. Rama

    Rama Member

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    Phat Cats to me just sound like a p-90 with...more...more of everything, which may or may not be desirable. I love em.
     
  5. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

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    For what it's worth, I have Phat Cats in my PRS Singlecut and they sound great. And I love P-90s. They don't seem as noisy as a vintage P-90 and they definitely get the vibe. I haven't tried P-94s but I suspect it'd be a close contest. I also think the Phat Cats have a cleaner look.
     
  6. erksin

    erksin Member

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    I have owned the P-94s and thought they were pretty flat and uninspiring.

    I replaced them with the HD Z-90s and they are fantastic sounding pups. I appreciate the fact that you want something tonally closer to real P-90, and maybe the Phat Cat is the pup - but the Z-90 is really incredible...

    You might try calling Pete Biltoft at Vintage Vibe Guitars - he makes a HB-sized P-90 type pup (it's not currently listed on his site). Since he winds everything himself, he can probably help you get pretty darn close. Cheaper than either the Duncan or Gibson stuff and the quality is A+.

    Another maker is Stephens Design, you might give him a call as well.

    Hope this helps!
     
  7. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    Sorry it took me so long to get in here - I was out of town the last day or so.

    Everybody thinks/hears differently, but for my money the P-94 is a better sounding pickup than the Phat Cat. FOR ME, the PC has too much bite/edge in the top end and sounds a bit harsh.

    The P-94 is made like a P-90 but there's some important differences. Metal baseplate, the partly metal cover, and the size jump to mind - and those things will have tonal affects overall.

    I bought a 2002 IRW McCarty in 2003 and put P-94s in it. Had to remove some wood in the neck pocket to get it to mount properly. I used that guitar for probably 2-3 months, and a friend heard it at one of my gigs, then asked to borrow it for some recording he did. When he came back to my house, he didn't bring the guitar, he brought his checkbook and said 'name the price, I have to have that guitar'. Same basic thing happened with a Les Paul Studio I put P-94s in. My current LP Custom has P-94s in it and my friends are constantly asking to borrow it to record with.

    My guitar with Phat Cats, though, I can't seem to give away. Everybody that plays it says 'oh, that's nice' in the same tone of voice you might tell a buddy 'yeah, your sister's ok' when he's trying to set you up with her and she's, you know, funny looking or something. The guitar itself plays great, balances perfectly, and all that - but it's plugged-in tone is simply lacking. The same guitar sounds huge with humbuckers in it, BTW. It's a late-80s Yamaha SBG-200, a flat-topped sorta-SG copy.

    I like P-94s so much that I spec'd a triplet of them for my next custom Thorn, and every time I advise somebody to buy them I always give my 'if you hate them, I'll buy them off you' line. To date, I've never had to buy any P-94s from disgruntled advisees :D

    I wouldn't call either pickup muddy, though, so if muddiness is your bane, either will do the job. I think the P-94 has a more vintage, smoother tone to it and the PC a more modern, edgy tone to it. I definitely prefer the former.

    If you give me a week or two, I can post a new song my band's recorded where all my guitar tracks were done with my P-94 loaded LP Custom.

    --chiba
     
  8. beNsteR

    beNsteR Member

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    Thanks for the replies guys! And thanks, Chiba, for your comprehensive review of the P94. Looks like i'm quite set on getting a set of P94's. Called up the local dealer, and they have both black and cream colored sets in stock. I think i'll go with the black ones for my McCarty Tobacco 'Burst McRosie.

    PS: Chiba, would you happen to have any photos of your old McCarty IRW with the P94's installed? Just curious on how mine would look..
     
  9. beNsteR

    beNsteR Member

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    Oh Chiba, BTW...

    When you said you had to remove wood in your McCarty's neck pickup route, was it horizontally or vertically?

    Also, was it due to:

    1. The pickup polepieces being too long,

    2. the physical height/depth of the pickup itself, or

    3. the size of the mounting brackets?
     
  10. beNsteR

    beNsteR Member

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  11. beNsteR

    beNsteR Member

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    I went out to buy a set of black/chrome P94s today..

    Got my guitar tech to install them.. The neck pickup fit the route OK but as for the bridge pickup..

    The mounting bracket is too deep for the bridge pickup route in my McCarty. Set all the way down, the pickup height was so high that the strings were touching the top of the pickup.

    My tech said that there were only 2 options: Deepen the route on the guitar (remove wood), or modify the mounting bracket on the pickup.

    Not wanting to do anything to my beloved guitar, i chose the former. My tech will cut off the end of the mounting bracket, bend a new curve for it, and redrill a new hole for the screw. This should allow the pickup to sit much lower. He is a very competent and professional tech, so i have no worries. Will get my guitar back tomorrow, i hope.

