What do you think of P90s?

Discussion in 'Epiphone SG' started by EbySlide1014, Jul 29, 2017.

  1. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to ETSG!

    P 90 pickups were invented in like 1945... I don't think they've been out of production since.
    They have their own area... they don't sound like anything else, and they have a lot of
    fans. I managed to do without a P-90 guitar for a long time, but when I got the itch, it
    became irresistible... Lots of great music has been made with them.

    Derek Trucks could inspire anybody IMHO. The man's a master of the slide guitar
    and his SG tone can bring tears to my eyes and chills to my spine. He plays hum buckers
    every time I've seen him on video. So his tone is not P-90 tone. He seems to play very clean
    most of the time. But big stars like him travel with their own sound crew, so they may look
    like they keep it simple, but you don't know what the crew is doing to the tone backstage.

    I believe that P-90 p'ups can be used for almost any style. Rock an roll, Country, Blues, Jazz...
    all these genres can be played on a P-90 guitar, just as they all can be played on a Telecaster.
    OR on an SG with Humbuckers, or Minis. The pickups can do anything their owner is capable of.
    Except maybe Eastern European Heavy Metal, or some other extreme styles. There are instruments
    designed just for these genres, of course. Pointy ones with seven strings...

    Anyway, good luck. I wouldn't categorize the P-90s as 'brighter" sounding than hum buckers.
    I've heard Epi SGs described as darker sounding than Gibsons, but all that sounds like EQ to me,
    adjust yours to taste. Anyway, the P-90 sound is somewhat more gritty than the smooth and
    elegant Humbucker tone.... to my ear. It's very rock an roll, it's very bluesy... it's very honky tonk
    if you're a country fan. It's rockabilly, it's boogie woogie... and it's also cool jazz.

    Now that I've said all that, let me make one more radical suggestion: Keep your G-400 the way it is
    and get another Epi SG with P-90s off the used market. The cost of a pair of SD pickups and the cost
    of a used Epiphone are not too far apart. I'd buy a guitar with real P-90s in it, instead of installing
    the SD p'ups. Then you have two SGs that don't sound the same, and you use them for different
    songs and styles. Tune one to standard, and tune the other to DADF#AD or DADF#CD or open G
    or some other tuning that fits your vocal range.

    Here's the P-90 guitar I ended up with after my quest was achieved: an Epi ES-339 P-90 Pro
    An arch top guitar with real balls.
    Caledonia 4x6@100.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
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  2. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    This critical point is often forgotten in testosterone fueled discussions. I use my N-225, LPMMs and SG Classic for Wes Montgomery and Gabor Szabo style jazz,all the time. I prefer the uncompressed warmth of p-90s for that film noir atmospheric tone.
     
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  3. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    Ha ha ha ... feed the GAS Colonel !

    But he's right ... again. You can get an Epiphone LP Special I with P90 off the used market, for LESS than the price of one Phat Cat pup. Then you realize what a real P90 is like. Let me tell you, you won't regret it. These are really nice little light weight gems that feel like an SG. Really ! Look it up on the forum here ("LP Special I"), you'll see a bunch of guys that bought one and they all love it.

    If you don't like it, you will probably get more money back from it than from a used Phat Cat pup.

    But you won't sell it ...

     
  4. Kep

    Kep Well-Known Member

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    P-90s are the shizznit. Everyone needs at least two guitars with them.

    Pro tip: They sound sick in the neck position of Telecasters.

    FWIW Trucks uses the Duncan Antiquity set in his newer "working" axe
     
  5. EbySlide1014

    EbySlide1014 New Member

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    Thanks for the post! I will definitely keep my eyes open for a used Epi SG. I am sure here in Nashville it won't be hard to find. Sounds like from what you describe the P90 is very versatile. All of the styles you mentioned are styles I love. I have definitely always wanted to try out one of those semi-hollow body guitars.
     
  6. jtcnj

    jtcnj Well-Known Member

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    The EPI SG JR in my avatar has a GFS Mean 90 humbucker sized P-90 styled. Very happy with the tones.

    I got a small brand BWG Santa Fe (very PRSish) with P90's with ceramic magnets that were ok but kind of dry, not warm, hard to describe.

