5 Great P90 Guitars: Famous Pickups Plus Excellent Sound
Last updated: Apr 04, 2020
60Hours of Research
You might be trying to hit that note or become a much better guitar player. A guitar pickup can be the solution you’re looking for to get better at playing those riffs and delivering that unique, controlled sound. The best P90 guitar pickup is a bridge pickup surrounded by a metal casing. For the best type, you want to look for one designed by Gibson in the 1940s—our opinion, of course. Although there are a ton of different guitar pickups to choose from, the P90 guitar pickup is extremely reliable in giving you that controlled sound.
Whether you want to play a deep tone of the blues, vibe out to some jazz or shake the ceiling with rock music, the P90 was the go-to for bringing that sound difference. From Mick Jones to Johnny Thunders, these skilled guitar players performed live relying on the P90. If you’ve chosen to rely on one of them for your next performance, we’re going to help you pick out the best for you and your budget.
Top 5 P90 Guitars Review 2020
This guide highlights the various important features to keep an eye out for, like the wood material, sound quality, scale length, weight and body type, and warranty. Reading down our guide, you’ll see the results of our hours of research scanning through various products to bring you the best of the best—side-by-side on our comparison table, taking you through in-detail reviews of each product, and a buying guide to top it all off.
The Epiphone Wildkat is a great choice if you’re looking for an Epiphone original. Backed by a lifetime-limited warranty, you can have a smaller-bodied guitar with a 12” fingerboard radius. The semi-hollow feel and sound delivers that vintage tone you’ve stopped hearing years ago—making it a classic!
The Epiphone WILDKAT is also extremely comfortable to play. This dog ear guitar that is designed with a mahogany body and a maple top is a steal when it comes to budget. If you’re worried that will all these features, like a locktone Tune-o-matic™ stopbar bridge, 22 medium jumbo frets, bigsby tailpiece, and maple D-profile neck, that it’ll be heavy—it’s not! It weights only 7.8 lbs!
Since the 1930’s—almost a whole century—the brand Epiphone has been a leader in archtop design. Before they even made it to the electric scene, it combined with the solid body guitar to make this baby—a semi-hollow best all-around P90 guitar.
The Epiphone Wildkat, covered by that Lifetime Limited Warranty is also protected against defects and has got your back with outstanding customer service to top it all off—making your experience an extremely pleasant one! If you’re looking for the best all-around P90 guitar, you definitely won’t be disappointed with this pick!
Is semi-hollow for a different feel
Extremely comfortable to play
The 12” fingerboard radius might be too long for smaller arms.
If you’re a beginner and looking to upgrade your instrumental pick, the Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin II is a great addition to any rock band.
Although it’s only backed by a 1-year limited warranty, the solid-bodied guitar is designed with a Canadian wild cherry tone wood and silver leaf maple neck, combining some pretty high-quality woods.
If you’ve got longer fingers or arms, the 16” fingerboard radius will definitely suit your fancy, making it feel much more comfortable in your hands. The Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin II is designed with a cutaway body design, which sets it apart from other P90 guitars on the market. It also combines the two Godin Kingpin P90 single-coil pickups. This makes it unique in the fact that it gives off a classic vintage tone. However, it still nails clarity in sound.
The Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin II has a featured, molded arched top and back, as well as an adjustable bridge. Some other features also include the classic F-holes of the guitar, as well as the contoured high-gloss headstock the, floating pickguard, and the cream binding.
To top it all off, the guitar also comes with the look to match the sound, designed with a rustic, custom polished finish that emulates a gorgeous satin sheen.
If you want to afford a North American archtop, the Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin II makes it possible!
Can play pristine music acoustically and electrically
The Yamaha RevStar RS502 will give you an intricately simple, Japanese minimalist design. With the included gig bag, you really can’t ask for more with this pickup designed from the ground up.
The Yamaha RevStar RS502 features specially wound YGD pickups that are specifically designed to match each guitar produced by this brand. With over 50 prototype pickups tested, the perfect combination of windings, magnets and base plates was found and offered with the Yamaha RevStar RS502.
If you want VP5 pickups (8.3k DCR) with Alnico V magnets, a German silver baseplate and plain enamel wire, you’ll be investing in a clear and vintage tone.
The Yamaha RevStar RS502 also features a dry switch, which offers versatility of a coil split. This features will filter out all those low frequencies without the hum.
Interestingly enough, the Yamaha RevStar RS502 has a unique past inspiration, with a look-alike design of stripped-down custom Café Racer motorbikes, found on the streets backs in the ‘60s in London, this guitar truly tries to emulate that high-performance and character.
The guitar also features a raw copper scratchplate, a completely customized floating aluminum tailpiece, and impeccable sound image. This guitar is not only bold in design, it’s also powerful in its presence. The individual, organic tone was chosen carefully based on design and each individual feature.
The Loar LH-301T-VS is not only fully hollow, but it also has an extremely lively electric archtop. That maple tone wood, along with the hollow body, gives it a unique sound found on the market—and for a very affordable price.
Built with a 1-1/2′ body depth and 16′ lower bout, the Loar LH-301T-VS gives the full build of a guitar that is not only capable of playing both electric and acoustic but will also make both types of players feel comfortable—right from the first note.
Covering a broad range of tones, from clean and jazzy to crunchy and overdriven, the Loar LH-301T-VS has a great built to back up its sound. With a maple top, back and sides, the comfortable c-shape mahogany neck gives not only a great look but also a unique and sturdy foundation that gives off that vintage vibe—but can rip up some modern-day music.
Whether you want to play smoother acoustic tones or you want to rock out on aggressive power chords, the Loar LH-301T-VS will be able to deliver anything you need. For true vintage inspiration, the “V” profile neck of this guitar completes the fully traditional-style look.
If you’re a player who wants traditional inspiration, this is a great guitar for you. It also weighs only 5.8 lbs, which makes it one of the lightest guitars on our guide today.
Only weighs 5.8 lbs
Extremely comfortable to play
Has a traditional “V” profile neck and look
Might be too light for some players
For those who don’t want a traditional feel—this guitar isn’t for you
If you’re looking for unique, you’ve found it: the Guild Guitars T-Bird ST is one of the most unique looking and sounding guitars on our guide today.
Not only does it set you apart from other guitarists out there on stage, it also helps you get to and from your practice to your gig, with a gig bag included. The Guild Guitars T-Bird ST also features some pretty amazing details that set it apart from other P90 guitars out there.
The guitar features a unique, asymmetrical shape—but has minimalistic qualities that players who like to keep it simple will like. When it’s stripped down, you’ll be happy to find added stability and reliability of the stopbar tailpiece. The pared down electronic controls also gives it that simple sort of nature, while the T-Bird’s retro vibe brings it back home with originality.
The Guild Guitars T-Bird ST includes P90 pickups which are perfectly designed to deliver crisp, vintage, and single-coil sound.
If you’re looking for a guitar that has a smaller, 10” fingerboard radius but still can offer mid-range output, the T-Bird gives off that vintage C-shape set, mahogany neck, and block inlays you’ve been looking for.
You also might fall in love with its details included the open gear vintage tuning machines, the famed asymmetrical headstock, the Guild’s logo and the Thunderbird icon in mother-of-pearl.
Great for a T-bird traditional look
Backed by a lifetime-limited warranty
Only available in one color
A bit heavier at 14 lbs
Now that you’ve gotten to our buying guide, we’re going to take you through a feature-by-feature process to help you choose the best P90 guitar for your skillset and sound. So we don’t keep the crowd waiting, let’s get into it:
Why are P90 pickups worth it?
Although you might not think you need a P90 pickup for your sound—trust us, it’s worth it.
This even balance between a humbucker and a Fender-style single coil is a great tool to use if you’re looking to produce a bright and thick sound.
That warm tone comes equipped to play quality, mid-bass response, even if you’re looking to put the volume lower.
P90 pickup shapes to consider
Although there are not a whole ton of differences in the sound with the P90 guitar pickups, there IS a whole lot of shape variety.
It helps to have an idea of the guitar you want or to actually have a guitar already before you go and get a pickup—that’s because not all guitars fit with certain pickups, and not all pickups fit with specific guitars.
Before you buy, make sure your guitar is compatible with the pickup.
Getting into the shapes, the three types of P90 pickups:
The Humbucker Casing: If you’ve seen a humbucker, you’ll know where the design was inspired here. Although the P90s are designed in a thinner way, as well as much longer, this is a great pick since most guitars don’t require any type of modifications to be able to play with it.
The Soap Bar: – Do you remember the original Gibson P90? Well, this shape is basically the same—except a little bit more rectangular. If you’re worried about your pickguard, don’t be—the screws are actually located in the middle of the pickup so they don’t interfere at all with it.
The Dog Ear: Branching off of the Soap Bar design, the dog ear is rectangular, with the triangular extension located on the ends of the pickup. If you invest in this type of pickguard, you’ll definitely need to be open to modifying it.
Of course, although you want quality, you should still try and adhere to your budget. There are a variety of P90 guitar options, like the Loar LH-301T-VS, which is budget-friendly and won’t break the bank.
If you do your research, you’ll definitely be able to find a P90 guitar pickup that fits your style and your bank account.
Features to consider while buying the best P90 guitar
Before you choose your favorite, make sure to take a look at the finer details of the various models. Here are a few specific features to take a look at when looking at each guitar. Checking them out with the model you want to buy can help you make a better-informed decision.
