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View Full Version : Anybody Use Rail Pickups In Your Strat?



WackyT
July 11th, 2007, 09:06 AM
I've been looking around the 'net, and came across these.

Calibrated Set of 3 Lil Killer Black Rails for Strat (http://store.guitarfetish.com/casetof3lilk1.html)

http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/yhst-50206111187217_1953_20397702

What are the pluses and minuses vs conventional pickups?

sunvalleylaw
July 11th, 2007, 10:01 AM
Haven't yet, but was leaning toward using the 10k in the neck of my Fully to go with a Dimarzio virtual hot PAF in the bridge. The Harmony Central reviews are pretty good for the most part.

duhvoodooman
July 11th, 2007, 12:43 PM
My biggest concern would be how these differ tonally from a true single coil. If you are going for a tone that is "vintage Strat, but hotter", this may be a problem, since these are clearly not single coils, even though they fit into the same physical space as one. They're humbuckers and can't reasonably be expected to sound exactly the same. But if you're really not concerned about that and just want hotter pickups to fit the existing routed cavities, then maybe you don't care much about such tonal character differences.

I'd strongly advise looking for some sound samples of these or similar rail-style Strat pickups and see how you like 'em before you go ahead and order. I don't know if GFS has sound samples, but I'm sure DiMarzio or Seymour Duncan would have them for similar models.

I'd certainly consider the fact that they are 4-conductor p'ups that can be "wired up fancy" to be a plus!

WackyT
July 11th, 2007, 12:56 PM
What I'm thinking DVM is to wire them up in a super Strat config with 3 switches to switch them from humbucker to single coil. I was just wondering if anyone here had fooled around with these before. The reviews (http://reviews.harmony-central.com/reviews/Electric+Guitar+Pickup/product/GFS+Pickups/Lil+Killer/50/1) at Harmony Central sound OK.

duhvoodooman
July 11th, 2007, 01:31 PM
Seymour Duncan has clips posted on THIS PAGE (http://www.seymourduncan.com/SDToneWizard/strat.shtml) for their three types of "rail" pickups for Strats. You can compare their specs to those GFS's from the info on their Tone Chart (http://www.seymourduncan.com/compareTones/matrix.asp).

WackyT
July 11th, 2007, 02:11 PM
Thanks DVM!

333maxwell
July 11th, 2007, 03:10 PM
I've been looking around the 'net, and came across these.

Calibrated Set of 3 Lil Killer Black Rails for Strat (http://store.guitarfetish.com/casetof3lilk1.html)

http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/yhst-50206111187217_1953_20397702

What are the pluses and minuses vs conventional pickups?

My own opinion..

If I want to beef my Strat up.. I would prefer a stacked hummer like a Seymour JB junior vs thie rail products.. for the Strat the 'poles' (like on the JB) even on the stacked hummer, is much more strat like (all output aside) tonaly thaan the rails which produce to my ears, a more 'generic' tone..

Spudman
July 11th, 2007, 07:13 PM
The well known guitarist Richie Kotzen (Mr. Big) uses rail pups in his guitars. I'm not sure what model they are but look around the web and you can hear him and find out which pup he uses. His tone is really good...not to mention his playing.

I've had a super hot rail pup for years now but have yet to find a guitar that I like it in. IF you do go with rails from GFS I would suggest to go with lower output for more tone. At 15-16 ohms mine is WAY too hot.

marnold
July 11th, 2007, 09:40 PM
I had some kind of rails pickup of relatively vintage output (~6K) in the bridge on my Tele. I hated it, because it sounded nothing like a single coil, but at the same time it didn't have the power of a typical humbucker. For me, it was the worst of both worlds. The tech at a guitar shoppe in Green Bay (who is also a frequent contributor to the Fender Forum), likes the GFS rails pups. He doesn't tap them but instead wires a phase switch for the two coils. You get a quasi single-coil sound but it's still hum-canceling.

