Humbuckers Sized P90 – FAQ & Buyer’s Guide!

One of the crucial factors when choosing a new guitar is how it sounds. While the guitar body is also important to its sound, in fact, it’s the pickups that define most of the tone. Choosing a guitar with the correct pickups for the sound you’re looking for is essential, but it’s also possible to change pickups down the line. 

Changing pickups is simple and can bring new life (and tone) to your instrument. However, due to the variety of pickups, it can be challenging to find the perfect one.

In this article, I’ll review some of the best P901 humbuckers and help you decide which pickup is for you.

Best Choice
Seymour Duncan P-Rails Set
Seymour Duncan P-Rails Set
Best Humbucker Sized P90 Pickup
One of the most versatile P90 pickups available. These pickups are designed for a two or three-way switch and can be used as a single-coil, humbucker or traditional P90 pickup. It sounds round and smooth but can pack a hefty punch when it needs to.
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There are two varieties of pickups: single-coil and humbuckers. While single-coil pickups are made of a single-pole piece, humbuckers are made of two pieces — that’s why they double in size.

Humbucker pickups have two magnetic bobbins out of phase with each other, which cancels hum. These pickups are great for heavier, dirtier sounds, such as metal and hard rock, since they handle gain and high distortion with less interference than a single-coil pickup.

Although P90 pickups look like humbuckers, they are single-coil pickups. Yet, they don’t sound like a regular single-coil would. They are more aggressive, fatter, and make an excellent bridge between the classic single-coil and the humbucker.

There are plenty of great reasons to choose a humbucker sized P90 pickup, but which one is right for you?

Best Humbuckers Sized P90 — Comparison Table

ImageProduct 
Best Humbucker Sized p90 Pickup
Seymour Duncan P-Rails Set review
Seymour Duncan P-Rails Set
  • Can be used as a P90, humbucker or single-coil pickup
  • Comes pre-wired for a 2 or 3-way switch
  • Versatile

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Best choice
Seymour Duncan Phat Cat Set review
Seymour Duncan Phat Cat Set
  • Sound like a vintage Gibson with soap bar pickups
  • Bright and lively tones
  • Rich in sustain

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Also great
Lindy Fralin P-90 Soapbar Pickup Set review
Lindy Fralin P-90 Soapbar Pickup Set
  • Lindy Fralin offers a wide range of customizations
  • Sounds wonderful when distorted
  • Great mid-range

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Honorable Mention
DiMarzio DP210 Tone Zone P90 Pickup review
DiMarzio DP210 Tone Zone P90 Pickup
  • High gain and output
  • Great lows and mids

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Great for clean
Bare Knuckle Humbucker-Sized Mississippi Queen P90 Bridge Pickup review
Bare Knuckle Humbucker-Sized Mississippi Queen P90 Bridge Pickup
  • Affordable
  • Sound tremendous both clean and overdriven

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Good for metal
Kent Armstrong, Stealth 90 - Noiseless P90 Bridge review
Kent Armstrong, Stealth 90 - Noiseless P90 Bridge
  • Good price-quality performance
  • Acts as a humbucker
  • Suitable for metal and hard rock

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Best Humbuckers Sized P90 Review

1. Seymour Duncan P-Rails Set — The Best Humbucker Sized P90 Pickup

Features

  • Can be used as a P90, humbucker or single-coil pickup
  • Comes pre-wired for a 2 or 3-way switch
  • Versatile

Specifications

  • Alnico V bar magnets
  • 4-conductor lead wire
  • Vacuum wax potted

Fat, crunchy sound, biting twang, or something in between — the Seymour Duncan P-Rails are one of the most flexible P90 pickups available. Designed to be wired into a 2 or 3-way switch, these pickups can behave like a standard humbucker, a classic Fender-style single-coil, or a Gibson P901.

Its agility means you get a range of sounds. These hybrid humbuckers can be split in two ways, one that uses the rail coil for a more classic sound and another that allows for a fat P90 tone. Pair both coils to get a super crunchy humbucker that can be heavily distorted.

The neck pickup is reverse-wound, meaning if you pair both P-Rails together, you’ll get a heavy hum-canceling humbucker. 

These pickups have a beautiful, rounded midrange, but lack a bit of gain at the bridge. The treble is somewhat muted but the P-Rails are great for power chords and most classic rock-style songs. 

Is this a set or just the neck pickup?

It’s a set of two pickups — for a bridge and a neck.

Do these pickups fit a 2014 Melody Maker?

It won’t fit if the 2014 Melody Maker has standard P90 humbuckers. These Seymour Duncan pickups have a regular humbucker size.

