Humbucker Sized P-90 Review Roundup

Humbucker Sized P-90 Review Roundup

Most guitarists swing between humbuckers and single-coil designs when playing the guitar. Those options deliver distinctive sounds that create specific voices for an instrument to develop a signature sound.

It transitions a Strat or Tele into something more suited for rock, even if one of the single-coil pickups gets replaced with a humbucker.

The P-90 style pickup is a popular choice because it often fits within the existing electronics cavity for the guitar. Even if modifications are necessary, the problems are usually minor.

Humbucker Sized P-90 Review Roundup

The P-90 (P90) is a single-coil electric guitar pickup that Gibson started manufacturing in 1946. Compared to other designs, including humbuckers, the standard bobbin for the P-90 is shorter and broader. That causes the tone to change in different ways, creating warmth with less edge. Using humbuckers of this size causes more raunchiness.

The P-90 pickup is arguably the most iconic component of modern rock music. Artists from Mick Jones to Pete Townshend have used it to create some of the best songs that still feature prominently on the radio and with streaming services.

Gibson invited the P-90 in 1946, taking musicians to the dawn of the humbucker that came a decade later.

Humbuckers are a double-coil design that uses two wire coils to remove interference that the electronics cause.

It’s such an effective technology that dynamic microphones often use it to cancel the hum produced by the electromagnetic fields.

Although humbuckers were invented in 1934, they were initially intended to be included on an electric guitar. Those first options got installed on pianos and loudspeakers.

In 1939, Radio Craft Magazine developed a how-to guide that helped guitarists transition from a single-coil design to using two identical coils around a self-magnetized core with one flipped over to create reverse polarity.

The modern humbucker that you see with the P-90 size comes from the mind of Seth Lover of Gibson. Ray Butts developed something similar simultaneously for Gretsch.

Rickenbacker even offered a dual-coil arrangement in a traditional humbucker pattern in 1953, but it was dropped since the midrange was deemed too strong and distorted.

Although most musicians prefer the noise-free performance and powerful tones that a humbucker delivers, the P-90 offers a more transparent midrange and extra tone crispness.

When you prefer a humbucker that still delivers some of those elements, you’ll want to get a P-90 style pickup to use for your guitar.

It’s important to remember that a tall, narrow profile swap from the original P-90 inevitably alters the guitar’s sound.

Three P-90 Casing Varieties to Consider

If you’re interested in a humbucker-sized P-90 pickup, you have three casing options to consider when shopping for an instrument or an upgrade.

Soap Bar Casing:This option has a rectangular shape where the mounting screws stay mounted within the coil’s perimeter.
Although they’re occasionally mistaken for poles, that’s not the case.
The placement between strings two and three with four and five creates an unusual sound and pattern.
Dog Ear Casing:This casing type has extensions on both sides that serve for mounting the P-90 to the guitar. Gibson used this option frequently on its hollow-body instruments, especially the ES-330.
The same pickups are on Epiphone, with the best design arguably being the Casinos from the late 1960s.
Humbucker Casing:If a guitar is routed for humbuckers and a P-90 style is desired, some modifications are necessary since there could be gaps between the hardware and the body.
That’s why using this casing is often desirable.

Best Pseudo P-90 Pickups to Use for Humbuckers

Instead of installing a new rout for the P-90 humbuckers, it makes sense to invest in an option that comes with an appropriate casing. Since the dynamics can be a bit different with this design choice, some products tend to work better than others.

Although each guitar has different preferences that you’ll need to account for when installing humbucker-sized P-90 pickups, these options are proven to work on a majority of guitar shapes, sizes, and brands.

Here are the Best Pseudo P-90 Pickups to Use for Humbuckers:

  1. Fishman Fluence Signature Pickups
  2. EMG James Hetfield Signature Pickups
  3. Wilkinson M Series Pickups
  4. Metallor Humbucker Style Pickups
  5. Seymour Duncan Phat Cat
  6. LAMSAM P-90 Pickup Set

1. Fishman Fluence Signature Pickups

When you snag this pickup set for your guitar, you’ll get a ceramic option for the bridge and an alnico one for the middle position or the bridge.

It’s my favorite option because it lets you have multiple coil combinations available when playing.

Since the magnetic circuit is tuned, you receive authentic interactions with the blade magnet and pole pieces. You can decide to fatten up the mids, put attack into the low end, or add warmth and mellowness to the uppers.

With a bit of tinkering, you can alter the voice of the Fishman Fluence Signature Pickups to deliver the woman voice, glassy tones, or something with enough grind and sludge that it tries to melt your eardrums.

I love how it delivers effective power consumption. I can get about 95 hours of playing time from a 9V battery. This installation is also compatible with a rechargeable battery pack when wired up correctly.

