How does a P-90 work?

Installing a new pair of the best P-90 pickups on your previously owned guitar can work quite well towards getting you better power, a more professional sound or a whole new tone that can entirely change your guitar plating experience.

Are you wondering how you can choose the correct guitar pickups for your desired tones? Well, you have come to the right place.

Before choosing which pickup to choose, you would need to understand that whichever pickup you choose to use on your guitar should always align with your individual preferences.

At the same time, you should always evaluate the tones you would like to achieve before changing the pickup on your guitar.

There are 3 types of guitar pickups, that is, the single coil, the humbuckers and the P-90.

This is how these pickups work –

All these work by using a single copper wire to wrap around a magnet and create a magnetic field which allows a magnetic current to flow on the strings.

The magnetic field created then induces a current in the pickup in your guitar which you can afterwards amplify.

The magnets in your electric guitar are either man-made ceramic or alnico.

In addition to that, pickups that have magnets with higher strengths often have a much higher output.

They all sound different because the multiple copper windings can either be roughly hand-wound or uniform in number thus causing variations in coil resistance levels.

Should I change the pickups on my guitar?

There comes a time in your musical journey when you would want to change the sound that your guitar produces and you may always consider purchasing a new one.

Purchasing a new guitar may genuinely end up breaking your bank. However, you can always swap the pickups to enhance the quality of your music as it is a less expensive option and could even give you much better results that what you previously intended.

Generally, changing the pickup on your guitar largely depends on whether you are comfortable which what your guitar feels and looks like.

Pickups have the potential to solve most issues on your guitar such as your ax, whether there is too much noise and it has the potential to bring you more guitar power, a whole new tone and a more professional sound.

Technically, modern day guitars feature powerful pickups which largely influence the quality of the sound that they produce.

The best thing is that you can always swap the most important pieces on your guitar and entirely enjoy an immersive sound similar to those produced by a newer and more advanced musical instrument.

What are P-90 pickups and how do they work?

P-90 pickups, designed to ensure that you are able to enjoy a more immersive sound experience, were created by Gibson as a subtle alternative to the common single-coil tapers.

The Gibson brand introduced the P-90 pickups into the music industry in 1946 and they became a standard for almost all the guitars they manufactured years to come.

The P-90 pickups debuted on the Gibson Les Paul model and eventually it became a staple for classic rock music.

The P-90 pickups are relatively large and flat coils that come with a flat Alnico bar magnet underneath the coil, instead of the ordinary magnetic pole pieces. The result of this particular device is a raw and growly sound which is quite versatile and unique.

When compared to the single-coil tapers, we can establish that it delivers less noise and it can work as an ideal middle ground between the two pickup types.

Overall, you should expect a chunky and beefy sound similar to those of a humbucker but one with a lot more clarity and space. In as much so, the p-90 pickups cannot exactly reach the levels of power that humbuckers can.

They represent a seamless tonal blend between the one-coil and humbuckers that result in a bright, warm and thick tone.

It has an edgy output on distortion which makes it the most ideal pickup for hard rock, alternative rock, grunge, punk and post-grunge. So, if you own any rhythm guitars of any of these genres, they would thrive with the P-90 pickups.

When you put your guitar through higher levels of distortion or gain, you will realize that the P-90 pickups lose bass response and end up being very thin and brittle.

The P-90 pickups work perfectly for R&B, soul, jazz and country among other genres and when you choose to put it through tube or overdrive amps, you will realize that they produce fiery sounds that blend seamlessly into classic rock, the blues and rock and roll music genres.

All in all, the P-90 pickups resemble humbuckers and they fit in single coil or humbucker cavities.

A Summary Table

Music Genres
On distortion
hard rock, alternative rock, grunge, punk and post-grunge
On clean
R&B, soul, jazz and country
With an overdriven or tube amp
classic rock, the blues and rock and roll

What should you look for in P-90 pickups?

Generally, your choice to purchase a P-90 pickup for your guitar entirely depends on your budget.

If you are trying to update or upgrade your sound, you would need to seek one that works for your guitar. If you are replacing damaged or broken pickups, you would need to look for reliable brands.

Also, you should always go for the exact kind of pickups that you are changing, that is, a single-coil for a single coil or a humbucker for a humbucker.

If you would like to achieve vintage sounds on your guitar, you can always look up alternatives or pick up designs. If you are looking for modern sounds, you would need to look for modern pickups because they are more noiseless and much cleaner.

In addition to that, you need to always evaluate your desired output.

Your desired output, in this case, means how much distortion/gain you would want to achieve before any amplification. Also, you may want to look into wax-potted bars which are entirely protected from feedback, but that’s only after you have analyzed whether feedback is something you’d or if the feedback is something you would want to use.

What are the disadvantages of the P-90 pickups?

P-90 pickups do not sound the very best with ultra- high distortion. Unfortunately, they start to sound too thin and brittle and they have a very loose bass response that cannot allow you to play any style of metal.

When compared to single coil pickups, you will notice an annoying hum and you will realize that they are unable to cancel their own noise properly.

This ultimately means that if you are heavily invested in playing any form of metal, you would rather go for guitars with the humbucker pickups.

Final Thoughts

P-90 pickups are unique, high performing and versatile enough to accommodate all your sound needs and satisfy your personal preferences. They are capable of playing most music genres including the blues, R&B, jazz and rock among others and would definitely be a great addition to your music gear.

With the P-90 pickup, you have a guarantee of a more professional tone, better articulation and a more immersive sound experience. In addition to that, you would definitely enjoy a vintage vibe.


Can I put humbuckers in my p-90 guitar?

Unfortunately not. A humbucker cannot fit into a P-90 route but if you really need to do this, you would need to try out a longer router or use something different that fits.

Are P-90 pickups ideal for blues?

Yes, they are.

Cooper Green

Music we must say is complex but according to Cooper Green, with the right information creating good music is a breeze. Guitars are a single aspect in the complex world of music but which play a major role, the problem however, lies in finding the right guitar for the relevant application. There are so many brands of guitars, each of which are differently configured but offer the best sounds. Cooper has been in the music industry for over 10 years, he recently started interacting with enthusiasts in the various platforms and therefore, shares his knowledge on music in general and specifically on guitars. And with the markets now flooded with knockoffs, among his missions is to help upcoming musicians get good quality music instruments or guitars.

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