$vboptions[bbtitle]

what defines the P90 sound?

appar111
June 29th, 2006, 03:11 PM
Can someone explain the characteristic sound of the P90? I'd like to know how it differs from something like an overwound strat or tele pickup, or a low output humbucker. Is there a standard output level for a P90 in relation to a stock strat, tele or PAF pickup? Also, do P90's hum as bad as regular single coils typically do?

With all the talk of strat and tele size pickups designed to emulate the sound of a P90, it makes one ask the question: what is it that defines the "P90 sound"?

BB
June 29th, 2006, 05:29 PM
Tone is so hard to describe....one hears the terms "girth", "meaty", "fat", etc associated with P-90's. While all that is true when played with overdrive, the inherent clean tone of a good P-90 is what makes them among my favorite pickups.

They seem to be more harmonically complex than other pickups. For me, P-90's are very articulate and translate subtle playing nuances other pickups don't.

Check out T-Bone Walker, Gatemouth Brown, Early Pete Townsend, Leroy Parnell, Hubert Sumlin, Freddie King, Leslie West, Grant Green, Beatles, etc for P-90 tones.....both clean and driven.

As far as hum, depends on the pickup. The P-90's on my 57 Les Pauls Special were very noisy. The Lollars ( and to a lesser extent, Gotohs ) I used were much more quiet. Most makers today produce P-90's that are humbucking in the dual pickup mode.

Mark Davis
June 29th, 2006, 07:01 PM
The song Mississippi Queen is a P-90. Thats all you need to know they are killer.

onceagriffon
June 29th, 2006, 08:46 PM
If you have heard any of Social Distortions work a lot of that is P-90 loaded Les Pauls and Les Paul Jrs. Green Days American Idiot has a lot of LP Jrs with P-90s. I saw them live, the opening riff from that song is Billie Joe screaming with those P-90s awesome sound, I was surprised how good they were live!
Rob

fezz parka
June 29th, 2006, 09:03 PM
Depends on the guitar it's in. They sound different in an ES5 than they do in a SG Jr...

maestrovert
June 29th, 2006, 09:16 PM
like most any Pup, they can be great or they can be so so.....depends on the guitar they're in, and upon the amp you're playing them through....
the "Duncan designed" P90s in this guitar that i got for my brother were absolutely killer into my old Princeton, but didn't seem to fare as well with a JC90, or my Twin for that matter....

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g189/maestrovert/Espec300-1-1.jpg

onceagriffon
June 30th, 2006, 02:38 PM
There is a shop I go to for parts that has a Strat with P-90s in it, I haven't hearrd it but it just looks wrong, ugly yuck.....
Rob

The Amazing Phil
July 2nd, 2006, 06:50 PM
P-90s are great pickups, I got a '67 SG junior and it sounds pretty good clean, but amazing when I 11 it. I played a double cut thinline with Seymour Duncan P-90s in and it sounded pretty good too, if a little muddy. But generally, if you get a good soapbar/dogear pickup you're sorted. I'd steer clear of soapbars on Epiphones or other budget guitars since they will be very noisey and I think the quality difference between pickups notices more with this style. Maybe it's the fact they're single coil but have an output comporable to a humbucker? I must admit they don't have a reputation for being quiet, but I was never unduly concernedover noise.

J-man
July 2nd, 2006, 06:53 PM
I love P90's, best way to describe them is halfway between Single Coils and Humbuckers.

I know it's not a very specific answer but that's always what I hear when I play them.:lol:

Sunburst Island
July 2nd, 2006, 08:47 PM
:arrow: "what defines the P90 sound?"

It may not be too helpful, but honestly ... my '61 Les Paul TV Special, in spades.

TexGoneNW
July 2nd, 2006, 09:07 PM
I kind of gravitate to P90's. Lots of good stuff on previous posts, but I'll add my spin.

As gain vs. proximity to string go, I find Strats to be weakest, and Teles almost right up there with P90's, but the peak on the harmonic response on the P90's, to my ear, is about a half to 2/3 of an octave lower than the Tele.

