Gibson SG Special '60s Tribute - p90 Pickups

rominronin

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I was always a fender fan more than the other brands, but added a sg special 60s tribute to my collection because it blew me away in the play test. Everything about it was amazing, the look, the feel, the weight, the price… I could go on.

I started playing it again recently and I something about it bothers me, so I turn to your fellow sg lovers for support.

Firstly, the balance between the neck and bridge pickups is way off; the neck pickup is just much louder than the bridge. I’ve adjusted the height so the bridge is close to touching the strings and the neck cannot physically go deeper, but it is still overpowering the bridge pickup.

Is this normal, because I’ve been wondering if there two pickups weren’t accidentally installed the wrong way round (bridge up where the neck should be and vice versa).

Secondly, I’ve been considering how else to solve the issue (or if I even should). I love the way the guitar plays and feels, so I’m really nervous about swapping the pickups out. Particularly since pickup shopping will only lead me down the subjective path of which p90 pickup is better.

What should I do to achieve better output from the bridge pickup?

Thanks
 

papagayo

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Welcome on board !

Show us you SG, you made a good choice.
 

Siamese

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Makes you wonder, doesn't it. Well, they're not that hard to remove, and they should be labeled underneath.
 

cerebral gasket

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I’ve never liked single coils at the bridge position.

Drop a Kinman Hx Nasty 90 Heavy in at the bridge for hi gain use and keep the stock P-90 at the neck for cleans.

Guitars being built with the same pup at neck and bridge needs to stop. It’s such an antiquated design that is not practical.

To my ears a single coil at the bridge sounds thin and a humbucker at the neck sounds like mud.

Humbucker at the bridge to fatten up the sound and a single coil at the neck to eliminate the mud is my favorite combo.
 

DrBGood

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I was always a fender fan more than the other brands, but added a sg special 60s tribute to my collection because it blew me away in the play test. Everything about it was amazing, the look, the feel, the weight, the price… I could go on.

I started playing it again recently and I something about it bothers me, so I turn to your fellow sg lovers for support.

Firstly, the balance between the neck and bridge pickups is way off; the neck pickup is just much louder than the bridge. I’ve adjusted the height so the bridge is close to touching the strings and the neck cannot physically go deeper, but it is still overpowering the bridge pickup.

Is this normal, because I’ve been wondering if there two pickups weren’t accidentally installed the wrong way round (bridge up where the neck should be and vice versa).

Secondly, I’ve been considering how else to solve the issue (or if I even should). I love the way the guitar plays and feels, so I’m really nervous about swapping the pickups out. Particularly since pickup shopping will only lead me down the subjective path of which p90 pickup is better.

What should I do to achieve better output from the bridge pickup?

Thanks
There shouldn't be any reason to replace those, they are amongst the best out there. Your problem does sound like a height problem. Can we see where the P90 are at, a sideway view so we see their height ?

I also have to say that coming from a Fender background, a P90 can sound overwhelming. Your amp EQ needs to be readjusted from what it is for those thin Fender style single coils.
 

Siamese

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You should have them both adjusted so that the pole pieces are 3/64" from the strings when fretted at the 22nd fret. If they aren't balance with that adjustment, then something needs correcting. Let us know.
 

DrBGood

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You should have them both adjusted so that the pole pieces are 3/64" from the strings when fretted at the 22nd fret. If they aren't balance with that adjustment, then something needs correcting. Let us know.
That is WAY too high for the neck pup.

On my four P90 guitars, this is where the neck resides and the tone is clear and defined.

EPI SP 1+.JPG
 

rominronin

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Thanks for the initial responses, it was a good idea to join the forum :dude:. Here’s a link to a gallery of pictures:

And here is an image of the pickups from the side:
sg-from-the-side.jpeg

The neck pickup cannot go any further, the bridge pickup is as close as I can get it without interfering with the vibrating strings.

Despite this difference, the neck pickup is very loud in comparison. I cannot make the difference up in height adjustment alone. I guess the next step is to see if the pickups were accidentally swapped (which I highly doubt). THEN the question is what to do about it. I appreciate that these original Gibson P90 pickups are great quality (they sound fucking fantastic), but I expect I'm not the only one who has experienced this, right? What did you all do with yours?

