Best p90 Guitars

The 10 Best P90 Guitars: Review & Buyer’s Guide

Are you in search of the best P90 guitars? You might be here to learn more about P90 pickups.

Either way—your quest is over. This article has the best guitars fitted with the timeless P90 pickup.

See, you must be careful when investing in a guitar. Manufacturers can cut corners with pickups to keep prices low.

Knowing your guitar has a P90 is one less thing to worry about. The P90 is a ruler in the world of pickups that’ll deliver an unmistakable sound.

So let’s say farewell to underperforming stock pickups and hello to stage-ready guitars.

What is a P90 Guitar?

A P90 guitar is a guitar fitted with P90 pickups. The P90 is a variation of a single coil. Wound with more wiring, they have increased output. Renowned for their grit, they’re considered a blend between humbuckers and single coil pickups. Introduced in 50s Gibsons, they later had a renaissance during the punk movement. They continue to feature on guitars today.

The Best Electric Guitars with P90 Pickups


Yamaha PAC611HFM Pacifica – Best Electric Guitar with P90 Pickups

Editor's Choice
Yamaha Pacifica PAC611HFM
$599.99
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Yamaha as a guitar manufacturer is often overlooked. The Pacifica falls in a similar price range as Epiphones and Fenders, so it’s predictable. But now’s the time to consider Yamaha as a serious guitar brand.

Since its launch in 1990, the Pacifica series has gone under the radar. So here’s why it’s worthy of your attention.

This feels like a custom-shop guitar catered to your every need. Individuality is key. With an array of tones available, you can dial your own unique sound.

The P90 pickup in the neck position comes courtesy of the Seymour Duncan TB-14. It has the classic ‘soap bar’ look. A phrase coined because of its similar appearance to a bar of soap.

These pickups offer a powerful midrange with a higher output than most single coils. In the bridge position, it complements the rosewood fingerboard delivering crispness and grit.

Here’s the kicker. On the bridge, there’s the TB-14 humbucker pickup. Best of both worlds, you can also dial in a beast of a humbucking tone.

So there are options. There’s a 3-way position switchblade and the master tone has coil-split capabilities. Decouple the humbucker and you can further explore the different tonal varieties.

All these options could be a deterrent for the newbie. The controls aren’t as simple as a Tele.

But for the adventurous player who likes to pay attention to detail, you’ll enjoy the process. There’s a coloration for everyone, regardless of genre.

You can explore with confidence in the professional hardware. Grover locking tuners, hardtail bridge, and Seymour Duncan pickups are prime kit.

The Yamaha Pacifica 611 looks and feels unique. For the pioneering beginner and professional, this is an affordable high-performance pick.

Pros:

  • Affordability
  • Streamline design
  • Wide range of tones
  • Seymour Duncan single-coil SP90-1n neck pickup
  • Seymour Duncan humbucker TB-14 bridge pickup

Cons:

  • Tonal options can be overwhelming for a beginner

Epiphone Les Paul Special I P-90 Limited-Edition- Best Cheap P90 Guitar

Budget Pick
Epiphone Les Paul Special I P-90
$169.99
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Les Paul and a sub $200 price tag? Seems impossible! That’s until the Epiphone Les Paul Special came onto the scene. So how does it hold up?

At this price range, you’ve got to expect imperfections and we’ll touch on them, but let’s start on a positive note.

The obvious positive is the opportunity to get your hands on an Epiphone Les Paul for so cheap.

It’s an entry-level option to help you find your feet. At this price range, you could use this guitar as a trial run before investing in a high spec Les Paul.

The Epiphone made P-90R on the neck and P-90T on the bridge pickups offer thick tones.

It’s a tone that’ll sustain thanks to the wrap-around bridge. Ideal for a guitarist with a penchant for music of a rockier persuasion.

The sound of the Les Paul Special will surprise. It’s a full and heavy tone that replicates the classic Les Paul sound.

