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  1. #1

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    Early Herb Ellis comes to mind. Of course Grant Green. I'm a big fan of Grant Green's but his bright and overly reverby tone is not my favorite.
    Emily Remler had an ES 330 but with humbuckers. i don't know if she ever recorded with that guitar before ditching the P-90's.
    Who else used P-90's?

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  3. #2

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    Pretty sure Jim Hall had a P-90 era. Is he considered straight ahead? Maybe more so in his early days.

  4. #3

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    Wes.

    DG

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by wzpgsr
    Pretty sure Jim Hall had a P-90 era. Is he considered straight ahead? Maybe more so in his early days.
    You're probably right about him using P90's early on. I'd definitely consider him in the straight ahead stratosphere. He studied classical composition, I think he was bringing those influences more in his playing later in his career.

  6. #5

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    Pretty much any jazz guitarist playing electric prior to the introduction of humbuckers would have played p90's or CC.

    Lots of players played early ES175's with P90's as well as ES125 and 150. The ES350 also had P90's originally and was popular.

  7. #6

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    Some have been cited but here are a few that come in mind: Jim Hall with his historical ES-175, Kenny Burrell, Wes, Grant Green, Herb Ellis prior to switching to humbucker, Doug Raney early recordings, Django played a 1946 ES-300 during his ´46 USA tour. Not sure about Tal but I think he has used some after his ES-250. Sure there are many more.

    Pretty much who’s who in jazz guitar golden era.

  8. #7

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    It is striking that almost all players who played P90s early in their career switched to humbuckers at some point (Kenny, Herb, Wes, Joe, George). I tend to think that for a recording, gigging and touring musician who sees lots of stages and different venues, humbuckers are just more practical to avoid hum and buzz?

    I love my P90s (ES-125, ES-330 copy, telecasters). Especially with my ES-330 copy I am sometimes forced to use both pickups to cancel bad hum on certain stages. Of course the ES-125 doesn’t have that option, being a single PU guitar, but is somehow less prone to hum and buzz (can’t figure out why, since components used in the circuit are almost identical with grounded braided wiring…).

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay
    It is striking that almost all players who played P90s early in their career switched to humbuckers at some point (Kenny, Herb, Wes, Joe, George). I tend to think that for a recording, gigging and touring musician who sees lots of stages and different venues, humbuckers are just more practical to avoid hum and buzz?

    I love my P90s (ES-125, ES-330 copy, telecasters). Especially with my ES-330 copy I am sometimes forced to use both pickups to cancel bad hum on certain stages. Of course the ES-125 doesn’t have that option, being a single PU guitar, but is somehow less prone to hum and buzz (can’t figure out why, since components used in the circuit are almost identical with grounded braided wiring…).
    Yeah that's a good point. Was it the noise that made them switch to humbuckers or was it a tonal preference?
    Maybe for the early adopters of humbuckers, it was a matter of convenience despite tonally preferring the P90's. Later on as humbuckers became more and more common, it gradually became a tonal preference for many players.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 07-31-2021 at 03:13 PM.

  10. #9

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    I remember reading that Herb Ellis switched due to noise. Not sure about the others. It may have been perceived as a technological advancement then. No reason to “stay behind”. Straight-ahead players who used P-90s

  11. #10

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    After reading hundreds of experiences on P90 pickups I have started to think that US electrical system (110V etc) was – and is – more prone to hums and buzzes eith those pickups than f. ex. modern EU electrical systems (220V etc).

    I mean that problems with P90 hum are exception at least here in Finland. But what I read about US is that P90 hum and buzz are the rule.

    That’s why I don’t wonder that humbucker pickup got so popular in late ’50s when it came.

    I may be exaggerating, I have not had a possibility to play in US. Or anywhere else than Finland. Unfortunately!

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie
    After reading hundreds of experiences on P90 pickups I have started to think that US electrical system (110V etc) was – and is – more prone to hums and buzzes eith those pickups than f. ex. modern EU electrical systems (220V etc).

    I mean that problems with P90 hum are exception at least here in Finland. But what I read about US is that P90 hum and buzz are the rule.

