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Thread: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

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    Ultimate Tone Member FuelGTRX's Avatar
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    Default P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    I'm wanting to wire up a humbucker sized P-90 (Phat Cat, Mean 90, Dream 90...I haven't decided yet) in the bridge position of my strat and one single coil in the neck position. I plan on using a 3 way switch, one volume, and one tone. Would these P-90 style pickups be able to handle a 250K tone/volume? Or would that be too muddy? Any solutions?
    CURRENT RIG:

    2004 Fender American Standard Stratocaster (SD PGb bridge, DMZ VVB neck)
    2011 Fender Blacktop Telecaster (GFS Surf 90s)
    2014 Gretsch Electromatic G5422TDC (Gretsch Blacktop Filter'trons)
    Jet City JCA100H
    Mojo 4x12 loaded with Greenbacks
    lots 'o pedals

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    Default Re: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    Wasn't it Gibson that used to use 300k pots in their guitars?
    I love it in my p90 guitar, less of a treble bite

  3. #3
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    I've been thinking of doing this for some time. I have a nice MIJ Strat that the previous owner routed for a bridge humbucker. Right now it has Antiquity Surfers for the neck and middle pickups. And I have a nice bridge model Phatcat I've been wanting to put in that guitar for the bridge pickup.

    What's kept me from doing it is the 250K pots in that Strat. IMO, the alnico 2 Phatcat has a warmer voice with less treble than a vintage style alnico 5 P90. So although the Surfers sound perfect with 250K pots I think the Phatcat would sound dull and lack treble with those pots.

    I've been going over it in my mind. The standard 5 way switch is really two independent switches - one on the left side of the switch and one on the right side.

    I've been trying to figure out a way to give the Phatcat its own 500K volume pot and tone pots, and give the Surfers their own 250K volume pot. I rarely use a tone control with the neck and middle pickups of a Strat - but I do like to use the tone control on the bridge pickup.

    I also rarely do volume swells using my pinky with the neck and middle pickups - but I do like to do volume swells with the bridge pickup.

    So I'm thinking of making the usual volume control position a 500K pot and connecting it and the Phatcat to the right side of the switch.

    And I'm thinking of making the middle control a 250K pot for the two Surfers and connecting them to the left side of the switch.

    I'm thinking of making the third control a 500K tone control connected to the output jack...like Hamer does it.

    I think I could make this work but until I actually do it, it's all theory!
    Last edited by Lewguitar; 10-14-2009 at 08:53 AM.

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    Ultimate Tone Member FuelGTRX's Avatar
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    Default Re: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    See, thats my issue, I don't want a 3rd knob on my pickguard. The stock master volume constantly gets in my way and I always end up knocking it around unintentionally. Drives me crazy.
    CURRENT RIG:

    2004 Fender American Standard Stratocaster (SD PGb bridge, DMZ VVB neck)
    2011 Fender Blacktop Telecaster (GFS Surf 90s)
    2014 Gretsch Electromatic G5422TDC (Gretsch Blacktop Filter'trons)
    Jet City JCA100H
    Mojo 4x12 loaded with Greenbacks
    lots 'o pedals

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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    I use 250K volume & tone pots on all my bridge Phat Cats & P-90's, which gives them a much fuller tone to my ears. Cuts down on the excess treble (it's still a single coil in a bridge slot, which is treble + treble, and the additional treble from 500K's is more than my ears can handle). Shaving off the worst of the treble balances out the PU's EQ better, as you get a higher percentage of mids.

    I'm not thrilled with Duncan's choice of A2's in Phat Cats, bridge or neck, and have swapped them out in all 10 of my Phat Cats. The stock neck PC is too dark in my Gibson-designs, and the bridge is surprisingly "weak & thin" (a Zhang quote). I put brighter magnets in my neck PC's (combinations of A5, A4, and A3 depending on the wood) and like an A8/A4 pair in the bridge PC for a combination of muscle & fullness. The higher output also makes it balance better with the neck PU (in my guitars, the mighty stock PCN overpowers the scrawny stock PCB). Stock PC's will sound different in your Strat though, and you might like them that way. I just want you to know that there are more options to tweak P-90's, than there are with HB's. Whatever P-90 you get, you should be able to get some great tones. I'd keep the 250K's, and if you need more treble, use an A5 or two.

  6. #6
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    Quote Originally Posted by blueman335 View Post
    I use 250K volume & tone pots on all my bridge Phat Cats & P-90's, which gives them a much fuller tone to my ears. Cuts down on the excess treble (it's still a single coil in a bridge slot, which is treble + treble, and the additional treble from 500K's is more than my ears can handle). Shaving off the worst of the treble balances out the PU's EQ better, as you get a higher percentage of mids.
    What excess treble? There is no excess treble with a stock A2 Phatcat.

    Not everybody has the skills to unsolder the cover and deal with magnet swaps. You've modded your Phatcats with magnets that give them a brighter sound and now say the Phatcats have excess treble - but it's because of the mods you did to make them have more treble!

    Anyways, I think the bridge Phatcat is fine just as it is. I think you're right about the neck Phatcat though. It lacks a little clarity and is to warm for my tastes. I use my Phatcats with 500K pots and the bridge Phatcat sounds fine. Even with 500K pots the neck pickup could use more treble.

    I tend to like alnico 5 for neck and middle pickups and alnico 2 for the bridge pickup when it comes to single coils.

    But FuelGTRX isn't asking about a neck Phatcat or modded Phatcats. He's asking about a stock alnico 2 bridge model Phatcat.
    Last edited by Lewguitar; 10-14-2009 at 10:30 AM.

