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 polepieces, 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 dogear 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 their 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.— Dave Hunter
For more information visit www.fralinpickups.com/p90s.asp