Are P90s "honky" or am I crazy?

Sanchito

Electromatic
May 11, 2022
93
Washington, DC
I've just tried out a Casino, and a 5627-p90 (semi hollow), and they both sound -- and this is really my best description -- "honky." Like the sound has sort of a nasal, honk to it.

Is this a bug, or a feature? Is this the awesome sound that everybody raves about, and I'm just discovering it's not for me? Or am I missing something?

I can find some sounds I like if I fiddle around, staying on the neck and rolling off the tone, but it just feels like trying to avoid the natural tone of the pickups.

(On a totally separate note though, I think it finally clicked why people love teles so much, and I'm very happy I didn't give up there.)
 

Emergence

Synchromatic
Gold Supporting Member
May 25, 2022
716
New York
I don’t get the attraction of P90’s. They don’t have chime or twang. And they have really loud hum unless you search out low wind pickups and that kind of defeats what P90’s are supposed to be for. There are plenty of folks who like them. They’re just not for me.
 

Cryin_Caleb_Aaron

Friend of Fred
Gold Supporting Member
Aug 15, 2018
7,669
Auburn, Maine
I don’t get the attraction of P90’s. They don’t have chime or twang. And they have really loud hum unless you search out low wind pickups and that kind of defeats what P90’s are supposed to be for. There are plenty of folks who like them. They’re just not for me.
I love how other people sound with them, and I think they sound great on record.
That being said, I haven’t been able to make them work for me.
 

Falconetti

Synchromatic
Sep 18, 2012
570
Bagsville, Oxford UK
D6094BC2-F275-488C-A8A8-C3A64644655A.jpeg
No honk to my old ears with this beauty but to be fair definitely no chime either and definitely lacking in the twang department. Plenty of grunt though. This is the first P90 guitar I have gigged with and I am surprised by how well behaved it is. I get that the tone wouldn’t be for everyone and it isn’t for all applications but I really like it and am happy to find a space for it.
 

Byron

Country Gent
Sep 4, 2009
1,247
uk
I'm in the P90 puzzle at the moment too. With flats on my cheapo Chinese firefly semi acoustic, I can get some nice jazz and early jump blues sounds. Maybe think Scotty Moore? I got some in a solid body and boy, can they get brutal. Harsh on top. Jury's out
 

Stefan87

Country Gent
May 20, 2019
3,275
Brisbane, Australia
I went on a p90 discovery journey the last 6 months because of all the love for them, now i totally get they are a classic sound and there are plenty of songs i like that have p90s as the main tone and a p90 jazz sound is awesome....but in the end i found that they are just not for me.

Yes they can be honky and nasally but yeah not what i want to play or sound like, but understand why others love them.
 

Randy99CL

Country Gent
Gold Supporting Member
Feb 17, 2020
2,269
Albuquerque
Depends on the pickups I think. I love my P-90s for their bark and growl but don't care for them so much at lower volume. They sound best with overdrive and fuzz and effects. Rock, R&R, Blues, Punk. Juicy feedback.

For low volume clarity and chime I prefer my G5129 Dynasonics or a Strat or Tele.
JMO

Edit: as I reread the posts above I think some of you are just expecting a different voice...P-90s are the single coils that are leaning toward the HB realm. Nasty, rough, uncivilized, sometimes honky or muddy, not clean or clear or sparkly or chimey like what we love in our Fenders or Rics or Gretsches.
Again, Just My Opinion.

 
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BCRatRod73

Synchromatic
Silver Member
Sep 1, 2020
842
Mississippi
My Riviera P93 has three P90s and quite a bit of versatility. Once the metal covers came off the tone improved. Blending the middle pickup creates some unique tones. I like P90s for what they are. Regular single coils have their place but they’re kinda thin sounding. They sound great in a Strat though. Humbuckers have their place as well but they can be kinda muddy. P90s are rough and rowdy and can really drive an amp. The are a great alternative.
 


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