I can approximate a P90 on my '71 Tele by rolling off the highs a little bit and using a clean boost, but I haven't been able to do that with my other Tele's.

bwanasonic
July 3rd, 2006, 01:42 AM
I can approximate a P90 on my '71 Tele by rolling off the highs a little bit and using a clean boost, but I haven't been able to do that with my other Tele's.

Does the '71 have the same value pots as your other Teles?

Kerry M

RockinCarl
July 3rd, 2006, 01:45 AM
I just did a gig tonight with P-90s.

All I have to say is they sound good. :shock:

Telenator
July 3rd, 2006, 07:20 AM
The song Mississippi Queen is a P-90. Thats all you need to know they are killer.

Great example.

So is "Theme For an Imaginery Western" on the album Climbing! by Mountain.


For clean P90/Les Paul tone "Old Judge Jones" and "What's it Gonna Be?" off of Les Dudek's album "Say No More" is a great example of classic P90 tone.

You'll find some sound clips at http://www.lesdudek.com

weelie
July 3rd, 2006, 09:04 AM
The song Mississippi Queen is a P-90. Thats all you need to know they are killer.

Never heard the song, but gladly I was able to find it on allmusic, to figure out that the band performing it is called Mountain.

The Amazing Phil
July 3rd, 2006, 11:55 AM
Also, probably the best known example that just popped into my head...

"Another Brick in the Wall pt II" is done on the neck P-90 of a '56 Les Paul with a Bigsby Bridge that David Gilmour has, fantastic sound.

JohnnyCrash
July 3rd, 2006, 12:29 PM
I love P90's, best way to describe them is halfway between Single Coils and Humbuckers.

I know it's not a very specific answer but that's always what I hear when I play them.:lol:


That sort of describes it.

They do have hum like all single coils, no different kind of hum than other single coils.

The sound a tad more brighter than humbuckers, but a lot meatier and fat than single coils.

The upper mids seems to be a lot more present to me as well.

For cleans they're not thin or shrill, but warm (and still bright). For dirty stuff they always seem to "bark" or "grunt". Like an angry pitbull. It's beautiful :)

I use my Tele 33%
My P90 LP Jr 45%
My '57 RI LP 22%

As you can see from this pie chart...

HAHAHAHA

teleman65
July 4th, 2006, 12:54 AM
Carlos Santana used a P90 equipped guitar early on from the clips I've seen.
I have an Ibanez Talman with P90s and I love the sound. It's full sounding yet clear.
As far as noise issues go, P90s are as noisy as any other single coil. You can alleviate some of the noise by properly sheilding your guitar.

poke
July 6th, 2006, 09:21 AM
Who "Live at Leeds" is a defining p90 sound imo. Martin Barre's solo on "Aqualung" would be another.

AC30
July 6th, 2006, 09:57 PM
Listen to any STP CD and you'll hear his 1957 LP Special. He's able to coax magical tones out of that instrument! Some of the most amazing P-90 utterances ever heard!!

DAVID KORNBLATT
July 9th, 2006, 02:49 AM
i second the aqualung utterance

refin
July 10th, 2006, 11:56 PM
Most of the signature tones for a P-90 have been listed already--Mountain (Mississippi Queen,Theme For An Imaginary Western-)Les Dudek(Old Judge Jones) Martin Barre (actually,the whole Aqualung album) The Who (Live At Leeds---a treasure chest of tones!).
Other honorable mentions would be "Sweet Jane"(live version) by Lou Reed with Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner....a Jr and a Special.Actually,anything by Mountain,like "Never In My Life" and "Nantucket Sleighride".

eggman
July 16th, 2006, 05:36 AM
Howdy,

P-90's are so satisfying tonally. They've got the meat of a humbucker and the clarity of a Fender single coil, well almost. Two songs that stand out are Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" and "Get Off My Cloud" by the Rolling Stones. Both were done on hollow Gibsons and treat the listener to classic P-90 warmth and soul.
Listen to "Midnight Rambler" by the 'Stones, anything by George Thorogood and play soem for yourself. They're a blast!

