Replacing a soapbar P90 with a mini humbucker

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by SpinWheelz, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. SpinWheelz

    SpinWheelz Senior Member

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    If I understand correctly, a mini humbucker can slot into a pickup cavity of a soapbar P90. If so, how? Soapbar P90s don't use pickup rings and screw right into the body. Mini humbuckers do use pickup rings, so does one need to drill holes into the top to mount the pickup rings?
     
  2. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    A mini-humbucker or Firebird (they're different in sound and build, the Firebird's don't have screw-poles showing,) will fit into a P-90 rout, but only with the right pickup ring.

    The story is that Gibson had a ton of left-over mini-humbuckers from Epiphone, (who they were moving to Asia,) and decided to use them up by installing them in Les Pauls. The LP's had been designed for P-90's, so Gibson simply cut the P-90 covers to make mini-humbucker rings.

    These are the kind of rings you need (notice the rounded corners):
    [​IMG]

    They're usually about $5-10 bucks for one or a set, like they are here:
    (2) Cream Mini Humbucker Pickup Rings Les Paul Deluxe - eBay (item 350164886209 end time Feb-12-09 11:28:27 PST)


    I love P-90's but Mini-HB's are a great tone too. Peronally, I think Lollar makes just about the best mini-huckers, (his P-90's are the best too, IMO.)
    Gibson's newer mini's, I don't know what the exact specs are, but they're much more hot than vintage units, and lack a lot of the sparkle, clarity and chime that make them such a unique pickup.


    BTW, another option are the several kinds of P-90-sized humbuckers available. Duncan, Dimzario and Lace all offer some great designs with their own sounds.
    Lindy Fralin just launch his humbucking P-90, and i'm sure it will be another world-class pickup from him.

    Good luck!
     
  3. SpinWheelz

    SpinWheelz Senior Member

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    Cheers, mate. Thanks for the explanation. I didn't realize there were soapbar-sized humbuckers out there.

    With regards to mini humbuckers and their pickup rings, how would that would in the space of the soapbar P90? On the pickup rings you show, I only see the holes that would attach to the pickup itself. How would the entire pickup and pickup ring assembly mount onto the body?
     
  4. captain tightpants

    captain tightpants Banned

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    A little hard to describe, but it's really a simple setup....
    1. Screw goes thru the ring.
    2. spacer of some type (cut-to-length chunk of a drinking straw works great) goes over screw, under ring.
    3. Screw goes thru the pickups ears, but does not screw into the ears.
    4. S small nut is threaded onto the screw until the pickup is snug against the spacer.
    5. nut is soldered to the screw so it won't come loose
    6. you now have a pickup/ring assembly, which in turn will screw into either an adapter plate (see pic below), which is attached at the bottom of the cavity, or into threaded inserts which are pressed into the bottom of the guitars pickup cavity.

    Here's a picture of the plate I'm talking about, it works for both P-90's and minihumbuckers. The Mini would use the holes on the outside of the plate.

    It is attached to the bottom of the P-90 so I wouldn't lose it here, but it actually screws into the cavity first, then the pickup screws in afterwards.
    [​IMG]

    The ring is for looks alone
     
  5. SpinWheelz

    SpinWheelz Senior Member

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    If I understand you correctly, the pickups are still mounted to the body? Regular humbuckers are typically mounted to the pickup rings and the pickup rings are mounted to the body. You're saying that with mini humbuckers, the pickup ears are secured to the body? Surely those holes don't line up with P90 holes 'cause P90s' mounting screws are in the middle of the pickup, not the ends of them. I think I'm still missing something here, sorry.
     
  6. EFK

    EFK Senior Member

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    The special plastic mini ring is attached to the mini, NOT to the body. The whole assembly in turn slides right into a p90 cavity as if the whole mini assembly - ring included - were a p90. The adapter plater shown above attaches the whole mini assembly - ring and pickup - to the bottom of the cavity just like a p90. Does this clarify things? P90 and old-style minis (with the original-type 'floating' rings, I mean) are interchangeable in the same guitar.
     
  7. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    :thumb:

    That's the best answer, I hope that helps, Spinwheelz?

    With the rings and the adaptor, or with a P-90 'bucker, you shouldn't need to drill any holes in your guitar, and you'll have a wide range of possible tones from classic rock, sweet blues and jazz, to clear and modern sounds.
     
  8. hillbilly

    hillbilly V.I.P. Member

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    I like the Epiphone mini-humbuckers...they use alnico magnets...

    The Gibson Firebird ceramic pickups are so bright & harsh they can stun a wildebeast. :wow:
     
  9. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    Yeah, I don't know what Gibson is thinking with those pickups. The originals are so good, but it's like they're trying to make the Firebird pickup into a Super Distortion. It just doesn't work.

    Lollar and Fralin make incredible Firebird and Mini-humbucker pickups and P-90's. I'm really psyched about the new Fralin humbucking P-90's and will probably order a set later this year, (I love P-90's but the vintage ones are way too noisy in many clubs I play.)

    Just curious, Spinwheelz, but what kind of tone are you looking to get, and what kind of guitar are you thinking about the pickup swap on?

    There are a lot of great options out nowadays, from the relatively cheap, to custom wound handmade pickups.

