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Why Are P-90 Pick-ups not popular?

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(@rparker)
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Joined: 20 years ago
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It seems like 29 out of 30 guitars either have humbuckers or single coil configs. Most manufactures throw in an occasional model with p-90s. I do have a set in my cheapo-beater guitar. There seems to be a clear fullness to them. The tone is out there like a Humbucker, but not muddy. Clear like single coils, but not thin, weak or too twangy. they've turned a guitar I never used and could not even get rid of cheaply into a guitar that I'd be proud to play along side some of my GN peeps.

I also played a set in a Casino on sunday at Sam Ash. If so much else about the guitar didn't seem so cheap, I might have gone with it. It's got maybe the second best bridge tone I've heard for clean playing.

I probably know the answer already. Not main-stream enough, I guess. Not me. I might turn my Ibanez GAX-70 into a solid body Jazz box. It's shapped a little bit like a 335. Nice and wide, but not quite as big. Maybe put some p-90s and some flat wounds on it and see how she takes to 'em.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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(@gnease)
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because they are among the among most susceptible to hum -- lots of windings. this makes them unsuitable for high gain playing. fewer windings with stronger magnets (a la Strat) is less susceptible.

many feel the punchy, raw midrange-heavy tone of the P90 is great, and much more biting, nasty and 'alive' than humbuckers. (count me in on that). P90 purists do not like the humbucking versions of the P90 (e.g., P91)

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@rparker)
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Topic starter  

I wonder if I don't get that hum because I don't crank it up right now. Mine has less hum that the Telecasters. (MIM and Squire both)

Well, regardless, I'm becoming a fan each time I pick up the beater. Especially on the Blues Deluxe RI amp. It really reacts well to them.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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(@gnease)
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there's more than one way to pick up hum. P90s are more susceptible than smaller coil pups to sources of magnetic field interference: power transformers, currents in house wiring, motors, florescent ballast transformers, if the source is predominantly electric field -- florescent discharge, neon lamps, CRTs -- then the hum resistance depends upon the guitar/pup shielding. some P90s are shielded against electric field interference, e.g., chromed covers on Epi Casino P90s, whereas Tele bridge pups are almost never shielded.

enjoy 'em, Roy. along with your Gretsch, you've got a whole new set of cool electric sounds.

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@rahul)
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Not Popular eh ??

They are quite popular in Punk Music. The current Green Day 'sound' is all P90s of Gibson LP Junior or its countless variants, but they all are no-frills one single coil guitars.

Check out '21st Century Breakdown' for some P-90 bite. :twisted:


   
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(@rparker)
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enjoy 'em, Roy. along with your Gretsch, you've got a whole new set of cool electric sounds.

I just added another element to the collection. Some .11 flat wounds on my Ibanez GAX-70. I can actually play a little harder and still get that Jazzy tone. Quite a wierd feeling. A lot less of that scratch when I move barre chords too. Toys are fun! Well, time occupying in the least.
Not Popular eh ?? ........

Hey, it's Rahul! Been in school or something? Nice to see ya!

I've seen or heard of a few big names that do or have played them. It's just so much less than the two big ones (HBs and SCs), especially at the guitar stores.

I like Green Day. Sometimes less is more. I bet I'd enjoy their show. Three guys just belting out tunes. 8)

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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(@mahal)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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Perhaps another element is marketing. In all the beginner guitar articles on choosing a guitar you read get a Strat or single coil style or get a LP or Humbucker style. Some get real inventive and suggest a HSS guitar. Notice no mention of P90s yet. I guess when people buy their second and third guitars then more are bought. But then I am guessing that a lot more beginners guitars are bought that stay in the closet or under the bed then there are guitars bought to be the third or so guitar that actually gets played.


   
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(@gnease)
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few seem to realize that the P90 is the Gibson single coil. Gibby has made other SC pups (psst ... wanna buy a Marauder?), but the P90 is the one with character: early LP Goldtop (and cool reissues), LP Junior, early SG (e.g., Pete Townshend version), SG Junior, Blueshawk, ES-125 and other hollows, Epi Casino and more. the P90 is also a favorite adopted by Hamer, Reverend and many boutique makers such as Fano. even budget lines such as the popular Agile have a models sporting P90s. P90s are all over the place if one knows where to look.

the only other Gibby single coil that has any sort of following is the so-called "Charlie Christian" pickup on the ES-150.

