Because P-100 pickups look identical to P-90 pickups, many people mistakenly think that they are also single coil pickups, and that they are something like a P-90’s on steroids. Nothing could be further from the truth. In order to understand how this guitar sounds, it is important to have some understanding of exactly what a P-100 pickup is, and what it is not. The P-100 is often mistakenly thought to be a “hotter” or more powerful version of the classic single coil P-90 pickup. This is far from the truth. The P-100 is not a single coil pickup at all, in fact it is a “stacked humbucker,” designed to look like a standard P-90. The P-100 pickup was designed to be the same size as a P-90, and to fit in the same cover as a P-90, but it is a humbucking pickup and not a single coil pickup like a P-90. The P-100 is often referred to as a “Vintage Vertical” pickup because it is capable of producing a very warm, vintage humbucking sound.
All early pickup designs were single coil designs, such as the P-90, which itself debuted in 1946. Single coil pickups have, you guessed it, a single coil of wire, and although they are specifically designed to pickup the sound of the strings on a guitar, they can act like an antenna, and may also pickup unwanted radiation or signals from the air, such as 60 cycle hum from electrical house wiring, electric appliances, and florescent lighting. Humbucking pickups on the other hand have two coils, and each coil has wiring that is wound with opposing electrical polarity. The polarity of the noise signal, or unwanted hum, that is picked up is thus negated or “bucked” because the signals are going in opposite directions, and the result is that they cancel each other out. Typically, humbucking pickups have two coils that are side by side. However, the P-100 is a “stacked” humbucker, and it has two reversed single coil pickups or wound bobbins of wire that are stacked one on top of the other, which serve to cancel out unwanted noise and hum. A “stacked” humbucker does not sound exactly the same as conventional side by side humbucker, nor does it sound the same as a single coil pickup. The P-100 has slightly less high frequency response than a P-90, but much more so than a conventional side-by-side humbucker, without the “midrange” hump associated with humbucking pickups. However, because of its humbucking design, it also has a fatter, warmer, and richer sound than could ever be gotten from a P-90, and it is also a “hotter” pickup as well.
How hot is the P-100? Well, for comparison purposes, a P-100 has more output than a Gibson Burstbucker Pro, a Burstbucker # 2, a 490R, and/or a 1957 PAF Classic Humbucking Pickup. On the other hand, a P-100 has less output than a Gibson Burstbucker # 3, 498T, 496R and/or a 500T Humbucking Pickup. The P-100 has the same output as a 1957 PAF Classic Plus and a P-94T Pickup.