In 1955, Gibson introduced the Les Paul Custom—a.k.a. Black Beauty—its ultimate solidbody of the period, which, besides featuring lots of high-end appointments, carried a new alnico 5 pickup in the neck position to complement its bridge P-90. The “Staple” pickup as it came to be known was a Seth Lover design intended as an upgrade to the P-90. Its construction was quite different, too: Instead of having bar magnets beneath the coil as in the P-90, the Staple used six individual rectangular alnico 5 magnets as polepieces within the coil. Perhaps best described as more “hifi” sounding than the P-90, the Staple also found its way into Gibson’s high-end arch-tops of the mid ’50s, including the Byrdland, ES-5, and L-5CES.
Lollar’s new P-90 Staple pickup ($145 street) is designed to be a drop-in replacement on any P-90-equipped guitar that uses the typical mounting screws and springs (i.e. not “dog ear” types). Offered as a neck model only, and available with a black, cream, or white cover, it features hand-beveled rectangular alnico bar magnets for the non-adjustable poles, is wound with 42-gauge wire, and comes with a braided-shield lead.
Tested on a Fano Alt De Facto guitar, the Staple delivered a fine balance of warmth and clarity that made it very cool for blues and jazzier stuff through a Fender ’57 Custom Pro-Amp. It had plenty of output for more aggressive styles, and revealed a rich, stringy character when pushing into the OD channels on a Mesa/Boogie JP-2C amplifier. The Staple was quieter and a little more refined-sounding than the P-90 on my 1963 Les Paul Junior, which isn’t a big surprise, and it would be a great choice for anyone who seeks more clarity and depth from the neck position of their P-90 axe. (Lollar refers to it as sounding somewhere between their Alnico Pole P-90—which leans towards a Fender-ish sound—and their traditional steel-pole P-90, which has more grit and grind.) There’s an “old dog, new tricks” analogy here, but one thing’s for sure: The P-90 Staple brings a new twist to the P-90 scene, and for that reason it’s worth giving it a shot.
Kudos A vintage reissue that offers a surprisingly fresh take on P-90 tone.