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Sound Quality

[Perceived output level] It's the hottest passive pickup I've seen. Check the D.C. resistance; it's about twice what a stock Fender single-coil or Gibson humbucker is. In the Duncan catalog chart, it's up there with the Hot Rails and Invader on the output scale. I had to hunt to find a chorus pedal that could take the signal without breaking up. [Tone] It's true to the P-90 style. More bottom than a Fender, more top than a humbucker, not as sparkling and cutting as a Fender. [Sonic evaluation] It's an "off the beaten path" kind of tone. If you want to sound just like most of the guys on the records, get a humbucker or a Strat type pickup. For me, Strats are too thin, and humbuckers are too thick. The P-90 is idiosyncratic enough to capture my interest, and my first electric had a pair of them in it. Been chasing that tone ever since:-). Compared to a regular P-90, this is way hotter, and tonally a bit bassier. The Duncan Hot Soapbar has more midrange which sounds great with distortion, but was just too honky for me for clean work. [For which styles and positions is this pickup (un)suitable] I've gotten everything from death metal chunk to chirpy funk clucks out of it. I think it's best for a Neil Young/Bob Mould/My Bloody Valentine/Dinosaur Jr. kind of fine distortion, but that's just what I tend to use it for. Gibson designed the P-90 to be appropriate for any kind of music, and it's tonally faithful to that.



General Comments

[Comments] It hits its mark.

However, I do wish Duncan gave us P-90 heads more to choose from than

just the two special designs and the one vintage clone.

Also, take note that it only ships with "soap bar" mounting. Gibson

used two different methods of mounting this type of pickup. One was

the "soapbar," where the pickup sat in a cavity just its size, held in

place by two screws through the middle, and the "dog ear" method, with

a mounting bracket that was held in place by two screws, one at each

end of the bracket (kind of like the bracket a humbucker sits in).

This last method uses a rectangular cover with triangular "ears" at

each end; the "soap bar" uses a rectangular cover that fits over just

the pickup.

If your guitar uses the "dog ear" method, you will likely have to

disassemble the pickup from its bottom plate and reassemble it on the

"dog ear" bracket. At this point, the nice Seymour Duncan wax potting

process that keeps your high-gain rig from squealing gets somewhat

compromised. I chose to send the whole assembly back to the Duncan

Custom Shop for re- potting, a $10 process. If squealing is not a

problem, don't bother re-potting it.

So unless your guitar is one of the Les Pauls or SG's or non-reverse

Firebirds that used the "soap bar" style (any of the archtops, for

instance), you have more than the usual drop in and solder

installation to contend with.


It's the best that I've found, but I'm always open to further

developments. I've deliberately limited myself to the P-90 form

factor so as to have fewer distractions when it comes to customization

options. They are the coolest looking pickups, I think.


Addendum from Erik: 01/26/95


Hey, Tim, I just got back from the NAMM show, where (among other things) I

spoke with Evan at Seymour Duncan regarding their P-90 replacements.

I knocked them for only shipping the thing with the soapbar mounting

bracket, but Evan told me that they are now shipping the Antiquity model

with the dog-ear bracket, and may extend that option to the rest of the P-90

line if enough people request it.


Reviewer's Background

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