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Les Paul Standard Gold Top - PAFs or P90s?


ddsax422
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Hi guys, 

I'm torn between getting a Les Paul standard gold top with Burstbuckers and the one with P90s. Some of my influences include Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Clash, Eric Clapton, and the Beach Boys. I have a general understanding of both pickups. I'm leaning more towards the humbuckers, but I'm afraid I might get buyer's remorse afterwards. Which Les Paul standard gold top do you think I should get?

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Let me start by saying that I am primarily a bass player. However, I also play guitar.  I do music for several well known television shows.  A Les Paul had always been my dream guitar. About 3 years ago, I purchased a Les Paul Traditional and was extremely disappointed. Recently, I traded an American Telecaster for a 2018 non-weight relief Gold Top Les Paul Classic with P90s and love it. I also have a Limited Edition American Strat with 2 single coils and one humbucker. It has Tex-Mex pickups and the S1 switch so I can split the coil on the humbucker. I am finding that I play the Les Paul all the time. I can't put it down. P90s are single coil so they are brighter than Burstbuckers but they also have nice distortion when you crank up the volume on the guitar. One thing I have been considering is changing the P90s for mini humbuckers because I think they look better but I really like the sound of the P90s. There are plenty of videos online which compare both pickups so you might want to check them out. Just keep in mind that the amp and settings in videos also play a factor in what you are hearing. 

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2 minutes ago, ddsax422 said:

@Kmonk I did look at some videos comparing both pickups and I can definitely tell that the P90s add a bit more crunch than the Burstbuckers. 

I like the P90s for that exact reason. At low volumes, they tend to be clean but at higher volumes you can get some nice crunch. However, I recently had someone tell me that they cannot stand 90s and find them to not sound heavy enough. It really depends on the sound you are looking for. 

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2 hours ago, Kmonk said:

Let me start by saying that I am primarily a bass player. However, I also play guitar.  I do music for several well known television shows.  A Les Paul had always been my dream guitar. About 3 years ago, I purchased a Les Paul Traditional and was extremely disappointed. Recently, I traded an American Telecaster for a 2018 non-weight relief Gold Top Les Paul Classic with P90s and love it. I also have a Limited Edition American Strat with 2 single coils and one humbucker. It has Tex-Mex pickups and the S1 switch so I can split the coil on the humbucker. I am finding that I play the Les Paul all the time. I can't put it down. P90s are single coil so they are brighter than Burstbuckers but they also have nice distortion when you crank up the volume on the guitar. One thing I have been considering is changing the P90s for mini humbuckers because I think they look better but I really like the sound of the P90s. There are plenty of videos online which compare both pickups so you might want to check them out. Just keep in mind that the amp and settings in videos also play a factor in what you are hearing. 

Can't beat the P90 in my opinion, I have a dozen gibsons  and a few custom made guitars, all with P90s. My 57 LP Jnr has one P90. best guitar i have ever owned, and my 60's ES-125 guitars come a close second.

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I was in the same boat and was forced to buy a Gold Top with P90s and then an ICONIC burst with humbuckers.

You won't go wrong with either but the P90s sound really good through a Marshall and bring about a certain complexity to the sound that you won't get with humbuckers.

Here's some recycled guitar porn until I take some new pics:

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p90s while great pickups, aint for everyone.  If you play with any gain or overdrive at all, and you don't like the "buzzing" a single coil pickup will give you,  they're not the choice you should make.

they have a raw, untamed sound, that many of us love.   (I have a set in my SG Classic, I do like them, but I am glad my other gibbies have humbuckers)

Humbukcers will over all have a smoother projection.

IMHO.. you would need to research a bit more to see for yourself if your set on this as the deciding factor.

Edited by kidblast
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1 hour ago, kidblast said:

p90s while great pickups, aint for everyone.  If you play with any gain or overdrive at all, and you don't like the "buzzing" a single coil pickup will give you,  they're not the choice you should make.

they have a raw, untamed sound, that many of us love.   (I have a set in my SG Classic, I do like them, but I am glad my other gibbies have humbuckers)

Humbukcers will over all have a smoother projection.

IMHO.. you would need to research a bit more to see for yourself if your set on this as the deciding factor.

I did say it was my opinion, i have more guitars with Humbuckers than P90s. I do not use high gain or distortion FX, i rely on the pickup, and clipping on the amp. I use Fender Tube amps..  I think that 55 years on the road, and owning 170 guitars gives me a little bit of credibility.

