In electric guitars, the equipment plays a crucial role and raises importance among guitar players, the gears always shape our desired sound through a long-lasting chain full of sections, preamp, amp, speaker, effects, and so on.
However, the first link in that extensive line is the pickups.
They come in different types, tones, and sizes so today we will talk about P90s and single-coils, two of the most used pickups.
Many players wonder if they work well together or if they could fit in each other’s slots, continue reading and you will get the answer.
In short, a single-coil could fit in a P90 slot but not perfectly, because there will be some space left. That is because P90s present larger dimensions than single-coils.
Perhaps, you feel disappointed but let me give you some tips for you to accomplish the objective.
Here you have everything you need to know about this issue, did you know that there’s something called single-coil sized P90? In this article, you will find more on this and loads of useful information!
Are single coils and P90s the same size?
P90s and single-coils have some points in common, they have just one magnet contrary to what happens in humbuckers.
However, they also differ in other characteristics, P90s have a wider bobbin but, at the same time, shorter than the one found in single coils.
That makes the pickups a bit bigger than single-coils so, although they share features, size is not one of them.
As single-coils are smaller, they could fit a P90 slot easily, oppositely, the reverse process couldn’t be done due to the P90’s dimensions (more on this later).
Would a P90 routing work for single coils?
As mentioned earlier, these two pickups have similar features, as they both have one magnet the wire routing is quite alike.
Nevertheless, if you pay attention you will notice the difference in size between P90s and single-coils which means that the size of the cavity may not work.
P90s dimensions are larger (approximately 35mm long x 85.5mm wide) while single-coils are tinier (23mm long x 83mm wide), although the two pieces have similar dimensions, the difference in length will make single-coils not look good in a bigger cavity, and therefore they may fit but not perfectly.
In the opposite case, fitting a P90 pickup in a single-coil cavity would be impossible, you will have to re-route the holes, otherwise, the wider and longer pickups won’t suit.
Are there some alternatives to this?
In some cases, some pickups are shaped to fit the cavities intended for a different one, which occurs with humbucker-shaped P90s or even the single coil-sized humbuckers.
In the same way, those pickups exist, you could find the P90-SC or Strat Sized P90 which simply is a P90 with the same dimensions as a single-coil.
Contrary to what you may think, the P90-SC provides the same result as the P90s but in the size of a single coil, they are intended to sound bold and fat as regular P90, there are no differences in tone.
What is more, some brands such as Seymour Duncan have their strat-sized P90 model plus many other custom shops produce this type of pickup as well.
Is the wiring required for single coils and P90s the same?
P90s are a kind of single-coil, they have just one coil and a magnet which means that the wiring of both pickups is quite similar.
The standard wiring of these pickups consists of one volume pot, one tone pot (in the case of single coils two tone pots), and a pickup selector, P90s tend to use a three-position pickup selector whereas single-coils use a five-position one.
Although they are similar wirings, there are some variations because single-coils are usually three pickups but P90s are just two.
Taking that into account, you will notice that the wiring in each case should be different but only because of the number of pickups.
Would single-coils sound good alongside P90s?
The pair of pickups are both mid-output types, which means that they could work very well together.
Despite being petty alike, P90s have a higher output which is translated as a more clangorous sound plus less humming, that is due to their wider but shorter bobbin.
The interesting point about this combination is that although their tone is rather different, they might be a nice contrast, P90s are nearer to the humbucker’s sound so they really diverge from the clean single-coil tone.
Contrary, the tone of mini buckers is more related to the latter so they could also be a good option to attach alongside P90s, it might be a nice mixture of tonal options.
Can you do this pickup swap on your own?
The electronic part of guitars could be tough to face for those who are not used to it, but if you feel capable and have a bit of experience, you will be able to do the pickup swap on your own.
Changing pickups is not as hard as you think, anyone who can follow a diagram could do it, it has to do with soldering some wires in the exact place and checking the result.
Nevertheless, if you are not accustomed to or don’t feel comfortable working on your guitar, I suggest you have the job done by a professional.
Remember that a tech’s job involves doing this kind of labor, they are experienced people who are used to doing that.
Finally, if you have to re-route your guitar body to match the new pickups, my advice is to get your instrument serviced.
Of course, you can do the job if you are good with woodwork but again, technicians are the best option for this modification.
Is this mod reversible?
Both P90s and single-coils are magnetic transducers that don’t have comparable sound but they do have similar wirings, which makes the mod easy to perform.
What is even more, if you get tired of it or you want to try out a new config, this mod is reversible, which means that you could come back to your previous setup when needed.
If you require extra routing, due to the size of the pickup slots, it will be impossible to revert the mod because your guitar will have a hole the size of the P90 pickup which is bigger than single coils.
Generally, your old pickups won’t match except if you own a strat, if that is the case you could solve the problem by getting a loaded strat pickguard but first make sure that the pickups fit the cavities.
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.