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    Ultimate Tone Member FuelGTRX's Avatar
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    Default Re: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    I'm not just specifically asking about the Phat Cat. I'm actually leaning towards a GFS Mean 90, but I'm still not sure which to go with. I do know I want a p90 type pickup in the bridge position.
    CURRENT RIG:

    2004 Fender American Standard Stratocaster (SD PGb bridge, DMZ VVB neck)
    2011 Fender Blacktop Telecaster (GFS Surf 90s)
    2014 Gretsch Electromatic G5422TDC (Gretsch Blacktop Filter'trons)
    Jet City JCA100H
    Mojo 4x12 loaded with Greenbacks
    lots 'o pedals

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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewguitar View Post
    What excess treble? There is no excess treble with a stock A2 Phatcat.

    Not everybody has the skills to unsolder the cover and deal with magnet swaps. You've modded your Phatcats with magnets that give them a brighter sound and now say the Phatcats have excess treble - but it's because of the mods you did to make them have more treble!

    Anyways, I think the bridge Phatcat is fine just as it is. I think you're right about the neck Phatcat though. It lacks a little clarity and is to warm for my tastes. I use my Phatcats with 500K pots and the bridge Phatcat sounds fine. Even with 500K pots the neck pickup could use more treble.

    I tend to like alnico 5 for neck and middle pickups and alnico 2 for the bridge pickup when it comes to single coils.

    But FuelGTRX isn't asking about a neck Phatcat or modded Phatcats. He's asking about a stock alnico 2 bridge model Phatcat.
    You got my post a little confused old boy (you may have "banged" that head once too often ). I only brighten up the neck PC. Let me tell you, in mahogany it has zero treble. Lord knows they need at least one A5, for treble, clarity, and a tighter low end. If this guy can solder a pot, he can swap a magnet, so his skill level should be fine for either.

    To me, stock bridge PC's need more body, more mids, and more output. I hear them as being on the bright and thin side in the bridge position. Just kind of puny. That's why I use an A8/A4 and 250K's with them. Then they're rich, powerful, & full, and still sound open like a single coil. I realize this is too warm a bridge for some guy's tastes, especially those used to Fenders.

    The moral to this is that there is no right or wrong. There's just different approaches. We've all got different guitars & equipment, and different styles & tastes. Use whatever you need to get the tones you want: pots magnets, or whatever. I'm just tossing ideas arounds, as a guy with a lot of experience with HB-sized P-90's. Rather than ponder this indefinitely, I jumped in and solved the problems I had. Magnets have huge potential in P-90's; if you got one with stock A5's and it's not quite to your liking, you can take 10 minutes and swap magnets to improve that. When someone rules out mag swapping, they're painting themselves into a corner as far as tone options. We've taught many newbies how to do it.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Got_tone?'s Avatar
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    Default Re: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    Here's a forum members strat with a mean 90. SOunds great but I'm not sure what pot he's using. He's username is ImmortalSix if you want to ask him.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pY1tmeLj2Y

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    Ultimate Tone Member FuelGTRX's Avatar
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    Default Re: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Got_tone? View Post
    Here's a forum members strat with a mean 90. SOunds great but I'm not sure what pot he's using. He's username is ImmortalSix if you want to ask him.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pY1tmeLj2Y
    I'll check that out when I get home from work (videos no work at my office). I saw his Phat Cat video last night. Sounded pretty good.
    CURRENT RIG:

    2004 Fender American Standard Stratocaster (SD PGb bridge, DMZ VVB neck)
    2011 Fender Blacktop Telecaster (GFS Surf 90s)
    2014 Gretsch Electromatic G5422TDC (Gretsch Blacktop Filter'trons)
    Jet City JCA100H
    Mojo 4x12 loaded with Greenbacks
    lots 'o pedals

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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Got_tone? View Post
    Here's a forum members strat with a mean 90. SOunds great but I'm not sure what pot he's using. He's username is ImmortalSix if you want to ask him.

    Of course it also depends on what the amp's EQ'd like and if he's adjusted the tone pot on the guitar. You can dial in a great bridge tone, but then have the neck too dark when you switch to that. It's not that hard to get a good tone out of one PU; it's getting both to sound good on the same amp setting that is the real test.
    Last edited by blueman335; 10-14-2009 at 06:39 PM.

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    Default Re: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    I checked out the audio samples on the Duncan site and thought the PC neck sounded brighter than the jazz, A2, 59 or seth necks. Also saw a couple of youtube vids with guys playing clean PC setups. Didn't hear any mud - am I missing something?

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    LoveMachineologist jeremy's Avatar
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    Default Re: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewguitar View Post
    I've been going over it in my mind. The standard 5 way switch is really two independent switches - one on the left side of the switch and one on the right side.

    I've been trying to figure out a way to give the Phatcat its own 500K volume pot and tone pots, and give the Surfers their own 250K volume pot. I rarely use a tone control with the neck and middle pickups of a Strat - but I do like to use the tone control on the bridge pickup.
    im almost done wiring up a guitar with a similar scheme to yours. ill let you know how i make out. its the reverse actually with the neck single coil on a 250k volume and the middle and bridge buckers on a 500k volume but if it works on mine itll work on yours

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    Ultimate Tone Member PRSfan nym 1985's Avatar
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    Default Re: P-90 with a 250K volume/tone setup, will that work?

    I'm not sure if you'd be interested in this idea or not but DiMarzio makes a pickup called the Bluesbucker and it's voiced like a P90 I'm not sure if it would be a better match to the 250 pots but it might be worth looking into.

    Granted I'm sure it probably sounds closer to a cross between a vintage lower output PAF and a P90.

    Just figured I'd throw in another option if you weren't partial to brands.


    Also I'm not sure how muddy that pickup would get my old guitar teacher had a set of Phat Cats in his Ibanez hollow body and they seemed pretty snappy in the attack range but he had 500k pots. And this was one of the strat style bodied artcores not the big ones.

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