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1 hour ago, steve@steveharr said:

I did say it was my opinion, i have more guitars with Humbuckers than P90s. I do not use high gain or distortion FX, i rely on the pickup, and clipping on the amp. I use Fender Tube amps..  I think that 55 years on the road, and owning 170 guitars gives me a little bit of credibility.

I'm at the same vintage as you.   Maybe I didn't state this clearly  but, I am a big fan of P90s, nothing sounds quite like a good set.  I'm more a Marshall guy...  But I do admit, I have a few fender amps that I have a hard to not loving.

 

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20 minutes ago, kidblast said:

I'm at the same vintage as you.   Maybe I didn't state this clearly  but, I am a big fan of P90s, nothing sounds quite like a good set.  I'm more a Marshall guy...  But I do admit, I have a few fender amps that I have a hard to not loving.

 

No, I got that. It was your comment about doing some research.  I have played maybe over a 1000 guitars in my life on the road, and owned, in total, maybe 500 since 1962,  Not to mention more gigs than I can count, including some years in a showband in the early 70's, when gigs were four and a half hours long, without a break, and 400 gigs a year, doing 2 and 3 gigs a day on weekends. Many tours with rock, blues and country gigs lasting weeks or months.  Last used Marshall in 1970, been using fender since 72, and now have 26 Fender amps. Tried all the amps over the years, Marshall, Carlsbro, Yamaha, Sound City, Hi-Watt, Dan Armstrong, Park, Laney, Ampeg etc... and many others. Never had a problem with P90 buzz, except on the continent, where they did not have an earth connection. We made our own with a 4 foot spike and yards of heavy duty wire.  Had problems with the Hammond, though. Just done a quick evaluation, and the gigs i played runs to 8000 plus.  Anyway, guitarists are notorious for assuming they know what's best. As i said earlier, just my opinion.  I am 71, and still playing (well, almost. the lockdown has not helped) and will continue to the day I drop.  Keep playing man, keeps me young(ish), hope the same applies to you.  Regards

3 hours ago, kidblast said:

p90s while great pickups, aint for everyone.  If you play with any gain or overdrive at all, and you don't like the "buzzing" a single coil pickup will give you,  they're not the choice you should make.

they have a raw, untamed sound, that many of us love.   (I have a set in my SG Classic, I do like them, but I am glad my other gibbies have humbuckers)

Humbukcers will over all have a smoother projection.

IMHO.. you would need to research a bit more to see for yourself if your set on this as the deciding factor.

 

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37 minutes ago, steve@steveharr said:

No, I got that. It was your comment about doing some research.  I have played maybe over a 1000 guitars in my life on the road, and owned, in total, maybe 500 since 1962,  Not to mention more gigs than I can count, including some years in a showband in the early 70's, when gigs were four and a half hours long, without a break, and 400 gigs a year, doing 2 and 3 gigs a day on weekends. Many tours with rock, blues and country gigs lasting weeks or months.  Last used Marshall in 1970, been using fender since 72, and now have 26 Fender amps. Tried all the amps over the years, Marshall, Carlsbro, Yamaha, Sound City, Hi-Watt, Dan Armstrong, Park, Laney, Ampeg etc... and many others. Never had a problem with P90 buzz, except on the continent, where they did not have an earth connection. We made our own with a 4 foot spike and yards of heavy duty wire.  Had problems with the Hammond, though. Just done a quick evaluation, and the gigs i played runs to 8000 plus.  Anyway, guitarists are notorious for assuming they know what's best. As i said earlier, just my opinion.  I am 71, and still playing (well, almost. the lockdown has not helped) and will continue to the day I drop.  Keep playing man, keeps me young(ish), hope the same applies to you.  Regards

 

yea,  that's correct.  the research wasn't a message was directed to the person who asked about the choice between buckers and a p90,    This guy: ddsax422 

I'm 63,  still play every day, and had a good run gigging over those years.  Totally sucks with the band situation, and how this has been literally slaughtered by Covid,

but, for me and my band mates,  we're all holding, getting thru this last surge, and to looking to better days ahead.

Rock on!!!!!!

