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Seymour Duncan Phat Cat Review

by Justin
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Seymour Duncan has a very special set of pickups. These pickups we believe, don’t get nearly enough attention and recognition among guitar players. Hence our reasoning behind the phat cat pickup review.

Today we are talking about the incredible p90 humbucker pickup by the legendary Seymour Duncan. You’re probably thinking by now, how can a P90 be a humbucker and vice versa? We’re going to answer questions just like this and give you everything you need to know about the phat cat pickups.

seymour duncan phat cat review

What are the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat Pickups?

These are a humbucker sized P90 which come as a set or as individual pickups for a choice of the bridge and/or neck pickup.

Why would you need a humbucker sized P90?

The simple answer to this question is that many guitar players own guitars that have humbucker pickups already installed but would like to have P90 pickups instead. P90 pickups are traditionally smaller than humbuckers and are generally a different size. therefore in order to have P90 pickups in a guitar that has humbuckers, you would usually have to make modifications to get them to fit.

With the Duncan phat cat pickups, absolutely no modifications have to be made to the guitar.

A great example of this would be a Gibson Les Paul that comes with stock humbucker pickups. The guitar player is able to take those stock pickups out easily and replace them with P90 single coils instead.

What are P90 Pickups?

P90’s are a single coil pickup that can be found on some of the oldest guitars out there. This is because they were one of the first pickups ever produced. They also have the nickname “soap bars” because they resemble that of an actual bar of soap. However the Seymour Duncan phat cat P90’s look exactly like a humbucker whilst maintaining all the sound characteristics we are used to from the vintage P90’s.

We like to think of P90 pickups as the perfect combination between single coils and humbuckers. It takes the best of both worlds from each pickup and blends it into one perfectly sounding rock machine.

The phat cats will be able to deliver the output and sustain of a humbucker whilst maintaining the articulated, defined and clear sound of single coils without the compressed sound generally associated with humbuckers.


What do phat cat pickups sound like?

Lets talk Pickup output to lead us into what these P90 humbuckers sound like…

The Phat cat P90’s come with an Alnico 2 magnet which is generally found in older and vintage pickups. These are also typically much lower in output than more modern guitar pickups. However, pickups with these type of magnets will produce a smoother and more well-rounded tone with a punch in midrange. This increase in midrange allows the pickup to cut through which is a characteristic P90’s are very well known for.

These humbucker sized P90’s sound incredible! They are exceptionally lively especially on the bridge pickup and give you a very fat and clear tone on the bridge pickup. By installing these pickups in your guitar and using volume & tone controls to vary the sound, you are able to get an insane amount of tones out of these pickups. You can use these pickups for almost all different types of musical styles and genre’s.


See the sound samples below to get an idea of the different tones this incredible P90 humbucker by Duncan can produce. You can choose to hear the bridge pickup alone, the neck pickup alone or both pickups together on a clean/crunchy or dirty amplifier. You can also choose to hear the sound of the guitar only or the pickups in action as part of a band mix.

The sound samples are coming soon. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

We did a Test of our Own, these were the results…

We tested the phat cat pickups on an entry level les paul copy made by Sanchez and boy were the results astounding! The stock humbucker pickups on the Sanchez were terrible and sounded exceptionally cheap and tinny. We swapped these out with the Seymour Duncan humbucker sized P90 and it took a terrible guitar to a new level of sound. The Sanchez guitar still didn’t feel great to play but the sound of the guitar improved by leaps and bound. To the point where the guitar could easily be used on recordings and for live gigs. The tone is now well rounded smooth whilst still being able to cut through any mix especially on the bridge position.

We decided to do another test. This time though we wanted hear the Seymour Duncan phat cat P90’s compared to actual sized P90’s. The Duncan’s impressed yet again and easily stood up to the regular sized pickups. One thing we noticed is that when the neck and the bridge Phat cats are used in conjunction with one another, they eliminate the hum, much like a humbucker. This is due to the fact that the Duncan’s are wound with reverse polarity.

Ideal guitars for the Phat Cat P90’s?

These pickups will do great in almost any guitar however their sole purpose is to allow a  P90 to replace a humbucker without having to do any modifications to the guitar. With that being said the following are good guitar options for this pickup:

  • A telecaster or stratocaster with two humbuckers (the Blacktop series are a great option)
  • A telecaster with a neck humbucker
  • Any Gibson Les Paul styled guitar including epiphone. (These pickups make a great upgrade to entry level les pauls with stock pickups)
  • Literally any guitar in the world that has a humbucker


Features of the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat pickups

  • Alnico magnet bars have been used but not just one of them. Two incredible alnico magnet bars are combined to make your chords sound brighter and let your solos cut through any mix no matter which pickup you’re on.
  • The pickups have a metal cover on it, different to the traditional P90
  • The cover reduces noise and adds protection to the pickup.
  • It has a bottom plate made from silver nickel
  • Includes potting with vacuum wax to once again reduce noise and unwanted squeel.
  • Each pickup has been handmade and handwired in California, USA.
  • Noise cancelling when both pickups are initiated simultaneously.

Do the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P90 Pickups Actually sound authentic?

There is no doubt that these pickups are some of the best p90 pickups you can buy. But do they sound authentic to the real thing? For the most part they do however they do not sound 100% the same due to the fact that they are slightly larger than traditional soap bar sized p90’s as well as the fact that they are housed in a metal shielding which is not authentic to the real thing.


Concluding the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat Review

With that being said, these are high quality pickups which can definitely compete with some of the best P90’s out there. Sure they may sound a little different to the original P90 but they definitely maintain most of the characteristics of the P90 which makes these pickups the perfect single coil alternatively for your humbucker sized guitar.

If you enjoyed this Seymour Duncan Phat cat review you might enjoy our review on the best Telecaster body or a list of the best guitar stools.


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