DIY P-90 Alnico Jazz Staple Masters


Inexpensive 8.8K P-90s with everything removed , just using the coil. Pole piece holes drilled out to accommodate alnico 5 strat type pole pieces. Drilled out exactly for a tight tension fit but still allowing for height adjustment tweaking.


Thin back plate added to allow for Dog ear mounting. Since this photo a bare solid wire has been wrapped around the bottom of each pole piece and hooked to ground. From the bottom.


On the guitar. Pole pieces needed to be magnetized so I did one set North up and the other South up, as the pickups coils seemed to wound in reverse to each other that gave me hum cancelling in the middle position.


These sound freakishly-like the SD staple repros(sorry SD, and sorry me as I'm hoping to sell the staples I bought) . I did back to back recording tests with teh same rig, the only thing changed was the pickuups and I tried to set them up identically. Like a big glassy P-90 or a grittier Jazz master pickup. Also very DeArmond-esque. I will be making myself a 6K set with a pair of underwound inexpensive P-90s I have kicking around to see if I like them better. Simple to make. Sound way more expensive than they are. The P-90 bobbins are already designed to accommodate the size of the alnico rods without touching the coil. I've already used them on a couple of recordings.


And now in cream! I would recommend anyone trying this if they are, curious, reasonably handy and have some cheap P-90s lying about unused. Tone Kraft has alnico rod magnets I believe they can be found in a few different places. Mojotone etc.


Thats really cool!


Very cool. Would love to see a step-by-step how-to post.


Very cool. Would love to see a step-by-step how-to post.

– Journeyman

I didn't do a step by step but pretty straightforward. Order standard strat pole pieces which generally seem to be .187" (1/16") Remove everything (you will have to desolder the shield from the base plate, be careful with the lead so you don't yank the wires out of the coil)

  • Pole pieces
  • baseplate
  • magnets
  • spacer unit

Using a thin piece of thin stock (I used some old organ backing I think, I could've used aluminum too) manufacture a thin strip with the appropriate holes, you could make a full new base plate with dog ears, if dog ears are what you want. You can't really use the old one as the dog ears tend to be bent up so that they sit flat under the covers. You will have to do this slightly on your new baseplate.

Insert magnets in pickup (if they aren't already magnetized then go here to learn how plus some other good info: https://www.stewmac.com/How... )

If you were careful with your drilling (I used a hand drill) they should fit very snugly. Putting them a bit high is good because once they are in the guitar it's harder to move them back up, impossible if they are flush. (If you need to bring them up again, pull out the pickup and push them up from the bottom) If your hole ends up a little loose...a judicious application of thin crazy glue to the inside of the hole will tighten it up again.

Attach the baseplate the same way you would attach a normal one (two screws) and you're done.

One cool thing about these pickups is they are very low profile, so they could conceivable be surface mounted (if spacers are used) and they are easy to take in and out for adjusting if needed.


This is great! I have been thinking about one of these for the neck pickup in my Casino.

There is a company out of Ohio called Bootstrap that builds pickups like this out of their garage.



Yeah there's a lot of companies doing a variant on this theme. I was having fun, experimenting and saving myself some $$.


It's a Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Jazzmaster Pickup.


What brand of P90 bobbin did you start with?


Gee, it looks like this:

– WinnieThomas

Close, I not making any claims at brilliant invention, just showing a easy DIY project people can try. It is different in that I am using a P-90 bobbin which is actually quite a different shape than a jazzmaster bobbin, being both smaller, yet deeper. So different sounding too. Also probably a bout 50-$60 cheaper each. I was actually interested at one time in making some jazzmaster pickups with the bobbins cut down just enough to fit in P-90 covers which I prefer the look of. Somebody makes these too, but I enjoy making things for myself rather than just throwing money at stuff all the time.

Jouneyman I couldn't tell you exactly, I think one was a PRS P-90 and the other was a no-name Korean brand bought locally that a really good musician I know highly recommended. I think P-90 bobbins are pretty standardized.

I guess it's more of a conversion than a ground up build, (which is part of the fun really) though I have wound and rewound some gretsch pickups before


You're probably right about the shape of the coil being different and creating a different tone.


Here's a jazzmaster pickup(actually sanded down 1-2mm on all sides so in this picture actually smaller) next to a P-90 bobbin. Looks quite a bit bigger though the actual coil is only a bit bigger in width. Also the jazzmaster pickup is almost 7k and this P-90 is 9K I'm going to try this same pickup with 6K p-90s


Here you can see (through all the bobbin dust on the coil) that the P-90 coil is quite a bit taller (I'd say 1.5-2 X) as well as not as wide.


The Japanese Jazzmaster pickups that came on my CIJ Jazzmaster were a lot taller than US ones. More like a Strat pickup. They might be good candidates for this conversion, and there's room to make them smaller in width.


Does it sound like a Staple Pickup? They have a distinctive sound.


Lindy Fralin makes a P90 with Alnico Rods. He lists the noiseless one on line but will make the regular P90 with Alnico Rods instead of bar magnets and screws. Isn't that what you are doing here? Or am I missing something (as usual)?


I am not touting a great new innovation or invention. I prefer making things when I can, rather than just sending off money to have someone else do it. I enjoy the process and this is a relatively easy and fun one, with cool results. That could be what you are missing , and also just sharing the results of an experiment, obviously it won't interest everyone.


Does it sound like a Staple Pickup? They have a distinctive sound.

– Billy Zoom

Well I don't have ANY experience with actual vintage staple pickups. They are way out of my price range. I did perhaps foolishly buy some used Seymour Duncan versions. They looked (and claimed) to be pretty accurate reproductions.

I did a back to back comparison with them, recording the amp straight in out of the line outs . Straight in eliminates some potential variables regarding speakers, mike placement etc. (princeton/deluxe AB763 build with line outs added)

I found them to be remarkably similar in sound. This was clean, unaffected, I was pre-amping through a space echo , but then I always do. To me they were so similar (I thought identical) that there was zero rationale to keep the very expensive staple pickups.

I am not a P-90 devotee, nor a staple pickup expert. I do have a lot of experience recording and playing guitar though.. It's actually pretty easy to try oneself if one has a cheaper P-90 kicking around. It could be a reversible modification too with a bit of ingenuity.


Au contraire, mon ami, I am very interested. I was just trying to get in my head what this is. I admire your initiative. I did not express myself well enough. I am particularly interested as to the response to Billy Zoom's question as to how they compare to the regular "staple" pickups.

As I understand it, your approach (and Fralin's) is similar to how Ron Thorn does his but he uses the rectangular magnets. Lollar does both the rod and the rectangular. The rods are described as more Fendery while the rectangulars are somewhat grittier.

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