JBE P-90’s….oops! Soapbars
I am pleased that so far our latest JBE Soapbar pickups have been receiving rave reviews. But, it’s still kind of early yet to break out the champaign. So, I had to share the following testimonial with you all.
The reason I wanted to share this one with you is because he (Cliff) and others are saying what I have been hesitant to say, ie our Soapbars sound like P-90s. OK, why am I hesitant about this? After all they do sound really good.
When we set out to offer our Soapbar pickups (admittedly, initially at the behest of Barden enthusiasts), I said to myself, “what do we have to add to the competitive Soapbar landscape?” Afterall, a few of our most well respected competitiors are known for their vintage recreations, and for good reason. They have nailed the vintage thing. And as you will hear later, the vintage thing is really important. So what in the world would JBE add to the discussion? Well, we designed a few sets, did the usual iterative R&D work, and found something out at the end of it all…..we definately had something compelling to say!
Ok, but what should we call our new creation? I found a raging debate among P-90 enthusiasts that tends to get ‘religious’ and often includes heated discussion about vintage tone, the sound of this or that guy’s guitar on this or that old recording. It also included (and rightfully so) debate on the often noisy single coil vs hum-cancelling approaches of P90s, P100s etc. What I ultimately discovered was that if I asked 10 musicians (I asked more) I’d get 12 answers. (not really, but you get the idea . Why couldn’t we all agree? Because the whole vintage thing is affected by so many aspects of tone and expecatations, that everyone’s ideal tone is different and subjective.
So, it was clear that the beloved P-90 tone was hard to describe in words, but settled farily nicely as falling somewhere in the sonic landscape between single coils and humbuckers but with both a “snotty-ness or nasti-ness in the bridge and a chimey/mellowness in the neck, while all the while delivering hollow/woody vintage tones in the middle position. What an order to fill!
Not wanting to participate in the religious debates about vintage-ness, or pickup design, we simply opted to call our new creations for what they are, Soapbar pickups, and believe that guitarists will determine for themselves if they are sufficiently P-90 .
Therefore, for now I prefer to continue to remain on the sidelines contently hearing what those of you who have heard and played them are saying. With this said, I refer you to the following testimonial from Cliff (yeah it took me some time to get here). With more of these, you may even persuade me to call them P-90s (at least in-house at JBE).
I did not coach or tell Cliff what to say or even write. And, while he used parts of our descriptions to make his point, these are ultimately his comments. BTW, Cliff didn’t want to leave it there. He felt he had to call by phone to register his satisfaction with me personally. So, I am pretty convinced that he is not drinking my Kool-Aid.
Anyone else out there care to chime in? Your comments are valued. After all, it’s about what YOU think, not what I think that counts. (Oh! who am I kidding, what I think does count…at least around here . Frank T. , JBE Pickups.
Feb 7, 2011
After we talked on the phone last week I decided to go online and buy a set of your Soapbars. I installed them in my 2003 Hamer Studio Goldtop as soon as they arrived and I haven’t been able to put the thing down since. It’s always been a nice looking and playing guitar but I’ve had two sets of aftermarket P90’s in it and the sound never really did much for me. The new Soapbars have transformed it into a monster. They’re hot enough to push the front end of the amp nicely, but not too hot, the neck pickup is bright and full, the bridge pickup has the P90 “snarl” kind of attitude, but with more clarity and the middle position is different (and better) than anything I’ve heard….all with no noise. There is also presence thing about these pickups that makes them very defined even when the amp is pushed toward distortion. These Soapbars are amazing pickups by any measure. Nice work.