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leftybassman392

P 90 pickups for Epiphone LP rebuild (Caution: guitar content)

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I first put this topic up over in Guitarchat, and got a very helpful reply from the inestimable @ezbass. I'd now like to expand the discussion a bit, at the same time as exposing it to a (hopefully) wider audience.

Preamble:

I have an Epiphone Les Paul Standard circa 2000 (give or take a bit) set neck model that I've inherited from my nephew. Unfortunately it came to me partially stripped down (electrics are mostly intact though). After a year or two of prevaricating I've decided to do a (sort of) custom rebuild. Finish is red sunburst (which I have no plans to change). Hardware is chrome with cream plastics.

Plan:

As part of the rebuild I'm going to take the opportunity to replace the standard Epiphone humbuckers with a set of P-90s. On advice from the aforesaid @ezbass I've decided to go with a humbucker-sized alternative, and am at this point looking at Gibson original units available from Thomann. If anybody thinks they have a better idea about this though, please feel free to say so (but bear in mind that I do like the retro look of the Gibsons). Aside from knowing about the general design parameters I'm a bit clueless about P-90s (I just fancy something a bit different from the standard layout with a bit of a different sound), so am happy to consider alternatives.

I'm aware that there are different schools of thought about pots and caps for use with P-90s, but at this stage Ive decided to keep things simple and retain the current electrics (although again I'd be very happy to hear people's thoughts on the matter).

In similar vein I'm keeping the current hardware and plastics pro tem but may go to black for a starker look. If it looks stupid as a result then that'll be down to me. 9_9

 

I'd particularly like to hear from anyone who has done something similar on a HB-equipped instrument, and/or anyone who can speak to the specifics of P-90s.

 

Over to the Basschat Collective...

 

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I’m a P90 fan, not as twangy as a s/coil,  but not as dark as a humbucker. They have some bite in the bridge and characteristic mids, but may not be everyone’s thing. 

The Gibson P94 (P90 in HB size) has quite a unique look. My favourite pups are Fralin, they do a more classic looking cover and I bet it’ll be a blinding pup - https://www.fralinpickups.com/product/p-90-humbucker-cover/

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Posted (edited)

I like P90's, distinctive sound, sit well between HBs and SCs. Had them on 2 Gibson solids, a cheap Jazz box and (currently) on a thin-bodied semi. Can deliver a wide range of tones depending on how controls set, amp, etc. Good for most stuff short of surf or metal. Another popular option is to drop a P90 into the neck position and keep the bridge HB.

The P90 is a very simple, very basic pick-up and it seems to me that as a result there's generally less voodoo bollocks and 'vintage tone' cork-sniffing  than you get with classic HBs. To which end I'd pause before pulling the trigger on a set of genuine Gibbos (£88 each? Surely not).

The P90's on my Sorrento are Warmans, fitted by the previous owner. They do the job fine and there's a pair of HB sized P90's left on Warmans web site for about £30. Other makes are available - e.g. Catswhisker do a handwound HB sized P90 for £64 each.

The world's yer oyster, basically :)

Edited by skankdelvar
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Posted (edited)

If you’re after P90 type And vintage style then I love Vintage Vibes’ ‘CC Rider’ which they do in a humbucker-shape

Edited by DanOwens
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I only have experience with Seymour Duncan Phat Cats and GFS Surf 90's (which are somewhere inbetween P90's and DeArmond 2k's / Dynasonics tonally) and I like them both. The Phat Cat is classic P90 materiaal and sounds great, and I love the chrome covers. Keeps the classic chrome covered humbucker look of a Les Paul intact. 

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My only issue with P90s is the inherent hum from them. I fitted a set of Kinman noiseless P90s in my K Line and love them. Same sound as the standard P90 but completely hum-free.

Great pickups 

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2 minutes ago, Skinnyman said:

My only issue with P90s is the inherent hum from them.

Hum? That's the sound of Rock and Roll.

I had some hum-free pick-ups one time, it turned my stomach. Bought a hum pedal, big smiles all round.

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9 minutes ago, skankdelvar said:

Hum? That's the sound of Rock and Roll.

I had some hum-free pick-ups one time, it turned my stomach. Bought a hum pedal, big smiles all round.

And there we differ.