 

 

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22 minutes ago, kidblast said:

yea,  that's correct.  the research wasn't a message was directed to the person who asked about the choice between buckers and a p90,    This guy: ddsax422 

I'm 63,  still play every day, and had a good run gigging over those years.  Totally sucks with the band situation, and how this has been literally slaughtered by Covid,

but, for me and my band mates,  we're all holding, getting thru this last surge, and to looking to better days ahead.

Rock on!!!!!!

 

 

Hey, thanks for the response. I was not having a pop at you,  Iunderstood what you were saying. It was just an excuse to communicate with someone.  My band members are scattered around, London,  Nottingham etc, I'm in Wakefield, and not spoken to or seen anyone for months. I live alone, so getting a touch stir crazy.  good to chat. Be excellent to each other and party on dude

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5 minutes ago, steve@steveharr said:

Hey, thanks for the response. I was not having a pop at you,  Iunderstood what you were saying. It was just an excuse to communicate with someone.  My band members are scattered around, London,  Nottingham etc, I'm in Wakefield, and not spoken to or seen anyone for months. I live alone, so getting a touch stir crazy.  good to chat. Be excellent to each other and party on dude

no worries Steve..   It's all about good discourse new members spark that. 

I didn't take your posts for any more than what the spirit of intent was.

This forum can get a bit quiet at times, so it's nice when some new blood comes in and things get rolling with fresh threads

It's as bad over in UK as it is here in the US in regard to what this has done to the music scene.  

It was about on it's last legs before,,  now this... it's gutted what was left.  Thankfully I have a good day gig, but a lot of guys I grew up with are having a rough go as they depended on what $ they could make doing this

Does suck that you are feeling this isolation, that would drive me nuts. 

I have plenty of family around me, and able to get out and about with out a lot of difficulty  I work from home anyway, so that really didn't change with this situation  

hang in there!  this can't go on forever.

 

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12 minutes ago, kidblast said:

no worries Steve..   It's all about good discourse new members spark that. 

I didn't take your posts for any more than what the spirit of intent was.

This forum can get a bit quiet at times, so it's nice when some new blood comes in and things get rolling with fresh threads

It's as bad over in UK as it is here in the US in regard to what this has done to the music scene.  

It was about on it's last legs before,,  now this... it's gutted what was left.  Thankfully I have a good day gig, but a lot of guys I grew up with are having a rough go as they depended on what $ they could make doing this

Does suck that you are feeling this isolation, that would drive me nuts. 

I have plenty of family around me, and able to get out and about with out a lot of difficulty  I work from home anyway, so that really didn't change with this situation  

hang in there!  this can't go on forever.

 

Could be worse. In 57, aged 8, i spent 6 months in hospital recovering from TB.  6 months, never leaving the hospital ward, so it aint that bad.  I have family, but my ex-wife turned them against me, making me the "bad guy".  C'est la vie.  

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ddsax420, I think the only way that you'll answer your question is to take your time and go out and play both versions because it really is a personal thing.  I have guitars with Humbuckers and P90's, I like both but to be honest I think the Humbuckers are more versatile. 

 

Steve, your in a tier 2 area, I'm envious being stuck in tier 3☹️

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28 minutes ago, IanHenry said:

ddsax420, I think the only way that you'll answer your question is to take your time and go out and play both versions because it really is a personal thing.  I have guitars with Humbuckers and P90's, I like both but to be honest I think the Humbuckers are more versatile. 

 

Steve, your in a tier 2 area, I'm envious being stuck in tier 3☹️

Makes no difference, still can't gig. Can't go anywhere, no money! About £20,000 loss so far, and NO assistance from Donald J Johnson. No gigs for next year either.  Selling some of my gear to allow me to eat.

I think the P90 is far more versatile, in my opinion, but everyone has their own views. I have an 84 Custom shop Mathias Jabs Explorer with PAF humbuckers, and they are amazing, but my 57 Junior with one P90 is really versatile. Always been complimented on my tone when I play it, not so much with my humbucker loaded guitars.  Diversity is good. At 71, i guess i am a touch set in my ways. Recently bought a custom shop 59 re-issue, mega bucks, sounds great, but my new Classic LP with P90s sounds better to my ears. (All bought when i was gigging - tax relief!)

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Based upon what you said, I recommend you initially go the Standard HB route.  If you are like me, you will get the humbucker Standard and bond heavily with it and love it to death -- what a perfect guitar.  Then you will eventually also get the LP w/ P90s (I got one of those too just recently).

Edited by 01GT eibach
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