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Battle of Humbucker-P90s - GFS or Bootstrap or...

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Magic Miles, Mar 6, 2020.

  1. Magic Miles

    Magic Miles NEW MEMBER!

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    Hi all, looking to join the P90 club by throwing some of the humbucker-sized P90s in my Epi Les Paul and want to explore the options that are out there.

    Disregarding your opinion of whether or not these humbucker-sized P90s are a good comparison to true P90s (because that's not an option for me right now), I'm wondering if anyone has compared these two specific models and have any opinions about them? What are the main differences in build quality and tone? Also, if there are any other humbucker-sized P90s you could recommend, throw those in the mix!

    1. Bootstrap Skookum-90 Mean
    2. GFS Mean 90

    (Disclaimer: Would I like to get a nice Gibson with P90s already in it? Yes. Can I afford that? No. Also, I'm looking to experiment with my ****ty guitars and learn a thing along the way, so this is one of my first steps.)

    P.S. This is my first post and I'm fairly new to the DIY game (as well as trying to understand my guitars better in general) - ready to be swayed by your opinions! Sway me, don't slay me!
     
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  2. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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  3. J-fish

    J-fish Tele-Meister

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    Just my 2 cents, I have a set of Tonerider Rebel 90 since November. I like them a lot, however, even if you don't mind, they aren't really P90 tonally.. More PAF like response, but with that single coil, in your face, dry tone
     
  4. bettyseldest

    bettyseldest Friend of Leo's

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    Welcome to TDPRI, I can't help you with humbucker sized P90s but I'm sure someone will come along who can help.
     
  5. El Marin

    El Marin Friend of Leo's

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    I went that path 10 years ago... I went P94 and Phat cat


    Now I have a P90's Les Paul... looking back I should tell you: Get a P90s Les Paul, route yours for P90s but those humbucker sized P90s has only the name related to real P90s. Not similar to a P90 in NO way.

    My advice could go further, I had LP Juniors and LP Specials, even a SG Junior adn a Special too... Get a real LP with a maple top

    [​IMG]

    I just keep The LP


    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    This is a GFS bucker-size P90. The only thing standing between me & completion of the project is time & a decision on how to wire it. 20200218_074130.jpg
     
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  7. stax

    stax Tele-Afflicted

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    My 2 main gigging guitars (Washburn J9''s) both have had the buckers removed, one has a pair of Phat cats the other GFS Dream 90's, I like them equally although I prefer the price of the Dreams.
     
  8. jackal

    jackal Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    I really like the Railhammer P-90s. Humbucker sized. Not cheap, but a really nice pickup.
     
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  9. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    .

    This MIJ LP has a GFS Mean 90 in the bridge. It was a little on the muddy side and I had to match pots and caps with it (higher measured kohm volume pot, lower uF tone cap) to bring it back. Raising the screw poles on the bridge P90 an eighth inch, keeping them level to each other for a little natural mid scoop by not following the arc of the strings, improves the overall tone too.

    I have not tried the Bootstrap version, but I believe they are hand winding so the probability of getting a lower capacitance pickup is better. But with selecting $5-$10 in control parts you can push any pickup around.

    The neck single coil is a GFS clone of a Dynasonic. The little pole adjustment screws are in there just for looks and don't move the pole pieces which is a tad cheesy. However, the pair work well with the switch in the middle parallel position. The neck pickup does well for cleans.

    If you are on a budget, I'd get a P90 bridge pickup and then even an inexpensive Strat neck pickup with a ceramic bar magnet, and wire those for hum canceling in the middle position.
    The Strat pickup has a great tone for cleans, the P90 for raunchy bar room brawls. You can see how I fit an extra plate in the Strat bridge pickup to give a reverse Hendrix angle, it's also wired with an Armstrong Blender to go from SSS to HSH. So if you have an HH body you are building up now, just make a similar plate for yours. Or just build your LP style guitar with a P90 bridge with one or two knobs into a fire breathing Junior.


    [​IMG]


    Keep an eye out for an Epiphone Special P90 or even the humbucker style Special II to mod. They will likely still be found under $50 to $100 used for a year or two but since they were discontinued and replaced by $400+ models the price of the Specials will likely go up a lot. A full size P90 is "more better" but even a poor example of a humbucker-sized P90 is still what a humbucker wishes it could be.

    .
     
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  10. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

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  11. pcampbell

    pcampbell Tele-Holic

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    Seymour Duncan Phat Cats are humbucker size P90s. I had a set of those in an Ibanez AS73 (the only trade-in that I still miss). Those pickups had a lot of versatility.
     
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  12. Gclef

    Gclef TDPRI Member

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    I have a set of tonerider rebel 90s in my as73g and actual p90s in my yamaha revstar.

