I’ve had this Gibson P90 pickup in my parts draw since the early 80s and have never needed it so time to pass is on. This Gibson P90 would be from the 70s. Come with original screws and has “Laid Back” on side of box.
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Local pickup available (Sydney, Australia)
P-90 pickups were introduced in 1946 when Gibson resumed guitar production after World War II. They were originally used to replace the “bar” pickup on models such as the ES-150, and by the end of the 1940s it was the standard pickup on all models, including the Les Paul introduced in 1952.
The P-90’s reign as the Gibson standard pickup was short-lived, however, as a new design of pickup known as the humbucker (occasionally named PAF) was introduced in 1957, and very quickly took over as the preferred choice for all Gibson models. The P-90 was then used on more budget models such as the ES-330, the Les Paul Junior and Special, and the SG Special, such as those used by Pete Townshend. This trend continued throughout the 1960s and particularly in the early 1970s where the pickup all but disappeared from the entire Gibson range. By the 1970s, single-coil pickups, mini-humbucking pickups and uncovered humbucking pickups began replacing the P-90 pickups on Gibson’s budget and lower-end models.
In 1968, however, Gibson re-issued the original, single-cutaway Les Paul – one version of which was a Goldtop with P-90 pickups. In 1972, they produced Limited Edition reissues – the “58 Reissue” – actually based on the ’54 Goldtop Les Paul, with a stopbar tailpiece; and the ’54 Custom, the Black Beauty, equipped with a P-90 in the bridge and an Alnico 5 pickup at the neck – the total production of these guitars was quite small. In 1974, Gibson put the P-90 pickup in their Les Paul ’55, a reissue of the Les Paul Special from that era. It was followed in 1976 by the Les Paul Special Double-cutaway model and in 1978 by the Les Paul Pro Deluxe. Since the 1970s the P-90 pickup has seen some success in various models in the Gibson line, mostly through reissues and custom versions of existing models. Currently it is featured most prominently on the Les Paul Faded Doublecut, and certain models in the “Historic” range.
The P-90 was also marketed by Gibson in the 1970s as the “Laid Back” pickup, as part of a line of “named” pickups.
There are 2 major varieties of P-90 casing:
– Soap bar casing has true rectangular shape and the mounting screws are contained within the coil perimeter, positioned between the pole pieces, between strings 2 and 3 and between strings 4 and 5, thus creating irregular and somewhat unusual pattern. Occasionally they are mistaken for pole pieces, thus sometimes P-90 is erroneously said to have 8 pole pieces. The “soap bar” nickname most probably comes from its predominantly rectangular shape and proportions, and the fact that the first P-90s on the original Gibson Les Paul Model of 1952 were white.
– Dog ear is a casing type with extensions at both sides of pickup that somewhat resemble dog’s ears. These are extensions of the predominantly rectangular cover that encompass the outlying mounting screws. Dog-ear P-90 pickups were commonly mounted on Gibson’s semi-hollowbody guitars like the ES-330 and occasionally on solid body models like the Les Paul Junior. The same pickups were also available on Epiphone models (since Gibson was building Epiphone guitars in the 1950s) and the design is best remembered for its appearance on the hollow body Epiphone Casino of the mid to late 1960s. All three Beatles bought one and recently, Paul McCartney said, “If I had to choose one electric guitar, it would be this one.”
Being a single coil design the tone of a P-90 is somewhat brighter and more transparent than a humbucker, though not quite as crisp and snappy as Fender’s single coil pickups. It became quite popular in progressive rock and psychedelic rock bands. The tone therefore shares some of the single coil twang, but having big amounts of midrange and often described as brisk. Popular guitars that use/have the option of using P-90s are the Gibson SG, Gibson Les Paul, and the Epiphone Casino. The Fender Jazzmaster uses a similar pickup with a different single coil design.
All vintage P-90 pickups are hand-wound, thus their physical specifications may vary slightly. As well as most other pickups, there are two versions of P-90: neck and bridge version. Various sources generally agree that DC impedance is around 7-8 kΩO for neck pickups and 8-9 kΩO for bridge pickups.
Earlier pickups (around 1952) used Alnico 3 magnets, but since 1957 Gibson switched to Alnico 5.