In fact, all the hardware on this guitar is of excellent stock. Black speed knobs and nickel stamped tuners aren’t as cheap as what you’d expect.

This is a Chinese-made guitar, and the out of box reliability can vary from guitar to guitar. Wiring can be inconsistent and fret buzz could be noticeable for a seasoned player.

While the craftsmanship isn’t the best, you’ll get a top sound. If you close your eyes, it’s difficult to identify that the big tones are coming from a guitar so cheap.

Pros:

  • Affordability
  • Full and big sound
  • Classic Les Paul shape
  • Epiphone P-90R pickup on the neck
  • Epiphone P-90T pickup on the bridge

Cons:

  • Craftsmanship

Epiphone SG Special P-90 – Best P90 Under $500

Best Under $500
Epiphone SG Special P-90
$399.00
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Nothing yells rock-and-roll attitude like the SG. Pete Townshend and Tony Iommi all favor this two-horned ax.

It’s not only rock-and-roll, though. Blues pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe blended the SG with distortion. Long before the likes of Hendrix bought the sound into the mainstream.

Look over the list of famous players and you’ll get an idea of what to expect in sound.

The P90 pickups go a long way to replicating the honk and snarl of yesteryear.

The dynamics of these pickups are worthy of celebration. They have the beautiful retro feature that when you dig into the strings, they’ll growl and bite back.

Likewise, if you back off and play lighter, the sound will be cleaner. They respond to your playing. You can manipulate this to impressive effect and enhance song dynamics.

The classic mahogany body combines with the wrap-around bridge offering excellent sustain. It’s a 60s vibe that retrospective players will love.

The bridge isn’t for everyone. If you prefer ultimate control of string intonation. A hardtail bridge will give you access to each individual string.

Not everyone can afford a Gibson, which is where Epiphone comes into play. This Gibson inspired guitar is a faithful reproduction in feel and sound.

The 60s slim taper neck with jumbo frets make it a comfortable experience. Some may enjoy the larger frets more than the original skinny ones found on vintage models.

While the out of the box fretwork can be touch and go, this is a great option that offers definitive value for money. The electronics and material list make it worthy of a more expensive price range.

Pros:

  • ’60s SlimTaper neck playability
  • Dynamic and responsive sound
  • 2 x P-90 PRO Soapbar Single-coil pickups
  • Deluxe Epiphone tuning pegs with ivory buttons
  • Close replication of the legendary Gibson SG Special

Cons:

  • Fretwork craftsmanship

Gibson Les Paul Special Tribute P-90- Best P90 Under $1,000

You’ve seen the inexpensive Epiphone Les Paul—now let’s have a look at the real deal. Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing the Gibson Les Paul Special Tribute P-90.

At one look, it’ll be clear that it’s better made than the cheap pick Epiphone Les Paul. The satin lacquer finish brings the wood grain to the fore on the slab body.

The back to basic, no contour slab body has become a favourite. While it might seem primitive, you may prefer the smoothed edge block of wood on your forearm. Bob Marley is an example of someone who did.

The maple rounded neck is smooth to touch, lending itself to fast handling. The rosewood fingerboard is everything you’d expect from a Gibson. With 22 medium-jumbo frets—this is a silky and playable guitar.

The two Gibson P90s are hot pickups. You’ll get more output than most single coils—it’s quite the rock-and-roll machine.

In the below $1,000 category, it’s rare to see a Gibson. This guitar gives you the opportunity to own a genuine US-built Gibson. While the price bracket may seem expensive, you’ll struggle to find a cheaper Gibson.

So if your dream is to own a Gibson—this guitar has the DNA of the Nashville factory running through its every vein.

If you’re seeking bells and whistles from a guitar. This is not for you. Gibson has kept the costs down by making this a bare-boned guitar.

But here’s the thing, the name on the headstock says it all. While it’s a low-end Gibson, it’s a Gibson nonetheless. With that comes peak playability and craftsmanship.