    The rebels are p90esque at best. As are most h sized versions.

    I do like them though.

    They dont have the saturation that humbuckers get in the mids.
    They are just as loud, but are more of a cross between a strat pickup and a humbucker, compared to a true p90.

    I go thru phases where I like p90 types, single coils, low output buckets, and high output ones.

    This week I am all about dimarzio highoutput pickups into lowgain pedals.
    A dactivator through a spongy feeling pedal is a cool sound!
     
  13. Dan German

    Dan German Doctor of Teleocity

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    I have had good results with GFS pickups, but haven’t tried the Mean 90. I have tried the Bootstrap Skookum Mean, though, and I am very happy with the results. I also like the idea of “cheap import pricing” for “actually made by the guy you talk to.” I have previously had other P90 guitars (Epi LP, Squier Custom Tele II), but never when I could compare back to back. All I know is that I was looking for something snarlier than what I have now, and I got it. If you’re on a budget, you’re not going to be able to compare sets, and you’ll have to roll the dice at some point; if the dice roll comes up Bootstrap, I don’t think you’ll be unhappy.

    (For the record, the Skookum Mean cleans up better than I thought it would, so it covers a fair bit of ground.)
     
  14. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    These kinds of pickups are about as close to a P90 tone as a Tele neck pickup sounds compared to a Strat neck pickup: they both make sound, but the shape of their tone is different because of their differences in size (coil and magnets, etc.).

    A P90 sounds the way it does due to the flat, wide coil, as well as its length: there's a lot of coil wire that extends beyond both E strings. The standard humbucker package does not allow that.

    Despite all this "it's no P90" hate speech, I like these pickups for what they are. I have a Mean 90 on the neck position of a Reverend Volcano H90 (it was stock equipment in the guitar), and I have a pair of Phat Cats in a Les Paul. They sound great: somewhere between a P90 and a humbucker.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2020
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  15. Andy B

    Andy B Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    DiMarzio Bluesbuckers!
     
  16. CavalierX

    CavalierX TDPRI Member

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    A short note in Praise of the FLEOR Soapbar AlNiCo P90s off Amazon. I installed one of these into a Bullet Tele Neck and it sounds great and cost less than $20. I also have a Dillion Goldtop Lawsuit LP with Stephen Design Hand Wound P90s and it sounds great too (I bought it used from a guy that dropped over $400 having the custom set made and installed in the Dillion) but those Boutique pickups do not sound $200 better than the sub $20 FLEOR. Its crazy....
     
  17. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    I haven't tried their bucker-sized P90s but I have the Vintage Alnico P90 in the neck of my partscaster and I've been very satisfied with it.
     
  18. Poorman512

    Poorman512 TDPRI Member

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    I love my mean 90s in my blacktop tele. Ballsy and still twangy. I have no use for humbuckers anymore.
     
  19. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    Nice!
    Do the mean 90 and surf 90 work well together?
     
  20. Speedy454

    Speedy454 Tele-Holic

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    The GFS Dream 90's use a strat sized bobbin and ceramic magnets. Although they sound pretty good, they are very sensitive to installed height and can be shrill at times. I really hear my pick with these. Not a P90 sound to me. Not bad but not a P90.

    The GFS Mean 90s use a rectangular bobbin and dual Alnico magnets. These sound pretty good, but still not a P90.

    The Tonerider Rebel 90 is comparable to the GFS Mean 90 in construction and sound. One uses A-5 the other uses A-II.
    Seems to me I tore into both of them and did a butcher job making both of them a combination of A-5 and A-2.
    I don't think it made a huge difference in sound, so I left them like that. Build quality of the GFS was slightly better than the Tonerider, which surprised me. Not that the GFS was built great, but that the Tonerider was built that poorly. Seems like the wax potting was about all that was holding stuff together on the Tonerider.

    The DiMarzio Bluesbucker is an interesting pickup. It looks like a conventional humbucker. One coil is wound pretty full, the other one has just enough windings to make it Hum Bucking. It also uses a ceramic magnet.
    With one coil wound pretty hot, it does split well with no loss of output. Also with one coil doing all of the work, they are very directional. Positioning the screw coil towards the bridge or neck makes a big difference in where on the string it senses vibration. I find mine a little more pleasant with the neck pickup facing the bridge and the bridge pickup facing the neck. Opposite of the way most dual HB guitars are set up. But being ceramic magnets, these can be bright, and I sure hear my pick on these pickups, but not as bad as the GFS Dream 90s. They sound kind of like a P90, but not exactly.

    The only thing that sounds exactly like a P90 is a true P90.

    Also keep in mind that the Gibson equipped P90 guitars have the pickups placed in different locations vs their HB counterparts. This makes a really big difference in sound.
     
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