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The Misunderstood Pickup



The Gibson P100 Pickup is the most misunderstood pickup of all time, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve that no other pickup can achieve. For those of you that don't know them, the Gibson P100 pickup is a slightly squashed and sometimes over wound single coil P90 pickup with an additional humbucking coil placed underneath it. Because of the phase cancellation of the second coil backs it off, most P90 purists consider them to be weak.


Now I had been playing around with P90's since before the Blonde Tele , Firstly on the Meteor and then as the centre pickup on a 335 Dot. With the std dogear covers I had at the time on the 335 I ended up with the pickup way too close to the strings - didn't look it but it was - it had real transient response problems. It tried trimming it back on the pot to no avail, it was all about the coil itself being saturated - sheer magnetism.


Because it was a transient response type problem it was the attack of the note that broke up and not nicely either - horrible cracking stuff, but when you played pedal swells - ie no attack, it was just heavenly so the challenge was on to try and harness that effect without compromising what was basically a really good pickup if set right.


I had picked up that Les Paul rescue dog and had a pair of P100 dogears to go on that. This was my first experience with that particular pickup. I was intrigued to see what would happen when you dropped the lower humbucking coil out of the circuit. The effect due to the winding impedance was very similar, if not the same - it over saturated the pickup in the magnetic domain. A Eureka moment, with an additional switch I could control and harness the effect. On the LP I dropped in a pair of 500k pots with push pulls on the back. No lefty pots for this so I had to use linear controls with trimming resistors to get some kind of audio taper but it was controllable and to me a useful addition to the palette especially in the neck position for those rich swells.


So I grabbed another pair of P100s on ebay and one of them has temporarily ended up in the neck position of the Thinline on standard wiring and the other is destined to go onto the Black on Black which will have a 4 way selector for series, plus a three way toggle between the pots to give me both volume bypass and non humbucking mode on the neck pickup - going to be an interesting wiring job to get it right and there may be much melting of wires (and fingers) and "words" as it develops.


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Copyright 2018_Steve Flood

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