Pretty much every pickup manufacturer offers a P-90 these days, although some are more vintage-accurate than others. Try not to get too fixated on power, and consider the merits of both types of alnico – maybe with alnico III in the neck and alnico V for the bridge.
It’s also possible to swap A5 magnets for A3, or vice versa, if you want to tweak your tone. Modern twists include ceramic magnets for even more output and noise-cancelling designs.
Seymour Duncan Staple Dog EAR $225
This seems to be the only authentic-spec staple P-90 available. With unpotted coils wound to 9.2K and alnico V magnets, this Custom Shop product can be ordered in black or cream with nickel or gold plated metal parts. It’s also available in a soapbar format.
Monty’s Guitars J90 £93
This one is included because we recently installed a J90 in a high-end Gibson Les Paul Junior Reissue. The improvement was dramatic to say the least. Features include potted plain aluminium coils with alnico III magnets and a 7.7K DC resistance. The manufacturer recommends these for hollow-bodied guitars, but they’re available in soapbar format too.
Kinman P-90 HX £129
Like all single-coils, P-90s generate hum. Various hum-cancelling P-90 designs have been tried, but most lose some of the P-90’s tone, along with the hum. Kinman’s solution is amongst the most highly regarded, with 202 individual parts that include highly efficient magnetic shields around the upper coil and a lower coil of much thicker wire wound onto a laminated steel bobbin.
Vintage P-90 $275
These were mass-produced pickups, so it’s easy to find second-hand P-90s of 50s and 60s manufacture. If you explore this route, it might be advisable to buy from a reputable dealer. If it’s wax potted or wound to 8.5K or above, the pickup has probably been re-wound. There are plenty of P-13s about, too, for around $200.
Lindy Fralin P-90 Soap Bar £155/$200
The Virginia-based pickup winder has become one of the best kept secrets of the guitar industry in recent years, offering a plethora of well made pickups for a variety of guitars. Describes as a ‘P-90 on steroids’ by the company, they’re made with Alnico IV magnets and plain enamel wire, and the output is massive with a very impressive tone. Well-balanced and including an emphasized mid-range, this set can get really snarly with a touch of overdrive.
Seymour Duncan Antiquity P-90 £92/$119
Seymour Duncan’s Antiquity range finds itself on most pickup roundups and with good reason. Under the aged black plastic dog-ear cover you’ll find the same hand-fabricated bobbin, Alnico II bar magnets, plain enamel mag wire, and flatback tape you’d come across in an original Gibson pup. Chords are bright and articulate, while lead lines retain clarity without losing any body. A stellar option.
Tyson Tone P90 SET 53-Wraptail $210
Bob Tyson couldn’t find any replicas that sounded like vintage PAFs and P-90s, so he made his own. re they snarly and growly or the sweet and delicate kind? The answer is all of the above. They’re able to wrench out more of a guitar’s natural resonance and enhance it in a way that fuses the acoustic and electric aspects of the instrument. In other words, they emulate precisely those elusive characteristics of the 50s and 60s originals that make them so special and desirable.
Seymour Duncan SPH90 £69/$89
If you’re after a more raucous tone and extra growl, you could turn your attention to the Seymour Duncan SPH90. This true single-coil P-90 is made with Alnico II magnets and a nickel-silver baseplate, fitting in standard humbucker slots in both the neck or bridge cavities on your guitar. Offering bright, ringing chords and superb sustain for soloing, the wax-potting helps with noise reduction too.
To learn more about the history of the P-90, check out our guide here.