    CAN'T WAIT TO PLAY IT, ARGHHHH!!! :(
     
  12. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    Horizontally - the legs on the P-94 are longer than PRS pickups, so I just had to gut a little wood out of the leg-holes in the pickup cavity.

    --chiba
     
  13. beNsteR

    beNsteR Member

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    Yeah, Chiba, it's the legs.. my tech advised me to let him shorten them rather than remove wood from the guitar.

    Funny to see that the bridge pickup route of my McCarty was too shallow and the neck route was ok, whereas the neck route of your McCarty was too shallow and the bridge was ok. Mine's a 2003 model. Hmm.. :confused:

    I felt that the stock cream pickup mounting rings would look a little weird with the chrome and black P94s, too many clashing colors? so i got a set of black pickup mounting rings to go with the P94s.. I think it's gonna be a whole new look. Will post pics when i get my guitar back! :D
     
  14. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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  15. amper

    amper Member

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    Chiba, thanks for the comparo notes. I've been thinking about those two pickups as well for an LP build-up...
     
  16. beNsteR

    beNsteR Member

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    Hi guys! TONE REPORT + photos!!!

    Have been playing my McCarty IRW with the P-94's at home for a week or so now. My tech had to modify the bridge P94 to get it to fit the shallow bridge pickup route of the guitar, and it works fine now.

    I was quite skeptical about the pickups initially, being G*bson products and all, :p but once i heard them in my guitar, i found that Chiba's rave reviews about these pickups were really really true!

    The neck pickup is pure smokey jazz when played clean, and sounds like a luscious, thick dark chocolate milkshake when overdriven. And it retains a lot of clarity and articulation/pick attack under high gain!

    The neck+bridge position is sweet and chimey, and overdrives really really well, sounds like a sweet old goldtop les paul to my ears.

    The bridge pickup punches like there's no tomorrow! Having had stock McCarty pickups as well as a Duncan Pearly Gates in this guitar before the P94s, i would say that the P94 outpunches both of these pickups. It gives a really good bottom end wallop when i play classic hard rock rhythms, and it showcases the low-end response of the rosewood neck very well.

    These P94s sound NO WAY like the Duncan P90's that came in the Custom 22 soapbar (maple neck) that i used to own. Much more alive+punchy sounding. The Duncans in the soapbar weren't as clear, and lacked punch in comparison. :confused:

    i really like the sound of this guitar now a lot more than the Custom 22 soapbar. That guitar sounded harsh (bright maple neck+ middish P90s?) compared to this one. IMHO of course, maybe it was just not my cup of tea.

    My guitar tech commented that these pickups (played through an amp) made the guitar sound much more like its unplugged acoustic tone than the other 2 pickups. I couldn't disagree with him. I brought it to my local guitar store hangout and let a few of the local musicians play it, and they raved about how 'classic rock' this guitar sounded.

    Both pickups are very responsive to volume/tone controls as well as amp EQ. I could easily get it to bite like the fattest tele on the planet, or sing like a Santana model. I haven't played it live, but am really looking forward to doing so!!!

    I have not played a McCarty IRW soapbar before, but i'd reckon that they'd sound pretty close to my guitar..

    So, in conclusion, P94's + Rosewood Neck = TONE MONSTER! :dude Highly Recommended!!! (if you can live with the fact that they're Gibsons :p )

    Photos of my guitar here:
    http://community.webshots.com/album/219027503UogVhQ

    Edited link
     
  17. hans-jürgen

    hans-jürgen Member

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    These pictures might give you an idea how cream P-94 with gold "covers" and pole pieces look in a brown sunburst Tokai Love Rock LS120 (first under neon light, second with flash):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In the meantime I also made a comparison with several humbuckers on the Tokai forum with samples for each pickup in that guitar:

    http://www.tokaiforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=4630
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2010
  18. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    FWIW, shortening the legs is very much "minor surgery" as PUP mods go, you made the right decision, don't give it a moment's additional thought. :AOK
     
  19. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    BTW, threads like this one drive me nuts. I have a 2nd pair of Z90s (this set in black) on order now for this guitar (Godin LGX-SA). I love the same PUPs in my Reverend Rocco but after speaking with Chiba by phone and then reading his written P94 review here, now I want those, too! :mad: :D

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  20. -kk-

    -kk- Member

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    WOW, that is some sexy wood! I feel gas coming.

    Jon, that Godin looks good in yellow, wow... I dont know why but looks very italian-chic to me in this color?!

    Bernster, i see the noise level in the island nation has just increased a notch :D
     

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