Four best P-90 pickups

Introducing a quartet of P-90 pickups that are faithful to vintage specs.

P-90 es-335 gibson

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.

1Seymour 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.

2Monty’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.

3Kinman 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.

4Vintage 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.

To learn more about the history of the P-90, check out our guide here.