Will a P90 Pickup Fit in a Humbucker Slot?

Building their own style is almost a must for every guitar player and that is not only the amps and effects job, the pickups you use are one of the most defining factors for this task. 

As they are the first section along the whole chain, they raise importance when creating your personal technique.

Today will be dealing with P90s and Humbuckers, two tonally similar pickups which also present some variations in their design. 

Do you think that a Humbucker cavity will work for a P90? Will their wirings be the same? Continue reading and you will know the answer.  

Although P90s and Humbuckers have similar dimensions, they do not present equal sizes. In some cases, a slot intended for a humbucker will work for a P90 but in some others, extra routing will be needed or there will be some space left.  

Here in GearAficionado, we concern about those inexperienced players who don’t have a clue about what are we talking about. 

Therefore, we will clarify everything regarding this amazing but confusing topic, in the end, you will know everything required about these two fascinating pickups.

Are P90s and humbuckers the same size?

Referring to the size of a pickup could be difficult due to not everyone having the same shape, in this particular situation we can notice that P90s are quite simple to measure. 

They are rectangular shaped, approximately 35 mm wide plus 85 mm long, they are wider than single coils and mini humbuckers as well.

The case of humbuckers is harder, their dimensions are 39 mm wide and 78 mm long approximately but as they present screw holes on both sides the length is affected, being around 85 mm. 

As you can infer, although both pickups have similar dimensions, they are different afterward.

Would a humbucker routing work for P90s?

Having discussed their sizes, you may realize that humbuckers and the P90s routes are non-identical. 

Although they differ in measurements, if we focus on wire routing we will see that are pretty much alike.

P90s are one magnet pickups whereas humbuckers are two single coils altogether, the latter present two types; two-conductor-wiring and four-conductor-wiring but wire routing are still similar. 

The problem appears when we try to match the pickup into the cavity, fitting a P90 in a bucker slot could be tough because the space given is not the same.

Nevertheless, Dog Ear P90s could work on humbucker routing, this particular variation presents extensions on the sides, and those screw holes may suit. 

Perhaps there will be some space left but the difference is so little that it won’t be distinguishable at all.

Are there some alternatives to this?

As we mentioned before, the dimensions of the pickups may vary from model to model and is usually a tough task to make them fit into a slot intended for a different model. 

To solve this problem, some brands design specially shaped pickups that can suit a distinct cavity.

This does not occur in every model but fortunately, it does with humbuckers. 

It exists a particular pickup called the humbucker-shaped P90, it consists of a modified humbucker that has the exact dimensions of a regular P90, consequently, it would work on a humbucker slot.

This is great because it saves the player the need of doing some extra routing to the guitar, making it easier to install a pickup meant for another slot. 

Otherwise, the holes in the instrument must be modified which requires some woodwork.

Is the wiring required for P90s and humbuckers the same?

Pickup wirings often present similar features and this pair is not the exception, the difference between P90s and buckers is very little, while the latter presents two single coils the first one is made of only one magnet. 

However, as single-coils are also one-magnet-pickups, the wiring won’t be so distant.

What is more, both pickups are typically used in guitars with two-pickup-config, P90s are commonly a neck plus a bridge pickup with a master volume pot, a tone pot, and a three-position pickup selector. 

On the other side, humbuckers are also located in the neck and bridge positions and the pickup selector provides three positions as well.

The main variation relies on the number of knobs, instead of having a master volume and tone, humbuckers tend to have a volume and tone pot for each pickup, resulting in a total of four kobs. 

Of course, some particular configs present three pickups, humbuckers, or P90s but they are mainly found in custom guitar models.

Would P90s sound good alongside humbuckers?

Contrary to popular belief, these two pickups are quite similar in terms of tone, that’s because P90s, as well as humbuckers, are mid-output pickup types

Although the first is more related to single-coil design, it is compared to humbuckers sound.

However, their tone profile is rather different, P90s are thought of as a blend between buckers and single-coils, therefore they might be a nice contrast. 

The punchy attack of a P90 combined with the thick humbucker output will give you an awesome tone.

In addition, as both use the same config it would be easier to mix them, you can decide to install a P90 in the bridge position and a humbucker in the neck or the other way around. 

That mixture will provide you with broader tonal options to build up your style as a guitar player.

Can you do this pickup swap on your own?

Replacing pickups could seem hard but is not as tough as you think if you are capable of following a diagram you could do it, what you need to do is to solder everything in the right place and be patient

However, for those who are not used to working on instruments, it could be difficult, maybe you don’t feel able or you don’t have the experience so the pickup swap might be not for you.

Fortunately, if you don’t feel comfortable doing modifications on your guitar you could try looking for a professional who can do the job. 

If you are not accustomed to it a tech would be perfect for you, remember that their job requires doing this type of labor, and they have the proper experience to perfectly change pickups.

Last but not least, if extra routing is needed to match the new pickups, I suggest you have your instrument serviced. 

Some players would claim that they know how to do the woodwork but technicians are always the best option for this modification.

Is this mod reversible?

Imagine you want to replace your humbuckers with a pair of Soapbar P90s, you already know that, due to the different measurements, the latter won’t fit a humbucker slot, as a consequence, some extra routing will be required. 

Since that is the case with these two pickups, the mod won’t be reversible, if you want to come back to your previous setup there will be some extra space.

However, the space won’t be far noticeable, in fact, the routing needed will enlarge the cavity just a few millimeters. 

Moreover, if you intend to install Dog Ear P90s, you may not need woodwork in your guitar’s body, this pickup might match the screw holes but make sure that the P90 works on the slot.