Why P90 Pickups Are Noisy and How To Fix Them? Explained

p90 noisy

P90 pickups are one of the most desired types of pickups for those that are into vintage-sounding guitars, but are they noisy? 

P90 pickups are known for their distinct sound, a mix between a single coil and a humbucker that gives you a unique sound. However, P90 pickups have a bad reputation when it comes to noise. Many guitarists say that they tend to be noisier than single coils and humbuckers.

In this article we will go over one of the biggest disadvantages of P90 pickups – they are noisy.

Are P90 pickups noisy?

Yes, P90s pickups can be extremely noisy, but it depends on the pickup and the guitar you have. Traditionally, the vintage P90s tend to be noisier, when you play with high gain and especially when paired with hollow body or semi-hollow guitars. 

Not only are they noisy, but they are also known for their hum sound that is even louder and hollow and semi-hollow guitars. 

Are P90 pickups noiseless?

All of the vintage P90 pickups are not noiseless. However, in recent years several companies have developed P90 noiseless pickups, an example of that is Seymour Duncan P90 Stack. Lindy Farlin is another manufacturer that developed a hum-cancelling P90.

Are P90 pickups noisier than single coils?

Yes, P90 pickups are noisier than single coils. They are known to have a certain hum and tend to be very noisy when combined with distortion pedals. Single coils are also known for their hum, especially when you have high gain. Although P90s are a single coil pickup, they have a lot more output, which in turn makes them noisier than traditional single coil pickups.

Are P90 pickups noisier than humbuckers?

Yes, Humbuckers are hum-cancelling but P90 pickups are not which explains why they tend to be a lot noisier. P90 pickups tend to be noisier than humbuckers unless you buy some of the most recent noiseless P90s, which tend to be better. 

All of the vintage P90s will be extremely noisy when compared with the recent ones. You will also notice that this is even more evident at high gain.

How to reduce P90 noise

If you want a P90 guitar without the noise that comes with it, the best solution is to get one of the most recent P90 pickups that are noiseless or hum-cancelling. This does not mean that you should swap your 1956’ Les Paul P90s! 

There are ways of dealing with the noise without replacing the pickups especially if you have a vintage guitar, it is not wise to go and mess around with it. 

Here are some common solutions to deal with noisy P90 pickups:

p90 cavity shielding
Shielding P90 cavity

Shielding the control and pickup cavities

One of the most simple ways to reduce the noise level is to shield the cavity for the controls and for the pickups. This is proven to reduce the noise levels of P90 pickups, and it can help your guitar to sound better. However, even if you shield the cavities it will still be noisy if you play with high gain.

Add foam

Another common solution guitarists tend to use is by stuffing foam in the pickup cavity. It helps to reduce the noise levels, and it does not affect the guitar. This is also super cheap and effective.


P90s are one of the most distinctive pickups, with a high-mid mellow sound that is hardly replicated. However, they do have some problems with noise. Today there are several P90 pickups that are noiseless and hum canceling. 

Especially avoid hollow-body guitars with P90s if you are planning on playing with a lot of gain. The semi-hollow guitars also have the same problem, although it is not as noisy due to the middle block. 

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