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Lollar El Rayo vs P90 (Or H sized p90)

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Thales, Nov 21, 2020 at 10:44 PM.

  1. Thales

    Thales TDPRI Member

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    Hi friends. I have a Fender Telecaster Blacktop from 2011 and as you might know it has humbuckers. The humbuckers it came with were total garbage so the first thing i did was to take them out and try to find something that would sound right in a tele. I always loved bright pickups, never a big fan of humbuckers, until i heard of the El Rayo and had to give it a try. I got it and i love it, it is bright and punchy, but like most of us, i tend to obsess over small things in search of the “perfect sound”. I love the bridge pickup in teles, it is my favorite style of pickup, but as this tele has humbuckers, i wanted “single coily” brightness with a little bit more bottom end, hence the decision to go with the El Rayo. But then I started to think how close to a p90 the El Rayo can sound and if a hum-sized p90 can get me this “tele-ish” brightness and attack with more bottom end. I never had a p90 guitar, so i'm thinking about maybe getting a GFS Mean 90 to give it a try. What do you guys think? (Note that i'm not interested in selling this guitar for another one).
     
  2. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Finally a question I can answer from experience. My Jazzbo Hepcaster had an El Rayo originally. I found it too bright with the 500k pots. Changed to 250k and still too bright (maybe it was the pine body and maple neck). Anyway, swapped it for a TV Jones T90 (humbucker-sized P90) and couldn't be happier.

    When I was shopping I looked at the Mean 90...can't remember why I decided against it. Actually came very close to ordering it, then I learned something about it that turned me off. I highly recommend the T90. It can do a P90-ish brightness, but the bottom end warms it up nicely and it can sound fat and jazzy with the tone rolled back.

    Here's some before and afters of my build (pretty much happy with it now, except the knobs still aren't quite right) 20170716_183217.jpg 20170716_183314.jpg 20170716_183404.jpg 20170716_184028.jpg 20170716_184234.jpg black hardware 1.jpg black hardware 2.jpg :
     
  3. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    You can get a great “thick twang” out of a p90 with the right amp and settings. No experience with mean 90s, but my phat cat also has a cover. It’s a bit darker than you might want for tele sounds but it could work fine.
     
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  4. Thales

    Thales TDPRI Member

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    But the thing is, i feel the El Rayo is not bright enough for me. Maybe it lacks some of the snap of the strings, idk.
     
  5. Thales

    Thales TDPRI Member

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    Cool! The only thing that took me away from the Phat Cat is the alnico II, tried a few pickups with it and always found a bit darker.
     
  6. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    All the good P90s I've had have always been A2. Reading your posts though it now sounds like you are after a really bright snappy tone and I'm not sure P90s are the best vehicle to get that. The kind of "country" sound that I like to use P90s for is like a steel guitar sound - round and clean, soft attack. A normal amount of treble. It sounds like what you really want it a snappy, toppy tele pickup though. I know that Lollar and probably some others package a true tele pickup in a HB size format, that might be what you really need.
     
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  7. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Well, here’s where we diverge...I built mine for jazz so I wanted warmer.
     
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  8. ritten70

    ritten70 TDPRI Member

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    Haven’t used the El Rayo but we often wire a P-90 with a bass cut in the bridge position instead of a traditional tone control. Seems to work to get a tele-like tone. Might be worth a try with your existing setup?
    Paul
     
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  9. SbS

    SbS Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I've got Fralin P-92 bridge. It's bright, humbucker sized P-90 ish and noiseless too. It could have even more mids to my taste, mine's stock wound and I'm using 500K pots. It can be ordered overwound too, so hotter with more mids.

    Fralin got also Twangmasters, even treblier and twangier Tele style pickups with similar structure.
     
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  10. Thales

    Thales TDPRI Member

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    When i started this "quest" i tried first a humbucker from hell which is a great pickup for the bridge position btw, but not so different from a regular p.a.f style humbucker, then i bought a SD broadcaster, i made some mods to this guitar and fitted it. It's also a damn fine pickup, the brightness was exactly what i wanted but it lacked some bottom end. Then comes the El Rayo, which is definetly in the ballpark i'm aiming for, but i feel that while i don't try a p90 i can't rest my mind. I liked the option of a bass roll-off, but i'm using this guitar in a esquire configuration and the humbucker is wired directly into the output jack and i don't think a bass roll off would work better than that. Anyway, i guess i'm buying the Mean 90 and then i will come back here to tell you guys about my results. Let's see. Thanks for the replys so far!
     
  11. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I had a strat with El Rayos in it and I've own guitars with P90s, but I've never had them in the same guitar. My general feeling is that El Rayos didn't sound like a P90 to my ear, or at least not the antiquities I owned. They could sound like a low output PAF if you picked gently, but they got a crunch if you dug in and hit the strings hard. I thought they were good pickups, but not good enough that I kept the very decent guitar that they were in.

    I don't really think any humbucker sized P90s sound like a P90 in general. That's not to say they sound bad, I really like the sound one of the guitarists from the Strokes gets with hollowbody guitars and Gibsons humbucker sized P90.
     
  12. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    I do think the Phat Cat sounds like a darker P90, probably because of the cover. Otherwise I agree. SC-sized pickups never sound like a p90.
     
  13. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

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  14. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'd recommend trying a SD P-Rails. Great vintage P90, blade single coil and heavier hummer tones. Running the two coils parallel gives a lighter brighter tone that will crunch up later on the dial.
     
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