Guitarists will argue until they are blue in the face about every minute detail of the electric guitar. From the role tonewood plays in the overall sound, to which tone capacitors will allow you to achieve sonic bliss and everything in between. Thankfully, there's one thing guitar players universally agree on – the best P-90 pickups are among the most versatile tone generators in the world.
Introduced to guitarists in the 1940s, Gibson's wide bobbin single coil is just as popular today as it was all those decades ago. Nowadays, there are many pickup designers and manufacturers looking to showcase their own unique take on this iconic concept, and we've listed a few of our favorite examples in this guide to the best P-90 pickups.
We have vintage throwbacks from Seymour Duncan, hi-tech options from Fishman and Lace, as well as hum-canceling pups that will allow you to crank the gain without fear of excessive noise. So, join us as we walk through a slew of P-90s that are sure to seriously improve your tone.
Best P-90 pickups: Our top picks
The Seymour Duncan Antiquity P-90 is arguably one of the most popular P-90 replacements on the market – and for good reason. This pickup is dripping with vintage mojo and delivers the legendary tone of Gibson's golden age, all without breaking the bank. We knew this pickup had to take our number one slot, as it's hard to find another P-90 that perfectly balances tone and value.
For those seeking the pure tone of the P-90 without the dreaded hum and noise, then guitar legend Greg Koch has you covered with his stunning Fishman Fluence Greg Koch P-90 pickups. These multi-voiced P-90s take an already versatile pickup type to a whole new level.
Best P-90 pickups: Product guide
Seymour Duncan is arguably the most popular and well-known electric guitar pickup designer ever – and with their decades of experience, knowledge and thirst for better tone, Seymour Duncan is our go-to place for epic-sounding P-90s.
While we had a lot of P-90s we could choose from, our top pick has to be the Antiquity. This vintage reissue pickup has been a guitar modders staple since the '90s and is a firm favourite among vintage guitar chasers.
Utilising a twin set of Alnico II bar magnets, this soapbar pickup yields a retro tone that sounds like it jumped straight out of an early '50s Les Paul – and just like those vintage examples, the Antiquity has plenty of bite and a mid-range bark that is perfectly suited for those bluesy lead lines.
Video instructor, best-selling author and guitar player extraordinaire, Greg Koch, is one of the guitar communities most well-respected personalities – oh, and he just so happens to have lent his name to a rather spectacular P-90 pickup.
Now, this isn't Koch's first venture into Fluence technology. After seeing success with his Telecaster Gristle-Tone pickup set, Fishman and Koch would team up again, taking on the legendary sound of the soapbar.
Fishman offers a unique take on the P-90, giving users a trio of voices. In position one, you'll be met with a vintage-inspired soapbar, while in position two, the sound will be more aggressive as it imitates the tone of an overwound, modded P90 and finally, in the third position, you can expect a bright and jangly single coil tone.
Perhaps best known for the devilishly popular Super Distortion humbucker, DiMarzio is a leading force in aftermarket pickups. However, it isn't all high-output shred-ready humbuckers at DiMarzio, they make a pretty stellar P-90 as well.
The simply named DiMarzio Soapbar is a fairly faithful take on the vintage P-90s of yesteryear, but with one major departure – the use of ceramic magnets. While these pickups ate designed to sound as close to the originals as possible, the switch to ceramic means the pickup's magnetic field won't deteriorate over time, so neither will the tone.
This brilliant-sounding P-90 is available in various color options, so you'll be sure to find one to suit your current six-string – and it even comes in the dogear format, too!
While we all love the bright, shimmery nature of single coil pickups, we can all do without that dreaded 60-cycle hum. This excessive noise has the ability to ruin a perfectly beautiful guitar sound, and it can drive some players mad.
Luckily, Mojotone has the perfect option for those not willing to compromise on a true vintage tone but are desperate to eliminate the extra noise – the 56 Quiet Coil P-90.
Unlike other noiseless options, the Mojotones 56 Quiet Coil P-90 doesn't use any fancy modern tech to eradicate the noise. So you'll find no PC boards, batteries or stacked coils here, just 42 gauge coil wire, lower Gauss Alnico magnets and vintage braided leads.
If you are seeking the authentic P-90 tone of early '50s six-strings, then it makes sense to go straight to the source, Gibson. Over the course of the last few decades, Gibson has defined the sound of blues, punk and hard rock with their soapbar single coil and you can easily achieve this legendary sound by installing this pickup in your guitar.
