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P-90 Versus “Fender” Single-coil

Q: Aren’t P-90 and “Fender” pickups like the ones in a Strat or a Tele both single-coils? Why do they sound different?

A: Both Fender-style pickups and P-90 pickups are indeed types of single coils, but there are a number of reasons why the two types sound different. Perhaps the biggest factor is that the coil of wire in a P-90 is much wider, but at the same time not as deep, as a Strat or Tele single coil, which will be narrower but taller. This changes the portion of the string (the “aperture”) that is sensed by the pickup and therefore the tone produced. Another difference is that Fender-style pickups use six magnetized polepieces, while the P-90 has a single bar magnet, with slugs or adjustable screw polepieces that conduct the magnetism to the strings.

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