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School me on P90's vs Hummbuggys

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by mangoman, May 24, 2011.

  1. mangoman

    mangoman Silver Supporting Member

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    Hey there,

    looking to dive into the world of P90's. It comes from having most of my Single Coils covered (tele and Strat) and I have a PRS Mira with HB's. I basically know I am going to get a Les Paul, but Not sure (even after a test drive) as to which to get P90's or HB's? I have had a LP before that never stayed in tune, but I am on that quest.

    If money wasn't an issue, I'd get a Grosh Retro jet w/p90's and a les paul traditional. BUT, it is.

    So, I know that P90's have that spit and growl, but can they be warm and creamy as well? For those that use P90's extensively, let me know what ground they can cover.

    For me, I basically play 80's, 90's and 00's alt covers, with a dash of classic rock thrown in there. I don't see myself channelling Warren Hayes, but do see Mike Ness, Malcolm Young, Mike Mcreedy and to throw you a loop, Chris Isaak.

    Primarily don't play a lot of blues, but am learning to really appreciate it. don't do metal or Jazz really. If I noodle, I am playing open chords and experimenting from there up the fret board. Coming into a decent period of getting some lead chops.

    Thanks for the input!
     
  2. mangoman

    mangoman Silver Supporting Member

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    PS use mostly 6v6 amps if that makes a difference.
     
  3. kevinhifi

    kevinhifi Member

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    I find that the true beauty of a P90 comes in when you mix it in with other instruments or just other guitars - whether in a recording environment or a live environment. I happen to have a P90 in the middle position of my Les Paul that I use quite a bit on its own. I have a push-pull that lets me switch between it and a PAF-style humbucker in the neck position with about the same output. It's a decent comparison, and what I hear is the P90 loses a touch of the lower mids (the frequencies that people sometimes attribute to muddiness) and picks up a sparkle in the pick attack. If I pick lightly or fingerpick, the drop in the lower mids is more pronounced. If I pick heavily, the extra articulation and sparkle is more pronounced. That right there is an example of how I think the P90 is more responsive than the humbucker.

    In a band mix, it's that sparkle and articulation that really shines for rhythm playing. I can keep the volume down to let the vocals come through, and the high end articulation lets just enough through to give the song more drive and punch. For lead stuff, I'll usually switch to one of the humbuckers for more sustain and girth.
     
  4. choucas09

    choucas09 Member

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    One way of approaching this is to have a P90 neck and a coil split HB bridge. All the classic pup sounds plus interesting mixes P90/HB and P90/SC.
     
  5. kelvinator60

    kelvinator60 Member

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    P90s still have twang in them. There is no twang in a humbucker for the most part. (Gibson full sized ones that is. Filtertrons and mini hums have twang!!!)
     
  6. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    Being single coils, P-90s don't have the phasing issues that all humbuckers have.

    A humbucker bucks hum by having the two coils wired serially and 180 degrees out of phase with one another. This accomplishes what a balanced audio line does - it kills hum and noise. But since they're necessarily imperfect in terms of phase for various reasons, there is a slight loss of pick attack and crispness with buckers.

    A P-90 is like other single coils in that more of the pick attack is preserved, and there's a bit more clarity since nothing's out of phase. They're quite a bit hotter than Fender style single coils. So they can hit the preamp tubes a bit hotter, and this has its own benefits. With a 6V6 amp you might notice a bit less headroom, depending on how the amp's designed.

    If you roll off the tone and/or volume, P-90s can get nice and creamy.

    Because they're high output, they do make more noise than the lower output Fender style single coils. However, they can be wired out of phase with one another, so a pair can be switched to have both on and act like a humbucker relative to noise - this is how PRS does it with the McCarty soapbar, and the CU22 Soapbar (the only P-90 guitar in my experience that can quack like a Fender).

    I love the bright crispness of a good P-90 instrument.
     
  7. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    They can do pretty much anything a humbucker can do. They have pretty close to the same level of output, but where humbuckers tend to compress, P90s retain their clarity under higher gain.
     
  8. Kelsey

    Kelsey Member

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    I really like P90 bridge pickups, which can range from somewhat twangy to fully creamy, depending on pick attack, guitar volume setting, and amp settings. However, I don't like P90 neck pickups as much as I thought I would. My favorite neck pickup for tone and dynamic range is a Strat neck pickup, but I think I prefer a vintage-wind PAF-style HB at the neck more than a P90. There seems to be too much midrange and wooliness in P90 neck pickups for my tastes. The SD Phat Cats are an improvement in that respect IMHO, especially with a 25" or longer scale length. So, contrary to the current trend of instruments with a neck P90 and bridge HB, I'd prefer the reverse (or a mini-HB neck and P90 bridge). What I'd really like is Strat neck and middle pickups combined with a P90 bridge pickup. Obviously, YMMV.
     
  9. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Member

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    Regarding cutesy-poo gtr slang: "Hummbuggys"???!!? Really, must we?? Are we not men with hopefully at least a remaining ounce of manly pride??!?! I mean, I manage to force back the bile in my throat when I see "pups" as an abbreviation for pickups, not to mention "Gibby", "Lester", and the like, but I believe this is going too far. I already have an incident report into the Gtr Forum Linguistic Police and hoping for swift action!!
     
    specialkindofhell likes this.
  10. OM Flyer

    OM Flyer Member

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    Agreed. At least "pups" and "Gibby" serve as abbreviations. "Hummbuggys" and "humbuckers" have the same number of letters, fercryinoutloud! :bonk
     
  11. franksguitar

    franksguitar Member

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    [​IMG] P100's P90's without the 60 cycle hum, my 1990 Les Paul Special
     
  12. bluesjuke

    bluesjuke Disrespected Elder

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    But.....but.... how would you compare the two?
    LOL!

    Still playing the R4?
     
  13. bluesjuke

    bluesjuke Disrespected Elder

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    I love both but prefer the P-90'd LP over the humbuckered one (R6 & R8).

    The noise will greatly depend on the electrical system you are using and whether neons lights & the like are isolated from the circuit you are using.

    I'm fortunate in the house I live in and the guitar itself.

    My R6 is as quiet as anything else I've got and so far that's stayed true any other place I've played it so far as well.

    I love the creamy to bite response and anywhere in between I get from it.

    The middle position blending the two pus to taste is my favorite setting on it.
     
  14. Rick360

    Rick360 Member

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    Howdy,

    This topic comes up weekly. Perhaps the moderators would consider making this thread into a sticky? BTW, P-90s are my favorite P/U!
     
  15. Page Gedney

    Page Gedney Member

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    In my experimenting I found a P-90 to have the most bass of any pickup I tested making it an ideal choice for the bridge position because there is a very little bass at the bridge position and it needs all the help it can get there .. it is also quite bright and extremely high gain all of which make it an ideal pickup for the bridge ... with that said I found most of those characteristics work against the P-90 in the neck where I found it to be extremely boomy ... after extensive testing I found a fender single coil to be the best pickup for the neck position because 1) It's bright and the neck position needs help in the high frequencys and 2) It's low on bass response making it resistant to the huge quantities of bass in the neck, similar to using a sure 57 to mic a bass cabinet instead of a large diaphram condensor mic - sometimes smaller is better when there's tons of sound pressure..

    You can hear side by side comparison of Single Coil, P-90, Wide Range, Humbucker and Pearly Gates in bridge, middle and neck positions here ...

     
  16. rollyfoster

    rollyfoster Supporting Member

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    Bah humbug(gy)
     
  17. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Get humbuckers. I cant stand the middy nasal honk of P90s. Uggh!!!! :bitch

    Ymmv.
     

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