Getting to the foundation of things, the material your model is made out of can make a huge difference when it comes to quality and sound. Some of the materials are pretty good at canceling out noise while others are stronger at delivering those clean, crisp, and clear notes.
The various magnet materials can make all the difference. The magnet types that are used across the board are generally Alnico and ceramic. Since ceramic is a cheaper material, the Alnico is used for the more expensive types. Ceramics are also normally much brighter in tone—so to help you choose which is best for you, make sure you’re aware of what the materials produce.
Guitar body type and shape
Between a hollow or a full body, you’ll have to consider how heavy the guitar will be (the hollow body type is much lighter), and the type of wood its made out of—which can make a difference in the weight and the type of sound.
The shapes of the guitar can dictate how comfortable it is to play. However, if you’re investing in a hollow body, a change in shape can also make a difference.
Fretboard and frets
Whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced guitar player, you might want to consider how long the frets and fretboard are. No matter if you have smaller or larger hands, you should choose a guitar where you can reach the higher frets.
Scale the neck
If you’re a true beginner—you can probably skip this section. However, the more advanced you are, the more you should pay attention to the neck, scale, and nut.
The plastic nut is responsible for keeping your strings aligned and supported. This part of the guitar also controls the string spacing on the guitar, keeping it at a proper height.
If you are new, just be aware that most necks will feel uncomfortable at first. However, as you continue to play, you’ll see which necks are more comfortable in your hands, specifically—and perhaps will develop a preference.
A description of the neck can be divided into four key dimensions: width, profile, depth, and fretboard radius.
If you have smaller hands or are a beginner, you’ll want to try and aim for a slimmer neck, making it much easier to grab. However, a wider neck gives you more space to play—if you have big enough hands.
With profile and depth, you’ll be choosing between a U-, V- or C-shape. Most guitars are designed with the C-shape, which is the most shallow of the three.
The bridge of a guitar gives support to the strings and uses its location to transfer the vibration to the rest of the guitar.
Just like how vibrations work, if your bridge has a lot of contact with the body, the better it will sound and resonate. However, if you’re working with non-vibrato bridges, you’ll get an anchoring point but won’t have much control over tension and pitch.
Especially since you’re making an investment—in your musical life and in your skill growth, you’ll definitely want to think about investing in a guitar that has a good warranty.
For example, these guitars can come back by as little as a 1-year limited warranty, like the Yamaha RevStar RS502 or can have a lifetime limited warranty, like the Epiphone WILDKAT.
Maintenance tips for the P90 guitar
You’ve already made the investment in a guitar—now you’ve got to take care of it. Fortunately, if you’ve had a guitar before, you’ll see that maintenance doesn’t change very much from a P90 to the rest of them.
Here are some basic maintenance tips to take care of a P90 guitar:
First and foremost, make it a tradition (and a habit) to go have your guitar checked every year by a qualified technician. That way, even if the smaller details need to be tuned, they’ll be done on a regular basis. This will help extend the life of your guitar.
Try to perform the basic maintenance tips on your own on a regular basis. For example, investing in a proper case for the guitar can be a great first step.
Some other simple tips that don’t take much from your side of things would be to just make sure that you’re not storing your guitar in an area where it can reach extremely hot or cold temperatures. The guitar should be stored in a dry and cool place.
Not only should you invest in a case for traveling, but a stand is also a great product to buy—especially if it’s going to be sitting at home.
On a regular basis, try to clean and polish the wood of your guitar. You can also run a dry piece of cloth to wipe the neck.
Change your strings when they need to be done, monitor your tuning machines, and play regularly so it won’t get too far out of tune. Just like with any machine, it has to run every so often so it won’t get worn out from minimal use.
You’ve probably read quite a few comparisons just here in this article when it comes to humbuckers and P90s. The humbucker, will use two coils and the P90 will only have one. Although this may seem like a simple difference—it doesn’t stop there. The coil geometry and magnet configuration of both guitars are completely unique to one another.
If you’ve skipped over everything else, here are our top three choices:
The Epiphone WILDKAT is our Best All Around P90 Guitar, weighing only 7.8 lbs. Made with a real mahogany body and maple top, the dog-ear pickup type is played with a semi-hollow body and backed by a lifetime limited warranty. It features a 12” fingerboard radius and bigsby tailpiece for style.
The Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin II is our Upgrade Pick if you’re looking for something a bit more flashy. Designed with Canadian wild cherry in a solid body, the guitar is made with a silver leaf maple neck and 16” fingerboard radius.
The Loar LH-301T-VS is our Budget Pick for today. If you like lightweight guitars, this guy only weighs in at 5.8 lbs, designed in maple with a hollow build. Backed by a 5-year limited warranty, this guitar sill has a C-profile neck, rosewood fretboard, and 19 frets.
We hope that this guide has helped you pick out the best P90 guitar for your playing style and budget. Rock on!