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Humbuckers Vs P90: How Can You Choose The Right One For You?

It should not be surprising that evaluating popular products and models has evolved into a seasoned battlefield of argument, conversation, and analysis since our guitar pickups are one of the essential factors in creating the perfect sound profile and personality for your guitar.

The P90, as well as the Humbucker, are two items that are always put in an in-depth discussion for every musician and guitar enthusiast. The P90 as well as Humbucker guitar pickups, in contrast to traditional Fender’s single coil guitar pickups, have both been invented upon that Gibson side of the wall.

The golden trinity of guitar sound and tone is made up of these three distinct pickup varieties, which can be found on our common market nowadays in numerous variations and configurations that may be suited to various guitars.

However, we are concentrating on the similarly renowned P90 / Humbucker. Leo Fender’s iconic single coils are certainly a story for a different article. Which musical tones might we anticipate from these legendary breakthroughs? What type of sound do they fit? What are its advantages and disadvantages? P90 vs Humbucker? Find out now!

P90 vs Humbucker

What is a P90 Pickup?

P90 became widely accessible to the public
P90 became widely accessible to the public

Gibson, a leading manufacturer of guitars, created model P90 initially. Two decades before P90 became widely accessible to the public, this renowned firm started conceptual designing way back 1930s.

Charlie Christian, an American jazz guitarist, is mainly credited with popularizing the e-guitar, although he is also known for installing the infamous P90 pickup on his ES 150 throughout the 1930s. The original P90 had a composition of straight blades and a couple of cobalt steel magnets, which made it extremely clumsy.

Several holes had to be drilled into Gibson’s guitar in order to mount its pickup, resulting in an intrusive operation. Within the years that followed, Gibson made the P90 smaller. Its pickups’ dimensions may be decreased while maintaining its magnetism power when alnico magnets have been used.

This finding has a significant impact on all guitar pickups. The P90s have been put across all three of Gibson’s presently-iconic Les Paul Standard, Customized, and Specialized guitars when they were first released. They are mainly responsible for their characteristic sound and tone.

Presently, when P90 e-guitar pickups remain at the top of the heap. They are fitted on a variety of Gibson as well as Epiphone instruments, as well as numerous other kinds and models that players have built themselves.

What various P90 pickup kinds are there?

They all have a comparable tone and sound and various body shapes.
They all have a comparable tone and sound and various body shapes.

These P90 pickups come in a variety of forms. However, they all have a comparable tone and sound and various body shapes. All three varieties of P90 pickups are as follows:

  • Humbucker casing: Since these P90s are a tiny bit wider and thinner compared to a typical humbucker would have been, they are similar to the regular humbucker shape. Humbucker case P90s, meanwhile, will not necessitate any adjustments to your instruments.
  • Soap bar: That rectangular shape pickup, which resembles the legendary Gibson P90, has to feature mounting screws throughout the center, therefore, it won’t protrude over your guitar’s pickguard.
  • Dog ear: Because it is likewise rectangular, this dog-ear guitar pickup resembles soap bars. However, the mounting bolts for the dog ear pickup were situated on a triangular expansion along either side of the pickup.

    Having dog ear pickups with something like a hookup onto your pickguard may need some adjustment on your guitar.

What Good Uses Are There for P90 Pickups?

Every P90 pickups are a terrific alternative for your guitar instrument in the correct situation. They have a much brighter tone, sharpness, and capability to pierce through some kind of mixing, making them ideal for genres like pop music, jazz blues, and probably country music.

Expert Tip: Heavy Metal is probably the only genre of music for which P90 pickups are unsuitable since it doesn’t have enough bass overtones and frequencies and has the propensity to buzz at higher volume levels.

Could P90 pickups be used for rock metal? Oh sure! But you’ll require some type of sound gate or compressor in order to achieve the most remarkable performance possible from using them, both while performing on stage and so when filming. You certainly don’t want the tone to be overly chaotic and humming-filled with any of these safeguards.

Meanwhile, humbucker pickup or a much more contemporary model, such as the Fishman Fluence, is some type of active humbucking pickup that is preferred by groups such as the Lamb of God, bands like TRIVIUM, as well as Animals as Leaders, to mention a few, are always superior for the genre of metal.

What Is a Humbucker Pickup?

What Is a Humbucker Pickup
What Is a Humbucker Pickup?

On the other hand, humbucker pickup, commonly known as the “double coil” is a principal instrument that uses two coils. Its capability to “buckle the hum” an unwanted sound that single-coil pickups were infamous for during the earlier days of guitar production gives it its moniker.

