P90 Vs FilterTron Pickup: Difference & Which is Better?

If you are a guitar player then you must know the importance of guitar pickups. Pickups are meant to alleviate the sound that is produced by the guitar. As a passionate guitarist, you must not only stick to the best guitar but you have to look for the best pickups as well.

Speaking of the best guitar pickups, you must have heard the names P90 and Filtertron. Both pickups come with distinct designs and sound-producing efficiency. So, it is obvious people often try to draw a conclusion regarding P90 vs FilterTron.

P90 Vs Filtertron

Well, we have done some research on both pickups and will share our take-up on both pickups. Pickups work very uniquely on a guitar. A pickup works more like a magnet and creates a magnetic field when it hits the strings.

The moment it touches the strings, they vibrate and instantly induce an electric flow in the coils of the guitar. But this whole performance varies in several pickups. So, let’s get to know P90 and Filtertron and then compare.

P90 Pickup Review– In-Detail Discussion:

P 90 Soapbar Pickup For Neck or Bridge

P90 is arguably one of the most preferred pickups to many guitarists out there. Since 1946, this pickup is being used for bringing variation to the designs of single-coil pickups. Till now this oldest pickup model is being manufactured. Surprisingly, P90 comes with a design almost similar to the humbucker designs.

However, still, P90 pickups are categorized as single coils but are certainly the standard version of it. It was first invented by Gibson for the guitar models that are iconic and rare today. They are known for their thick and bright sound-producing capability.

The sound is more like a tonal combination of both humbucker traits. Responding to a great mid-bass sound with a warm tone, P90 also sounds a bit spanky. You will feel it the most when it produces sound at a low level of volume. With the increase of the volume, the pickup starts to thicken the tone along with the low-end frequencies.

Overall, according to their design and sound, P90 pickups are versatile. They can also get along with hundreds of genres of music including jazz, blues, country, rock, punk, indie, and whatnot.

Things we liked / Pros:

  • It is a single-coil pickup but shows different kinds of traits producing a unique sound.
  • The pickups are featured with Alnico 5 magnet bars underneath their pole pieces. Whereas other single-coil pickups only have the same and regular pole pieces.
  • P90 pickups also come with a high-end bobbin that is way wider yet shorter
  • Unlike a regular single-pickup, P90 offers 9500 turns for the neck position and 10000 for the bridge. Whereas other single-coil pickups have about only 8000 turns.

Things we didn’t like / Cons:

  • You will not get your desired sound if you pair P90 with the distortion of ultra-high
  • For playing metal style, P90 pickups respond with a loose bass. Also, they produce very thin and brittle sounds when it comes to producing a sound of this genre.
  • This pickup cannot cancel its own produced noise effectively. It happens especially when it is slapped with distortion of high gain. It literally hums for several days.
  • Featured with pole pieces that are ordinary and regular.

Filtertron Pickup Review – In-Detail Discussion:

Gretsch Filtertron Neck PIckup

Filtertron pickups were introduced after the invention of the P90 in 1957. It was mainly invented for solving the 60-cycle hum problem. This problem was suffered by single coils including P90.

It is a humbucker pickup that has developed and improved over time. However, the main purpose is still served by the pickups since their concept is still the same. With the vintage gear and specifications, these pickups are very popular among musicians.

The most distinct thing about Filtertron that makes it unique from other humbuckers is its existence in between modern humbuckers and single-coils. They produce a pretty clean sound.

However, this pickup is the first low-output humbucker. To compare its sound-producing efficiency, it is more like a single-coil than those of modern humbuckers. But in the case of single-coil, the Filtertron sounds the part of its bright high end.

Along with its poles, magnet, and bobbin feature, the tool creates excellent technical support and produces a bright tone. Too often Filtertron is compared with the PAF design recently. PAF is also one of the best and standard humbuckers developed by Gibson. However, Filtertron is still to some extent different.

What we liked / Pros:

  • Filtertron pickups sound more technical and have the brighter high end of the pickups of single-coil
  • The pickups come with a larger magnet feature and poles are placed in a closed design.
  • The poles of this pickup also have taller bobbins.
  • Unlike other humbuckers, the Filtertron pickups are way smaller and narrower. However, some pickup manufacturing brands produce Filtertrons of regular humbucker sizes.
  • The low end is present in Filtertron pickups and their high end is bright and twangy.

