Soapbar Pickups Vs Humbuckers: Difference & Which is Better [2022]

Pickups have created so much of a revolutionary outcome that people want more variations so they can compare and find out the best one for their instrument. Comparison between soapbar pickups Vs humbuckers is what most people want too as they have different services to provide.

Also, these pickups are greatly known for their amazing feature and their intense ability to enhance the tone of electric guitars big time. That’s why it has become an interesting urge to learn more about these pickups so the best one among these two can be found.

Soapbar Vs HumbuckersThough there are not many differences between soapbar and humbuckers pickup, you will still see some slight yet significant differences regarding their construction, volume, sound-producing ability, and so on.

The purpose of using pickups is that they are supposed to transfer vibration to the strings of the electric guitar and enhance the sound quality in different ranges as per the desire of the guitarist.

However, soapbar pickups and humbuckers have different fan-base and with the progression of this article, you will eventually know the highlighted differences between these two pickups.

Details about Soapbar Pickups and Humbuckers :

Soapbar pickups and humbuckers come with conveniences and inconveniences and that’s why their comparison matters so much to the musicians. Especially, those who pay attention to the detail, know how these two types of pickups differ in several important aspects.

Also, you might wonder, why it is important to learn detail about these two pickups. It is important because that’s how you can learn which one will suit your electric guitar and the music genre you have selected. So, without further ado let’s insert some important knowledge about these two pickups.

About Soapbar Pickup :

Vintage P90 Soapbar Pickup

Soapbar pickups are mostly known as Gibson P90 pickups by the musicians who are acquainted with pickups since their invention. The name “soapbar” came from its appearance apparently. As it looks like a bar of soap, this type of pickup is also known as soapbar pickup.

Earlier, Gibson was not enough ready to make it available in the 19s, though the Gibson manufacturer started to manufacture soapbar pickups in 1930. It took the company almost twenty years to make these pickups available for the true musicians.

a) Amazing Flavor of Tone:

When you install a P90 pickup, you should know how great and promising it will sound. Soapbar pickups are so good to provide a flavor that a single-coil pickup serves. Besides that, you will get a vintage sense of the quality of the sound.

Some musicians have also claimed that P90 or soapbar pickups spread sounds slightly similar to the one that humbuckers provide. As these soapbar pickups are not any recent creations, you will hardly see any musician using them anymore. It is because new editions are making places so great that P90 pickups are losing their charms.

b) Get More Bites:

However, still, there are musicians from the old generation, who prefer these soapbar pickups because they provide incredible bites. For jazz music, as a musician, you are aware of the importance of the bite needed to fulfill the desired sound quality.

Besides, there are some specific guitars available in the market that cannot be a system without soapbar pickups. Guitars like Les paul require a single-coil pickup and soapbar pickups to function well for their genre of music.

c) More Like Single-Coil:

Besides, there are some renowned bands like The Clash, New York Dolls, The Sex Pistols, and so on that use P90 pickups in their electric guitars. The versatile sound quality of these pickups increases the tendency of comparing P90 and humbuckers pickups. However, you can recognize soapbar pickups by observing their rectangular shape. You need to mount a soapbar pickup with wood-based screws that come along with the pickup.

However, people get confused thinking if a single-coil pickup is similar to a P90 pickup and ask for a comparison between P90 pickups Vs single coil. Well, they are very much different in several aspects and the former one is hotter than the latter one. Besides, for a brighter sound, you will find more votes gathered in the pole of P90 pickups. Still, there are some proofs that traditional soapbar pickups have a resemblance to single coils.

Though P90 pickups are not as glassy as single coils, former ones are still better. You will find some selected types of P90 and they are limited but totally worth a try. Distortion is one common thing that happens after installing a P90 pickup.

d) Comes in Great Size:

P90 Soapbar Design

If you are wondering about the P90 pickup humbucker size, then let us inform you that they are bigger in a size. In fact, Tele or Start cannot beat them. Therefore, you will get some noisy buzz coming out of a P90 pickup too.

But the overall sound quality is legit impressive that a soapbar pickup provides. Because P90 pickups are capable of producing thick and high gain sound, you are compelled to love them once you try them.