Gibson has designed this replacement pickup to be as authentic to the originals as possible. From the warm vintage tone to the braided two-conductor wiring, this pickup will transport your guitar back in time.
So whether you have a Gibson guitar in need of an upgrade or you just want to add a little Gibson magic to your current axe, this is the pickup for you.
Bare Knuckle aren't concerned with trying to replicate the past with the Supermassive 90, instead focusing on a modern tone that delivers extra output and body – and boy, this stunning P-90 pickup hits you in the face like an ungloved fist.
At the heart of this pickup are custom-made Alnico V magnets and 43AWG wire, resulting in a P-90 that contemporary rock fans will adore. The Supermassive 90 takes gain like no other P-90 we tried, managing to handle the most outrageous fuzz tones with ease.
So if you aren't on the hunt for the retro tone of vintage guitars and are instead looking to make an impact with truly gigantic-sounding riffs, you need to give the Bare Knuckle Supermassive 90 a try.
We guess it's fair to say Lace does not like to follow the crowd. Whether it's their revolutionary Sensor pickup or the futuristic Alumitone set, this company is constantly innovating and looking for ways to improve everyone's tone.
For this guide to the best P-90 pickups, we've chosen to showcase the Aluma 90 – however, a higher output version, the Aluma 90 Riffian, is available for those looking for more bite. Now, this pickup is very different from the rest on this list, as the mechanics center around aluminum rather than copper, which is found on traditional pickups. As such, the Aluma 90 is not only noiseless, but it's also better for the environment.
While it may look like something out of a science fiction movie, the Aluma 90 still delivers the decadent, rich tone you'd expect from a true P-90 pickup. This pickup has a full and robust bass response and piercing mid-range that makes it the ideal option for blues rockers looking for that sweet-sounding lead tone.
The Lindy Fralin Hum-Cancelling P-90 is a triumph. This pickup sounds bold and raw, with just the right amount of mids to cut through the densest rock track – and better yet, there's no 60-cycle hum!
Utilising USA-made Neodymium magnets, this pickup delivers a feisty tone that will most certainly please hard rockers and blues rock aficionados. Each pickup is perfectly hand-wound and Lindy Fralin is so confident in his work that you also get a 10-year warranty against manufacturing defects.
So, if you're looking for a boutique approach to the P-90 tone, it's worth seeking out the Lindy Fralin Hum-Cancelling P-90.
Best P-90 pickups: Buying advice
What is a P90 pickup?
While it may not look like it, the P-90 is actually a type of single coil pickup. Yes, it may share a similar bulky exterior to its more aggressive cousin, the humbucker, but under that large plastic cover is a sweet-sounding single coil that delivers a sizzling high-end and piercing mid-range.
Unlike other single coil pickups, like those found on the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster models, the P-90 utilizes a wider, shorter bobbin and this is what gives the soapbar pickup its fat, rich and assertive tone.
The P-90 was originally developed by guitar legends Gibson in the late 1940s. Originally designed to replace the Charlie Christian pickup on the company's luxury hollowbody guitars – such as the ES-150 – the P-90 would prove very popular with the post-war audience and would go on to be the standard pickup throughout Gibson's entire line, that is, until the humbucker would be unleashed in 1955.
When should I replace my guitar pickups?
Okay, so you love the way your guitar feels to play and it has the look you're after, but there's only one problem – the sound. Well, in that case, it might be time to think about changing the pickups.
Installing a brand-new set of pickups in your guitar can drastically change how the guitar performs, transforming it into a completely different instrument.
Is your guitar signal a little too weak to drive your tube amp? Well, a higher output P-90 will give you that extra power needed to push your amp into sweet distortion. Perhaps you're seeking a little extra clarity or note definition. Well, there's a pickup out there that'll do just that.
Which guitarists use P90s?
There are many iconic guitar players that have been seduced by the mid-range bark of the P-90. Everyone from classic rock legends to punk rock trailblazers, every genre has its fair share of P-90 fans.
The grandfather of metal, Tony Iommi, has used a P-90 loaded SG for some of the heaviest riffs ever recorded, while Billie Joe Armstrong, Mick Jones, Johnny Thunders and Steve Jones rely on this fierce pickup to achieve their chaotic punk tones.
Elsewhere you'll often spot the likes of John Lennon, Carlos Santana and Neil Young with a P-90 in their iconic guitars in the studio and on stage.
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