Eggman

Tele295
July 16th, 2006, 02:46 PM
Scotty Moore on all Elvis' Sun recordings

RockinCarl
July 16th, 2006, 06:08 PM
Scotty Moore on all Elvis' Sun recordings

+1

Also when Danny Gatton used his ES350 on Austin City Limits...

karmadave
July 17th, 2006, 03:50 PM
Most of Freddie King's early '60s hits were recorded on a Les Paul Goltop w/P90's. This was before he switched to ES style guitars, with humbuckers in the 1960s. This was my first exposure to FK:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000009HV/qid=1153165776/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_4/102-1270278-4901721?s=music&v=glance&n=5174

It just doesn't get any better than this!

-KD

Sarge
July 21st, 2006, 09:00 AM
Yea, definately Leslie West of Mountain...I was listening to "Twin Peaks" the other day and the man and that lil' LP Junior/Special is just fantastic...the tone he gets out of that guitar. Some really great Classic Rock!

professor
July 21st, 2006, 09:24 AM
The fact that you can mention Leslie West and Grant Green in the same sentence is a tribute to the sheer sonic versatility of the P90.

They are my favorite pickup in the world.

That said, there are so many variations between P90s, especially in vintage ones. They all sound great, but they can differ wildly from one to the next.

Still, I'd take a mediocre P90 over most ANY humbucher out there.

PhatBoy
July 22nd, 2006, 10:44 AM
That said, there are so many variations between P90s, especially in vintage ones. They all sound great, but they can differ wildly from one to the next..

Professor, care to elaborate? I have an inquiring mind.....

PB :cool: :cool: :cool:

The Amazing Phil
July 23rd, 2006, 12:21 PM
Professor, care to elaborate? I have an inquiring mind.....

PB :cool: :cool: :cool:

I think it's the same as old PAFs not always having the same ammount of windings because there was no automatic cut-off on the winding machines back then, it was just a case of "stop winding there-ish". As a result some may have a smokey jazzy underwound kind of sound, where as others (like my junior) will have a suprising ammount of grunt. The spec may have changed slightly over time too, I'm pretty sure P-90s are the oldest magnetic pickups going, except maybe for the hexagon pickups that became assosciated with Charlie Christian. I wouldn't mind trying one of those out in the neck position of something some day...

Geo
July 23rd, 2006, 06:20 PM
Joe Walsh used a single P90 SG on the James Gang "Rides Again" LP
Robin Trower used a P90 Goldtop on the early Procol Harum LPs.
Kim Simmons used a single P90 Les Paul some.

One would expect P90s to be hot output stock but ones
in the historic reissues are right around 8k. Guess the
"Henries" come into play?

The ones in my '94 R6 sound really good and are remarkably
quiet. They really do sound different but always good if set
right in different types of bodies.

do not be afraid
July 23rd, 2006, 10:14 PM
to me, p-90s sound like gibson humbuckers, but good. or, at least, that's the best description i can think of.

or, how about this:

p-90s sound like gibson humbuckers, with more growl, sparkle, jangle, quack, twang, etc.

or, to resort to the old cliche:

p-90s sound like gibson humbuckers crossed with fender single-coils.

but i guess that's all the same thing, really. the first one said it best, though, i think.

GUITARmole
July 23rd, 2006, 10:43 PM
to me, p-90s sound like gibson humbuckers, but good. or, at least, that's the best description i can think of.

.

How about Gibson humbuckers sound like P90s...with bad wiring and a blanket over the speaker.

do not be afraid
July 23rd, 2006, 10:48 PM
How about Gibson humbuckers sound like P90s...with bad wiring and a blanket over the speaker.

i suppose that's better considering that p-90s did come first, but, my description is simpler and easier to remember.

Geo
July 24th, 2006, 07:56 PM
Well humbucking pickups generally have a little compression
in their design and P90s seem to not and maybe just work
an amp into a similar but not quite same thing.
I really like the sound of both so would have to flip a coin
but for certain type things might choose one over the other.

PdL
July 24th, 2006, 11:25 PM
I have a few folks mention that P-90's can be noisey. What "noise" would they be refering to - a hum like you sometimes get with a single coil pup? Are there certain P-90 pups or certain guitars when equipped with P-90's that are less susceptible to this noise isuse?

stephent2
July 25th, 2006, 12:23 AM
60 cycle hum, worse than a fender sized single coil. I'd guess because there is a wider magnetic field on a P90 it makes for a better antenna.