Modern Gretsch Guitars

Two P-90s: Hot or Heresy?


I like it a lot. I ‘Cochranified’ my Country Club and I’m thinking about going full P90 often.


Not heresy - that would be a pair of active EMGs. But I think one is enough, except I’d have the P90 at the bridge, and a Dyna at the neck. I don’t know what Eddie was thinking.

The CL guitar might be nice. Hard to tell from the horrible pic. Can’t even make out the color. And geez, what model is it? Small f-holes, Baldwinny headstock, block markers ... maybe a Historic, from the pre-FMIC period?


Well, maybe. Looks like it could be the Golddust finish. But the CL guitar appears to have trans gold knobs, whereas the Golddust SL is shown with black, at least in catalog shots.

That would be easy to change - but Streamliner hollows have humpblocks, and the CL has rectangular blocks. (SL centerblock and Jr models have blocks - but they’re fixed-bridge double cuts.) That seems to put it back in play. Who would go to the trouble of making that change - and neither mention it in the ad nor reflect it in the price?


While i love P90s and love Gretsches I'm afraid i have to be the dissenter here. I love P90s but not on an Gretsch. I have tried it! To be fair they do sound great but I feel that a Gretsch likes the extra complexity and character of Dearmonds or Filter'trons. I prefer P90s on a mahogany neck guitar like a Les Paul, 330 or 225.

I have tried various P90s on various Gretsches and while they do sound good to me they don't have the body or character needed for a Gretsch. They sound a bit bland and thin to me. But on an ES-225 they are sublime...

And I have tried Filter'trons in Gibsons. A Filter'tron in a Les Paul sounds a bit boring. But in a Duo Jet or 6120 they sound amazing. And a Dearmond has more low end and clarity which suits a Gretsch better than a P90.

I am all for trying things out and have done my fair share of pickup swapping in unlikely scenarios. Whether by chance or great vision Gretsches seem to sound better - to me - with Dearmonds or Filters and Gibsons sound better with P90s or PAFs. Maybe it's just what my ears are used to? I do think that P90s should be used in more guitars but i love a Filter'tron in a Gretsch more than anything.


Hmm. While my dual-Dynasonic guitars remain at the top of the winners' circle in my stable, there are times when I wish for a smoother, creamier tone at the bridge. Thus my curiosity about that combo, which I haven't tried. I love the neck-only Dyna tone, and the two-pickup blend is sublime. So if the P90 at the bridge messed with that in a way I didn't like, it wouldn't be worth it. It's also possible, because of construction, that a P90 wouldn't deliver the smooth, slightly darker cream it gives me in true solidbodies.

I should try it, though.


Gretsch website photos are wrong. What else is new.


Gretsch website photos are wrong. What else is new.

Yup. I just checked my Streamliner, and it has blocks. It also has trans gold knobs, not black. That's a weird sort of wrong, though. Like maybe the prototypes were all humpblock with black knobs, they took pics of those...and that was that, permanently. CL guitar is a current Streamliner with a pair of P90s. The price isn't terrible - but it's really just street price plus cost of pickups. Not a screamin' good deal.

Unless you want a Gretsch with a pair of P90s.


Sounds great in Chris Spedding's 6120...


Yeah, I know....Eddie did it, blah blah blah. But he was only about 20 years old. If he'd lived, he probably would have figured out that a P90 by the bridge, and a Dynasonic by the neck is a much better combo. Everybody knows he did that P90/neck mod, but nobody knows how satisfied he was with the results.


If you really want something special, put a vintage Staple pickup by the neck. They have both the fullness, and the clarity.


If you really want something special, put a vintage Staple pickup by the neck. They have both the fullness, and the clarity.


If you really want something special, put a vintage Staple pickup by the neck. They have both the fullness, and the clarity.


And remember....Les put Dynasonics on his Les Paul.


@JimmyR: by any chance did you try the same set of P-90s in a Gretsch vs. a Gibson-format guitar? and if so, how did they differ?


Hey Macphisto - no the pickups weren't identical but both were Gibson P90s. I've owned a few Gibson P90 Les Pauls, the '54 and '56 RIs, and currently have a '15 Gibson ES-225 which I believe has the low-wind P90s they use in the 330s now. The P90s I put in a 6120 were Gibson dogear P90s around 10 years ago.

Don't get me wrong - the P90s sounded good in the Gretsch, but not great. Where P90s have some real muscle and midrange growl in a Gibson they sound a bit more polite and even bland in a Gretsch IME - I found the same thing when I put TV's P90s in a Jet. In contrast the Filter'trons have a much more complex tone which really brings out the best of the Gretsch sound. The Dearmonds seem to match up well with the Gretsch design too - but I am a Filter'tron fan!

Likewise I have tried Filter'trons in Gibsons and Gibson-style guitars. In a Les Paul the Filter'tron just sounded a bit muddy and flat where a P90 sounded chunky and biting.

I guess my preferences are shaped by my playing style. I am not a strummer. I tend to play triads and intervals a lot more than full 6-string chords, and generally use a pick-and-fingers approach. Particularly on the Gretsch I will play in a Scotty Moore/Travis kind of picking technique and on a Gibson I will do that and a kinda Malcom Young thing where it's more of a stabbing thing than a strum. I have noticed that guys who have a more gentle strumming kind of style might prefer a lighter tone with less low end and punch. So P90s on a Gretsch may suit someone who wants to play in a more acoustic style.

P90s may also suit a player who wants to use more distortion than I do. They may also suit a player who wants to play absolutely clean. I like to play with a slightly dirty tone where if I play gently it's more or less clean but gets quite nasty when I hit harder. My latest Duo Jet with stock TV Jones Classics is ridiculously good at producing a beautiful piano-like twang on the bass strings if played gently and when I dig in I get a big fat sqawky tone which only a Gretsch can do. It's similar to the P90 thing on an ES-225 but it's Gretsch's version which is shinier, twangier and more percussive. In comparison the Gibson is earthier and more compressed, a little darker. The highs are not as rounded and spanky.

Now if you can make any sense of that you're doing well!


I put a Seymour Duncan P-90 in my Gibson ES-135 bridge and that changed everything for me. The Gibson P-100 stacked humbuckers were garbage anyway. Gibson quickly eliminated the P-100s. I then layed plans to grab my Dynasonic Duo Jet. I want to say the P-90 was high voltage, but i think that is a double stacked pickup? I have the hot P-90 single coil in the bridge of the ES-135. And it makes the guitar for sure.


Two P90s are good; but I also agree that oe P90 is better at the bridge and the deArmond at the neck--the "reverse Eddie Cochran".

But my favorite of all is P90 at the neck and Mosrite at the bridge.


And remember....Les put Dynasonics on his Les Paul. looks like he put Mary Ford on his Les Paul.


[insert inappropriate remark HERE]


I also prefer P90s in the bridge and Dynasonics in the neck. Pickups with alnico slugs produce a sharper attack which clear up a neck pickup.


I put two T-90's, the TV Jones P-90's in a Filtertron format in my 6120. Before that I had TV Supertrons. The T-90's have a lot of low end but don't sound boomy and moreover they have a kind of high-output twang. I would describe the sound as full-body twang, fat twang, definitely not a DeArmond twang or a Tele (but comparable to a JBE equipped Tele). The video of Robert Gordon with Chris Spedding playing his P-90-equipped 6120 gives a good idea.


I admittedly don't have the ability to distinguish between subtle tone variation that many of you pro players do, and have difficulty describing what differences I do perceive... but I put P-90's in this Electromatic because it was a cheap way to install some diversity within my Gretsch guitar group. They sound different, and that's what I was looking for.

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