Humbuckers vs P90 – Which is the better pickup?

When it comes to the guitar’s sound and tone, pickups are important in producing them. Getting your guitar the right pickup helps make your sound better.

A pickup senses and converts your strings’ vibrations into electrical signals that it sends to your amplifier.

There are many pickups in the market to choose from with the Humbucker and P-90 pickups being the top choices.

What are the key differences between the Humbuckers and P-90 pickups?

Model

Humbuckers pickup

P90 pickup

Number of magnets
Two
One
Tone
Warm
Neutral
Humming
No humming with distortion
Less humming
Sound
Smoother
Gritty
Output power
Medium/Vintage
Medium-low
Availability

Humbuckers vs P90 – How do they compare?

Design

The two pickups share some similarities like their rectangular shape look when it comes to appearance.

However, the basic structure of the two pickups differs.

The Humbucker pickup looks like a large pickup enclosed in a metal covering with two coils and a single bar magnet under the two coils.

It also has two magnets which makes them twice as thick while the P90 pickup has a single magnet and a shorter and wider casing around it.

The P90 is surrounded by a translucent halo of harmonics that add shine and depth to its tone.

Sound

The magnetic arrangement and coil configuration give users different tonal qualities.

The Humbuckers medium/vintage output power gives it a more mellow and warmer tone, and are louder due to their dual magnet which reduces the humming during high gain while P90 pickups output power is medium-low and they have a deeper tone and volume and are less twangy.

The P90 is not able to cope with high gain like the humbuckers.

The Humbucker output power is strong enough to push any classic amp’s front end while maintaining clarity and definition.

Humbuckers have much cleaner sounds while the P90 pickups can be identified by their dirty and gritty sounds.

Humbuckers are ideal for high-gain music styles such as heavy rock and metal while P90s are very versatile and are great for blues and country music. They also can cope a bit better with rock music.

Humbucker pickup has a better sound than the P-90 pickup.

Humbuckers vs P90 Pickups – A Comparison Overview

Humbucker pickup Overview

Humbucker pickups contain two magnets. It derives its name ‘Hum-bucker’ from its dual magnetic design that is meant to reduce the humming found at high gain.

They have a higher output and their tone is warmer and more mellow and are good at handling distortion with less interference.

They are well suited for music genres such as heavy rock and metal but are not commonly used for country music.

Guitars like the Gibson SG and Les Paul as well as Jackson, ESP, and Ibanez use them.

The Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates, Seymour Duncan Dimebucker among others are some of the best Humbucker pickups.

Pros

  • Higher volume
  • No humming with high gain

Cons

  • It’s too mellow for clean tones sometimes

 

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P90 pickup Overview

P90 pickups are less commonly used compared to Humbuckers and they have a single magnet like the single-coil pickups and have a wider and shorter bobbin.

P90’s act as a bridge between Humbuckers and single coils giving you the best from both environments.

This gives them a high output capability and their humming suffer from the high gain as compared to Humbuckers. P90s offer versatility when it comes to the style of music.

They are great for blues and country music and can also cope with rock music due to the higher output but can be used for heavy-like metal. They’re mostly found in both classic and modern guitars such as Chapman, SGs, and Teles.

P90s come in either dog-ear, soap bar, or humbucker sized casing.

Some of the best P90 pickups include the Seymour Duncan Phat cat, Seymour Duncan Vintage P90, DiMarzio Bluesbucker among others.

Pros

  • Have a balanced sound
  • Humming is less compared to single coils

Cons

  • Humming issue
  • Rarely used

 

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Final verdict: So, which is better, Humbuckers or P90 Pickups?

The Humbuckers or P90 pickups are both great in their one unique way and work best with different music genres.

If the tone you’re looking for is punchier, brighter, and has a taste of vintage sound, then the P90 pickup would be ideal.

The Humbucker is great for a dark tone.

However, both pickups are also versatile to some extent.

Whichever you pick, you are guaranteed clarity, intense power, and high sound quality.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use both the Humbucker and P90 pickup on the same guitar?

Yes.

Different pickups can be used to give different tone options on the same guitar.

What should I consider when installing a P90 pickup on my guitar?

You should consider the pickups you already have installed on your guitar.

Guitars with single-coils need a lot of modification to accommodate a P90 as they take up a lot of space while P90 pickups can fit well on a guitar with Humbuckers.

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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