Seymour Duncan SPH P-90 Phat Cat Pickup Review: “Phat” P-90 Tone for Humbucker Guitars

If you've been playing the guitar for a while, chances are you already know the legendary Gibson Les Paul Junior and Special guitars. The warm, classic sound of these guitars is a staple in the rock world, especially thanks to their P-90 pickups

So what if you want to try out the P-90 pickups on a humbucker-equipped guitar? Well, there's a small catch, as the standard soapbar covers for P-90 pickups won't fit your guitar. 

But don't worry, there's a solution! The humbucker-sized Seymour Duncan P-90 Phat Cat. With this pickup, you can replace your humbuckers and enjoy the rich, warm sound of P-90s on your guitar. 

Is the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 the right pickup for you? Let’s find out.

Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90: Overview and Specs

Seymour Duncan SPH P90 Phat Cat Pickup

Overall Average Rating: 4.3

Why I Like It

  • Humbucker-sized.
  • Warm and immersive sound.
  • Versatile enough for most genres.
  • Easy to replace.

What I Think Could Be Improved

  • Close, but not quite the authentic tone of the P-90.


  • Type: Single coil
  • Passive pickup
  • Magnetic: Alnico II
  • Conductors: 1 wire plus braided shield
  • Number of strings: 6 strings
  • Format: P-90 Humbucker-sized

The Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 pickups are the solution when you want to get the single-coil tones of the P-90 on a humbucker-equipped guitar. The humbucker-sized design allows you to use this pickup without modifying your axe and makes routing easier.

The Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 delivers a versatile, thicker sound perfect for Blues, Rock, and virtually any genre you can think of. Clean or gritty, the deeper tones the Phat Cat P-90 gives to your guitar can definitely enhance your sonic signature, whether in the studio or on stage.

To pair the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 with other pickups on your guitar, you'll need to install both the neck and bridge pickup. Keep in mind that you may experience some hum, but thanks to the reverse polarity, most of the noise will be canceled out when both pickups are selected.

All in all, the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 offers the best choice if you want the P-90 tone without getting a new guitar or excessively modifying yours.

Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 Review

Seymour Duncan SPH P90 Phat Cat Pickup

Let’s examine the features of the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90. I picked the most notable ones that make it stand out among other P-90 guitar pickups.

Vintage P-90 Tone: 4/5

The Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 is known for delivering the characteristic warm tones of vintage P-90 pickups, so if you’re upgrading from your stock pickups, the difference will be night and day!

Especially if you're using an entry-level guitar, you can greatly enhance your sound from toy-like to timeless classic, with midrange punch and depth that'll revolutionize your artistry.

Humbucker Size: 5/5

The humbucker size of the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 immediately catches the eye. You can find P-90s with standard soapbar covers, dog ear, and humbucker styles, with the latter offering a friendlier way to upgrade pickups without complex modifications to your instrument.

Alnico II Magnets: 4/5

The magnets behind the Phat Cat P-90 are the Alnico II magnets, which will add sweetness to your sound with those velvety and smooth tones that made the P-90 a classic. When playing hard rock and heavier genres, the Alnico magnets offer a balanced response and sensitivity to your tone and volume controls.

The result is a softer attack and longer sustain that create an interesting soundstage, with a single coil signature blending magnificently with all the other instruments involved.

Sound: 4/5

I mentioned the P-90's classic growl tone and sustain. However, the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 has one more trick under its sleeve. Sound-wise, it sits somewhere between humbuckers and single coils, balancing its dual nature perfectly.

The Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 offers a brighter and punchier sound than humbuckers and is louder than a single coil. The sound is warm but with enough mid and high-end to give you more versatility when playing different musical genres.

Overdriven, the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 sounds amazing when playing solos. It provides high gain and more dynamics, and the strings sound neat and clean when playing chords.

Versatility: 4/5

This mix sound offered by the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 lets you add more depth without affecting or altering the P-90's classic sound. You can play classic rock, blues, country, jazz, and anything else you can think of. It's a notoriously versatile pickup, with a focused mid bite that made it iconic in hard genres but just as ideal for softer styles.

