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Thread: Dogear P-90 in TL-1

  1. #1

    Dogear P-90 in TL-1

    Just getting stuck into my first build and was considering swapping out the pickups for Benson dogear P-90s. Does anyone have experience with this, and if so, what am I looking at in terms of modifications? Such as:
    • Do I need to modify the wiring in any other way, or can I solder the new pickups to the switch in the same way I would the standard kit pickups?
    • Would I need to cut new cavities for these pickups, or is most of the wiring contained under the cover?
    • As I would need to buy a new bridge, what should I be looking at? Would the standard strat style bridges be a good fit for what I am planning?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Reading, UK
    Hi and welcome to the Forum. Interesting project. Several things to take into consideration.

    1) Dogear pickups are non-height adjustable. So if they are too near the strings when fitted then you've got real problems. If they are too far away, you can buy (or make) shims to fit under them to raise them up, but too thick a shim can look awkward. I'd look at any pickup dimension diagrams you can find and try and work out whether this is practical with your guitar. If not, you could consider soapbar P90s. All the pictures I've seen of Teles with P-90s have soapbars fitted.

    2) P-90s are typically wired to 500k pots, so you'd probably need to swap out the kit's stock 250k pots in the kit or you may find them too dark. And you may need a more Gibson like 0.022 microfarad capacitor for the tone control (instead of the standard Fender Tele 0.047 microfarad cap value). Yes, otherwise you can fit them to the standard wiring configuration without any issues.

    3) You'd probably be fine with the neck pickup cavity as its routed out for a humbucker, but the bridge pickup cavity would need modifying to fit a P-90 in.

    4) As most P-90s will be made to fit standard Gibson string widths, the slightly wider string spacing for Fender-style guitars shouldn't mean too much of a mismatch of string position vs pole piece position, but there's probably not enough leeway to slant the bridge pickup like a Tele.

    5) The standard TL kits come with top-loading bridge, so there are no through-body holes or string ferrules to worry about. But most hardtail Strat style bridges will probably expect them. So you'll need access to a pillar drill (or a drill stand) with a decent throat depth (distance between the drill bit and the upright stand so you can fit the body under the drill) to drill holes through in the right place and then fit string ferrules on the back. Alternatively you could go for an adjustable wrap-over bridge, like a Gibson LP Jr, or even a Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop tailpiece. Again, this means drilling your own holes (so careful measurement required).

    6) You'll need a custom pickguard in order to cover the bridge pickup routing hole. It's very unlikely (because of the original slanted pickup rout) that you'd be able to rout out the bridge pickup cavity so that you could fit a dogear p-90 with none of the routing showing. (You could knock up a paper template from a dimension drawing to check). So you'd need something more like this, but modified to fit a standard silver Tele control plate:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    So it's not going to be easy. You could just fit a dog-ear or soapbar P90 in the neck position and leave the bridge as standard (or look for a P-90 style Tele bridge pickup - though they won't be cheap).

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