Turkey and Stuff


It’s that time of year when we stop practicing, turn off the soldering irons, and pretend to relate to spend precious time with our loved ones. I’m off to Santa Fe for a visit with my wife’s family (it’s okay — they’re mostly musicians), and I’m especially looking forward to hanging out with my super-cool nephews. So please pardon this zero-effort post.

Reflexive snark aside, I’d like to thank all of you who have contributed your time, effort, musicality, and ingenuity to tonefiend since the last time I posted a poorly Photoshopped turkey image. If it weren’t for you, this site would be nothing more than a bunch of self-important pontification, instead of what it is: a bunch of self-important pontification leavened by your wit and wisdom.

Thanks, too, to you lurkers — I know you’re there! Truth be told, I’m a habitual lurker who rarely contributes to his favorite blogs, so I get where you’re coming from and invite you to lurk to your hearts’ content. (Though if you ever do feel like introducing yourself, I promise you a friendly welcome.)

I’ve got lots of interesting stuff coming up after the holiday. Your responses and suggestions to the Let’s Design a DIY Amp post have helped focus that notion, and I’m speaking with some smart people about creating a project/kit. I’ll also be reporting on some of the new digital gizmos and soundware I’ve been exploring in preparation for a performance at Strung Out!, a monthly San Francisco solo guitar event I’m launching with friend/acoustic virtuoso Teja Gerken.

And frankly, I’m glad to be powering down the soldering iron for a few days, because I just completed all the tech work for a massive pickup review I’m preparing for Premier Guitar, which includes recordings of eight rival humbucker-sized P-90 pickup sets, all tested in the same guitar/signal chain. The results are fascinating, and I managed to perform a couple of dozen pickup changes with only one second-degree burn and two small puncture wounds. (Yep — you heard it here first: The next big thing in humbuckers is hum!) I’ll link to the story when it goes live in a few weeks.

I’m thankful for having so many of you to thank. Have a lovely holiday, everyone!

20 comments to Turkey and Stuff

  • what about noiseless humbucker-sized P90s?
    happy thanksgiving to you and yours–thanks for all the tech and musical insights, and looking forward to the shared show in Jan!

    • joe

      Yup, there are a couple of hum-canceling models in the mix. 🙂

      Yeah, January will be cool! (Giacomo is playing the second Strung Out! event on January 9th. Google him!)

  • Only one burn? That’s impressive. I was a mass of scar tissue when I left Rose,Morris.

  • Hey Joe, have a good time in Santa Fe, I’m going to Nora’s hometown, where my brother lives, Hastings on the Hudson. Dennis

  • Jon

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I’m really looking forward to the tube amp project. Any chance you’ll know what we’ll need by Christmas? I’ll be visiting home and might be able to find a bunch of the vintage parts in my late Dad’s shop. And I can’t wait to hear about the P90’s. I’ve been thinking that I need to add a P90 rig current collection and I came close to buying a set the other day. Hearing that you will be doing a scientific comparison will be a *big* help in deciding which direction to take this project. And by the way, I’m still grinning from ear to ear every time I play the (now) lipstick-equipped strat clone you inspired. I have really fallen hard for their sound.

  • Oinkus

    Happy Turkey Day ! I am on a quest to uncover a set of Lindy Fralin hum canceling P-90 and something to attach them to ! I have dreams of a Melody Maker but oh well? Thank you for a great store of info,ideas and most of all a group of decent folks that actually have a clue. Stay safe and have fun kids !

    • joe

      I got to try both Fralin’s true single-coil P-90s and the hum-canceling P-92s. I can’t say more than that till the review comes out, but I will share something interesting Lindy told me: that a lot of players are using them as Tele replacement pickups. I have a hunch that could sound really good ….

  • Happy Thanksgiving to all the tone fiends here. (And hi, Dennis!)

  • Frank

    Thank you for the time and effort you put into this blog. I personally love what you do here, mostly I’m a lurker, nonetheless, I always check in and to get my little dose of guitar knowledge and DIY stuff. Also I want to say thanks to all those people who contribute which gives you the incentive to keep going.

    All the best for thanksgiving!


  • I seem to remember Jason Lollar pointing out that the footprint of a standard humbucker is narrower than that of the P90. As a result, he said, you cannot get a coil with the width of a P90 into a humbucker size case. Change the coil profile and the sound changes and it is hard to compensate for the narrower wind, even if you make the coil deeper or change the wire gauge.

    Lollar does offer a humbucker size P90, but his description of the pickup is quite carefully worded to avoid saying the tone is exactly P90.

    If they weren’t prone to hum I reckon P90’s would be the ideal pickup. Not so bombastic as humbuckers, but thicker and warmer than single coils.

    I’d like to try the Kinman low noise P90s, but the Kinmans I have tried so far, Strat and Tele sets, seem very bright to me and the Tele bridge just does not twang. I have a set of David White Old Glories in a Tele and that guitar really does TWANG. The sound is not just cutting treble, I think there is almost a hollow character to the real tele twang.

    By the way re the amp project, I checked out the prices of valve transformers in the UK the other day and nearly fell off my chair. Premium Sowter single ended EL84 output transformers are £117.43 ($192) although if you shop around you can find an EL84 OT for about half that. Still not cheap. Its a bit silly when here in the UK you can buy a 12AX7, EL84 head for £84.99 – The Sub Zero Tube H5 – which is probably about what you would have to pay for the mains and OT transformers alone, if you were to build one.

    Happy Turkey day.

    • joe

      You (and Jason L. and all the other experts) are 100% correct: Because of their differing sizes, a humbucker-sized P-90 will never sound precisely the same as a conventionally sized one. (The most common compromise is to use a finer gauge of wire to permit the same number of winds.) But then, no two 1950s P-90s are the identical either. I worried at various points that this article-in-progress would be nothing but disclaimers like that!

      But if this article comes out as intended, it won’t be so much about “Who makes the most accurate P-90?” as “What are the meaningful sonic differences between the rival products, and which would best suit your needs?”

      That’s the plan, anyway. 🙂

  • Roger

    Happy Late Thanksgiving to all the tonefiends out there! Here’s a link to a little “Bedroom Solo guitar performance” Hope you enjoy! And thanks for all the hard work again Joe. Love the blog!!


  • NicPic

    I guess I’m absurdly late to the party. Anyway, a belated Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Joe thank you for putting up such a great site. I can only imagine the man hours you put in along with all of the other stuff you have going on. It is truly a huge task you seem to do well at. I feel I know more more about guitar and playing it since stumbling upon your youtube vids. Wich to say have inspired Me greatly. And a big thanks to the rest of the gallery who frequent here. Thank you for providing answers to My feeble questions as the need arose… And now..back to bidniss!!

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