The mission: deliver the fat, P-90 single-coil sound in a hum-cancelling humbucker design for Gibson’s bold Futura guitars. The first attempt, a stacked P-100 configuration, didn’t sound convincing enough to be a true P-90, so it was back to the drawing board…but also, back to the future.
Gibson resurrected the center point humbucker design used in an EBO bass pickup from the 60s (later re-visited with the Grabber pickup), but which had never been applied to guitar. After extensive research to “guitarify” the pickup design, the P-90H—the H stands for “hum-cancelling”—was born.
This center point design rotates the coils (which have the same Alnico V magnets and pole shoes used in a conventional P-90) 90 degrees, with the polarities configured to be a true humbucking pickup; both magnets facing inward to create an induced magnetic field. However there’s only a single row of pole screws, and because this row senses the strings at a single point, the result is a convincing, fat single coil voice.
In addition to creating a P-90 sound with hum cancellation, another advantage is that the coils are splittable for split coil tones—and both the SG and Les Paul Futura take full advantage of this option, which contributes to their sonic versatility. The P-90H Sidewinder pickup isn’t just about melding a hum-cancelling design with a single-coil sound—it’s about creating a pickup that’s coiled and ready to strike.