I spent more years than I’d like to admit thinking the only single coil sound was the “Fender sound.” Much of this can be attributed to the fact that I’ve had a serious distaste for Gibson style guitars for decades and never really considered or cared that Gibson had also developed a single coil pickup. Plus, I’m a creature of habit so if it wasn’t a humbucking pickup I really had no interest.
Rewind to a few years ago when I decided it was time to reinvent my approach to guitar playing. I stopped using a floating trem (whammy bar) with a locking nut, started playing hard tails, went from playing 9’s to 10’s and started trying more traditionally styled guitars (as opposed to only super strats).
While I bought a USA Telecaster to try out something totally different (it’s for sale, who wants it?) the end result was that I still preferred the full, “hum-less” sound of humbuckers… and then I gave Gibson styled guitars another chance.
The difference in sound between the P-90 and Fender single coils is dramatic. The P-90 sounds fatter, has a very pronounced midrange and has a wicked bark/growl when using vintage gain type tones.
On the downside, traditional, non-hum cancelling P-90’s definitely have the dreaded 60Hz hum (sounds like a buzz) and the more gain you throw at them the more pronounced the hum. On the upside, I use less gain today than I did 5-10 years ago plus my main amp for several years has been a single channel channel amp so riding the volume knob with my pinkie is nothing new.
I still love humbuckers but the P-90 is right there with them at this point and I’m now loving Les Pauls (at least for the moment), but that’s a story for another day.