NP(ickups)D for my SE Santana


New Member
Oct 14, 2018
Beaumont, CA
So, I bought the Santana as a replacement for my 2015 double cut LP Special P-90. I particularly loved the pickups in the Gibby, but the neck was just too shallow for me to really enjoy for long gigs.

I stumbled across the 2017 SE Santana... and have truly fallen in love with the guitar's feel. Not so much the tone. It wasn't bad... Just not a single coil sound, which is really where I live. So, I reached out to my favorite pickup maker, David Plummer, at Zhangbucker. Not that there aren't better, certainly many different choices, but I have a history with David's pickups that has been nothing but positive. He's done me right a few times now, and his prices are very reasonable.

We discussed my desires and the verdict was a pair of slightly hot P-90's in HB sized clothes. The neck pickup is an alnico rod magnet that measures 7.5k and a bridge running A5 and A2 magnets that measures 9.7k. A bit hot, but not crazy. I also swapped out for CTS Vintage tapers pots, and dropped the treble bleed.

First impressions are spectacular! The touch sensitivity of single coils is back under my fingers! They aren't as delicate as lower wound pickups, but I'm enjoy the little touch of grunge. The guitar sounds more like me now. That's what I was looking for.

The neck pickup is incredibly articulate, smooth-ish, with that nice kinda big Strat sound that comes with the rod magnets. It does really nice soft, smooth and warm single note runs, with a very nice clarity. But, doesn't get even remotely muddy. It is a little scooped sounding, but I think it will sit nicely in the full band mix.

The bridge is crunchy and bitey. It doesn't do twang (or at least I haven't found it yet). But, it does a nice grunty burn when it hits a bit of overdrive. I am looking forward to band practice this weekend.

The one bummer is that when I went digging, I realized I was out of my regular strings (I use T-I Jazz Swings and GHS Burnished Nickel Rockers, both in 10's) and had to use some thinner GHS strings. I did order some new T-I's. The 9's are just too thin for me, especially on this short scale guitar. Although, they are easy to bend! LOL

Anyway, a few hours of playtime in and I know I made the right decision. I think my little SE will see a lot fo play time and (hopefully) stage time in the near future! It's definitely turned the PRS into a true keeper!

My one complaint is the look of the big plastic wafers... I would like to figure out a way to make them look a little better (although I don't pay a lot of attention when I'm actually playing the guitar). They look like big JazzMaster pickups or something... Kinda funky.