For the classic rock tone, these P90s will appease even the most critical player. All things considered, you get all the benefits of a Gibson for under $1,000. It’ll make dreams become a reality.

Pros:

  • High output 
  • Affordable for a Gibson
  • 2 x Gibson P90 pickups
  • US Gibson craftsmanship
  • Maple neck and rosewood fingerboard playability

Cons:

  • Basic design

Gibson Les Paul Standard ’50s P90 – Best Premium P90 Guitar

You’re on the search for a guitar with P90 pickups. So what if budget isn’t an issue?

As the budget grows, more decorated options become available. The Gibson Les Paul Standard ’50s is an all-encompassing premium pick.

Introduced in 1952, the Gibson Les Paul featured a gold top and P90 pickups. Playability and sound made it a versatile pick. Soon the Les Paul was a mainstay in many music genres including rock, country, blues, jazz, reggae, and punk.

This guitar restores the 50s Les Paul to its original glory. The solid mahogany underneath the maple top harkens back to its original form.

The body is weighty and some might find it uncomfortable. But if you’re at ease with a heavy guitar, you’ll reap the benefits of sound and durability.

The hefty contoured body adds balance to the guitar. Cheaper Les Paul guitars are often imbalanced tilting when playing. This Les Paul hangs true, which is a pleasant feature.

It’s available in classic color schemes, including the original gold top. All options are easy on the eye, so whatever you prefer, it’ll look cool.

Now for the sound. It’s true to the original 50s tone. You can hang on a note and it’ll resonate with a warm vintage sustain.

The versatility tones allow you to explore. From crystal sparkle to aggressive dirtiness, it’s all achievable through the Gibson P90s.

The crazy thing is—you don’t need a rack of pedals, the spectrum of tones is all available from the body. The hand-soldered pots are sensitive. The slightest turn of a dial can offer a noticeable frequency change. How you interpret this Les Paul is down to you.

It’s vintage in feel and sound. But it’s more robust than vintage designs. This Les Paul is an example of why US-built guitars are world leaders.

While there are other Les Paul’s available, the Standard 50s sits at the summit— it’s a pro pick.

Pros:

  • Versatility of tones
  • Gibson P-90 pickups
  • Vintage Deluxe tuners
  • US-built Gibson craftsmanship
  • Precision of hand soldered pots

Cons:

  • Expensive

Gretsch Guitars G2622T-P90 – Best P90 Guitar for Blues

Best for Blues
Gretsch G2622T-P90 Streamliner
$599.99
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The Gretsch G2622T-P90 is a blues player’s dream. But it does not restrict its charms to the 12-bar blues.

This is a beautiful guitar, and every tiny detail will have you wishing it into your collection.

So what are the criteria for an amazing blues guitar?

Blues is about self-expression. To express yourself with full impact—you’ll want dynamic range. When you’re lost in the moment and you play hard, you’ll want a different nuance to laid-back soft picking.

The responsive Gretsch FideliSonic™ 90 pickups fit the bill. With a nod to the past, they bite when you dig in.

The pickups keep the full warmth of a historic P90. A warmth and fullness that has become the backbone of the blues.

Serving as an evolution, these pickups include a distinct well-defined top-end. The articulate nature gives clarity to your bluesy riffs.

Every feature on this guitar serves a purpose to get the tone you want. There’s a spruce center block to further emphasize the warm tone.

This also keeps feedback at bay. Reassuring, as this is a common issue with hollow-body guitars.

The 24.75” maple neck and laurel fretboard allow you to bend notes with ease. Then, for full effect, the Bigsby B-70 vibrato allows you to scoop and express further.

So is there anything you should know?

Coming from Indonesia, don’t expect a build quality comparable to a US-built guitar. Intonation can be off, which you may need to address if you’re finicky.