Can these pickups be installed on an Epiphone Les Paul?

These pickups can be installed in any guitar that has the proper wiring for humbuckers.

Who this is for?

Someone looking for versatility and great sound quality.

Why I like it?

Besides being versatile, these pickups come pre-wired for a 2 or 3-way switch.

2. Seymour Duncan Phat Cat Set

Features

  • Sound like a vintage Gibson with soap bar pickups
  • Bright and lively tones
  • Rich in sustain

Specifications

  • Alnico II bar magnets
  • Reverse-wound polarity

Again, Seymour Duncan proves that it knows what it’s doing when it comes to pickups. The Phat Cat set sounds similar to a vintage Gibson2 with a soap bar pickup due to the Alnico II magnets.

Don’t be dissuaded by the name. Even though they’re called “Phat Cat,” these pickups output crisp, clean tones similar to those of a single-coil pickup. Of course, the name starts making sense once you overdrive them. They’re not the hottest pickups, but they definitely pack a punch while sounding round and smooth.

The Seymour Duncan Phat Cat set is rich in sustain and has a relatively soft attack. Contrary to what you might expect, the low-end is not divine—however, the mid and high-end shine with their liveliness. 

There’s also no single-coil noise. The metal cover on the Phat Cat set shields the pickups from most interferences.

Do these pickups fit a Fender Jaguar Blacktop?

These pickups fit in any humbucker-sized hole.

Should you use 250k pots? Or it’s better to use 500k pots?

Both are fine. Seymour Duncan advises 500k, which is brighter and has more bite. Use 500k for blues, rock, or metal, and 250k if you play clean.

Who this is for?

Someone who loves the vintage Gibson sound.

Why I like it?

These pickups have a clean high-end and do fine at the low-end.

3. Lindy Fralin P-90 Soapbar Pickup Set

Features

  • Lindy Fralin offers a wide range of customizations
  • Sounds wonderful when distorted
  • Great mid-range

Specifications

  • Alnico IV bar magnets
  • Reverse-wound bridge
  • Adjustable poles

When it comes to guitar pickups, Lindy Fralin is becoming a staple brand. This Virginian company has proven time and time again that they know how to make a pickup, and the P-90 Soapbar is no exception.

The P-90 Soapbar truly shines when you overdrive it. Without distortion, the higher-end is acceptable, and the mid-range is nothing short of terrific. But once you overdrive it, the lower-end cuts through the mix and gives the Soapbar its attractive growl.

Besides the fantastic sound, the Lindy Fralin P-90 Soapbar is also customizable. It lets you select whether it’s under or overwound by 5%, offers a wide range of cover colors and colored screws, and you decide where to place humbucking in case you have a 3-pickup guitar.

How many conductors do these pickups have?

These pickups have a vintage braided single conductor.

What’s the pole spacing of these pickups?

These pickups have a standard pole spacing of 49.5 mm.

How is this set wound? Over, under, or both?

You will get the stock set unless you order from Lindy Fralin and specify how you want it wound, The stock set has 10,000 turns on the bridge and 10% under the neck.

Who this is for?

Someone looking for a customizable P90 pickup.

Why I like it?

The Lindy Fralin P90 sounds excellent and is customizable.

4. DiMarzio DP210 Tone Zone P90 Pickup

Features

  • High gain and output
  • Great lows and mids

Specifications

  • 4-conductor wiring
  • Designed for the bridge position
  • For series-parallel humbucking or split-coil modes

This DiMarzio P90 sounds similar to the Tone Zone humbucker while being more supple than a humbucker pickup. 

Because of its cover, soap bar pickups can’t be as close to the strings a regular humbucker would. To compensate for this, DiMarzio increased the gain and the output of the Tone Zone P90.

The mids and the lows are the greatest assets of this DiMarzio pickup. Designed for the bridge position, it sounds great both when clean and overdriven, but it shines the most with some distortion.

The pickup comes with 4-conductor wiring allowing you to convert it into a single-coil pickup for a more classic Fender sound with ease.

Will a plastic pickup cover affect the pickup’s performance?

Not in the slightest. A high gain magnetic pickup such as this one will not be affected by a plastic cover.

What color is the pickup cover?

This pickup comes with a black cover. A cream option is also available.

Who this is for?

Someone who loves the sound of DiMarzio humbuckers but wants some added versatility.

Why I like it?

This DiMarzio P90 gets boisterous and is excellent for overdrive.