In 1934, a local audio firm in Indiana created the first humbucking coil. Initial stages were intended for essential speeches and public speaking, but they rapidly gained popularity as e-guitar or electric guitar picks.

After Seth Lover from Gibson received a directive from the company’s chief to attempt to address its hum problem, which single-coil pickups are typically susceptible to. humbuckers were initially used through e-guitars.

Around that period, Gretsch began exploring humbucker pickups for its instrument guitars. However, Gibson eventually prevailed after patenting its innovation a few years earlier from Gretsch.

Humbuckers were used by many top guitar makers during the 1950s and 1960s rock n’ roll explosion across both parts of the region, primarily because they provided a clearer sound and tone than single coils.

What are the characteristics of Humbucker pickups?

Humbuckers are favored amongst the genre of heavy rock as well as heavy metal guitarists, though they can also be performed through blues, blues rock, and even classic jazz. They are ideal for aggressive guitar riffing or just about any circumstance where a mellower sound with a softer release and no discernible mids are required.

Several of the most hardcore metal subcultures would’ve been inconceivable without the use of humbuckers.

How do humbuckers and P90 pickups differ?

Humbuckers have dual coils, while P90 pickups only have one.
Humbuckers have dual coils, while P90 pickups only have one.

While comparing the actual construction of both two pickups, you will realize that they’re vastly unique and different. Humbuckers have dual coils, while P90 pickups only have one. However, the differences don’t end here.

In addition, the design of such formation of the coils and the placement of the magnets are distinct. Because of the distinctive configuration of their coils and magnets, musicians will be able to distinguish between various tonal characteristics.

With the design of something like the humbucker pickups, musicians can observe a single bar magnet behind its dual coils; such a structure will provide players with a tone and sound quality that is much less scratchy and muddy (compared to when using P90). Humbucker pickups give players a very aggressive overdrive.

However, they can equally produce loud, clear sounds. Generally, humbucker pickups offer greater adaptability across a wide variety of musical styles.

P90 vs Humbucker

P90 Pickups’ Advantages

P90 pickups are advantageous since these types often produce much higher and lower frequencies. Several musicians would likely think this is not true. However, it is, in fact, true. P90 pickups provide a wider range of frequencies compared to humbuckers and their sound is significantly more accurate and clear.

Due to this instrument’s greater clarity, players may also play incredibly musical guitar sections which they would generally play on something like a Fender’s Stratocaster or Telecaster.

P90 pickups have much more power than single coil pickups, resulting in a hotter sound and a touch that has more edge to the texture.

P90 pickup’s Disadvantages

Because of its structure, the most common problem many individuals will encounter is a distracting buzz or humming. Occasionally, this is produced by unclean power or anything around your signal chain. Similar to Stratocaster pickups, P90s feature intrinsic buzzing and humming difficulties.

A further drawback of P90 pickups versus Humbuckers is that it feedbacks sooner and with more intensity compared to Humbuckers.

Humbucker pickups Advantages

Humbuckers pickups are recognized as something like the “go-to” pickups among heavy rock and hardcore metal musicians. Humbucker pickups offer several benefits over single-coil as well. These consist of the following:

  • Without (or with a minimum) humming or buzzing
  • Having the ability to deal with much higher amplitude guitar tones minus the screeching
  • Have additional possibilities for replacing your present pickups with new pickups from various manufacturers.

Although Humbuckers don’t really span the complete audio range or spectrum, unlike P90s, these are a midrange powerhouse that mixes well. Although you do not receive the entire high and low frequencies of something like the P90, there is no buzzing with this thick sound.

Expert Tip: When you perform a great deal of more intricate songs and heavy rock, you should choose humbuckers pickups.

Humbucker Pickups Disadvantages

P90 pickups feature lower-end punch and higher-end clarity than their Humbucker pickup counterparts. When this is more essential to you than the buzzing, therefore the P90 pickup is an excellent pick.

Throughout the years, I’ve encountered a lot of lackluster Humbuckers. When you’re searching for something like a setup of humbuckers. We recommend finding a PAF-style setup with a great deal of top-end bite. The lower the temperature of the Humbucker, the greater its top end.

Which one should you choose?

We dislike mindlessly guiding musicians in one path.
We dislike mindlessly guiding musicians in one path.