What we didn’t like / Cons:

  • For playing overdriven tones, Filtetron does not provide very good performance.
  • Filtertrons are not the best suited when it comes to slapping on a solid body guitar. But for hollow-designed guitars, Filtertrons are great.
  • Filtertrons will not provide you with the best sound tone if you want to play rock or blues with it.

P90 vs FilterTron Pickup – Toe-to-Toe Comparison:

From the discussions above, you can already predict that both P90 and Filtertron are not like some of those conventional pickups. Both of them have unconventional features with unique tone-producing capabilities. So, it is very obvious that people will demand their comparison. Let us help you with that.

1) Tone:

The tone is the main and important factor when you are comparing two pickups together. Only this trait can have a great impact on your selection of pickups. Compared to ordinary single-coils, the P90 has a smoother tone. On the other hand, to talk about the tone of Filtertron pickups is twangy and brighter as we have already mentioned. Nonetheless, some twang and brightness are also involved in the P90 pickups.

Even though P90 provides a less brilliant tone yet its bottom end is beefy. The pickups can make a versatile move by gravitating the tone towards the mid. Moreover, unlike even the standard single-coils, P90 pickups have the strongest output. With the addition of tube-driven distortion, the tone from P90 gets surprisingly massive.

However, being a single-coil pickup, it still P90 has to suffer from the mains hum. You will feel acute while keeping up with the distortion. Again, to talk about Filtertron, it offers a tone that reveals a classic humbucker sound. Compared to single-coil pickups, Filtertron lacks attack as well as brightness.

Its tone has a nasally feeling with a thinner sound. This difference is prominent when you try both Filtertron and P90 on a guitar. Their low impedance feature, make a slightly louder tone than average.

2) Humming Sound:

Most single-coil pickups have the brightest sound. But they also have acute humming issues at a point. P90 is a variant of single-coil but it entirely does not reflect all the features of single-coil pickups. Moreover, it is low-key and shows some traits of humbucker pickups. So, basically, P90 is a hybrid production. It is a cross between humbucker and single-coil pickups.

Therefore, even though other single-coils show humming problems, P90 pickups suffer less from this problem. But not as less than a humbucker pickup like Filtertron. Filtertron never suffers from humming sound even at its high gain.

3) Pickup Size:

P 90 Pickup Variety

P90 pickups are a bit longer and thinner compared to Filtertrone. P90 generally comes in two primal designs. They are soapbar and dogear. Both designs do not require the guitar instrument to be modified for their installation. On the other hand, the mini-humbuckers come in the same size as Soapbar P90 pickups. So, in the slot of a mini-humbucker, the soap bar might fit as well. Soapbar has a rectangular shape.

4) Bobbin:

P 90 And Filtertron Bobbin

The bobbin feature in a pickup also indicates its distinctness. This feature varies from pickup to pickup. The bobbin is meant to hold the wire wrapped in a coil. It holds them in a consistent shape without letting them wear out.

In a word, it protects the wire and coil. However, P90 comes in a shorter and wider bobbin. The wire fells in more turns than other single-coils. Again, since the Filtertron is much smaller than those of regular humbuckers, its bobbin is also narrow. In fact, much narrower than regular bobbins of humbuckers.

5) Magnets:

All the single-coil pickups come with a single-row magnet design. P90 is not an exception. However, the P90 has a magnet bar whereas single-coils have magnet polepieces. This pickup also has a single row of magnets. On the contrary, humbucker pickups have double-row magnets and so does Filtertron.

The two rows of magnets hold the pole pieces’ screws. You do not need to adjust them. The pole pieces’ screws do not affect the tone.

6) Battery Life:

9 Volt Battery

Like other single-coil and humbucker pickups, P90 and Filtertron also run with a battery. Normally, a P90 pickup comes with a 9-volt battery. Sometimes, it comes with a pack of optional rechargeable batteries. Its battery life generally survives up to 125 hours.

However, humbucker pickups are also active and require a battery of 9V. their battery lasts up to 3000 hours. Most Filtertrone has the same feature. Nonetheless, if your guitar carries two active pickups the life span of the battery declines to 1500 hours.

7) Music Genre:

Both pickups are suitable for playing in a wider range of music genres. P90 pickups are great in the band mixes since they play roles in blues, jazz, country, and even rock. They also sound great in the punk and indie genres. However, for the metal genre, P90 is not that good. Conversely, among all rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly musicians, Filtertrope is a want.

These pickups play a great role in this genre. Again, jazz players also find Filtertones for their unique sound-producing trait.

