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P90 soap bar pickups were created by Gibson in 1946 when production restarted after WWII. These unique single-coil pickups have the rich twangy tone that singles are known for, but also provide some thickness and warmth that is more associated with humbuckers – putting them in a special place in the pickup spectrum.

With so many different P90 models to choose from today, finding the right set for you can be a harder process than you might think – but you must get the right pair. It would be best if you were really careful about choosing a set of P90s that have the tone, dynamic, and installation factors that work for your guitar. Otherwise, you risk wasting money on the wrong style of P90s.

Don’t worry, because I’m here to share my knowledge and experience (having upgraded many guitars with P90s) with you to ensure you get the best P90s for your guitar!

Let’s hop to it!

When it comes to electric guitar pickups, I don’t think many come close to the P90 for sheer classic vibe and versatility. Their wider, shorter bobbin gives them a warmer, rounded tone.

Gibson Guitars developed the P90 in the 1940s as a successor to the “Charlie Christian” pickup. When you consider that Charlie Christian was arguably the first guy to put an electric guitar solo on wax, that gives you some idea of the scope of what we’re talking about here.

There’s sure to be a P90 on my list for every player’s needs. Whether you’re pushing gutbucket blues out of your ES-style hollowbody or semihollow, strutting your stuff on solid body guitars like a Les Paul or SG, or dare I suggest, installing one in your Fender offset, I’ve got the P90 for your pet project.

I’ll also suggest you check out our review of the Best PAF Pickups, for a similar vintage sound!

Best P90 Pickups Reviewed

Best Overall

An authentic homage to the originals, with the quality and strength of modern engineering.

Why We Love It

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Authentic vintage sound

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Authentic look

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Relatively low noise

SPECS

  • Type: Single coil Soap Bar
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet: Alnico II

I chose the Seymour Duncan Antiquity P-90 as the winners for this list because they stood out compared to the others in terms of tonal authenticity, quality, and value for money.

Seymour Duncan’s Antiquity P90 boasts all period-correct materials, meticulously aged to give you that smooth vintage tone as well as a well-loved vintage aesthetic. I think they come really close to the original Gibson P90s in terms of both looks and sound, which is what I value when I’m choosing some P90 replicas.

Featuring a set of Alnico II magnets, vintage-correct hand-fabricated bobbins, plain enamel mag wire, and flatback tape, these pups bring the midrange growl and bark you’d expect from vintage pickups, and are more growling and rich than others on this list. Add to that the carefully aged cream covering and I could easily mistake these for a set of pickups directly from a ’52 Les Paul.

If you’re looking for some P90 replacements, I highly recommend these if you have the money. They look and sound like the real deal, and I think they’re very fairly priced for the quality.

What Could be Improved

  • Not as bright or twangy as other models

Best Classic P90

A dog-eared variation of modern P90s, which actually predate the soap bar design.

Why We Love It

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Manufactured by GIbson

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Handle distortion well

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Dog Ear aesthetic

SPECS

  • Type: Single coil Dog Ear
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet: Alnico V

There’s always something to be said for the original. This Gibson P90 Dog Ear pickup is THE P90 pickup, originally introduced in 1946 for Gibson’s ES models (the Soap Bar design didn’t appear until 1952 with the Les Paul), and its legendary tone remains intact today.

Today’s Gibson P90 comes with an Alnico V magnet for enhanced output — perfect for driving your amp into dangerous territory, and I think these handle distortion a bit better than the models above. Featuring vintage-correct 2-conductor wire and a wax-potted design, this pickup is outfitted for vintage vibes as well as versatility.

I’d say that is the pickup that created the legend. Whether you roll your volume down for silky smooth jazz lines or dime it for rock’n’roll snarl and bite, with the Gibson P90 you’re channeling electric guitar history in every note.

What Could be Improved

  • May not be physically compatible without some modification

Best Value P90

A highly affordable set of P90-styled pickups to get you started on modification.

Why We Love It

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Super affordable

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Decent sound for price

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Wax potted

SPECS

  • Type: Single coil Soap Bar
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet: Alnico V

My top recommendation for players on the tightest budget is the FLEOR Alnico V Soap bar.

