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So, from what I've heard, the higher the DC Resistance of a pickup, the higher the amount of distorsion and the higher the Resonant Peak, the brighter the tone.
My current pickup is a Seymour Duncan Vintage P90 Bridge. Single coil, Alnico 5 magnet, DC Resistance: 9.35kOHM ; Resonant Peak: 3.8kHz
My next Kiesel pickup would be an AP 11. Single coil, Ceramic magnet, DC Resistance: 4.3kOHM, Resonant Peak: 6.5 kHz.
So, how will the AP 11 sound compared to my current SD Vintage P90? From what I can understand from the specs, it would have WAY less distorsion and a brighter tone, but I could be wrong. Any thoughts?
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DC resistance tells very little about a pickup's design, unless other factors are known. Different wire gauge will have different resistance per foot, so two coils could have the same DC resistance, but have vastly different winding counts (wraps of wire around the magnet/poles).
Magnet types matter, but the winds can be changed to compensate, so it's not the deciding factor in pickups.
One thing most people don't mention is the inductance....this matters a bit more. The more inductance (measured in Henries), usually the higher the output. It kind of relates to DC Resistance, but shows more how efficiently the coil transduces motion into a generated signal.
The resonant frequency is the pickup's most efficient frequency, where it also vibrates internally.
Resonant peak is how much more output a pickup has at the resonant frequency than the rest.
The more winds there are, the lower the resonant frequency, and usually the higher the resonant peak.
Lower resistance pots (particularly volume) will decrease the resonant peak, 250k will drop it to nearly flat on a humbucker, and some hot-wound singles (like a P90). Using 500k or greater (I like 1Mohm pots with high output pickups, and 500k with singles), causes the resonant peak to increase, due to the decreased load on the pickup. It's perceived as increased volume/treble response. Eddy currents (which disrupt magnetic fields, and thus the pickup's response) are also responsible for many pickup sounds. The Telecaster bridge pickup is mounted to a steel plate...absolutely loads the pickup with eddy currents, and it makes the pickup super bright/snarly. It's a great sound in many cases. Similarly, a Jaguar has its shielding "claws," which do roughly the same thing. It's a very bright-sounding guitar, despite the coils of the pickup being nearly identical to a Strat (slightly hotter wound, yet brighter...eddy currents).
Humbuckers will have more bass response due to the twin coils, particularly when in series. This is due to frequency/phase cancellations from the coils, which also is why they're less noisy. It's a tradeoff, but with a good noise reduction pedal, a single coil isn't half bad these days.
More info on Kiesel's pickups is here: http://www.kieselguitars.com/pickups/
The AP11 is a 2.3H output pickup. I could not find the inductance spec of the Duncan (and one of the reasons why I don't like them). A typical P90 is around 4.3H or so. The P90 has considerably more inductance than the AP11. That does not necessarily translate into direct output, or "distortion," as the amplifier itself may compress, and pickup signal may saturate within the coils themselves. Usually this is the case on high-wind pickups, so lower wind ones have more dynamics...easier to control distortion, but when one really digs in, it can get hairy.
As for the sound...I often find P90s to be a touch muddy for neck stuff, but love them in the bridge. The AP11 is very much like a Strat pickup, but with a little more perceived output. It's clear, bright, and a very honest pickup. It's one of my favorite singles, and I feel only bested by the (lower ouput) S60 models. If you want a single-coil clarity, but without any noise, a TBH60 in parallel is pretty much it. Doing so will drop its inductance, and resistance, yet the output is barely diminished, and the resonant frequency is shifted higher.
Keep in mind that cable capacitance and the load an amp's input has will further affect a pickup's performance. Long cables, extra shielding, etc., will all increase capacitance, which drops the resonant frequency down, much like what a tone control does.
There is more info, and I'm possibly forgetting some other stuff, but by and large, this should hopefully help you understand pickup design. Kiesel/Carvin makes great pickups, no questions.
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