LINDY FRALIN HUM-CANCELLING P-90S
|The Grosh 327 humbucker shares the same form as the Small Block 302.
||Fralin Hum-Cancelling P-90s. The uncovered example on the left shows the inward facing coils.
If you judge your replacement pickups by the specs,
throw any preconceptions out the window where
Lindy Fralin’s Hum-Cancelling P-90s ($130 each)
are concerned. Other than the covers and pole-pieces,
nothing about these pickups bears much
resemblance to traditional single-coil P-90s. But
this popular replacement pickup uses Fralin’s vast
experience to bring in a humbucking pickup that
retrofits a soapbar or dog-ear mounting and cops
the sound of a classic P-90, without the noise—
which is what really matters here.
The use of finer 43-AWG wire ups the impedance
readings, while also enabling the use of
relatively small amounts of “rare earth” samarium
cobalt magnet material, and that’s just the
beginning. Lift the traditional cover and the pickup
looks nothing like a vintage P-90, and far more
like a PAF-style humbucker with the narrow coils
rotated 90 degrees inward until they face each
other, rather than upwards.
Fralin points out that this isn’t a new design
as such, rather a new application of the technique
Gibson used for its own EB-0 bass humbucker,
and one that makes a great alternative
to “stacked” noiseless P-90s, which have a bad
rep in some circles.
Tested in place of the standard Fralin P-90s
in a Fano Alt de Facto JM6 guitar, the Hum-Cancelling
P-90s offered the silky yet slightly edgy
treble, authoritative midrange punch, and notably
gritty texture that P-90 fans love in traditional
examples, with a blessed absence of the (often considerable) hum. As such, they’re great for anything
requiring a little rasp and snarl, but clean up
sweetly for jazz or country with a little taming at
the guitar’s Volume knob. This set might have a
hair more glass to its attack than vintage P-90s,
which works great for cutting contemporary tones,
but Fralin offers a set with ceramic magnets for
a softer leading edge to the note, and will also
tailor wind strength to each customer’s requirements.
In all, it’s a great replacement unit for
anyone bothered by single-coil noise.
Kudos Eliminates hum while maintaining authentic
GROSH SMALL BLOCK 302 AND 327 HUMBUCKERS
Grosh Guitars has been rolling its own for a few
years, and the Small Block 302 and 327 humbuckers
($150 each) are among the latest out
of the box. Befitting of Grosh’s raison d’etre as
a guitar maker, these pickups follow the “vintage
modified” line of thinking, using the hallowed
Gibson PAF as a template and updating
the form for versatility.
The 302 for the neck position uses an Alnico
V magnet (Alnico IV in the uncovered version)
and traditional coils loaded with 42-AWG wire
to a reading of 8.12kΩ on my meter; the 327 for
the bridge also carries an Alnico V magnet, with
over-wound coils that take it to 9.66kΩ. Both
have four-conductor wiring, and are wax potted
to combat microphonic squeal. Note that either
type is available calibrated for both neck and
bridge position, although Grosh says this mixed
set is proving the most popular.
Our test set came loaded into a pickguard
for use in a loaner Grosh ElectraJet Custom,
complete with push-pull Tone pot for coil splitting,
but I also swapped them into a Gibson
SG Faded to hear them in a more traditional
context. Both pickups lean toward the hotter
side of the vintage range for their respective
positions, but in either guitar their clarity and
impressive note-to-note definition stormed
through. The ElectraJet Custom, formerly
loaded with P-90s, retained plenty of twang
when played clean, but when pushed roared
with that smooth, creamy thickness that only
a good humbucker achieves. There was even
more jangle and chime on tap with the coil split
engaged, which offered a useful tone alternative,
if not a sound entirely comparable to great
standard single-coil pickups.
Swapped into the SG—without coil splitting
this time—the Grosh humbuckers hit a more
classic stride. The 302 in the SG’s neck position
gushed pure buttery goodness, a tone so juicy
you want to slurp it off your chin before diving
in for more, and the 327 in the bridge excelled
at barky rock crunch and singing leads. All tasty
stuff from a well-made set of humbuckers.
Kudos Excellent sound and enhanced versatility
for fans of PAF-style tone.