8) Suitable Guitar:

Guitar For Active Pickup


Not all pickups can get along with all types of guitars. It varies depending on the type of pickup and also on the type of guitar. P90 pickups are uncommon tools than humbuckers and single-coils. So, only fewer guitars can get along with this unique pickup.

Among them, some are classic guitars including Starts and Teles, SGs, and Les Pauls. Some modern guitars also approve of the use of these pickups including Jackson and Chapman. On the other hand, like a humbucker pickup, Filtertron is also used on Gibson guitars including SG and Les Paul. Jackson and ESP, PRS, and Ibanez also use them.

Finally, Filtertron vs P90 – Which One to Choose?

Now that you have a slight idea about both P90 and Filtertron pickups, you yourself can make a decision. How? Let’s bring some points from the above-detailed comparison.

  • Though P90 pickups have one row of magnets like other single coils yet they come with a wider bobbin. This feature indicates they provide higher output with less humming, unlike all other single coil pickups. They also create a deeper sound. Without humming the sound is amazing.
  • However, as in Filtertron, there are two rows of magnets, it is almost like two single coils acting together. Thus, Filtertron sounds differently with higher volume. Again, it has a pretty warmer tone. You will find this on even Gibson Les Pauls. Nonetheless, they still offer cleaner tones. But maybe a bit mellow while providing clean tones.

So, what is your take on this? What type of tone would you like your pickup should produce? What matches your type of music genre?

  • Again, P90 pickups are surely versatile. If your preferred music genre is blues or country then you should definitely go for this one. Even P90 can get along with rock music as well to some extent. But for professional selection, P90 will not play hard-core rock. Also, for heavy metal, P90 is not that great. So, if you are a player from the heavy metal genre, do not pick up P90 pickups.
  • If you are actually looking for pickups for the genre of heavy metal or rock, then choose Filtertron. This pickup is not very efficient for playing country music.
  • Lastly, the humming sound is a great issue while playing guitar with pickups. So, if you don’t want your pickup to suffer from this issue then always go for Filtertrone. Even though P90 has a less humming sound yet it cannot beat Filtertron.


Question: What is better P90 or humbucker?

Answer: P90s provide a brighter sound with a twangy mixture and they also have plenty of bites. Compared to humbuckers, P90s work more on treble and mid-range. So, P90s are a great choice except for the humming issue.

Question: What do Filtertron pickups sound like?

Answer: With the presence of the low end, Filtetron pickups also sound bright and twangy at the high point. They sound warm at the mid-range. Their sound is way fuller, richer, and warmer. They also have a tone that is well-rounded and with zero humming. Thanks to their hum-canceling feature.

Question: What are P90 pickups good for? Are P90s good for jazz?

Answer: P90 pickups are best suited for a lot of music genres. Whether it is country or blues, jazz or rock. P90s are surely great for jazz music. They have a great mid-bass response at low levels of volume. The criteria are specially required for jazz tones. So, the P90s are superb for getting smooth tones of jazz music.

Question: Are P90s warmer than single coils?

Answer: Undoubtedly, yes! P90 pickups are not just single-coil pickups. They are more than a single-coil feature but less than a humbucker. Their tone has more depth and is also warmer.

Question: Are P90s noisy?

Answer: Yes, to some extent P90 pickups are noisy. However, in today’s era, manufacturing brands are trying to improve it a lot. So, their noise can be kept in control more or less.

Question: Are P90s good for metal?

Answer: Well, you can play with P90 pickups to produce metal. They will work out somehow. But, they are not the best for this genre or even its sub-genres. It is simply because P90 pickups lack the low-end, unlike humbucker pickups. Thus, humbuckers are the best for metal.

Final Words:

To be occupied with the sound, tone, guitar types, features, music genres, and other things, it is obvious to forget what our needs are while choosing pickups. It is easy to be deceived by the modernized feature of pickups and end up buying them only to discover later that they do not match your requirements.

It is also very important to know what pickup will suit your guitar the most. Know if the pickup is active or passive. Also, know if they are neck or bridge pickups. However, as the rarest piece, the P90 pickup is always the best. And as a humbucker, Filtertron will always stand out.

By reading this article on P90 vs Filtertron, hopefully, now you know which pickup is best for what purposes. Try to draw compatibility between your guitar type and music genre and then look for the best pickups for them.

Last Updated on October 13, 2023 by Perry Garner

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