While P90 pickups can be used in any guitar, lets talk about the best P90 guitars available that you can buy online or at a guitar store!
I never had a guitar with a P90 until about three years ago. I always thought they would sound like single coils. Boy, was I wrong!. P90 pickups are hidden treasures in the guitar world. Some of the vintage P90s are are converted for their outstanding tone. If you haven’t played a guitar with a P90, then stop right now, go to a guitar store, and find one to play! (Then come back and read the rest of this article so you know which one to buy :).
Otherwise, if you are reading this, then you probably already know and you in the market for a new guitar with P90s and just want to know your best options.
Of course, you can put a P90 pickup in any guitar. But there are certainly some great guitars that already came with P90’s that are fantastic. Let’s get into it!
A Little Bit About the P90 Pickup
A P90 guitar is a type of electric guitar pickup that uses the P90 single-coil pickup. Even though the P90 is a single coil, its a bit larger and really doesn’t sound like a single coil that you would find in a Fender Stratocaster. A P90 pickup is known for its distinct growl, barking midrange, and clarity that can cut through any mix.
The P90 pickup was first introduced by Gibson in 1946 as an alternative to the popular humbucker pickup, which was known for its smooth and warm tone. The P90 quickly gained popularity among musicians who wanted a more aggressive sound for their music.
One advantage of using a P90 guitar is the versatility it offers. That raw and gritty tone of the pickups make it suitable for various genres such as blues, rock, punk, even jazz.
Despite these drawbacks, many musicians still prefer using P90 guitars because of their unique sound and character that can’t be replicated by other types of pickups.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a P90 guitar
Before you make a decision, take into account the unique tone and versatility that P90 pickups can bring to your playing style. P90 pickups offer a full-bodied sound that has a tone that is not as warm as a humbucker but not as bright as a single coil.
You’ll find that P90s are capable of producing both clean and distorted tones with ease, making them an excellent choice for a wide range of genres. I absolutely love the sound of a P90 played through a tube amp on a crunch channel.
When choosing a P90 guitar, consider the pickup options available. Some models come with just one P90 pickup in the bridge position, while others have two or three pickups, offering more tonal options.
Finally, pay attention to the body material of any P90 guitar you’re considering. The wood used in construction can greatly affect the overall tone and resonance of the instrument. Mahogany is a popular choice for its warm midrange response, while maple offers brighter highs and tighter lows. Other materials like ash or alder may be used as well, each with their own unique properties. Ultimately, it’s up to personal preference which body material will best suit your playing style.
Best Overall: Gibson Les Paul Special
The Gibson Les Paul Special P90 guitar is an iconic instrument that has captivated musicians and enthusiasts alike since its introduction in the late 1950s. Renowned for its exceptional tone, playability, and distinctive design, the Les Paul Special has become a staple in the world of rock and blues music.
Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, the Les Paul Special P90 features a solid mahogany body, providing a rich and resonant tonal foundation. This tonewood choice imparts a warm and balanced sound, perfect for delivering thick, punchy rhythms and soaring lead lines.
One of the standout features of the Les Paul Special is its pickup configuration. Equipped with two powerful P90 single-coil pickups, this guitar produces a captivating vintage-inspired tone that is both articulate and dynamically responsive. The P90 pickups offer a unique blend of warmth, clarity, and grit, making them ideal for players seeking a versatile instrument capable of delivering everything from smooth jazz tones to aggressive rock crunch.
The Les Paul Special has a comfortable and fast-playing mahogany neck. The standard guitars feature a slim-taper profile that allows for effortless navigation across the fretboard.
In terms of aesthetics, the Les Paul Special P90 exudes a timeless and understated elegance. It has the iconic Les Paul body shape, and vintage-style finishes, this guitar offers a visually stunning instrument that stands out on any stage.
Best P90 Guitar for Beginners: Epiphone Casino
Looking for a guitar with a unique, vintage sound? The Epiphone Casino is a great option to consider as a runner-up pick. This guitar has been popular among famous musicians such as The Beatles, Noel Gallagher, Shirley Manson, and Howlin’ Wolf.
Here are some features of the Epiphone Casino that make it stand out:
- Hollow Body: The hollow body design of the Epiphone Casino allows for a warm, resonant tone that is perfect for blues and jazz music.
