In this article we're going to round up electric guitars that ship new with P90 pickups. These are not mods or some kind of pickup upgrade. Instead, they're guitars we've found that ship in the box with at least one P90-style pickup.
Most have a dual pickup configuration with two P90s.
Keep in mind, this is a simple list and not necessarily a ranking. We make every effort to keep these lists updated, though are often helped by community members pointing out items we may have missed in the comments.
If you know of an electric guitar that has P90s but didn't make it onto our list, please feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below.
Here's everything we'll cover in this article:
A Little Bit About P90 Pickups
As you might be able to tell based on our list of guitars below, P90s were originally developed by Gibson, though other companies have made imitations of the same shortened pickup style.
Since the bobbins are wider and the magnetic poles shorter than single coil pickups, they typically fit into a traditional humbucker-sized opening, and produce the following tone qualities:
- Less brightness
- Less edge
- Noisier, unless some form of noise cancellation is used
In some comparisons, they're a nice balance between the warmth and intensity of a humbucker and the bright, bluesy edginess of single coil pickups.
They're basically a big single coil, with one coil instead of two, in a humbucker-sized casing.
Types of P90 Pickups
There are generally two different forms of the P90 pickup that you'll see, though the difference between the two is mostly aesthetic.
The "Soapbar" P90 pickup is named for it's rectangular shape with rounded corners, just like a bar of soap. It's also usually a dull white or cream color, adding to the soap moniker.
Predictably, the "dog ear" P90 pickup has a flap on either side in a triangular shape, similar to the shape of a dog's ear. As you can tell, naming conventions here are not particularly complex.
Both of these pickups have the same warmer tone profile, with lowered polls and widened bobbin base. There isn't much difference between the two in terms of sound or tone.
Guitar Brands that Most Commonly Use P90 Pickups
Gibson is the brand that most often includes P90 pickups in their guitars as a standard. However, there are several other brands that have been known to regularly use them as well.
They include - but are not limited to - the following:
While there are other companies that you do see with P90s, these are the five companies that we notice having them most often. Godin and Yamaha are a couple other less common examples we've noticed.
The Brands of P90 Pickups
While there have been a lot of copies made of the P90 design, Gibson is the originator, so where possible we'd recommend getting your P90 pickups from them. However, if you're buying a guitar new, you could potentially have P90 pickups taking any of the following brand forms:
- Epiphone stock
- Lindy Fralin
- Seymour Duncan
- Other stock
Wilkinson also makes a decent P90 pickup, along with several other economy brands that we'd recommend avoiding.
The guitars we've listed here are mostly fixed with decent P90s, if not the nicer Gibson and Seymour Duncan variations. If you do seek out a Seymour Duncan setup, note the Seymour Duncan P90 Antiquity set is particularly well-liked and widely used.
In our list we've linked to Sweetwater since they're an affiliate of ours, but it doesn't cost you anything extra. It's simply a non-intrusive way to support our site by recommending the place where we like to shop for guitar gear.
This list includes all the guitars we can find that ship with P90 pickups. While there are certainly more - and more released on a yearly basis - we likely won't be able to keep this list 100 percent updated. That's why we welcome community help - again - in the comments section so we can keep lists like these as current as possible. Hit us up there if you notice something missing or have a question. Happy browsing.
Gibson Les Paul JR
Epiphone SG Special P-90
Gibson SG JR
Gibson Les Paul Special
Fender Player Mustang 90
Gibson Custom 1960
Gibson Custom Brian Ray '62 SG
Gibson Custom 1963 SG
Gibson Custom 1958 JR Double Cutaway
Epiphone SG Classic Worn
Gibson Custom 1954 Les Paul
Gibson Les Paul Standard '50s P90
Fender Noventa Telecaster
Schecter PT Special
Yamaha RS502TFM Revstar
Guild Aristocrat P90
Gretsch G2215-P90 Streamliner Junior Jet Club
Gretsch G2655T-P90 Streamliner Center Block Jr. Double-Cut
Godin 5th Avenue Uptown Custom Hollowbody
Difference Between P90 and Jazzmaster Pickups
We need to be clear on the difference between the P90 pickups and the Jazzmaster pickups that we see on a lot of Fender guitars.
Many people view them as interchangeable, but they are not - at all.
Jazzmaster pickups are basically a widened single coil Strat pickup, with a much flatter bobbin and an output profile that's similar to a Strat single coil (though with greater resistance). They're so thin, in fact, that they're only about an eighth of an inch high, which differs significantly from the P90's higher design.
Because of these design differences, we do not consider them interchangeable.
Also, P90 is a Gibson thing while Jazzmaster pickups were a Leo Fender design back in the day.
This video does an excellent job of explaining the difference between the two.
Best P90 Guitars Under $500?
Since the above table is just a list (not a ranking), we'll use this section to make some more specific recommendations based on price range. If you're looking for a P90-setup for under $500, we'd recommend focusing on the following two brands:
In particular, the following two models come with P90 pickups and retail under $500:
- Epiphone SG Special P-90
- Gretsch G2215-P90 Streamliner Junior Jet Club
Best Under $1000?
If you're trying to avoid going over $1000, we'd look at some of the Fender and Schecter options. In particular:
- Fender Noventa Telecaster
- Schecter PT Special
Are P90s better than humbuckers?
P90s have a unique sound, but they're not necessarily better than humbuckers. Since they only have the one coil, they're wrapped more - typically twice as much wrapping as a humbucker.
For example, a P90 may have 10k wraps of copper wiring around its only coil, while a humbucker will divide its wrapping up by 5k on each coil.
In a humbucker, this helps to prevent excess noise, which is missing in P90s.
That's why we recommend avoiding cheap P90 pickups.
They tend to have noise issues and problems with hum. If you aren't after their unique tone, you're better off to go with the full humbucker.
Anything to add?
Do you have any suggestions for our list? Certainly there are guitars out there with P90 pickups that we don't know about.
Just keep in mind the difference between P90s and Jazzmaster pickups.
If you can think of something that fits the bill, drop it in the comments section below and we'll take a look.
Thanks for reading.