Things We Liked about / Pros:

  •  They come with loud and clear sound without the compressed or dark sound and are much brighter than any other pickups
  • The versatility of the sound allows these pickups to produce vintage low-end sound quality with the mixture of the sound of humbucker and single-coil
  • P90 pickups not only cost little but also have some quality types and diversities to produce the perfect tone
  • It is not hard to install a soapbar pickup in the right guitar and easily gets along with the right electric guitar

Things We Didn’t Like about / Cons :

  •  Get ready to hear some sound distortion and buzzing tone coming out because of the pickup

About Humbucker:


Alinco5 Double coil Pickup

Humbucker, which is also known as double-coil pickup comes with a significant feature to compete with soapbars, Tele, or single-coils. For its tremendous skill of bucking the humming sound from the guitar, this device is greatly recommended by most popular musicians.

Humbucker mostly works with pair of coils and that is why you will see it functioning with two coils. And it functions to reduce the buzzing sound of the string to the lowest level so that unwanted noisy sounds get canceled.

a) Different from Single-Coil:

Generally, single-coils make the buzzing and noisy sound in most cases because of their less efficiency, though single-coils are making progress these days.

But humbuckers come with this special ability to eliminate the extra buzz by its feature that combats polarities. Humbuckers are so well-made that they are professional at tackling windings and most importantly the meddling of electromagnets. You will not see the same feature in other single-coils or P90 pickups.

b) Double-Coil Feature:

Humbuckers Double and Single Coil

Humbuckers are featured with two coils as we mentioned before and beneath the coils a magnet bar assists in the whole process of combating the noisy buzz. To get a grim sound, it is hard to kill the buzz and the grittiness that comes out from the tone. But thanks to the system of double coils and the bar of magnets because they genuinely help to produce dark and clear sound-canceling all the odds of the sound quality and tone.

c) Great Magnetic Feature:

As magnets can be of different types, humbuckers are getting a better device for electric guitars because they are being manufactured with the premium type of magnet. This progression of manufacturing humbuckers is making the device more reliable for many guitarists and their bands. With their balanced tone and warmer volume, musicians like Billie Joe, Ian D’sa, and Greg Howe are greatly impressed and they use this device on a regular basis.

Because of the position of the single bar of magnets, the humbucking device can balance out the level of output of the signal. Also, it sustains the consistency of the tone to the greatest extent. At a point, you can sense the dynamic range of the consistent tone created by the humbuckers. The strong feature of humbuckers makes it already super strong to tackle the humming sound and enhance the desired tone as per the wish of the musician.

d) The Efficient One:

In the comparison between humbucker Vs single coil, it is obvious that two coils will work better than a single-coil as the double coils complement each other. Besides, humbuckers come in different varieties.

You can choose humbuckers seeing the quality of magnets as it is responsible for providing good and bad service. Generally, many types of alnico magnets are famous for contributing to making these types of magnets. These humbuckers vary in price range because of the quality difference of magnets too.

Things We Liked about / Pros :

  •  Humbuckers are featured with double-coils and alnico magnets to reduce the humming sound coming from electric guitar to a great extent.
  •  It is responsible for creating a warm and balanced tone to get along with the specific genre of music
    They work great with the attachment of an amplifier and they show their robust, grim sound with the help of it
  • Master at keeping the produced sound crystal clear and can hold the consistency of the sound quality till the end.

Things We Didn’t Like about / Cons :

• They are a little more pricey than any other ordinary pickups

Soapbar Pickups Vs Humbuckers – Which is better?

Pickups are the savior of the musicians as they are responsible for making great sounds. But not all pickups are going to give you the sound that you are asking for. There are some particular pickups especially made for particular electric guitars to play some specific genre of music. Soapbar pickups that also come as P90 pickups have their own discreteness and distinct feature.

Also, comparing soapbar pickups with humbuckers is the same as comparing P90 pickups with humbuckers. Similarly, humbuckers are also made in a way that they are known by their signature feature and personality. Now, if you want to compare soapbar pickups and humbuckers, a few significant differences will come out which will help you to choose one that will suit your electric guitar.

1) Feature and Structure:

Soapbar Pickups Structure

A pickup with its feature and structure determines its performance and maneuverability as well. P90 pickups are very much different than humbuckers. Whereas the former ones have to deal with its single coil structure, the latter come with double coils with an improved structure.

