Conventional poles vs "Hot Rails"

Jim Baritone

Squier-holic
Dec 2, 2012
1,027
Northern Alberta, Canada
Browsing through various online distributor catalogues, and on EBay, I see a fair number of twin-rail pickups, some with ceramic and some with Alnico magnets. They vary all the way from made-in-china $15 "specials" to $200+ sets of 3 rail type replacements for a strat from Duncans, etc.

I'm familiar enough with the theory behind the "rail" setup that I know how they're supposed to work, but being poor, I haven't got the money to phone up Mr. Duncan and order a couple of sets, say one hot and one "vintage" sounding. As for the made-in-China rail pickups, they're a completely unknown quantity, but my guess would be the quality would be no better than pole-type pickups from the same makers.

I have, for financial reasons, almost no experience with subbing in medium-to-high quality aftermarket pickups, and it'll be a while yet before I have the freedom to order even one of Mr. Duncan's rail pups, let alone a full SSS set.

Anyone have opinions on the rails vs. the pole-type pickups? Experiences, good, bad, or indifferent?

Jim B :confused:
 

MakemineSquier

Squier-Meister
Sep 19, 2011
400
South West Missouri
For extreme string bending, I think rails are great,but some overall tone might be sacrificed, depending on the pup quality. I once had a single coil rail made by KMD. I could not find any fault with it tonewise. It didn't look conventional but I didn't care. I wanted to cry when it finally snapped a wire and died when I performed surgery on that guitar one day.
 

jon7009

Squier-Meister
Dec 5, 2012
344
in the Willamette Valley
I had one of these pickups... and I didn't know who made it or what they cost at the time. It came in a guitar I bought from the shop, and I put it in every position on a basswood strat with maple neck + rosewood fingerboard, typical chinese hardware like on a bullet.

It seemed best suited in the neck or bridge position. Didn't sound right in the middle, something didn't jive with me, but it was heavenly as a neck pickup. Great clarity and well matched strength of magnet. Lows without boom, clear highs without harshness. Not a middy pickup per say, but not vintage like, just a good clear pickup. Not too much string pull, still sensitive enough at lower heights. I used 500kA volume and tone, 0.047 poly cap.

FWIW - this is the only pickup I've ever had die though. It spent about 9 months in a box in the carport. I had forgotten about it, and when I came to it, it had been deteriorated by the heat, moisture, and cold. I saved the blades and the magnet for future use.

http://www.eyguitarmusic.com/Artec-...Strat-Guitar-Pickup-BlackSBA73C-BK_p_610.html
 

rompo

Dr. Squier
Jan 24, 2010
7,735
ARKANSAS
I'll be honest with you about my experiences.

I had one from Dragonfire (cost $18.) It was a good, if not a bit too trebley, sounding pickup.

I had one in an esquired tele from GUITARHEADS (that was equally as cheap) that sounded killer!

I currently have the 3-railed fender TRIPLEBUCKER in my Marauder and I honestly go back and forth EVERY DAY about whether or not to get it out of there...I will likely talk myself into it sometime soon.

Guitar Fetish has them where you can choose the hotness of the PUP, which is awesome. I have never tried theirs, though.

They never sound as good as a good old PAF to me. But there are things like the Duncan LIL 59'r that are great.They come up on ebay sometimes for like $30ish.

In summary, I have very limited rail experience but more than half the time, I am always left with a sour taste in my mouth.
 

Jim Baritone

Squier-holic
Dec 2, 2012
1,027
Northern Alberta, Canada
Thanks to all for relating your info and experiences. I've decided to dip one toe in the water, er, rails. I ordered a Hong Kong dual rail strat neck pickup on EB, the theory being that a) I can change the magnet out for experimental purposes, and b) it's only $7 down the drain, plus my time and some solder, if it's a complete dud. The same EB supplier - I think it's the same one - do sell a set of 3 twin-rail pickups specifically as "for strat". However, they don't say if they're sending you 3 neck pickups, or a nieck, mid, and bridge pickup. And I'm not really in the mood to spend $25 to find out, at least not before I've heard what the one neck pickup will do side-by-side with the standard Squier neck single coil in an SE.

There's a fellow here selling a set of Wilkinson "Modeern Hot" strat pickups. I don't know that much about Wilkinson as a brand - these are not rail pickups, just conventional single coils 6 pole types - but listening to some side-by-side demo tests of this particular pickup against the supposedly top-line GFS Neovins, I was quite impressed.

[There are several Wilkinson pickup tests on video on YouTube - the one I'm referring to is here]:

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ1w2vM4FVQ"]Guitar pickups shootout part 1: Wilkinson WVS alnico single-coils vs. GFS Neovin Noise-free - YouTube[/ame]

The Wilkinsons sound a heck of a lot better than the Squier stockers - the ones I have, at least - and the set for sale locally is at a very attractive price - I'll just about be able to afford the set of 3 when my pension cheque comes in.

Whether I'll try those I don't know. I can't say that the stock Squire pickups are dreadful, especially not after doing the normal upgrades like shielding, capacitor adjustment (and therein lies a tale for another day) and pot change. I'm not a good enough player to appreciate all the subtleties of how a particular pickup affects my playing style - I'm just happy to be able to play anything at all from start to finish - which I can't quite, yet.

