“Black Sand” P90

Single NZ$189 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas it’s GST free; NZ$164.35

Pair NZ$369 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas they’re GST free; NZ$320.87

Alnico V, Neck- 6.96 KOhms, Bridge 7.94 KOhms

P90s are such a useful pickup. They sit tonally between a single coil and a humbucker (roughly speaking).

The development of my “Black Sand” pickup set was a bit backwards. Usually I make a bridge pickup first and work from there but with this one the neck pickup came first. I had a customer ask for a neck pickup for an es335 to sound clearer than his existing Gibson pickup. I sold a few neck pickups before thinking it would be a good idea to have a set. So I started work on the bridge pickup.

I wanted this bridge pickup to have clarity in the lower mids to stand out from humbuckers while having enough power to grit up nicely. I wanted it to be clean when tickled and to growl at you when you dig in. P90’s are all about dynamics. It had to match the existing neck pickup or work well as a stand alone.

Of all the pickups in my range this one came together the quickest. There were only 4 or 5 prototypes and I was happy. Experience and intuition combined with a notebook where I’ve written down details of every experimental pickup I’ve made since 1995.

I agonised over what to call this pickup set. I wanted a name that would reflect the apparent contradiction in P90’s. From the perspective of a humbucker player they are clear and chiming. From the viewpoint of a single coil player they are powerful and gritty. They’re one thing while looking like another. I wanted a oxymoron to reflect this contradiction, one that might include the unique magnetic structure that gives the P90 its character. Hmmm, tricky. So I went for a run along Muriwai beach to think. And there it was staring me in the face (literally). Muriwai has black volcanic sand due to its iron content and it’s magnetic. So I’ve called this set “Black Sand”.

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