We dislike mindlessly guiding musicians in one path. Choosing a piece of equipment is highly personal, and you must come to your unique findings.We are solely here to present you with facts that will hopefully assist your decision-making. Aim to put your fingers around guitars with these guitar pickups to at least achieve a sense of how they sounded and performed.

To the contrary, here are some suggestions for what you may like more:

  • A tiny humbucker is a great option when you like the sound of single-coil pickups like those found around Fender guitars.
  • Consider a P90 when you like Gibsons without humbuckers but still want that classic tone.
  • The P90 pickups might be helpful when you often use overdriven rocker textures in your playing.
  • Small humbucker pickups might suffice when you perform mostly within rhythm or like a much “cleaner” sound.
  • A P90 is an excellent pick when you can deal with noise or humming.
  • A tiny humbucker pickup is an excellent choice when you despise loud pickups.

As a bonus, because P90s and tiny humbuckers use the same mounting holes, you may easily switch between them if you dislike the one you first choose.

Other Types Of Pickups Single coil pickup

The original kind of guitar pickup has been the single-coil pickup.
The original kind of guitar pickup has been the single-coil pickup.

The original kind of guitar pickup has been the single-coil pickup. This pickup continues to be used, and the vast majority of its fundamental components are still present.
Each of these pickups has a single coil with a single magnetic pole to every string.

This pickup utilizes its magnetic field that can pick up (hence the term) the waves of vibrating metal strings and transform those into something like an electrical signal. These signals are then routed into a signal processor and perhaps another amplifier.

Among the most distinctive features of every single-coil pickup is its sharp, high-end-powerful tone. You get this via their powerful attack and pluck, which is a characteristic of instruments such as Stratocasters or Telecasters.


Both Acoustic, as well as electric guitars, are two instances of how piezo technologies have been used in the music industry. Instead of using magnetism to track and detect motion, piezoelectric sensors do that. These characteristics make them perfect for acoustic instruments with nylon strings.

Despite being more often linked with acoustic guitars, these are also accessible in e-guitar versions.

Main Differences Between P90 vs Humbucker

Main Differences Between P90 vs Humbucker
Main Differences Between P90 vs Humbucker

You’ll see that these two pickups are remarkably dissimilar when you examine their basic designs. The P90 pickup utilizes just one coil, whilst the humbuckers utilize two but the difference does not really end there. These are the main differences between P90 vs humbucker.

The P90 alone has one coil, while the Humbucker is using two. The Humbucker pickup has a gentler sound than the P90 pickup, which has a grittier one. In general, humbucker pickups cost more than P90 pickups. You’ll know that the P90 compensates for the jangly highs and medium-range growl that the humbucker lacks.

In the end, there is no correct or incorrect choice when selecting a humbucker or a P90. Therefore, both P90 and humbucker can offer an indefinite number of advantages to the correct person, but based on your circumstances and requirements, one pickup might be a better option than the other.

P90 Pickup Types

If you play an electric guitar, you need an excellent P90 pickup. P90s were first made after the Second World War and were the most popular pickup for a Gibson guitar. Toward the end of the 1950s, the humbucker became more popular for its mellow sound, the P90 was temporarily used on cheaper instruments.

In the late 1960s, a version of a Les Paul guitar began using the P90, and it again became popular.

  • Dog ear: This pickup has extensions on both sides that look like dogs’ ears.
  • Soap bar: This is a straight-edged rectangular pickup. Its style is minimalist. They have screws around the sides of their coils. This type of pickup is vintage; it’s been used since the 1950s.
  • Humbucker casing: They look like humbucker pickups (having two coils wound in opposite directions) and are usually made for use with a larger guitar.

You can upgrade your P90 with many options, and you can discover those options by going to a reputable guitar shop.


The P90 and the Humbucker are always remarkable designs and inventions that have withstood the passage of time and continue to be in use nowadays for various purposes. Our P90 pickups, which offer an excellent balanced, powerful tone that could undoubtedly please every aspect of your sonic preferences, ooze flexibility.

As long as instruments like guitars remain played, our history will forever be filled with the sounds of the Humbucker as well as its twin coil characteristics, which guarantee to provide a really distinctive and sickeningly pleasurable sound.

These two genres are ideal for players of all skill levels, and the variety of tunes and sounds they give is one of the things that makes performing and experimenting with guitar instruments so much more enjoyable.

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About Jayden Buckley

Hi, my name is Jayden and I am author/editor for PlayTheTunes. I remember the first time I hopped on the drums, I was hooked. Music has played an enormous part of my life, and I'm honored I get to share my experiences with you!