Given the mega-low price, I think these fit a certain niche, where perhaps you want to experiment with a new set of soap bars on a non-P90 guitar. I definitely wouldn’t recommend using these as replacements in a guitar which already has a decent set of P90s, because they aren’t the best-sounding options.

The FLEOR soap bar comes with the same Alnico V magnets found on the Gibson, plus a wax-potted design for less unwanted feedback and microphonic squeal. Plus, it’s available in black, chrome, or cream for a customized look on any guitar.

Honestly, I would say these sound more like a generic set of single-coil pickups that have just been stuck in a P90-style case – I don’t think they sound particularly close to the originals, unlike others on this list. That said, if you’re looking for a bargain to experiment with, I think these are the cheapest you’ll find.

What Could be Improved

  • Comparatively low quality

Best Humbucker Sized P90

Humbucker-sized (but not designed) shiny P90s for a fat tone.

Why We Love It

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Humbucker-sized P-90

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Low noise and hum

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Thick, warm, and full

SPECS

  • Type: Single coil Humbucker style P-90 Neck Pickup
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet: Alnico II

One of my favorite things about the modern P90 landscape is that there are models available to fit all types of guitars for really customizable options. One that I’m most excited about is this Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P90 that’s designed to fit humbucker guitars.

Don’t let the description deceive you like I did, it’s not actually a humbucker – but it fits humbucker holes, and sounds a bit closer to one than a P90.

You can’t go wrong with this great pickup from arguably the most respected pickup manufacturer on the scene today. If you want to switch up your humbucker guitar’s neck pickup tone with a new P90, I’d say the Phat Cat is one of your best options.

What Could Be Improved

  • Not true to the originals
  • Maybe too fat tonally for some guitars
  • Not actually a humbucker

Best Hot P90

A super hot, growling P90 bridge position pickup to spice up your axe.

Why We Love It

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Hot, crunchy tone

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Sounds great when cranked

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Great for overdrive

SPECS

  • Type: Single coil P-90 Bridge Pickup
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet: Alnico V

I’d recommend the Hot 90 Soapbar from Tonerider if you’re into a more aggressive style of playing and you’re looking for a P90 bridge pickup that’s going to give you a hotter signal and beefier sound than the vintage sound of the original.

This pickup is overwound for an increased output or “hotter” sound. The Alnico V magnets complete the package by bringing beefier low-end and fatter sound, similar to a humbucker, but still retaining the single coil pickup character and soap bar shape of the P90 design.

The best part is, that this pickup is super affordable. If you want to just try out a hot P90 bridge pickup but aren’t quite sure, I’d suggest you take a look here.

What Could Be Improved

  • Doesn’t sound its best on clean settings
  • May be too hot for some playing styles

Best Humbucking P90

For fans of humbucker tones, the DP210 captures the best of P90s and humbuckers in one pickup.

Why We Love It

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Humbucker in a P90 format

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Thick, punchy, beefed up

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Low hum and reduced noise

SPECS

  • Type: Humbucking P-90-style Pickup
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet: Ceramic magnets

While the DiMarzio Tone Zone P90 pickup isn’t technically a P90 per se, I thought I’d include it in this list because it looks like a P90 and fits like a P90. It’s really just a high-output humbucker in P90’s clothing – in other words, a pretty darn cool pickup.

The Tone Zone is perfect for players who want a hot humbucker sound from their bridge pickup but are limited by the P90 cutout. Problem solved! Now you can get chunky mids and lows from your bridge while still maintaining the clarity of a humbucker. I love humbuckers for their noise reduction, and how well they handle overdrive – but each to their own!

I know this is technically not a P90, but you’re gonna love this pickup and it’s close enough!

What Could Be Improved

  • Not 100% faithful to the original P90 tone

Best Premium P90

For players seeking a more aggressive tone, these active P90s are a unique beast.

Why We Love It

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High output, active tone

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High-quality performance

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Great for gain and drive

SPECS

  • Type: Single coil Soap Bar P90
  • Active/Passive: Active
  • Magnet: Alnico V

While active pickups may not be for everyone, the Fishman Fluence Greg Koch P90 is a premium pickup that’s sure to appeal to players with a decent budget and who want a lot of tone control from their pickups.

I’m 50/50 on actives – sometimes I love them, other times I think they’re not suitable. Ultimately it depends on what type of music I’m playing. If I want some extra gain and bite, I’ll pick an active any day. I think actives make some of the Best Guitar Pickups for Metal!

Both the bridge and neck pickup feature single coil, vintage, and overwound modes. Single coil gives you a gorgeous, shimmering jangle and chime. The vintage mode gives you a classic fat mid-range P90 sound great for jazzier tones, and the overwound mode supplies tons of low-end and chunky grit.

Compared to the others on this list, these have a higher output and handle distortion better, but are more inconvenient due to the battery requirement and modification.

What Could Be Improved

  • May require extra modification due to active circuitry
  • Requires battery powering

Best P90 Pickups Buyer’s Guide

There are tons of options on the market for P90 pickups, and a lot of them have very subtle differences that can make shopping for one pretty overwhelming. Fortunately for you, I’ve summarized some of the factors to consider in this handy buyer’s guide.

Tone

P90 pickups are known for their warm and fat sound, which is more midrange-focused than the brighter and sharper tone of most single-coil pickups, like the ones commonly found on Fender guitars.

They’re ideal for thick blues tones, clean and smooth jazz, and even raucous punk snarl, due to their sensitivity. The versatility of a good P90 pickup is a beautiful thing that can transform any guitar into your go-to for pretty much everything.

However, there can be variations in tone between different P90 pickups, which generally have to do with the materials and construction of the pickup.

Output

P90 pickups generally have a higher output than other single-coil pickups, which can result in more distortion and sustain. There are varying degrees of output available, generally linked to the winding of the pickup (more winding = higher output).

Look for a “hot” P90 like the Tonerider Hot 90 Soapbar P90 Bridge Pickup if you’re looking for higher output, best for more aggressive types of music.

Construction

Variations in the materials used in P90 pickups can affect the tone and output of the pickup. For example, the Alnico II magnets of vintage style P90s like the Seymour Duncan Antiquity provide a smoother midrange tone, while Alnico Vs have a heavier low-end sound.

Additionally, some P90 pickups are designed to fit specific guitar models, so it’s important to make sure the pickup will fit your guitar. We’ve included a humbucker-size P90 on this list in the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat for those who want to set up their humbucker guitar with a P90.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a P90 pickup?

A P90 pickup is a type of electric guitar pickup that uses a single-coil design and typically has a fatter and warmer sound compared to other single-coil pickups like the Stratocaster and Telecaster pickups.

What is the difference between a P90 pickup and a humbucker pickup?

A P90 pickup and a humbucker pickup are both designed to cancel out hum, but they do it in different ways. P90 pickups use a single coil and have a fatter and warmer sound, while humbucker pickups use two coils and have a thicker and more aggressive tone.

Are P90 pickups noisy?

P90 pickups can be noisy because they use a single coil, which can pick up hum and interference from other electrical devices. However, some P90 pickups are designed with noise-cancelling technology to reduce unwanted noise.

What type of music are P90 pickups good for?

P90 pickups are often used for rock, blues, and jazz music because of their fat and warm tone. However, they can also be used in other genres like country and pop.

What guitar models use P90 pickups?

Many guitar models use P90 pickups, including the Gibson Les Paul Junior, Gibson SG, and the Epiphone Casino. However, there are also aftermarket P90 pickups available that can be installed in other guitar models.

Final Verdict…

Thanks for checking out my review! I think you’ll now have a much better idea of what P90s are suitable for you.

My pick for the best P90 is a no-brainer, really – I had to hand it to the Seymour Duncan Antiquity, just hands-down the best vintage-style P90 on the market today. They’re authentic to the originals, they offer great value for money, and they look the part too!

That said, I think these won’t be the best choice for everyone, so make sure you take a good look through my list and recommendations to help you get the best pick.

If you’re playing a Strat, check out our list of the Best Stratocaster Pickups!


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