Some guitars also experience a serious hum when plugged in. So if the electronics aren’t up to scratch, it might take a good once over by a technician.

Considering the price point, this is a fantastic guitar that’ll translate the blues. It’s high gain, playable, and easy on the eye.

Pros:

  • Dynamic range
  • Warm bluesy tone
  • Bigsby B-70 vibrato
  • Chambered spruce center block
  • Gretsch FideliSonic™ P90 pickups

Cons:

  • Background hum when plugged in

Epiphone Riviera Custom P93- Best Semi-Hollow Body P90 Guitar

It’s a misconception that Epiphones are just poor Gibsons. Sometimes, they deserve respect in their own right.

Here’s the thing, some guitarists prefer Epiphones. We’re talking professional guitarists who’ve got the budget to pay more for a guitar.

The Epiphone Riviera is one of those over-performing guitars. The Strokes’ Nick Valensi, Lou Reed, and bluesman Robben Ford all stand loyal to the Riviera.

So why do they favor the Riviera?

Could it be the timeless look? This guitar is a stage-ready ax that’ll look the part under the lights. The twin cutaway, dual f-holes is a nod to the Gibson ES-355, throw in the gold hardware, and it’s a distinct look.

It’s one thing enjoying the spotlight, but if your sound is limp, it’s all in vain. So let’s talk about sound.

You’re here for the P90s and they don’t disappoint. The Epiphone P90s offer a raw, powerful tone in a high output package. Sensitive enough for smooth jazz, but with the punch and growl for rock.

Like the sound of them? Not one, not two, but there’s three in this guitar! Now we’re talking.

You’ve got all the growls of the P90s and the ES body style brings chiming articulation. It’s a sound that is difficult to rival in this price range.

The body is thin considering it’s a semi-hollow. But if you’re new to the world of ES-style guitars, it might be worth a test drive. They are large, so if you’re accustomed to a Strat it might take some practice.

For the bohemian looking for a stage-ready semi-hollow electric guitar. The Epiphone Riviera Custom P93 is an affordable option to blaze the trail. And you can do so with confidence in its build quality. The lifetime warranty will see to that.

Pros:

  • Bigsby B-70 vibrato
  • Chime and punch sound
  • Epiphone lifetime warranty
  • 3 x Epiphone “Dogear” P-90 pickups
  • Distinctive Riviera look with gold hardware

Cons:

  • Heavy on the shoulder

Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin Hollowbody – Best P90 for Jazz

Are you new to the wonderful world of Godin guitars?

It’s a name that you might be unfamiliar with, but here’s why we should consider them amongst the best.

From the trees used for tonewood, to the moment it’s in your hands, the process is 100% North American.

Made in Quebec, Canada. Since their launch, the manufacturing location remains the same.

There’s a personal touch to these guitars. Every bit of the process is the handiwork of this Canadian family-run company.

But beyond sentiment. What does the 5th Avenue KingPin offer?

It’s a fetching guitar. If you like your guitars to look like a throwback to times gone by. It’ll grab your attention.

It looks like it could be in Robert Johnson’s hand at the crossroads or in the smoky Jazz bars of Great Gatsby times.

If you could put a guitar sound to these images, then you’ll have a powerful idea of the tone of this guitar.

It’s a mellow and rounded tone that has serious depth. The P90 pickup then adds a little tonal oomph.

The playability is excellent and hand fatigue won’t be an issue. Although the body is large, it’s lightweight to hold. If you’re a professional jazz musician, you can have faith in this guitar in a gig scenario.

You will struggle to go beyond the 12th fret. But if you’re sold on this guitar, the Kingpin II is the cutaway solution.

If the out of the box intonation isn’t to your liking, you can adjust it on the TUSQ bridge by Graphtech to suit.

The wood can be frail around the f-holes to warn the brash-handed player. To get the full Jazz feel, the supplied strings might need changing to flatwound strings.