    Duncan makes some great stuff for bluesier rock. Dimarzio's P-90 sized humbuckers come in hot-rodded humbucker types, but also some very nice, more vintage sounding units.

    The Lace P-90's sound like a really nice P-90, but without any hum or noise.
    Their new Alumitones are actually really cool pickups: they're sort of a wide-frequency, high-output design, but are very clean and single-coil sounding, and are really quiet and versatile. They work great for everything from jazz, to blues to hi-gain rock.

    Gibson's H-90's are nice but I haven't seen them outside of the limited edition guitars.

    And like I said, Fralin and Lollar make some of the best stuff in the world (P-90 or mini-hb), but they cost a little bit more.
     
  10. captain tightpants

    captain tightpants Banned

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    Look again at the pic. See the holes on the OUTSIDE of the plate? NOT the ones the P-90 is mounted to? The holes on the outside is what the mini's line up with.


    Another pic of the plate
    [​IMG]
    This...
    [​IMG]
    screws to the plate.
     
  11. SpinWheelz

    SpinWheelz Senior Member

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    Thanks for the explanation, fellas. That plates makes a ton of difference in helping me understanding it. Now I think I get it. Pickup and ring assembly is mounted to the plate and the plate it mounted to the body. That makes sense now.

    gmacdonnell, I didn't have any particular tone in mind. I've been fishing around for another guitar to noodle around with, and I've come across quite a few P90-shod candidates. Problem is, I've already got two other guitars with P90s (one's packed with three of them!), so I wanted to see what my options might be. It maybe cool to try one with two mini humbuckers set out of phase with each other!
     
  12. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    mini-hums always go nicely with P-90's: a well-balanced diet for sure.:thumb:

    If you're a vintage-gear/tone guy, I think you should contact Lollar, or Fralin.
    Both are real nice guys and will know exactly how to get it right the first time.

    One alternative, is the up and comer Vintage Vibe pickups, made by Pete Biltoft. Pete custom winds just about every imaginable kind of pickup, and does some really interesting and great sounding things with the classic designs. (Charlie Christian pups that fit in P-90 or Humbucker slots, for example, which just got stellar reviews in UK's Guitar and Bass mag)

    He makes mini-humbuckers, but also the P-90 sized humbuckers.
    His website: Vintage Vibe Guitars: Humbucker Pickups

    doesn't do full justice to his pickups: they're easily some of the best-made, highest-quality I've ever seen, (Jason Lollar agrees, btw!) And they sound terrific.

    What the website doesn't really indicate, is that
    you just call Pete up, explain your guitar, the pickup choice, and give a detailed description of the tone you're after, and he'll nail it
    for a great price. An incredible set of custom-wound "semi-humbuckers" I got from him cost me $150, shipped.

    He also can make easily exchangeable magnets, and gives you two sets. So you can choose between, say, Alnico II and V, or mix and match.

    Definitely worth looking into.
     
  13. SpinWheelz

    SpinWheelz Senior Member

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    Thank you so much for the leads, gmacdonnell. As and when a candidate for modding comes up, I'm gonna need to look into these options you've suggested. In the meantime, I need to find out where you're "working in NYC"!
     
  14. jason lollar

    jason lollar Member

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    I am happy you guys like my minis but I am suprised more people havent seen this
    its all in there if you can wade through 5 parts including mounting plates[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a0szX-Oq5o]YouTube - Installing mini humbuckers Part 1[/ame]
    there are at least three different mounting plates gibson used and I hjave drawings for all of them but usually I dont use them- its easier not to use a mounting plate as in parts 1 through 4!
     
  15. captain tightpants

    captain tightpants Banned

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    And there you have it! Thanks, Jason, i didn't know there were 3 different plates!

    Oddly enough, my '77 Special above has the plates for the P-90's, while my '77 Deluxe uses the inserts pressed into the wood for the mini's, go figure!
     
  16. jason lollar

    jason lollar Member

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    There are 4 other parts search on you tube Mini humbucker mounting
    YouTube - mini humbucker mounting
    I am trying to get up better videos than what is availible for the common items and to get up more odd stuff than anyone thinks about like mini buckers DOH!
     
  17. jason lollar

    jason lollar Member

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    Damn you guys are fast! I was just writing that last thing while you already replied! :laugh2:
     
  18. captain tightpants

    captain tightpants Banned

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    :laugh2:I literally just logged on and saw your post!

    I like your way of using the wood screws with springs on the bottom rather than soldering the damned nut unto the machine screw, what a pain in the ass that can be!
     
  19. jcg

    jcg Junior Member

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    I have a Custom Shop 56 Les Paul and want to replace the P90s with a set of Lollar minis.

    Has anyone had any luck getting hold of the mounting plates that Jason referenced? Is Parts is Parts still selling the plate pictured above? It's different than the plates that Gibson uses, from what I can tell. Has anyone had any luck with these?

    I'd really rather not drill any holes into the guitar if I can help it.

    Thanks.
     
  20. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    Wow, Jason Lollar himself!

    Love your pickups, Mr. Lollar. Many thanks for such great tone!


    Hi Spinwheelz,

    No problem with the help- just glad I could be of some assistance. I've got an apartment in the manhattan, but to be honest, lately i haven't spent too much time in the city. i've been on three short tours in the past few months and am recording in Macon whenever I get the chance. Just feel lucky to be busy in a time when so many are struggling.
     

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