As an aside, I may have found a cheap but effective way of making an electrically conductive paint that does a good job of shielding cavities. I know the stuff is available commercially, but it costs a bomb around here, at least. I think I may have found a mix-it-yourself substitute that's not quite so pricey. If it does do the shielding properly, it'll be a heck of a lot simpler than cutting and soldering copper sheet inserts for odd-shaped cavities.


I've only been at playing guitar for one year exactly as of today, starting from zero guitar experience, but knowing some conventional music stuff like how to read music, what sharps and flats are, etc. Tabs still baffle me completely - I think I'm missing something.

However, I will post a report of the EBay "hot rails" neck pickup once it's installed in one of my two SE's, compared against the other (stock) one.

Thanks, everyone. :)
Jim Bari
 
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Jim Baritone

Squier-holic
Dec 2, 2012
1,027
Northern Alberta, Canada
Never tried them but you might look at Rose Pickups' EVO Strat set: http://www.rosepickups.com/apps/webstore/products/show/3394173

Um,YES. I have a full set of Rose pickups on my parts-to-be-bought budget list - the sooner they can be purchased, the better. I've changed my mind a couple of times about which model to get, and doubtless I'll change it again before the order goes in. But Rose stand very high in my estimation - I think their product is great - everything I've heard so far, anyhow - and their prices are reasonable compared to some others.

I have difficulty with the concept of putting $300-$400 worth of Seymour Duncan pickups into a $75 guitar. Maybe it's just me, and maybe I'm off base, but I still think that pickups that carry that kind of price and performance deserve a pretty good platform.

The one guitar I do have with "real" Duncan pickups has sound that's lovely like velvet, and the "Duncan Designed, made in Korea" in two others are pretty good. Those are in the Greg Bennett guitars - I almost choke when I think of the cost of the pickups in my red MB-2 compared to what I paid for it - probably about a third of the cost of one pickup.... sometimes you get lucky. :D

The more I learn about the old MB-2 (which is now the MB-50, I believe), the more I want to learn about the early Greg Bennett Designs guitars that Samick produced with his supervision. The body on my MB-2 is something special in the wood department, and although hard info is difficult to track down, I think mine was a very early one.) It _is_ one guitar deserving of the Duncans installed in it.
 
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Rodiebobw

Squier-holic
Jan 12, 2020
1,349
Rockwall, Tx.
Im with you on the Wilkinsons.. They have supplied quality pickups for years and have built pickups for guitar makers.. Ive heard some solid previews of them as well.. Im not ready to purchase a set yet but they are high on my list for upgrade of the stock pups..
 

Guitarmageddon

Squier-Axpert
Sep 27, 2014
11,596
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Im with you on the Wilkinsons.. They have supplied quality pickups for years and have built pickups for guitar makers.. Ive heard some solid previews of them as well.. Im not ready to purchase a set yet but they are high on my list for upgrade of the stock pups..

You have just replied to a 7 year old dead thread - sort by newest and you don't have this problem.....
 

Dpsixstringer

Squier-Meister
Jun 13, 2022
214
Reading pa
Um,YES. I have a full set of Rose pickups on my parts-to-be-bought budget list - the sooner they can be purchased, the better. I've changed my mind a couple of times about which model to get, and doubtless I'll change it again before the order goes in. But Rose stand very high in my estimation - I think their product is great - everything I've heard so far, anyhow - and their prices are reasonable compared to some others.

I have difficulty with the concept of putting $300-$400 worth of Seymour Duncan pickups into a $75 guitar. Maybe it's just me, and maybe I'm off base, but I still think that pickups that carry that kind of price and performance deserve a pretty good platform.

The one guitar I do have with "real" Duncan pickups has sound that's lovely like velvet, and the "Duncan Designed, made in Korea" in two others are pretty good. Those are in the Greg Bennett guitars - I almost choke when I think of the cost of the pickups in my red MB-2 compared to what I paid for it - probably about a third of the cost of one pickup.... sometimes you get lucky. :D

The more I learn about the old MB-2 (which is now the MB-50, I believe), the more I want to learn about the early Greg Bennett Designs guitars that Samick produced with his supervision. The body on my MB-2 is something special in the wood department, and although hard info is difficult to track down, I think mine was a very early one.) It _is_ one guitar deserving of the Duncans installed in it.
Firstly I would offer that 300 to 400 dollars for any pickups, regardless of the guitar you're putting them in is a ripoff and ridiculous. Secondly if you get the right budget model to begin with, and upgrade wisely, you can end up with a guitar which rivals, and even beats the expensive ones for a small fraction of the cost. I have played American made fenders (never owned mind you, though I did own a made in the US Squier strat) which didn't play as nice as the Chinese Squiers, and nowhere near my Korean Aria that I have now. The GM 62z I put in my CSX sound just like real classic Fender pickups to my ears for under 30 bucks shipped. I don't know about their hot rails but I may have to find out soon.
 

Dpsixstringer

Squier-Meister
Jun 13, 2022
214
Reading pa
Hey Dpsixstringer: I hear the Secret Service agents are planning President Kennedy's motorcade route through Dallas. If you call them quickly, you might be able to prevent a real tragedy.

Alas, sometimes good advice comes too late.
Okay, I deserve that.😂😂🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑Frappin peaches baby. Oh and didn't the government actually do the whole Kennedy assassination thing because of the family tag team with Norma Jean?
 


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