The archtop guitar is here to stay. They offer a sound that’s difficult to replace. This is a guitar with craftsmanship at heart. Offering a sound that’ll deliver purity when performing jazz, blues, and rockabilly.

Pros:

  • Blues and jazz tones
  • Canadian craftsmanship
  • Godin Kingpin P-90 pickup
  • Adjustable Graphtech TUSQ bridge
  • Canadian wild cherry archtop, back and sides

Cons:

  • Thin wood around f-hole

Schecter PT Special – Best P90 Guitar for Rock

Are you one to go against the grain? A Schecter guitar might be what you’re looking for.

Researching the artists who use Schecter guitars is interesting. You’ll find big names like Zakk Wylde, Nikki Sixx, Nine Inch Nails, and Avenged Sevenfold. But there are also plenty of underground guitarists that opt for Schecter.

The one commonality—they all know how to rock. So why do all the rockers opt for Schecter?

What would rock be without the snarling attitude? The Schecter PT Special has a vintage-infused snarling tone.

The PT Special has a Schecter Diamond V-90 single-coil on the neck. This P90 variation has a growl and meaty midrange.

So what’s missing? Some vintage twang and clarity wouldn’t go amiss. On the bridge, the Schecter Diamond VT-1 single-coil brings the twang. It’s an all-encompassing quintessential rock tone.

Switch between pickups using the 3-way switch. Blending between these two pickups, you’ll find a tone to suit any subgenre of rock.

Now, Guitar Advise doesn’t condone the rough treatment of guitars. But with a rock show—anything goes! We know things can get raucous.

The swamp ash body not only provides a harmonic drenched midrange, but it’s a big slab of wood that’ll last. The neck is durable and the maple fingerboard is fast-playing for the up-tempo numbers.

When things get a bit moshy. The extra-jumbo frets will help you find your way if you get lost in the music.

Out of the box, there isn’t much to complain about. The lack of indentation for strings on the brass saddles can cause an issue. Spacing between the strings can become inconsistent.

This South Korean-built Schecter is here to compete with Fender. It does that. It’s comfortable, durable, and delivers an authentic rockin’ sound.

Pros:

  • Stable Grover tuners
  • Diamond VT-1 pickup on bridge
  • P90 style Diamond V-90 neck pickup on neck
  • Swamp ash body supplying bright and warm mids
  • Extra jumbo frets and durable satin finish maple neck playability

Cons:

  • Lack of string grooves on bridge saddles

What are P90’s Good For?

P90s are famous for their versatility. They blend tonal characteristics of both single-coil and humbucker pickups. They’re bright and articulate, but also raspy in midrange and weighty in the low. The timeless gritty tone makes them good for blues, jazz, rock, country, indie, and punk.

P90 Vs Humbucker Pickups: Which is Better?

One isn’t better than the other. Both P90s and humbuckers offer slight differences in tone. These tonal nuances lend themselves to different applications. P90s are dirtier and grittier than humbuckers. Whereas humbuckers are smoother and more rounded than P90s. You can attribute the variation in tonality to humbuckers using two coils, as opposed to the P90s one.   

How to Choose The Best P90 Guitar – Buyer’s Guide


Quality of the P90 Pickup

So you’re sold on the idea of a P90 pickup. What should you look for?

First, consider the magnets. You’ll often hear Alnico branded around. These are the magnets used inside the pickup. An Alnico V magnet will provide a full and fat tone. Whereas the Alnico II will be punchier but with a softer attack.

You’ll have two opinions of P-90, either ‘soap bar’ or ‘dog ear’. What’s the difference in sound? Don’t let the information overload scare you. There’s little if any difference in sound. The fundamental difference is the mounting technique and look.

Talking of looks. A good P90 is one that you like the look of. The most common colors of P90s are the vintage off-white, black or metal.

