Questions for the P90 crowd...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by BPSUL, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. BPSUL

    BPSUL Member

    Sep 8, 2008
    Okay, This question isn't really specific to gibson P90's, but rather to any similar style pickup - Any P90 style, or soapbar style pickup.

    These pickups are single coil - so do they sound like a regular single coil pickup? Are the coils larger or something. I assume there is something different about them or they would be lumped into the "single coil" family. Its almost like people consider them to be a 3rd type of pickup.

    So maybe the experienced folks here can educate me a little. I have never owned or even played a guitar with these types of pickups and Im curious.
  2. Quarter

    Quarter Member

    Sep 20, 2007
    The term single coil just describes a very basic construction type. The shape of a coil and the material its made of is what shapes the tone.
    P90 coils are short and fat compared to a taller and skinnier Fender type. Shorter fat coils tend to have a pronounced mid while taller tends to favor the higher end.
    There is certainly more to it and exceptions to the "rule", but it should give you a bit of an idea.
  3. ES350

    ES350 Member

    Feb 13, 2006
    Add in two magnets below a fat coil, adjustable polepieces, and a magnetic baseplate (at least on the old ones) and you have clarity and power...
  4. Sol

    Sol Member

    Dec 16, 2005
    The electrical properties of the P90 mark it out as pretty unique in single coils.

    Just the fat squat coil alone in going to give you a very different sound to the typical tall, slender Fender type.

    You can only get so much magnetism from 6 individual magnet slugs, ala Fender, before you run into problems.
    But the P90 having two bar magnets at the bottom wth non magnet pole pieces to dissperse the 'field' between them sets up a very different dynamic.

    The higher the resonant peak the more treble you will hear, and an average Strat will be around the 8.000K Hz, compared to a P90's 4.500K Hz/

    A ballpark humbucker, at 8.2K Ohms resistance might have a resonant peak around 6.200K Hz

    A P90 witht he same 8.2KOhms would be around 4.5/4.800K Hz resonant peak

    These figures combined witht the 500K pots Gibson used, gave the treble, but with an output that almost meets humbucker spec, cool pickup

    Being a single coil they are subject to the same hum issues as other single coil pickups.

    There are a number of 'P90's' on the market that are actually humbuckers, and while they claim to sound just the same they dont IMO, if you want to experience the majestey of this unsung American hero, Id go for the real thing first, you will be richer for it
  5. FrankieSixxxgun

    FrankieSixxxgun Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    Tampa, FL
    There is no "regular made single coil pickup" really. There are different types, and if we're basing the regular off of who came first, the P90 is the starter. As far as single coils go, the P90 is the hottest and has the most snarl and grind in my experience. Strat coils are on the other end of the spectrum being very glassy, bright, and articulate. Gretsch Dynasonics are awesome because they're in the middle of the two. Not so much snarl like a P90, but nice note clarity like a Strat pickup. I think they're my favorite single coils.

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