Bridge and Neck Pickup Reverse Polarity: 4/5

You could install a single Phat Cat P-90 on the bridge or neck and combine it with other pickups, but the P-90 is known for humming. The good news is that you can install both Phat Cat P-90 and the reverse polarity will cancel the hum when they're used together.

If you're looking to get the rich, warm sound of P-90 pickups but don't want to add any hum to your guitar, the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 set is a great solution. Of course, there will still be a small amount of hum, but if you can live with that, you'll be thrilled with the results.

Easy to Install: 5/5

Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 offers a beginner-friendly approach to upgrading pickups from humbucker-equipped guitars. Remove the humbuckers and drop the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 in just a few minutes, and you're all set!

Things to Consider Before Buying P-90 Pickups

Seymour Duncan SPH P90 Phat Cat Pickup

P-90 pickups are an attractive option to upgrade your guitar for more dynamic sounds and to play a wider range of genres. However, upgrading pickups requires a deep understanding of the tones and style you want to obtain, so I'm adding this brief guide on what you must look for when buying P-90 pickups to make things easier.

Pickup Tone

The P-90 pickups have a very distinctive tone. If you’re used to humbuckers, you might not like the brighter sound and miss the noiseless operation of the latter. Check sound demos to ensure this is the sound you want before starting your journey.

P-90 Cover Format

You can find P-90 pickups available in different housings:

  • Soapbar cover: It's the standard cover. It houses the pickup in a rectangular case.
  • Dog ear cover: It has a housing that extends to the side to screw it on the sides.
  • Humbucker cover: A humbucker version of the P-90 for easy installation on guitar with humbuckers.

On the Phat Cat P-90, the metal covers provide excellent noise reduction and better protection, so they're probably the best option in terms of housing system.

Sound, Output, and Dynamics

Explore your options among the P-90 pickups available according to what type of sound you want to create. Pickups like the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 offer higher output gain and dynamics. Think about whether this is something you're looking for in your sound.

Pickup Installation

Know your instrument. Make sure you know what you will need in advance so you know what type of pickup is compatible and fits your guitar.

Alternatives to the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 Pickups

The Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 is not the only P-90 pickup on the market, and other alternatives might offer a sound more in line with your taste. I picked a few popular alternatives to the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 to compare them with to help you find the right pickups for you.

Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 vs DiMarzio Bluesbucker

DiMarzio Bluesbucker

The DiMarzio Bluesbucker offers a humbucker-size pickup with the sound of a P-90, minus the hum. It's more affordable than the Phat Cat P-90 and has a great sound, so if your budget is under $100, this is a no-brainer.

Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 vs Gibson P-90 Pickups

Gibson P90 Pickups

If you’re looking for the original and authentic P-90 sound from the 1940s, look no further and pick the original Gibson P-90 pickup. It’s regarded as the most versatile pickup that has defined rock, blues, and punk sound.

As I said before, this is a single coil pickup, so make sure you can install it on your guitar, and bear in mind you might have some extra noise to deal with. Check out our full review of the Gibson Dogear P-90 to learn more.

Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 vs Mojotone 56 Quiet Coil P-90

Mojotone 56 Quiet Coil P-90

The Mojotone 56 Quiet Coil P-90 is for those who cannot stand the humming noise but still want a single-coil sound signature. The noise reduction is active on any pickup position without sacrificing the upper mid, high end, and dynamics.

It's not cheap, but the hum-free tone is exceptional and feels incredibly authentic.


Seymour Duncan SPH P90 Phat Cat Pickup

To summarize, the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 is an excellent option for anyone who wants to experience the rich, warm sound of P-90 pickups on their humbucker-equipped guitars.

It offers great value for money and requires minimal modification to upgrade or replace your existing humbuckers, making it ideal for guitarists who are just starting to customize their musical instruments.

If you're not concerned about modifying your guitar, the original Gibson P-90 is still the best way to get a vintage sound (with hum included). Nevertheless, I'd strongly recommend you give the Phat Cat P-90 a try.

Leave a Reply

Photo courtesy of Josh Sanders' Facebook page

3 Quick Facts About ‘The Voice’ Finalist Josh Sanders

The Voice finalist Bryan Olesen

Bryan Olesen Talks the Honor of Representing Team Legend in ‘The Voice’ Finale With “Great Human” Nathan Chester