A P90 pickup will have a classic warmth with definition. But there can be small nuanced differences. Some can be livelier and punchier with less low end but with more midrange and definition. Others are thicker, weightier, and offer a thump .

If you’re undecided. Look for familiar names. You can’t go wrong with the likes of Seymour Duncan or Gibsons for top end pickups.

Materials & Build Quality

If a guitar manufacturer has opted to use P90s in their guitar. It suggests they aren’t cutting any corners.

But how do you inspect the guitar like a pro? Here are a few tips:

  • Wood: Look at the material list. Ash, alder, korina, mahogany and maple are a good starting point for body material. Necks of maple and mahogany are common for electric guitars.
  • Hardware: Check the hardware and try to avoid plastic. Rotate the tuning machines. You should have slight resistance, good tuners will be easy to turn but not loose.
  • Craftsmanship: Look at the joints to see if there are any gaps in the joints. Run your hand along the fret edges. An excellent build will have smooth frets that don’t stick out and damage your skin.
  • Finish: A good finish will be smooth and even across the neck and body.
  • Electronics: Test that electrical parts are tight and secure.

These are a few pointers to get you started. To test, you’ll need the guitar in hand. You can always drop into your local shop for a test drive.

If you’re buying online, you might not have the opportunity. Use reputable sites like the links on this site. They give you the option to return the guitar if it doesn’t meet your standards.

Body Style

The body of the guitar is your style statement. There’s plenty to choose from. Here are a few of the most common body shapes:

  • S Style: The Strat is the most famous S-style body. Smooth curves and a double-cutaway to access high frets. The contoured top makes it comfortable on the arm.
  • T Style: This is the iconic shape of the Telecaster. This simple design hasn’t needed modification since 1951.
  • Les Paul: Another one of the most iconic guitar bodies. It’s historic and eye-catching, with a single-cutaway for riffs high up the neck.
  • SG: The two horns of an SG look dangerous. This body yells high octane rock.
  • Archtops and Hollowbodies: These combine the resonance of an acoustic with amplification capabilities. To this day they are a go-to in genres such as jazz and blues to name a few.

Manufacturers are always pushing the envelope with body design. Offset styles like the Jazzmaster and Flying V’s are two more outlandish approaches.

There are some things to consider beyond the obvious looks. Are you comfortable playing the body? Do you want a whammy bar? Also, think about tones. If you want tonal varieties, look for more switches and dials to help carve a tone to suit.

Playability

Playability is all about comfort. If you’re at comfort, your hand won’t fatigue resulting in increased playability.

This varies from person to person. Necks come in different sizes and smaller hands will suit necks with a narrower radius. Others may prefer a less delicate neck to attack.

Try a guitar for size to see if you feel at home. Use a playing style that you intend to use the guitar for. Again, look for good return policies when ordering online. Sweetwater and Guitar Center are great for this should you need to return.

Price

Price can be the biggest stumbling block. It can dishearten—but don’t worry. There is a good guitar for every budget. Whatever price you have in mind, rest easy, the guitars on this list will all perform. 

Recap of the Best Guitars with P90 Pickups

P90 GuitarAward
Yamaha PAC611HFM PacificaEditor’s Pick
Epiphone Les Paul Special I P-90 Limited-EditionBudget Pick
Epiphone SG Special P-90Best Under $500
Gibson Les Paul Special Tribute P-90Best Under $1,000
Gibson Les Paul Standard ’50s P90Premium Pick
Gretsch Guitars G2622T-P90Best for Blues
Epiphone Riviera Custom P93Best Semi-Hollow
Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin HollowbodyBest for Jazz
Schecter PT SpecialBest for Rock

Conclusion

There we have it. The best guitars fitted with the timeless P90 pickups.

How you interpret this classic pickup is down to you. From the jazzy vibes of an archtop to the high octane midrange growl of a Les Paul. It’s up to you!

I hope you now have knowledge of P90s. But most important—the confidence to pick a guitar to suit your every need. 

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