Single coil or P90

Full Access
Joined: 07/02/18
Posts: 26


[br]Right now i have a Epiphone SG model. I am looking for a second guitar mainly for playing blues.

At the moment i am in doubt between a strat and a hollowbody with p-90 pickups.

I have never played on a guitar with p-90 pickups and i am not sure how they sound with blues music. Does anyone have any experience with p90's.

Which are better for blues. Single coils or p90's?

# 1
Guitar Tricks Admin
Full Access
Joined: 09/28/05
Posts: 3,276

Hi there,

P90's will most likely be fine for playing blues, as a number of famous artists in the past and present have used P90's for this style.

I personally have not played P90s since I use a strat, but it's important to know that P90's are also technically single coil pickups but constructed a little differently and with more copper wires, providing a thicker, fatter sound overall. P90's can turn into a mushy sound if cranked up too high, but as with any type of gear, you may want to experiment with some settings before you find what you're looking for.

Single coils are a bit clearer than P90s but with the help of amp/effects, you can still give them a bit of a boost if you want it to sound a bit bigger than they are. I believe single coils provide the most versatility in the long run. If you're thinking about getting another guitar, you can't go wrong with an HSS strat.

The HSS will give you one humbucker, which provides a thick sound that you might want from a P90 but without the hum, and the option of cleaning up with the single coils.

That's my 2 cents!


If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact us.
# 2
Registered User
Joined: 07/19/16
Posts: 70

I'm a big fan of P90s, particularly for blues. But I'd say they are best for the rougher side of blues. (For example, George Thorogood plays a hollowbody with P90s.) But I think it is fair to say a strat is more versatile.

Guitartricks suggest a HSS strat. Another variation, would be to get a HSS strat, but replace the humbucker with a P90 or a seymour duncan P-rail.

# 3
Full Access
Joined: 02/17/18
Posts: 1,429

I like jazz & blues, but I'm a novitiate at playing them, more accurately put attempting to. That said, I do like P90s deployed for that genre.

Here was my solution, and jazz and blues intention was why I bought it. Here's what a 311H sounds like playing that genre with stock PUPs. Merely another option to HSS etc. I have three of those with split coil functionality and varying tonality performance spec PUPs, and this does sound different.

For just a little under double that money, you can get essentially the same unit config, but with a Seymour Duncan loadout neck and bridge with a TB-14 Custom 5 in the bridge. I chose to stay with satin neck and steel saddles of the 311H instead, mod myself and save a couple of hundred bucks whilst getting exactly what I wanted. The tone of the original G&B humbucker was truly fine, but down on grunt and a mismatch for the neck P90 in that regard [u]if[/u] coil split.The combo was solid for jazzs and blues, and I probably wouldn't have changed it if that was all I wanted from that guitar. However, that sacrificed its versatility as it didn't have the grunt I wanted for rock. A TB-14 or TB-4 et al to individual taste in the bridge fixes that.

Why Pacifica? Bang for the buck and BQ when you get a good one notwithstanding, I own four PACs of various PUP configs. All necks and bodies are identical, so for me it's like cross endorsing on any Boeing where the flight decks and systems are deliberately similar to minimise transition if flying one type/sub series today and another type/sub series next week. Makes swapping about easy peasy without any warmup/adaptation required for chunkier/wider/voluted/etc necks or radius fingerboards.

# 4
Registered User
Joined: 10/20/13
Posts: 10

Buy the strat.

# 5
Registered User
Joined: 11/07/18
Posts: 14

Yep, a strat with a 5 position selector can give you a lot of variation. OR you can go for a jazzmaster, great clean tones and rich deep jazzy sounds on the rhythm circuit.

go to your nearest guitar shop and try out a few models...

# 6
Registered User
Joined: 02/24/17
Posts: 214

I would go for a Strat. The new Fender Player Strat HSS is an excellent option that won't break the bank. Try one out.


# 7
Registered User
Joined: 05/09/20
Posts: 13

You can't go wrong with HSS, but I prefer P90s for the best of both worlds in a single coil design

# 8
Registered User
Joined: 04/12/20
Posts: 7

You would be fine with either for Blues music. It really comes down to the tone you want. If you want a bit of a dirtier, raunchier tone (along the lines of an Albert King). Then I would say the P90's would be closer to what you would want. I also know that Jonny Lang plays a Tele with P90's. If you want something that would be a little on the cleaner and clearer side (a la Buddy Guy, SRV and such) then go for the strat.

That being said, if you have a chance to play both types of guitars, that would be the best bet. Try them out and see how easy it is to get the tone you are looking for and which one you enjoy the most.

I honestly have played a strat and guitars with P90's and like both. Currently have neither but plan on getting both styles in the future. A strat is just a classic style guitar that will fit with any style of music. Then you can't beat the raunchiness of a P90 guitar. Especially a Les Paul Junior with that one P90!! That being said, you can get an excellent clean out of a P90 as well.

Not sure how much help I was, but good luck in your search!!

# 9
Registered User
Joined: 11/07/17
Posts: 95

I wired my Joe Pass with humbucker size p90s as the epiphone pickups sounded a bit muddy.

On lower volumes matched with the right amp in my case a Roland Cube 40XL and flatwound strings great jazz tone, with roundwound strings at higher volumes more bluesy. I found the Cube set to clean is perfect for jazz tones using you guitars tone and selector switch.

# 10