The sound of a high gain pickup plugged into a big valve amp with the gain turned up - that hiss of expectation before the first chord is struck - that’s the sound of rock.

A sound to make a grown man, well...,  grow

Pickup hum from a P90 is just the sound of my fluorescent lights. 
 

 

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Loads of options around humbucker sized P90's from the smaller pickup manufacturer's in the UK, and at various price points as well.

Companies like Bare Knuckle, Gemini, Bulldog, Creamery, House of Tone, etc., etc. do variations on P90's, and will do humbucker sized versions as well (they were all the rage a few years back). Well worth looking at before buying any, as I always found the replacement pickups from the "main manufacturer's" to be a bit "sterile" (which is the last thing you want in a P90).

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I can't help thinking that if you want something different from the normal HB you could do worse than installing a pair of vintage style HBs with coil taps.  It should be easy enough to do with push/pull volume knobs. 

The Seymour Duncan site has a good range of pickups including sound samples to let you choose the one you like and a full set of wiring diagrams. 

Having said that it's quite a lot of money to throw at a guitar which won't be worth much when its finished, so make sure you actually like it before committing (personally I hate playing LPs - they're too heavy and the necks are too bulky).

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On 05/06/2020 at 15:08, leftybassman392 said:

I first put this topic up over in Guitarchat, and got a very helpful reply from the inestimable @ezbass. I'd now like to expand the discussion a bit, at the same time as exposing it to a (hopefully) wider audience.

Preamble:

I have an Epiphone Les Paul Standard circa 2000 (give or take a bit) set neck model that I've inherited from my nephew. Unfortunately it came to me partially stripped down (electrics are mostly intact though). After a year or two of prevaricating I've decided to do a (sort of) custom rebuild. Finish is red sunburst (which I have no plans to change). Hardware is chrome with cream plastics.

Plan:

As part of the rebuild I'm going to take the opportunity to replace the standard Epiphone humbuckers with a set of P-90s. On advice from the aforesaid @ezbass I've decided to go with a humbucker-sized alternative, and am at this point looking at Gibson original units available from Thomann. If anybody thinks they have a better idea about this though, please feel free to say so (but bear in mind that I do like the retro look of the Gibsons). Aside from knowing about the general design parameters I'm a bit clueless about P-90s (I just fancy something a bit different from the standard layout with a bit of a different sound), so am happy to consider alternatives.

I'm aware that there are different schools of thought about pots and caps for use with P-90s, but at this stage Ive decided to keep things simple and retain the current electrics (although again I'd be very happy to hear people's thoughts on the matter).

In similar vein I'm keeping the current hardware and plastics pro tem but may go to black for a starker look. If it looks stupid as a result then that'll be down to me. 9_9

 

I'd particularly like to hear from anyone who has done something similar on a HB-equipped instrument, and/or anyone who can speak to the specifics of P-90s.

 

Over to the Basschat Collective...

 

 

P90s downside is how much they can pickup hum... but their sound is righteous. 

Sorry, I cannot recommend any particular pickups for your purposes, I just wanted to encourage you in the direction you are taking :)

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On the subject of hum... I used to have a Variax guitar. Their P90 emulation was very good and completely silent (when you want it to be!). I've often thought of getting another JUST for that sound.

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4 minutes ago, mcnach said:

On the subject of hum... I used to have a Variax guitar. Their P90 emulation was very good and completely silent (when you want it to be!). I've often thought of getting another JUST for that sound.

Nice thought, but it's P 90s or nothing. Sydney or the Bush, Shlt or bust, etc. :)

Hum is a function of what's near enough to cause it. If I still had a recording studio to record in or a band to play in I'd need to give it consideration. As it is, it's not something I need to worry about.

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6 minutes ago, leftybassman392 said:

Nice thought, but it's P 90s or nothing. Sydney or the Bush, Shlt or bust, etc. :)

Hum is a function of what's near enough to cause it. If I still had a recording studio to record in or a band to play in I'd need to give it consideration. As it is, it's not something I need to worry about.

 

Of course, I still use my P90 equipped guitar, you learn to find the best angles in the room to use it ;)

I was just adding the Variax comment as a 'curiosity'. It was a great sound! Shame the guitar was nothing special, and ugly too.