Not only do they differ in coil mechanism Soapbar pickups and humbuckers have great differences in having magnetic features too. As an old model, P90 pickups carry any magnetic feature but they are not enough developed.

Because they lack in this feature, their whole performance falls short in front of humbuckers. As humbuckers are constructed with a magnetic feature, their performance is a lot better than soapbar pickups. Besides, humbuckers improve with the quality of magnets. Alnico 2, 4, or 5 is used as magnets in humbuckers. These tremendous features of humbuckers make it superior to other pickups.

2) Sound Quality:

Though we have already mentioned both soapbar P90 pickups and humbuckers enhance the sound quality of your electric guitar, there are some important changes seen in these two devices. Soapbar P90 pickups help to produce a sound similar to the sound produced by a single coil.

They provide brighter sound and less dark or compressed sound. But because they do not come with a high-end magnetic feature, you will see the tone is gritty and a continuous buzzing sound is present. But in the case of humbuckers, the sound quality is a lot better than P90 pickups and there is a logical reason for that.

Humbuckers are more responsible for producing dark and warm sounds. But the specialty of humbuckers is they can professionally buck the humming sound coming out of the strings. And thus, you can get a clearer sound more suitable for the music genre.

3) Capability in Production:

P90 Mini Bridge
P90 Mini Bridge

Soapbar pickups are in many ways very much proficient and their capability is worth mentioning. Their specialty is in its midrange strength. If you want some exclusive tone and sound quality coming through Soapbar pickups, then you need to add it with a tube amplifier.

This collaboration will assist the pickup to produce warm saturation. This warm frequency will assist you to experiment with different types of music. On the other hand, humbuckers are even better a performer when they are paired with a tube amplifier.

You can observe the robust true nature of a humbucker in this condition. Besides, their magnetic feature embodies the strength of sound quality in humbuckers. Thus, the consistency of the sound and its sustainability increases with the pair-up.

4) Designs and Variations:

Design or outer appearance is important to some serious musicians. A pickup needs to fit in the electric guitar suitably so it does not give an odd vibe. However, P90 pickups very much look like bars of soap and that’s why they are also recognized as soapbar pickups. With their mounting part and wooden screws, soapbar P90 pickups hardly change their appearance. They have almost the same rectangular look as the 19s.

But you will find different variations, and soapbar and dogear pickups are its two significant variations. On the other hand, humbuckers are also the same in their appearance and their other variations have almost the same look. But you will find more variations of humbuckers than of soapbar pickups.

5) Budget-Friendly :

Budget Friendly

Price does matter when it is pickups and related to an electric musical instrument. Soapbar pickups are less pricy whereas humbuckers are more pricy. There are definitely some valid reasons behind that. But if you want something great within a little budget, a soapbar P90 pickup is more appreciable.

So, if you ask how P90 pickups are better than humbuckers and what is it good for, then the answer to this is that P90 pickups are budget-friendly and provide brighter sound than humbuckers.

So, which one is better?

Humbuckers are definitely better as we can see from their differences. But of course, P90 pickups or soapbar pickups have popularity too and many famous bands and musicians are still using them to get their desired sound quality.


Question: Are soapbar pickups humbuckers?

Answer: Soapbar pickups are not humbuckers because they feature differently. Whereas sopabar pickups are single-coil, humbuckers are double-coil and come with magnetic features. They produce different sound quality too.

Question: What are soapbar pickups bass?

Answer: Soapbar pickups that have an appearance of a rounded rectangular shape are for bass guitar. With these pickups, you will get the best bass sound.

Question: Are P90s louder than humbuckers?

Answer: Apparently, humbuckers produce louder and clearer sounds than P90 pickups do. It is because humbuckers come with an alnico magnetic feature that reduces magnetic interferences from the string and makes more of a vivid and louder sound. P90s cannot do this because they are deprived of the magnetic feature.

Final Word:

By reading this article on soapbar pickups vs humbuckers, hopefully, now you know which pickup is best for what purposes. If you are a fan of double-coil, magnetic-featured devices, then humbuckers are your option. Besides, they uphold a compressed and warmer sound without any humming or buzzing sound. But if you want a great deal within less budget, then P90 pickups are your pick.

Last Updated on August 1, 2022 by Perry Garner

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *