Humbucker-Sized P90s

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Shadoweclipse13
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Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by Shadoweclipse13 » Mon Feb 03, 2020 9:31 pm

A good friend of mine texted me the other day that he wants to upgrade his guitar. He's got a really nice Epiphone G400 SG (in the sort of faded orange color that they made for a few years). He said he's wanting some new knobs, new electronics (pots are going bad I think, but I'll try to hit them with electrical contact cleaner first maybe), and most of all some new pickups. He was thinking some P90s, which I wholeheartedly support. His budget is a bit tighter than mine though, as he just got married and they bought a house a year and a half ago. If it was mine, I'd probably just go get a pair of Bare Knuckle Mississippi Queens and be done with it.

What other brands/models of humbucker-sized/-mounted P90s are out there that sound good and aren't too expensive?
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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by Gordon » Tue Feb 04, 2020 12:02 am

The GFS are actually quite nice. :)

EDIT: Dream 90 or Mean 90, but also their Metal Foil and Gold Foil (the single coil versions); they have slightly lower output, but sound rather good.
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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by Shadoweclipse13 » Tue Feb 04, 2020 12:20 am

Interesting. I've had my eye on some Surf 90s for a while, but if they sound decent, the Dream 90s are definitely within his price range I'm thinking... Thanks for the heads-up Gordon!
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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by MayTheFuzzBeWithYou » Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:36 am

Hey Shadow!
I second the GFS pickups.
Two friends and I ordered some pickups two years or so ago.
And all of them (Gold Foil, Surf90 and the P90 - but I can’t recall whether it was the Dream or Mean90) sounded amazing! I can just go into detail for the Surf90s though as I never played the others fore more than an hour. Their cables are a bit of a pain in the ass - but once you installed one of these you could theoretically switch between (their) pickups really fast and easy! For example if you get some Surf90s for yourself along with his order.

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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by Shadoweclipse13 » Tue Feb 04, 2020 3:21 am

I'm glad the GFS 90s are getting such good reviews! I've definitely been a little hesitant about the quick-connect setup. As someone who can solder well, that just sounds like a pain in the ass. Still though! I'll find some demos today and send them to my friend. Thanks!!
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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by Rgand » Tue Feb 04, 2020 7:14 am

I've been considering the GFS pickups, too. If he goes for them, post back how he likes them.

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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by AcrylicSuperman » Tue Feb 04, 2020 7:26 am

Gfs mean 90 is pretty awesome in the neck position when paired with a humbucker. I do remember at some point, someone on a forum cracked open a dream 90 and it was basically just a strat pickup in the shell. That mean 90 is a different beast though. Definitely look into that one.

I initially came in here to suggest the MQ's and was kind of bummed that those were off the table. Lol.

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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by jvin248 » Tue Feb 04, 2020 8:04 am

.

These are GFS single coils in this 1970 MIJ LP copy pictured below. They work. The originals were broken and needed a replacement.

However, I've had quite a few Epiphone SGs and the best tone mods he can do:
-Replace the pots with Bourns 500k, selecting high/low kohms out of the ones he gets to bias bright/dark for which pickup he wants to put them on. I'd have him start with just the volume pots. Leave the tone pots, especially if they are push/pull coil splits. EVH used Bourns on a $13k relic Wolfgang signature that he toured all summer with a few years back -- so you know they can take the volume swell abuse. Most likely he has large size Alpha but could have the tiny Alpha pots in there. Just upgrade to the Bourns, about $4-$5 each online.
-Replace the 0.047uF tone caps with 0.033uF and they will open up a little more sparkle from the guitar, it's almost like the tone improvement when switching on a bit of reverb. If the guitar has 0.022uF then go 0.01uF. I learned this trick from observing how the later half of Korean Epiphone production switched from 0.047uf to 0.033uF and why those often sounded better when playing than before or after models.
-Lower the pickups to the trim rings, raise the screw poles 1/8th inch, and then raise the bridge pickup until volume parity when switching between neck and bridge pickups. This will dramatically improve the tone and clarity. Especially if his pickups are currently up tight, a couple nickels under the strings (common setup).
-If still fighting muddiness, then use the 0.047uF cap removed in series with the hot lead to the muddy pickup.

I used to swap pickups until I learned how important and effective changing other parts in the tone system are. It's not as sexy as telling your buddies you swapped pickups, but it's a whole lot better for the budget.

Image

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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by mbene085 » Tue Feb 04, 2020 8:18 am

AcrylicSuperman wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 7:26 am
Gfs mean 90 is pretty awesome in the neck position when paired with a humbucker. I do remember at some point, someone on a forum cracked open a dream 90 and it was basically just a strat pickup in the shell. That mean 90 is a different beast though. Definitely look into that one.

I initially came in here to suggest the MQ's and was kind of bummed that those were off the table. Lol.
Even if the bobbin was smaller, it's a steel polepiece/bar magnet construction like a P90 and will never sound like a strat pickup.

I've owned various GFS pickups including the mean 90s. They were all ok. If they came stock on an epiphone you'd say "hey, these pickups might not need replacing," but as aftermarket mods they aren't really worth it IMO. I view the pickups as the most critical part/upgrade on a guitar and decided long ago to stop trying to save a few bucks there, because I always end up wasting more money pulling them back out.

There are people these days making far higher quality pickups at reasonable prices. I've been buying a lot of D'Urbano Magnetics pickups lately. Hand wound in Oz. More expensive than GFS but cheaper than a Fralin or Lollar.

Then there's Bootstrap Pickups. Prices barely higher than GFS and handwound in the US. I know they offer a HB-sized single coil, that could be worth looking into.

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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by AcrylicSuperman » Tue Feb 04, 2020 8:26 am

mbene085 wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 8:18 am
Even if the bobbin was smaller, it's a steel polepiece/bar magnet construction like a P90 and will never sound like a strat pickup.
You're correct, but it doesn't exactly come across like a p90 either. It comes closer to a strat pickup than it does a p90, even with a p90 construction.

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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by beauzooka » Tue Feb 04, 2020 11:24 am

These are non-traditional P-90's but sound good and aren't crazy expensive:

https://railhammer.com/products/humcutter/

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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by Maggieo » Tue Feb 04, 2020 3:36 pm

Seymour Duncan Phat Cats are totally top-shelf.
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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by Shadoweclipse13 » Wed Feb 05, 2020 12:48 am

jvin248 wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 8:04 am
These are GFS single coils in this 1970 MIJ LP copy pictured below. They work. The originals were broken and needed a replacement.

However, I've had quite a few Epiphone SGs and the best tone mods he can do:
-Replace the pots with Bourns 500k, selecting high/low kohms out of the ones he gets to bias bright/dark for which pickup he wants to put them on. I'd have him start with just the volume pots. Leave the tone pots, especially if they are push/pull coil splits. EVH used Bourns on a $13k relic Wolfgang signature that he toured all summer with a few years back -- so you know they can take the volume swell abuse. Most likely he has large size Alpha but could have the tiny Alpha pots in there. Just upgrade to the Bourns, about $4-$5 each online.
-Replace the 0.047uF tone caps with 0.033uF and they will open up a little more sparkle from the guitar, it's almost like the tone improvement when switching on a bit of reverb. If the guitar has 0.022uF then go 0.01uF. I learned this trick from observing how the later half of Korean Epiphone production switched from 0.047uf to 0.033uF and why those often sounded better when playing than before or after models.
-Lower the pickups to the trim rings, raise the screw poles 1/8th inch, and then raise the bridge pickup until volume parity when switching between neck and bridge pickups. This will dramatically improve the tone and clarity. Especially if his pickups are currently up tight, a couple nickels under the strings (common setup).
-If still fighting muddiness, then use the 0.047uF cap removed in series with the hot lead to the muddy pickup.

I used to swap pickups until I learned how important and effective changing other parts in the tone system are. It's not as sexy as telling your buddies you swapped pickups, but it's a whole lot better for the budget.

Image
My friend was talking about scrapping most of the electronics anywho, and needing a setup, so these are all good ideas. He'll probably want new pickups anyways, but we can try the setup and some pots first. I don't think his G400 has coil-splitting, but I'll double-check that...

mbene085 wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 8:18 am
There are people these days making far higher quality pickups at reasonable prices. I've been buying a lot of D'Urbano Magnetics pickups lately. Hand wound in Oz. More expensive than GFS but cheaper than a Fralin or Lollar.

Then there's Bootstrap Pickups. Prices barely higher than GFS and handwound in the US. I know they offer a HB-sized single coil, that could be worth looking into.
I'll look into both of those!! Maybe something for myself as well ;)

beauzooka wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 11:24 am
These are non-traditional P-90's but sound good and aren't crazy expensive:

https://railhammer.com/products/humcutter/
My friend used to be a metal guy, and I don't think he is anymore, but these might be interesting. They certainly look cool as hell. Are those the actual ones that Reverend uses? I know they've got a couple similar pickups on a few of their models...

Maggieo wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 3:36 pm
Seymour Duncan Phat Cats are totally top-shelf.
I always forget about SD Phat Cats. I can't imagine that they are terribly expensive either...
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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by RuffiansFC » Wed Feb 05, 2020 6:24 am

I can vouch for GFS and railhammer p90s. I have used mean 90s before and enjoyed them quite a bit. I currently have a RH nuevo 90 in the neck position of my les paul and a RH alnico grande in the bridge. this has been my favorite pickup pairing in the 20+ years of pickup changes I have done with that guitar. super clear in the neck sound where some p-90s can lose that clarity when playing with dirt.

if you want a best of several worlds, I cant recommend Duncan p-rails enough. it basically creates a humbucker out of a p-90 and a mini-rail single coil. I have had the bridge pup in my SG for 12-13 years and the neck pup for 10. Almost too versatile and the p-90 bridge sound is about as close to the real thing that I have encountered.

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Re: Humbucker-Sized P90s

Post by tylerforyou » Wed Feb 05, 2020 12:51 pm

Maggieo wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 3:36 pm
Seymour Duncan Phat Cats are totally top-shelf.
Seconded. After playing Phat Cats I wouldn't take a GFS P90 if you gave it to me.
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