    That’s why I don’t wonder that humbucker pickup got so popular in late ’50s when it came.

    I may be exaggerating, I have not had a possibility to play in US. Or anywhere else than Finland. Unfortunately!
    Very interesting question! This should be investigated….. I have not played in the US either, so I wouldn’t know. What could be the reasoning behind it in terms of electronics?

  13. #12

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    Me. Now, earlier, and til I die...

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie
    After reading hundreds of experiences on P90 pickups I have started to think that US electrical system (110V etc) was – and is – more prone to hums and buzzes eith those pickups than f. ex. modern EU electrical systems (220V etc).

    I mean that problems with P90 hum are exception at least here in Finland. But what I read about US is that P90 hum and buzz are the rule.

    That’s why I don’t wonder that humbucker pickup got so popular in late ’50s when it came.

    I may be exaggerating, I have not had a possibility to play in US. Or anywhere else than Finland. Unfortunately!
    I don't think it's the electrical system. I think it's poor electrical installation practices (US construction sucks).

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie
    After reading hundreds of experiences on P90 pickups I have started to think that US electrical system (110V etc) was – and is – more prone to hums and buzzes eith those pickups than f. ex. modern EU electrical systems (220V etc).

    I mean that problems with P90 hum are exception at least here in Finland. But what I read about US is that P90 hum and buzz are the rule.

    That’s why I don’t wonder that humbucker pickup got so popular in late ’50s when it came.

    I may be exaggerating, I have not had a possibility to play in US. Or anywhere else than Finland. Unfortunately!
    I grew up and traveled in Europe and I’ve been living in the US for the last 15 years. I’ve had my fair share of hum everywhere. If I had to generalize I would say I’ve had less luck in US homes (not so much on stages where maybe they were more conscious about electrical).

  16. #15

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    Electromagnetic interference just keeps getting worse. More and more devices show up every day. Fluorescent and LED lights, wifi, phones, tablets, everything emits EMI now. The wifi and bluetooth should be above the range of interference, but harmonics work both ways, and lower order harmonics can sometimes be a problem. Lots of proper shielding can help, but humbuckers are the biggest help, and especially back in the 50s and into the 80s, when sources were increasing and there was no real method of blocking the interference. Early on, the modern 3-prong grounding system didn't exist, and that contributed to the noise as well. Humbuckers probably aren't as necessary today as they once were, but back when they were first available they were a big deal.

  17. #16
    I have guitars with P-90's, P-94's and PAF style humbuckers. Tonally I think P-90's are not that different from humbuckers. I don't find P90's to be bright and bite-y. To me they sound fatter than humbuckers where as humbuckers sound more hollow. But they are in the same ballpark. Here is a good comparison that matches my experience with these types of pickups:
    Last edited by Tal_175; 08-01-2021 at 09:17 PM.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    I have guitars with P-90's, P-94's and PAF style humbuckers. Tonally I think P-90's are not that different from humbuckers. I don't find P90's be bright and bite-y. To me they sound fatter than humbuckers where as humbuckers sound more hollow. But they are in the same ballpark. Here is a good comparison that matches my experience with these types of pickups:
    I find a big difference in terms of dynamics, P90s bringing a more pure/raw/responsive feel. I definitely play differently, which may alter the sound more than the actual sound difference.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    I don't think it's the electrical system. I think it's poor electrical installation practices (US construction sucks).
    Interesting! Frightening!

    Here in Finland the electrical installation practices are rigorously supervised. Of course there is places with hum but in general the strict regulations are apparently the best humbucker!

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by blille
    I find a big difference in terms of dynamics, P90s bringing a more pure/raw/responsive feel. I definitely play differently, which may alter the sound more than the actual sound difference.
    +1 for this. Humbuckers have some kinda natural inbuild compression with them. I love both sounds.