5. Bare Knuckle Humbucker-Sized Mississippi Queen P90 Bridge Pickup

Features

  • Affordable
  • Sound great clean and overdriven

Specifications

  • Wound with 42AWG enamel wire
  • Alnico V magnets

This Bare Knuckle P90 has a low output and is great for playing in a clean setting. 

The brand might be undiscovered, but this P90 doesn’t disappoint either clean or distorted. It produces a warm sound, and it’s quite capable of some grittiness when overdriven.

Who this is for?

Someone interested in playing on cleaner settings.

Why I like it?

This pickup sounds great clean and isn’t muddy when playing with distortion.

6. Kent Armstrong, Stealth 90 – Noiseless P90 Bridge

Features

  • Good price-quality performance
  • Acts as a humbucker
  • Suitable for metal and hard rock

Specifications

  • Ceramic magnets
  • 19.6K bridge

As we’ve seen in the introduction, standard P90 pickups are single-coil. That’s not the case with the Kent Armstrong Stealth 90. This P90 has dual coils that make it act as a humbucker — there’s no hum. 

However, the Kent Armstrong P90 isn’t an ordinary humbucker either. Although it has a high resistance, the Stealth 90 doesn’t have a high output. 

The sound it produces is fat and crunchy, but also clean. It’s not bright, nor is it muddy. It’s an affordable pickup for a more aggressive tone, like metal or hard rock.

Who this is for?

Someone looking for an affordable dark P90 pickup.

Why I like it?

Even though Kent Armstrong is not as expensive as other brands, the Stealth 90 still produces a stellar sound. 

Best Humbuckers Sized P90 Buyer’s Guide

Best Humbuckers Sized P90

Best Humbuckers Sized P90 Pickup Wiring Diagram

How do humbucker pickups work?

Humbucker pickups work just like any other pickup. Pickups are made of wire coils around magnets, which create a magnetic field.

When you pluck a string, you disturb the magnetic field. The wire coils around the magnets also function as antennae and capture those small disturbances, translating them into an electrical signal.

The electrical signal can then be sent through an amplifier and retranslated into sound.

How to coil split a humbucker?

Coil splitting shuts down one of the coils of a humbucker pickup to create a single-coil tone.

To be able to coil-split, you’ll need pickups with 4-conductor wiring (colored red, green, white, and black) and a bare earth wire.

Pickups come with schematics to coil-split a humbucker. If yours doesn’t, you can find them online.

The process is simple: coil tap the finishes of each coil so that instead of four connections, you only have two. This can be done with a bit of solder and shouldn’t take long.

How to install humbucker covers?

To install a humbucker cover, you need to have a cover that fits your pickup. The cover should fit snugly but shouldn’t be forced over the pickup.

Installing the cover is simple. Add double-sided tape to the pickup (while ensuring it doesn’t cover the screw coils) and place the cover on the pickup. Although you could leave it like that, it’s a good idea to solder the cover to the baseplate near the center of one of the long sides of the pickup.

Don’t keep the soldering iron near the pickups for long, as heat can damage the humbucker.

Conclusion

Most players like having flexibility when trying to achieve a specific tone. Instead of constantly changing pickups trying to get a humbucker or a single-coil tone, they end up purchasing several guitars with different electronics. 

Nonetheless, getting new gear is expensive. The P90 pickups3 give you a middle ground between humbuckers and single-coil pickups without buying a new guitar.

The best part about these pickups is that despite focusing on a more Finder-like or Gibson-like tone, they also have a personality of their own. They sound great and are popular among punk bands.

I found the best P90 pickup to be the Seymour Duncan P-Rails Set. This set is versatile and perfect for musicians who want the best of both worlds on a single guitar.

As we know, musical preferences are intimate, and what I found to be the best might not be the best for you. Still, this is a good list that will help you decide which P90 pickup4 you should buy.

  1. http://www2.ece.rochester.edu/courses/ECE140/resources/Guitar-Project/Electric_Guitar_Pickup_Measurements.pdf
  2. https://www.academia.edu/36388024/GIBSON_PICKUPS_12_POINTS_OF_EXCELLENCE
  3. http://www2.ece.rochester.edu/courses/ECE140/resources/Guitar-Project/Pickups_2.pdf
  4. https://courses.physics.illinois.edu/phys406/sp2017/Student_Projects/Spring10/Dan_Carson/Dan_Carson_P498POM_Final_Report_Sp10.pdf

About the author

John Tschop

John Tschop

I am a music fan who is fond of different instruments and genres. The member of Klinger-McFry Band. We launched StereoShore to discuss proven tips, tutorials, and insights.

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