Many people are quick to assume that all electric guitars sound the same once you plug them in, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many variables in determining your guitars sound, not the least of which is your choice of pickup. The Soap Bar pickup is one of many different pickups available, so it’s important that you understand the different types and what they do.
In the simplest of terms, pickups are responsible for turning the vibration made when you strum your strings into a signal that can be processed by your amplifier. Without a pickup, your sound wouldn’t be getting very far.
The Soap Bar pickup is a nickname given to a variation on the P-90 pickup originally developed by Gibson shortly after World War II. Its cutting overdrive made in the pickup of choice for punk rock legend Johnny Thunders of the New York Dolls and the Heartbreakers. Once word got out about what kind of pickups Johnny had, aspiring punk rockers like Mick Jones of the Clash and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols quickly followed suit.
The Soap Bar was given its nickname for its rectangular shape and its original white coloring. Being a single coil pickup (as opposed to a double coil, or humbucker pickup), it’s got a bright and transparent sound with plenty of midrange. One concern for those who like a cleaner sound is that the soap bar pickup can be susceptible to humming and feedback. However, thanks to hum-cancelling designs such as the DiMarzio DP169 Virtual P-90 Humbucker Pickup and the EMG P91 HZ Hot Passive Humbucker, this is no longer an issue for any players.
The Soap Bar pickup is perfect for guitarists looking for that a really high energy, rocking sound. Fans of early punk rock all the way to the classic sounds of Mountain’s Mississippi Queen will find something to appreciate in these distinct pickups.