The recommended setup is to use a five-way selector switch, but it still operates fine with the three-way toggle on older instruments. These pickups deliver the versatility you want to see on any setup.

 2. EMG James Hetfield Signature Pickups

The active tone these pickups deliver is one of the best you can find in the industry today. They also have a solderless installation system to use, making it a fast upgrade for virtually any guitar.

I love the options that come with the EMG pickups. You can grab them in gold, brushed gold, chrome, brushed chrome, or brushed black.

A broad range of cap options ensures that everyone gets the outcome they want from this investment.

Hetfield contacted EMG about creating these pickups because he needed something a bit better for his ESP guitar. You get all the benefits of this brand’s electronics with something more classic aesthetically.

If you’re familiar with what the 60 offers, you can expect a similar tone quality. The attack is a bit higher, with additional output, while more bass is available within each note for the listener to enjoy.

The bottom line here is that the pickups sound even better than they look, and they’ll create something visually stunning for your instrument.

 3. Wilkinson M Series Pickups

If you want a guitar to start sounding more like a Les Paul or an Epiphone Casino, this P-90 style pickup is an excellent choice to consider.

It has more resistance than the other choices on this list without overwhelming the melodic power an instrument can produce.

I appreciate the balance the Wilkinson M Series pickups deliver. The lower end is quite stout and dynamic, providing enough oomph within the bass to provide fundamental rock rhythms and musical movement.

 4. Metallor Humbucker Style Pickups

The electronic specs for these P-90 style pickups are precisely what you want them to be for the average guitar.

  • The bridge resistance is 8k.
  • Inductance is 4.5H for the bridge.
  • The neck offers 7.5k resistance with 3.7H inductance.

The pole spacing on the Metallor Humbucker style pickups is approximately 52 mm on the bridge and 50 mm at the neck. I love how they look vintage while providing the option to adjust the poles.

They come with long leads for wiring SG and LP guitars, using ceramic magnets to create plenty of vibrance and attack.

If you’re losing more treble than desired when playing, this upgrade delivers a positive result. It can also lift any instrument missing clarity in almost any range.

 5. Seymour Duncan Phat Cat

These bright pickups deliver an incredible attack with plenty of thump and resonation. The chords snap like crazy, adding some extra pop to your music.

I prefer these pickups for when I’m doing some heavy bending or fingerstyle work on the guitar.

Anyone who wants to add some extra funk to their music will appreciate the modest output the Seymour Duncan Phat Cats offer. They don’t overwhelm the tone, ensuring a high-gain sound occurs at any volume level.

Your music stays focused and tight when playing, even if you’re trying to sculpt a bass lick or the bottom edge of rhythmic foundations.

The best way to describe how the sound was installed is to compare what you hear on “War Pigs” from Black Sabbath to this equipment.

That’s because the bridge is wound to ensure the chords receive plenty of bright harmonics, especially when it’s time to punch out a dynamic solo.

 6. LAMSAM P-90 Pickup Set

You’ll notice the LAMSAM Single-Coil P-90 style pickups because of their gorgeous black and nickel combination. It delivers a bold look that still produces a sophisticated sound that you’ll want to incorporate into your music.

I like the LAMSAMs because they tend to emphasize the complex notes and tones that drives modern music today. You’ll get a warm, well-rounded sound that speaks of something a bit dark, almost vintage, with each

Imagine that you’re sitting in a smoky jazz club. When the guitarist takes the stage and improvs a lick, the sound you hear from that instrument is what the LANSAM single-coil set delivers.

The response’s consistency once installed is impressive, flattering virtually any playing style.

I ran a flyer and equipped these to my Tele. The results are fantastic.

When Should I Update My Guitar with New Pickups?

The best time to upgrade pickups is to replace the sub-standard ones on entry-level or beginner guitars. It’s also worth considering if you want to change an original instrument’s tone or note-shaping capabilities. This update delivers new ways to play without needing to buy a brand-new guitar.

Is it worth upgrading a guitar’s pickups? Yes!

It is when the instrument produces an average sound with the stock pickups. Drastic changes, such as what you get when swapping out a single coil with humbuckers, are also worth the time it takes to replace the electronics.

Some guitars look the part for a player’s style or preferred genre, but they might not have the intended results if the pickups are of average quality or below.

Today’s best brands, including EMG, deliver several P-90 style options that let musicians modify a guitar with precision.

What new pickups won’t change is a musician’s playing style. If you’re not getting the tone quality or resonance you want from the instrument, it could be due to a technical problem with your playing approach.

By evaluating the results in each category, it’s much easier to make the necessary corrections that dramatically improve your sound.


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