Review: Mullinax “Oh, Salvation” P-90 Pickups
Blane Mullinax isn’t interested in joining the ranks of pickup manufacturers who hand-wind spot-on recreations of yesteryear’s pickups. Instead, he winds vintage-style pickups for players who want an entirely new sound.
What’s more, he winds only single-coils, believing that humbuckers muddy the waters of an instrument’s musical potential and that a second coil isn’t necessary to ensure quiet operation. This flies in the face of accepted pickup design, but Mullinax’s passion for science led him to uncover often-forgotten grounding, potting and wiring techniques that actually render his pickups almost completely noise-free, without affecting the clear, earthy, crisp character that tonehounds expect from a hand-wound single-coil.
The “Oh, Salvation” P-90s are an excellent example of Mullinax’s mission, offering the perceived power and silence of a hot humbucker, with the gritty detail and gutsy punch of an old-world P-90.
Thankfully, the “Oh, Salvation” P-90s are built in a standard humbucker-sized housing, making them a direct retrofit for any guitar that has a humbucker route. They’re wrapped in attractive, chrome beauty rings and topped with nearly indestructible grey, vulcanized fiberboard. Proper grounding and potting techniques, aided by the use of high-end Mogami lead wires, squelch hum and noise, while Alnico II magnets provide the sweet soul, something that’s very apparent when playing clean sounds. To cancel hum when both pickups are used together, the bridge model pickup is reverse-wound with reverse polarity.
I tested the “Oh, Salvation” set through a variety of amps, including a Mesa Mark I, a Friedman-modified Jet City 20H and a Marshall “Plexi.” In all cases, the Mullinax’s lack of hum and noise led me to naturally assume that they utilized special shielding, a second coil or a coil-tap, but they are, in fact, true single-coils in every sense.
Through crunchy and high-gain amp settings, the “Oh, Salvations” offered warm, harmonically rich, high-power output suitable for anything except the most obnoxious metal tones. In this way, they’re very similar to a fat, vintage humbucker, only with sharper details—there’s no hint of a typical P-90’s thin, midrange-focused sound.
They further differentiate from vintage humbucker tones when used with a clean amp or when the guitar’s volume is rolled back, producing glorious single-coil sparkle and high-cholesterol fat that’s smooth enough for jazz and plunky enough for country pickin’.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Mullinax “Oh, Salvation” pickup set is an ideal solution for any player who wants the fast response, definition and beauty of a single-coil, with the quiet, high-power chunk of a humbucker.
LIST PRICES Individually, $135; pair, $270
MANUFACTURER Mullinax Pickups, mullinaxpickups.com