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I had a couple of the PRS SE Soapbar Singlecut's. Great wee guitars. Stupidly sold the first one, and had a hankering for another one a few years after I sold the first. Tracked down another, again, great sounding & playing guitar, but again, sold it on.

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Thank you one and all for the many helpful and insightful replies. Basschat at its very best. :)

As a bit of an update, you may want to know that I've gone with a matched pair of Seymour Duncan Phat Cats at a whisker under £180 (with due apologies to my good friend @skankdelvar for going somewhat against his suggestions on cost :/).

In a different situation I would do a build - or in this case rebuild - diary, but since the only thing I actually need to do beyond screwing it all back together and setting it up is installing the pickups I don't really see the point. An earlier plan to pimp it a bit has been abandoned: to a casual glance it will look exactly as it did.

I will however take a couple of shots of the finished article (and possibly do a couple of sound samples if I can get some half-decent recording facilities organised).

Later. :)

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I have experimented with a seymour duncan phat cat neck pickup combined with a jb bridge humbucker in an epi les paul of a similar vintage and the  combo was ace, they're currently waiting for me to build a guitar for my best friend, a pair of phat cats will be fantastic. 

Matt 

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1 hour ago, ezbass said:

Are you happy with the sound?

I'll let you know when I've finished. :lol:

I've been working on it today. Pickups are in but I've wired up the neck pup wrong so I'm going to have to unpick it. Not now though as I'm still a bit annoyed that I did something so stupid.

I used to do this stuff quite a lot at one time (I did basic guitar repairs and maintenance as a side line to my tuition) but haven't done it for around 10 years now. Despite the mishap with the wiring I'm actually enjoying it and finding it very therapeutic.

Hopefully I'll finish it tomorrow, and will report back as and when.

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Well it’s tomorrow, and I have a useable guitar. :)

It still needs work;

Setup;

fret dress;

pickup balancing.

I’ll do the setup & balancing later in the week. The fret dress is a bit above my pay grade so I’ll leave that until I can get it done professionally and put up with a couple of slightly iffy frets in the meantime.

if I had the inclination I would tinker with the electrics a bit (cap values and maybe antilog pots for the tone controls) but I don’t, so I won’t - at least not right now.

Soundwise it’s early days as my main objective today was to get it working, but I like it already. It’s a properly distinct sound, noticeably different from any of my other guitars, which is pretty much exactly what I wanted.

On one level it feels a bit weird hearing a pumped-up single coil sound from a Les Paul (yes I know early models had P90s, but it sounds nothing like the 80s LP Custom I used to have), but then again I did it to get a different sound so I’m happy. The Fender Blues Junior IV has a very bright sound which is impossible to control with the current tone pots so I may need to tailor it a bit with my graphic pedal.

So far so good.

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Good for you, Lefty! Enjoy your newly configured Lester :)

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Glad you're liking your 'new improved' LP. 

Thank you for this thread as it's spurred me finally dig out my old Epiphone SG, well I will tomorrow. 

I've been thinking about refinishing it and generally sorting it out as I've finished quite a few stalled projects with my time off. It's got a pair of 70s Mighty Mite humbuckers which from hazy memory and googling are either 1300s or 1400s, or one of each, which look like they're quite sought after. Quite keen to check now we have the internet. 👍

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On 05/06/2020 at 19:29, skankdelvar said:

The P90's on my Sorrento are Warmans, fitted by the previous owner. They do the job fine and there's a pair of HB sized P90's left on Warmans web site for about £30. Other makes are available - e.g. Catswhisker do a handwound HB sized P90 for £64 each.

The world's yer oyster, basically :)

I've been fitting Josi's pickups to various guitars for years and currently have a pair of humbucker sized P90s in my Epiphone Phant-o-matic.  The old Epiphone humbuckers were just too muchy and phat, these just do what I want...there's just a cleanness to the dirt if this makes sense.  I rarely use the neck position one...was thinking about taking it out and putting an action figure in the hole, a la Phil X.

As an aside, this guitar has a six position rotary varitone switch on it...I suppose this may have some bearing on tone when compaired to a regular pot, but it does what I want it to do.

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Strong recommendation for upgraded pots and caps, also selector switch.  Contact sixstringsupplies for good upgrades.  Not dirt cheap but very worthwhile.  

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