- P-90 Pickups: These pickups produce a classic sound that is distinct from traditional humbuckers or single-coil pickups.
- Bigsby Vibrato: The Bigsby vibrato tailpiece adds an extra layer of expressiveness to your playing by allowing you to add vibrato effects.
While the Epiphone Casino is an excellent choice, there are alternatives if you’re looking for something different. One option is the Fender Telecaster Thinline, which also has a semi-hollow body but produces a brighter tone than the Epiphone Casino thanks to its single-coil pickups. Another alternative is the Gretsch G5420T Electromatic, which has similar features but comes in at a lower price point.
If you’re looking for a guitar with vintage appeal and unique sound characteristics, the Epiphone Casino should be on your list of options to consider as our runner-up pick. Its hollow body design, P-90 pickups, and Bigsby vibrato make it stand out from other guitars in its class. However, don’t be afraid to explore other options like Fender or Gretsch if they better suit your playing style and budget.
Runner Up for Beginners: Squier Paranormal Series
The Squier Paranormal series includes number of guitar models and many of them come with a set of P90 pickups. These guitars are revival of the forgotten Fender electric guitar models but designed for a new era. The series includes models like the Toronado, Cyclone, Super-Sonic (Strat), Offset Telecaster, Baritone Cabronita, and more.
The guitars feature poplar bodies available in two finishes (except the Offset Tele, which boasts three stunning looks), C-shaped, gloss-finished maple necks, and either string-through-body hardtail bridges or Stratocaster tremolos. The Squier Paranormal Cyclone features a Mustang-inspired shape but with a little extra body mass. It has a poplar body, Stratocaster vintage-style tremolo, Jaguar controls and a trio of Fender-designed single coils.
The Squier Paranormal Super-Sonic has a C-shape neck profile, narrow 1.5” nut width, and vintage-style tremolo. The Squier Paranormal Offset Telecaster features a poplar body, Stratocaster vintage-style tremolo, Jaguar controls, and a trio of Fender-designed single coils. The Squier Paranormal Baritone Cabronita Telecaster has a baritone scale length of 26.5 inches and is equipped with two Fender-designed alnico P90 pickups for added kick and twang.
Honorable mention: Yamaha Revstar RSS02T
This guitar is usually priced under $1000, so it strikes a nice balance of quality and value. The Yamaha Revstar RSS20 has sleek, yet classic design and versatile sound. The body is made of solid mahogany and a maple top and comes in several color choices. The designs with the double white pinstripes are unique and look awesome.
Another great feature of the Yamaha Revstar RSS20 P90 Guitar is its smooth and comfortable playability. The mahogany neck is designed with a comfortable medium profile, allowing for effortless and precise fretting. Additionally, the rosewood fingerboard offers a smooth surface that enhances playability while providing a warm and natural feel.
In terms of hardware, the Yamaha Revstar RSS20 P90 Guitar is equipped with high-quality components that ensure reliable performance. The Tune-o-Matic bridge and stop tailpiece provide excellent intonation and sustain, while the locking tuners offer superior tuning stability, even during intense playing sessions. These features make the guitar a reliable and dependable companion both on stage and in the studio.
Furthermore, the Yamaha Revstar RSS20 P90 Guitar includes a range of intuitive controls that allow players to fine-tune their sound. With the master volume and tone controls, as well as the three-way pickup selector switch, guitarists can effortlessly shape their tone to suit their musical preferences. This level of control ensures that the guitar is adaptable to a wide range of playing styles and musical genres.
Finding the perfect P90 guitar is a personal choice, and we’re thrilled you’ve let us help guide you.
When it comes to choosing a P90 guitar, it’s all about personal preferences and finding the right fit for you. With so many different models available on the market, it can be overwhelming trying to find one that suits your style and playing needs.
Some players may prefer a heavier body for better sustain, while others may want something more lightweight for easier maneuverability. The type of music you play can also influence your choice – if you’re into blues or rock, you might opt for something with a punchier sound, while jazz players may prefer something more mellow.
Ultimately, there is no one ‘perfect’ P90 guitar – it all depends on what feels comfortable and sounds good to you. So go ahead and explore your options – who knows, you might just find your new favorite guitar!