Gibson P-90 Dogear Review: This Dog’s Got Bark AND Bite

Pickups are simple, tiny devices, yet that doesn't mean that picking just one set for your guitar is an easy task. Choosing between humbuckers and single-coils is hard enough — but what if there was one pickup that could blend the best of both worlds?

Cue in: the Gibson P-90 Dogear, a versatile take on the classic P90 pickups used by many top musicians in the early 1950s. These pickups promise to be the perfect middle ground between the Stratocaster and Les Paul tone — and boy do they deliver.

Here's my review of the Gibson P-90 Dogear: the good, the bad, and the ugly included. Let's discover if it's the right pick for you!

Gibson P-90 Dogear: Our Take

Gibson P-90 Dogear

Average Overall Rating: 4.9/5

Specs:

  • Type: Single-coil
  • Position: Bridge, neck
  • Magnet: Alnico V
  • Wiring: 2-Conductor
  • Average DC Resistance: 8K
  • Cover: Black, cream, or gray Dogear
  • Number of Strings: 6

Why I Like It:

  • Signature Gibson sound
  • Very expressive and versatile
  • Vintage tones
  • Fully wax-potted

What I Think Could Be Improved:

  • Produces some hum
  • Not so affordable

There's no way around it: P90 pickups are some of the most legendary guitar mics you can find on the market. First introduced in the early 1950s, P90s combine the brilliant, snarky tone of single coils with the raw power of humbuckers.

And there's just no way to better illustrate this than the Gibson Dogear P90 pickups.

Designed to blend together that much-appreciated vintage tone with all the modern developments in pickup technology, there just no beating these ones. Raw, powerful, expressive, and versatile, the Dogear P90s are the perfect choice for any Les Paul owner looking to take a break from humbuckers.

But let's start from the top.

At the heart of the Gibson P-90 Dogear lies an Alnico V magnet — a rather modern choice that doesn't neglect the vintage experience. The braided two-conductor wiring allows you to use it as a replacement for older guitars, and the fully wax-potted design eliminates most unwanted microphonic feedback.

This combination of features creates a well-balanced frequency spectrum with a thumpy low-end and a sparky mid-range. And naturally, the single-coil format makes the P90s extra sensitive and reactive to your guitar's onboard controls.

The P90s come entirely protected by a stylish Gibson signature cover that gives them the "Dog ear" nickname. You can choose between three colors: black, gray, or cream.

And how does it play?

The Dogear P90s are just fantastic — and I mean it. The balanced frequency response is the perfect middle ground between single-coil pickups and humbuckers, yet that classic Gibson low- and mid-range still manages to stand out.

And that's not to mention just how expressive these P90s really are. The single-coil format is extremely reactive to both the tone and volume controls in your guitar and the dynamics you apply to your picking.

Naturally, these pickups are better suited for playing rock, blues, and other popular genres thanks to that raspy mid-range. But, honestly, you can't go wrong with these ones — even if you're more of a jazz, metal, or classical player.

So what's the catch?

Well, there isn't really a catch per se. There are only two drawbacks in my opinion — but they're debatable, to say the least.

First of all, these pickups are rather... expensive. Coming in at $119 a piece, equipping a two-pup Les Paul can end up costing as much as an entire budget guitar!

And, of course, the other con is the dreaded hum. Single-coils are noisy, and the P90s are no exception to this. You could opt for the hum-canceling version — but it will cost you a few extra bucks.

Features of the Gibson Dogear P90

Gibson P-90 Dogear

Pickups are small devices, so what could possibly be so complicated about them? Well, for better or for worse, there's a lot to unpack here — so I broke down the P90s into three key aspects so you know exactly what to expect.

Overall sound - 5.0

The P-90 Dogear manages to blend together the very best of humbucker and single-coil pickups, opening up a whole new sonic playground for you to enjoy. Balanced, warm, and able to cut through the mix, there are very few pickups that can stand up to the P90s.

The low-end is rich and thumpy, making it a fantastic choice for heavier genres that require a lot of palm muting and chugging. At the same time, the bright mid-range also allows for tasteful soloing or even funk and soul rhythm strumming.

Trust me — there's no going wrong with the P90s.

Dynamics - 5.0

One of the most important (and often overlooked) differences between single-coils and humbuckers is the dynamics. A single-coil pickup is way more sensitive to both how hard you pick and your guitar's tone and volume knobs — while a humbucker will not be as affected.

Dog ear P90s combine the expressiveness and sensitivity of single-coils with the raw power of humbuckers. This makes them a fantastic choice for pretty much any scenario — no matter if you're looking to dampen down your tone for those smooth legatos or crank up the volume up for a snarly rock tone.

Materials - 4.75

There isn't much to say about build quality and materials — we are talking about Gibson, after all. Born out of Alnico V magnets and cutting-edge wiring and design, the Dogear P90s are as premium as they sound.

My only pet peeve is that, even with premium build quality, the Dogear P90s still produce a bit of hum and unwanted microphonic feedback.

What to Know Before Buying

Gibson P-90 Dogear

Picking up (pun intended) just one set of guitar mics can be a difficult task. After all, there are hundreds of options out there, so how could you know if the P90s are the right choice for you?

Well, the main thing to know is that the P-90 Dogear is a single-coil pickup that's perfect for fusing together the power of humbuckers with the expressiveness of single-coils.

If you're just interested in getting the heaviest tone out there, then these may not be the pickups for you. But if you're a versatile player who enjoys tone-sculpting and doesn't mind a bit of that classic Stratocaster hum, then these will be just perfect.

Here are three questions you should ask yourself before buying a couple of P-90 Dogear:

  • Am I looking for more single-coil–focused warm tones?
  • Can I gloss over a bit of noise and hum?
  • Do I want to shape my sound in greater detail?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then the P-90 Dogear will be the perfect pickup for you! And even more so if you're coming from a humbucker-only guitar.

Alternatives to the Gibson P-90 Dogear

Many top musicians would agree that the Gibson P-90 Dogear is a fantastic pickup — but it's certainly not the only one in the market. Here are two other top-notch alternatives so you can compare them in detail:

Gibson P-90 Dogear vs Seymour Duncan Antiquity P-90

Seymour Duncan Antiquity P-90 Dog Ear Single Coil 2-piece Pickup Set

The Seymour Duncan Antiquity P-90 is designed to recreate the first pickups in the history of P-90s. Made out of Alnico II magnets, hand-fabricated bobbins, and other vintage materials, these sound and feel just like the real thing.

Of course, they are much more expensive than the Gibson P-90 — but you should definitely consider them if budget is not a concern.

Check out our full review of the Antiquity P-90s here.

Gibson P-90 Dogear vs FLEOR Alnico V Single Coil Soapbar P90

FLEOR Alnico 5 Single Coil Pickup Soap Bar Pickups Cream P90

The FLEOR Alnico V Single Coil Soapbar P90 is pretty much the same as the Gibson P-90 Dogear, but with the key difference that they cost about 39 dollars each.

These are amazing for their price — but be aware that they don't handle high outputs very well.

Final Verdict

Gibson P-90 Dogear

All in all, the Gibson P-90 Dogear is a golden standard when it comes not only to P90s themselves — but also to pickups in general. Versatile, premium, and expressive, the Dogears manage to blend together that timeless vintage tone with all the modern perks.

But if you aren't quite sold on these yet, then you might want to take a look at the Seymour Duncan Antiquity P-90 or the FLEOR Alnico V Single Coil Soapbar P90 instead. Luckily, the market is filled with options — but you just can't go wrong with any of these three!

Leave a Reply

Elton John performing

3 Eternal Classic Rock Songs by Elton John