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@citizennoir)
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That's a pic of my old 60's (66?) Gibbo SG Special that I grabbed this last Xmas at Uncle Bobby's house.

I really didn't care for the P90's at all.
Or maybe it was just the guitar.... not sure.
I do remember thinking that the pups didn't quite do the job! :P
Sorry.

It was a VERY dark sounding guitar.
Was mostly all bottom to Low-Mid at best.
I used to try strumming it really hard on the high strings trying to get ANY kind of highs out of it - to no avail.
Maybe I was too used to the Fender sound.... I dunno.
It just seemed to fall on its face more often than not to me though.

It did do a fairly reasonable 'Cream' tone :D
Other than that, I thought it pretty useless.

I did get to play it thru Uncle Bobby's Fender Twin Reverb with a Tube Screamer a few years back, and it sounded a bit more responsive than I remember.... Still, if that's what it takes :roll:

That's really my only run in with P90's.... Other than walking away from buying a REAL 56 Gibbo Goldtop for 500 bucks because it had P90's and I already had this SG! :shock:

Kids!

Ken

"The man who has begun to live more seriously within
begins to live more simply without"
-Ernest Hemingway

"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"
-Orson Welles


   
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(@rparker)
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Topic starter  

Wow. "VERY dark" and "Gibson SG" are usually not in the same sentence. I wonder. What do pick-ups sound like with age before needing re-wounding? Is this it?

I didn't know that P90s were Gibson's single coil effort. You sure can find them around, but you're right. You have to look.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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(@gabba-gabba-hey)
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To me, George Thorogood has the definitive P-90 sound:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7VsoxT_FUY

That guitar growls with those pickups. 8)


   
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(@gnease)
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P90s are really more than just Gibson's SC effort, Roy. they were Gibby's main pup before the humbucker went mainstream.

Ken: do you like humbuckers? because 'buckers are usually considered tame and muted compared to P90s. of course def not Fender single coils (glassy, chimey), but more thick and raw and harmonically rich. though last time I played my Reverend Slingshot (dual P90s), I was told it sounded like a Tele. I don't really think so -- but go figure. maybe it's my fingers. :wink:

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@trguitar)
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I have P90's on my Agile GoldTop. I like the sound alot. Need to drag it out and play it. I think they are closer to a humbucker han a Fender style single coil, probably cause of the windings, but I do like the sound. Humbuckers are my favorite though. Thought of putting minihumbuckers on that guitar and then thought, you bought it to have a guitar with P90's fool! :lol: I agree, they are more raunchy with more bite.

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


   
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(@gnease)
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TR -- one P90 and one minibucker would be a good combo. minibucker in neck position probably.

OTOH, a goldtop with P90s should be a great axe as is! probably the only LP other than a Junior I would consider buying

my Eastwood Ichiban has minibuckers -- a bit clearer and less beefy than a full size 'bucker. it's a mahogany body with bolt-on maple neck and has a "surf trem." so all that probably contributes to the clearer twang vibe as well as the minis.

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@citizennoir)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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Roy: The guitar was only 25 yrs old when I first bought it.
I remember Uncle Bobby speculating that the pups may have indeed, 'wore out' though.
And, for sure - AlNiCo magnets do lose power over time.
Still, I have the 71 Strat with original pups and they sound better than ever after some 38 or so years.
And it was/is a VERY dark sounding guitar.
My cousin borrowed it for a couple years.... he was playing in a Death Metal band at the time; He LOVED it! :P
My band, on the other hand, banned me from playing it! lol.
Don't know what the problem is.... it was also very ONE dimensional in sound.
Kinda flat. I always figured I was just expecting too much after hearing the sparkling, muli-faceted sound of a Strat for so long.

Greg: I REALLY LOVE the sound of HB's.... as long as I'm not the one playing with 'em! LOL!
I've never really enjoyed playing HB equiped guitars.... some have seemed TOO sensitive, while others have seemed
too 'mushy'. Again, I attributed that to the Strat.

I know that (one of my all time favorite guitar players) Danny Kirwan favored P90's.... Perhaps I'll have to give them another try.
I've always been really attracted to the Gibbo Les Paul Special DC :

Ken

"The man who has begun to live more seriously within
begins to live more simply without"
-Ernest Hemingway

"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"
-Orson Welles


   
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