  21. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by blille
    I find a big difference in terms of dynamics, P90s bringing a more pure/raw/responsive feel. I definitely play differently, which may alter the sound more than the actual sound difference.
    Yeah, that makes sense. In my case due to the different construction of the guitars with P90 and humbuckers, it's hard to compare the dynamics. My ES 175 with humbuckers has just as or even more dynamics than my casino with P90's. But that's probably due to the deeper body of ES 175.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie
    After reading hundreds of experiences on P90 pickups I have started to think that US electrical system (110V etc) was – and is – more prone to hums and buzzes eith those pickups than f. ex. modern EU electrical systems (220V etc).
    Twice the voltage requires half the current to deliver the same power. So 220 systems use thinner wire, which (according to a discussion on the PS Audio blog) gathers less power line noise and can result in quieter audio devices. This might explain lower hum and noise from the power line, which is a major domestic noise source for audio equipment.

    But the noise entering through pickups is ambient and is generated by lighting, transformers, and other such sources of radiated EMF. The club where I play regularly is next to a regional rail line and its multi-kilovolt power supply. There’s also a cell phone tower right outside. We can tell what kinds of pickups are on guitars as soon as they’re plugged into our backline - and the closer a player gets to stage right, the louder the noise gets in susceptible instruments. The stage lighting adds more noise to really sensitive instruments.

    Even some humbuckers pick up a small amount of noise in the stage corner closest to the outside wall. My Carvin, Raines, and Ibanezes are all silent except when held next to the wall. The active EMG in my FrankenPaul is totally quiet. But the vintage “Sound of Fender” comes through loud and clear anywhere on stage. One of our regular blues jammers was there yesterday with his ‘61 Strat, and it whined and squealed constantly anywhere on stage.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevershouldhavesoldit
    Twice the voltage requires half the current to deliver the same power. So 220 systems use thinner wire, which (according to a discussion on the PS Audio blog) gathers less power line noise and can result in quieter audio devices. This might explain lower hum and noise from the power line, which is a major domestic noise source for audio equipment.

    But the noise entering through pickups is ambient and is generated by lighting, transformers, and other such sources of radiated EMF. The club where I play regularly is next to a regional rail line and its multi-kilovolt power supply. There’s also a cell phone tower right outside. We can tell what kinds of pickups are on guitars as soon as they’re plugged into our backline - and the closer a player gets to stage right, the louder the noise gets in susceptible instruments. The stage lighting adds more noise to really sensitive instruments.

    Even some humbuckers pick up a small amount of noise in the stage corner closest to the outside wall. My Carvin, Raines, and Ibanezes are all silent except when held next to the wall. The active EMG in my FrankenPaul is totally quiet. But the vintage “Sound of Fender” comes through loud and clear anywhere on stage. One of our regular blues jammers was there yesterday with his ‘61 Strat, and it whined and squealed constantly anywhere on stage.
    Yes, this is what I was going to say, when playing in clubs you are exposed to all kinds of interference, lighting, bad wiring etc. And even more so back in the '50's, hence the humbucker- which of course was invented for that purpose. I believe they wanted to come close to the P90 sound, just with no hum, and real PAF's sound pretty raw, not that far from a P90, though the dynamics are a bit different.

    I would think that with the competitive landscape of jazz guitarists, getting rid of the noise would have been paramount. And you really notice it in the studio, I have run into that countless times when using Fenders for recording.

  24. #23

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    The P90 guys that influenced me are Herb Ellis, Jim Hall, and early Tal Farlow.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by bluejaybill
    (…)
    And you really notice it in the studio, I have run into that countless times when using Fenders for recording.
    Ok, this is the question: humbuckers saved the Gibson guys from hum, but how come the Fender guys did not do anything to escape the side noises?

    Fender single coils are weaker than P90s, so one would think that they buzz more. And the Fender players often played with other Fender players in country bands, so the hum thing must have been a lot bigger than with jazz groups which usually has only one guitar with very loud woodwinds and brass. Didn’t they drown the P90 hum?

    Makes me wonder is the hum problem after all a bit exaggerated?

  26. #25

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    Fender hum isn't exaggerated. When I gig with a Stratocaster or Telecaster, I await the cue for the next chart with the guitar in two pickup mode to buck the hum, and switch to the neck pickup (usually) at the last second.