No, they (coil splits) sound like half a humbucker. Nothing like a strat/tele, nothing like a p90. Just like the humbucker only thinner and with less balls. I have split coils on mine too and there are some occasions where it's useful but I could easily manage without coils splits
Part of why I ask is I'm not finding a whole lot of reasons to use the split option. It does sound good in the middle position split on a clean channel, but to jump to a heavy distortion immediately in a song is just too much adjusting even with a foot switch. I can manage a toe tap, toggle switch and maybe slight volume adjustment at changes during a song, but to add a push on the volumes too to unsplit is just too much. If a song is clean throughout then no issues of course.
If you have a pretty hot pickup to start with, a split humbucker will sound a lot more like a good strat pickup than if you start with an 8K PAF-type pickup. One of my favorites is a 13 - 14Kohm Carvin M22SD -- it really splits beautifully, as do the C22s from that company. Split, you have a pretty decent coil to work with.
A split humbucker will not, however, sound like a P90 -- that's a different kind of single coil pickup altogether.
If you want to try a pickup that has both a full-bore rail coil single coil and a P90 coil in a single pickup, take a look at the SD P-Rail. There are three different levels of output of P-Rail available, and all three sound like what they're supposed to when you select the coils individually. In addition, you have a choice of serial or parallel modes of humbucker by using the two of them together. In short, you have four completely usable ways to use the pickup.
I don't normally switch to split coils in the middle of a song, though it's usable that way. Remember that these have been available on guitars since the late '60's. So a lot of good preamps have a boost position for a guitar that's moved from humbucking to single or split coil mode. The Carvin Quad-X, for example, has an oustanding boost built into the preamp specifically to bring the pickup right into where you need it for distortion, and since the preamp has four channels, with varying amounts of cascading gain (up to 11 gain stages using NINE 12 AX7 tubes), you can preset it for some monster soloing. The nice thing about switching to a single coil at that point is that you can actually get some very articulate lower string sounds (humbuckers on a short scale instrument are usually muddy by comparision), so if you can get enough of a volume boost to handle your soloing, you're in hog heaven. The Quad-X (I'm mentioning this because it and the Triaxis are old rack-mount favorite tube preamps of mine and are available on eBay for the price of a premium pedal) has active parametric controls and an assignable active graphic EQ as well as SIX FX loops available to assign to a single foot stomp.
There's also the whole modeling thing; the Pods, Axes, Kempers and Eleven R's all have enough EQ and boost available that switching to a single coil is really not an issue. In fact, it's only an issue if you're running seriously weenie pedals.
Some pickups split better than others. The stock Gibson pickups I had in my Gibson l6-s reissue sounded very weak split , wasn't as useable as I was hoping. The Bill Lawrence L90's I have in it now, split much better- the volume drop is nowhere near as pronounced, and it still has some 'guts' to the sound..... interestingly they are actually lower output pickups to the Gibson ones. In saying that- is it anything like a P90? Nope. more like a Tele to my ears.
I use split coils a fair bit, and actually value the volume drop and thinner sound. If you're looking for a fat SRV-style lead tone forget it, but for switching between regular Les Paul and funk-style rhythm it's perfect.
No comparison to be had here.P90 is way to hot of a pickup to be replicated correctly with a split coil.Two entirely different things.Split coil is handy and can be usefull in the right guitar and right hands but to my ears it just turns a good bucker into a mediocre single coil.I haven't found a pickup that does it for me if I split the coils.just my experience though.Long live the P90.
as said before.. the P90s are different to split Humbucker.
I like the splitted Humbucker in my LesPaul Studio Deluxe on Neck Position as a nice sounding Rhythm Tone.
The P90 is much better for my taste in overall sounding, compared to the splitted Humbuckers. They are more fat in sound and with more warmness.
I used to not be into P90's. loved lipstick pups (much different sound). I've since taken my head outta my backside and seen the light.
P90's are the definitive single coil. They can be clean and jazzy, to down right gritty.
Yes, you get the 60 cycle hum with them, but that's part of the single coil world.
Split coils lose DB's and sound thinner. Sure folks are making advances in these draw backs (like PRS on their 408), but you certainly dont get the warmth the p90 puts out.