Pickups are always a frequent topic of debate among musicians in online forums, deciding which one to choose is usually a hard, overwhelming task mainly for guitarists.
It is also common to think about changing the pickups in the guitar to get a new, different sound that suits better to each guitar player’s style.
Today we will be dealing with P90s and mini-humbuckers, two very similar components but with some characteristic variations.
Many musicians wonder if they could work together or if both pickups could be interchangeable, continue reading and you will get the answer.
In short, a P90 pickup will perfectly fit in a mini-humbucker slot, that’s because the latter and Soapbar P90s are the same sizes. With Dog Ear P90s the story is different, they won’t match in a mini bucker cavity without extra routing.
Although the question is already answered, there are more issues to bear in mind concerning this topic.
Through this article, I will explain how to deal with this matter, I will discuss the wirings, routings, and even sound features, in the end, you will know everything required about this interesting issue.
Are P90s and mini humbuckers the same size?
P90s and mini humbuckers are two distinct pickups that truly differ in sound, while the first one provides a punchy, noisy tone, the latter presents a well-defined high-end plus cancels hum, in the same way as its full-sized counterpart.
However, these pickups have some characteristics in common, they are pretty alike in terms of dimensions which means both pickups have a very similar size.
Unfortunately, P90s come in two ways; on one side we have the Soapbar P90 which is the one that shares dimensions with mini buckers, and on the other side we can find the Dog Ear P90.
The second receives that name because it presents two extensions on both sides with a hole to install the pickups’ screws so, Soapbar P90s and mini humbuckers are identical sizes but Dog Ear P90s aren’t.
Would a mini-humbucker routing work for P90s?
Generally, pickup wire routings are very similar and this is not the exception, P90s and mini buckers are also quite alike in terms of config, they are usually two-pickups-config.
In addition, as we previously discussed, the dimensions are the same which means that a mini-humbucker routing would perfectly work for a P90.
Needless to say, the inverted process will be also possible, a mini bucker will match a P90 slot.
The only exception will be for the Dog Ear P90s, due to those side extensions they will require extra routing in order to suit a mini-humbucker cavity.
Are there some alternatives to this?
Here in GearAficionado, we have already explained that exist P90-SC pickups or Single-coil-sized-humbuckers, they are used to substitute pickups without the need of re-routing your instrument.
In some cases, you would also find humbucker-shaped P90s that would work for humbucker cavities.
Fortunately, in this specific situation, both pickups have identical measurements which means that any routing will be needed, Soapbar P90s and mini buckers are the same size routes, and as a result, they are interchangeable.
Nevertheless, Dog Ear P90s do not share routes with mini-humbuckers
Is the wiring required for P90s and mini-humbuckers the same?
Mini humbucker’s wiring is the same as full-sized humbuckers, they are two stacked single-coils in series wiring.
As P90s are also made of one magnet, the wiring would be quite similar.
Moreover, these pickups not only share their wiring but also their standard config; if you pay attention, guitars with mini buckers use two pickups plus a volume and a tone pot for each pickup, getting a total of four knobs.
P90s also tend to be two pickups but they only use one master volume pot and a tone pot, resulting in just two kobs.
Would P90s sound good alongside mini-humbuckers?
Deciding whether a pickup config is good or bad will always depend on the player’s preferences, what sounds wonderful for soft rock musicians might sound awful for heavy metal guitarists and vice versa.
Combining P90s with mini-humbuckers could be a really good idea, as both are mid-output pickups they could work well alongside.
What is interesting about this combination is that while P90s sound dirty and thick, mini buckers are clearer and brighter.
It is said that these two pickups are blends of single-coils and regular humbuckers, P90s are near to full-sized humbuckers whereas mini buckers are closer to single-coils.
Having said that, you may picture the broad variety of amazing tonal options this mixture could provide.
Can you do this pickup swap on your own?
Not every musician gets the hang of the guitar’s electronics but contrary to popular belief, is not such a tough task to do.
What I mean to say is that every player might do this pickup swap on his or her own.
The job consists of just soldering a bunch of wires, following the diagram, making sure that everything is in the right place, and being patient.
Needless to say, you need to feel comfortable working on your instrument, if you are not sure about what you are doing I suggest you look for a professional.
When doing modifications to your instrument, techs are the best option if you don’t have experience, they are truly used to working on routing, mods, and electronic issues.
Besides, the job will be done in a shorter period plus the outcome will be better.
Is this mod reversible?
The number of players who are truly sure about doing mods to their guitar is quite low, most of them have a fear of regretting having done the swap.
Due to the wirings between pickups being pretty similar, you could return to your old setup anytime you want.
But what happens if the mod requires extra routing?
Well, the rule of thumb is that if you have to re-route your guitar, coming back to your previous config wouldn’t be possible.
That’s because extra routing means modifying the size of the slots to match the new pickups.
If you need to enlarge the pickup cavities, then there will be some space left when you revert the mod.
Fortunately, in this specific situation, P90s and mini humbuckers are the same sizes as a consequence, no routing will be needed.
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.