    Anyway, I swapped magnets to A5 neck, A2 bridge (for now) for about $10. You need 2 magnets per pickup, and yeah, it brings it.

    Controls on the guitar and amp will really give you a lot of options.
    Cinnamon Girl on a Tweed Deluxe = P90 heaven
     
  7. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    P90's sound like humbuckers to me except for all the single coil noise you get if you play with too much gain. I don't see the point of them, its old technology. Stick with the humbuckers you got, if theyre not bright enough for you turn up the treble on your amp or swap out your guitar's volume pots with 500k or 1mg pots to brighten your tone, would be alot cheaper than buying pickups.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
  8. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    Maybe it's a lack of imagination or a really crappy amp.
    I'm unfamiliar with that condition.
     
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  9. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    Wow ...

    Did you ever own a P90 guitar ? And through what amp did you play it ?
    Just curious.
     
  10. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    I would have to disagree, to me they have a distinctly different sound to humbuckers, regardless of how things are EQed. And old doesn't equal bad or worthless. Tube amps are "old" technology too, but I'm never giving up them or my P-90s.
     
  11. Dave Johnson

    Dave Johnson Well-Known Member

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    I tend to like P90's in an SG.
    So much so, that the one in my pic to the left here is now sportin' a trio of Lollars.
    If one doesn't like the sound of P90's than one must have a hearing problem...
    And if one is RWRP there's no hum to moan about.
     
  12. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    Or both Biddy :smile:

    The above is how I would approach the OP's guitar. There's more than one way to skin a cat. :yesway:
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
  13. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    Yup I own a P90 guitar and played others. 2204, TV50, AC15, Bandmaster, the amps I think are all pretty good, must be I don't like noisy humbuckers which is what a P90 sounds like to me. No harm no foul to each their own.
     
  14. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    Tube amps sound good, P90's don't. That's just how I roll, no harm done.
     
  15. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    It's the I don't see the point of them, its old technology, that has me question your objectivity here.

    You shouldn't see the point in tube amps then, or SGs for that matter.
    And why do you keep your P90 guitar ? Send it to me, I will appreciate it.
     
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  16. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    Are you left handed? I don't really play it, just haven't gotten around to getting rid of it or possibly replacing the pickups.

    [​IMG]

    P90's I assume were invented to get a thicker tone than a traditional single coil, mini humbuckers were invented to get a thinner humbucking tone, I'm probably wrong but this is just how I see it. IMO theres better pickups TODAY that can achieve these tones, so I don't see the usefulness of a P90 or mini humbucker. That's all, just my thoughts.
     
  17. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    Just played my P90 guitar for an hour, sounds as good as any humbucker equipped guitar I own, its just got that single coil hum I dont care for when the gain is a bit higher. I'm not bashing it, I'm just saying theres better choices out there for what I do.
     
  18. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    There it is, for what you do.
    P90's aren't ment to be pushed through high distortion pedals. If a lot of gain is your game, yes indeed they aren't for you.
     
  19. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    It also comes down to wiring... My P-90s are wired like a big hum bucker, so
    when I flip to the middle position, there's no noise and I get a combination of the
    individual tones. This is my favorite, of course.

    P-90s were invented in like 1945, before Leo Fender got out of his radio shop.
    They were intended for Jazz musicians, so the guitarist could step up and take
    a solo in a band with trumpets, trombones, Sax and Clarinets in the front line.
    They worked so well that they've never been out of production since then, IMHO.
    They worked so well that a band with a couple of guitarists, a bassist, a drummer and
    a sexy singer (male or female) could get people dancing just as well as a bigger band
    with all the horns, reeds and hammond organ. They ushered in the Rock an Roll era
    even though they pre-date it. They sent the brass and reed players walking down
    the street, and got the gig.

    What I think P-90s are, is ACCURATE. You can play clear as a bell with them,
    or step on a pedal and get lots of crunch. They don't push an amp into distortion
    as readily as high gain pickups... But lots of music does NOT require that.
    So they aren't perfect for every style or genre. Of course not. But they are
    versatile IMHO... and the player who wants them is likely to be versatile too,
    and not hung up on any one type of music.
    76@100.jpg
     
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  20. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    bell-like tone... that's what I think of when I play my Epi with the P-90s...
    and then kick it up a bit and get a little scruffier. That's what I think of too.
     
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