I mean, if I were still playing live gigs, I would make difference up with the neck volume pot and tape it firm. These days I only really use the guitar in my studio for recording and pleasure. My goal here is really to invest time into optimising this instrument for its own sake, because I love it.

If this really is an uncommon experience for SG Special owners, then firstly, I'm disappointed :facepalm:. But secondly, where do I even BEGIN choosing replacement pickups? I just want the tone of this bridge pickup, but louder. No attempts at improving it or altering it.
 
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DrBGood

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Thanks for the initial responses, it was a good idea to join the forum :dude:. Here’s a link to a gallery of pictures:

And here is an image of the pickups from the side:
View attachment 49251

The neck pickup cannot go any further, the bridge pickup is as close as I can get it without interfering with the vibrating strings.

Despite this difference, the neck pickup is very loud in comparison. I cannot make the difference up in height adjustment alone. I guess the next step is to see if the pickups were accidentally swapped (which I highly doubt). THEN the question is what to do about it. I appreciate that these original Gibson P90 pickups are great quality (they sound fucking fantastic), but I expect I'm not the only one who has experienced this, right? What did you all do with yours?

I mean, if I were still playing live gigs, I would make difference up with the neck volume pot and tape it firm. These days I only really use the guitar in my studio for recording and pleasure. My goal here is really to invest time into optimising this instrument for its own sake, because I love it.

If this really is an uncommon experience for SG Special owners, then firstly, I'm disappointed :facepalm:. But secondly, where do I even BEGIN choosing replacement pickups? I just want the tone of this bridge pickup, but louder. No attempts at improving it or altering it.

OK, yours looks closer to strings than mine. Do I see raised pole pieces to follow the neck radius ? If so, I'd start by lowering them all flat with the cover.

Next, remove the neck P90 and check if anything prevents it from going lower (springs, foam, wires ...) Is it screwed onto a metal plate or in the wood ? If there's a plate, maybe removing it would permit going lower.

One thing to remember if it is screwed to the wood, is ALWAYS push down hard on the cover as you screw it down, if not you just might snap those thin screws. Don't ask me how I know ...

If I remember correctly, it seems that bridge and neck Gibson P90 are usually the same.
 

Siamese

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This thread made me do some more searching on the net. Read stuff from Seymour Duncan and Gibson, and watched a video from one of the master luthiers at Gibson.

The Gibson video said the specs are pretty close for vintage output humbuckers and P90's. He was talking about 3/64, to 5/64. Said a dime is 3/64, a penny is 4/64, and a nickel is about 5/64. I had already adjusted my new P90's to about a penny's worth, and just got done taking a look my 2022 SG Standard 61, and saw that the pickups were low compared to what he was saying. I brought them up to between a penny and a nickel. It livened them up...sounds great.
 

funkysoul1

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I have an sg special 2 p90s.same problem here.as gibson made their p90s all same out put we have to live with that.or you can choose a lower p90 after market for the neck.thats all
 

cerebral gasket

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Adjust. the pup height, pup screws, volume controls of pups if trying to balance the pups.

A little adjustment goes a long way.
 

Col Mustard

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is there any reason not to adjust the volume controls you have on your guitar?
(that's what I do)

I own several electric guitars: two Gibsons and an Epi and a Fender... I need to adjust the volume control on each
of them in order to compensate for the excess volume from the neck p'up in each guitar.

It's not a fault. It's a fact. Because the neck p'up is closer to the center of the strings' vibrating range, the volume of this
pickup is always more. Because the bridge p'up is closer to the bridge, the volume of this pickup is less due to the lesser
range of motion of the strings, that close to the contact point. This has been true since the Fender Telecaster was introduced
in 1951.

Gibson compensates for this by installing hotter pickups at the bridge position of their more expensive models.
You could pay good money to buy a hotter pickup for your bridge position, or you could simply adjust your volume controls
so that the bridge p'up was always louder than the neck. I usually run my bridge p'up wide open, and run my neck p'up
at about 8. Or less, depending on the song.

Good luck to you as you work this out for yourself. We all have to do it...
 
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