For my Tele project I've pretty much decided to go with Rio Grande Muy Grandes. However, I'm still toying with the idea of putting the GFS Lil Punchers (the Tele version of the Lil Killers) in it with a coil tap. I'd probably go with the hottest set, mainly because I'm also into metal. Tapped, it would go to a very comfortable 7.5K.

TS808
July 18th, 2007, 02:33 PM
I don't know how those would sound in a conventional strat, but remember that Peavey made a strat copy with rails. To me, it was definitely different sounding than conventional single coils.

I agree with one of the other posts; maybe look at some Duncan or DiMarzio single coils. I have Gold Lace Sensors in my "mutt" strat and although they are a little bit warmer than regular single coils, they still give a strat that "strat sound". The Lace Sensors also sound GREAT with alot of distortion; they sustain much better than the single coils in my other strats.

duhvoodooman
July 18th, 2007, 03:00 PM
The other day, I came across a video on YouTube of a John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers performance back when Walter Trout and Coco Montoya were the dual guitarists. Montoya was playing a Strat with 3 of the "rail" style pickups in it. Personally, I didn't like the tone as much as the vintage single coil Strat sound, but it'll give you something to watch/listen to and hear what a 3-rail p'up setup sounds like. I don't have the link handy, but do a search on "Bluesbreakers", and I'm sure you'll find it.

BTW, Montoya certainly has a unique setup. He's a lefty, and he's playing a left-handed Strat, but it's strung upside down, i.e. like a RH Strat. Apparently, he learned on a normally strung RH Strat and he prefers the "big strings down", but he wants the deeper cutaway on the correct side!

Bloozcat
July 20th, 2007, 07:23 AM
Coco Montoya is one of my favorite blues guitarists. His yellowish Strat clone has Bill Lawrence OBL blade pickups in it. These were some of Bill Lawrence's earliest pickups that were made in Germany. I've read that Coco said he was using Bill Lawrence L-250 blade pickups in his guitars - and I believe that he has them in at least one guitar - but I could pick the "OBL" logo off the pickup covers on one of his albums with the yellow guitar on the cover. I like the tone he gets out of these pickups, but they definitely don't have that traditional Strat single coil vibe that we associate with the guitar. I once had an L-150 in the bridge position of an old Strat, but I never liked the tone. That model had a single blade, and it was way too spikey for my tastes.

The Strat clones that Coco uses are made by Toru Nittono. If I remember correctly Toru was working for LA Guitar Works when he made one (or more?) of Coco's earlier guitars. Toru has his own shop now from what I've heard.

Duff
August 25th, 2008, 12:51 AM
Just recently I hot rodded a free Squire affinity strat after talking to the tech man at Seymour Duncan about my goals. With his input I decided on a SD hot rail in the neck, a SD 'lil 59 in the middle, and a SD JB Jr. in the bridge. According to the SD tech this is a favorite pup configuration of a lot of players. He also suggested some other configurations.

You can call them at their corporate number and ask the tech what he thinks.

I chose to mix up the pups instead of getting a rail set because I wanted to get different tones from the different positions and the selection I put in delivers some awesome diversity of tone. These are hum cancelling pups but sound awesome.

I am thinking of getting a set of GFS hot rails for another guitar and I think they will sound really good. I had a hot rail GFS 'lil killer in the bridge of a guitar I sold and it was awesome.

I don't want all of my guitars to sound the same so I like to consider ones with different tones. That's why I got a couple P90 guitars, awesome tone, and some Peavey Generation EX tele type guitars that have distinctly different tele tones from a typical tele, really nice tones and high quality guitars that are being sold inexpensively and the Generation EX line is being discontinued.

Another thing you could do is go to a place that sells Squires and play that version that they have out with hot rails in it. It looks super nice but I didn't play it. I bet it sounds great. That would probably give you an idea of how the GFS pups would sound in a strat.

I really like that hot rail in the neck position on my affinity. It sounds really, really nice. Really drives the amp into a smooth distortion.

Duffy

Bloozcat
August 25th, 2008, 08:45 AM
I think that might be the best way to go, Duffy, although I would have thought (my preference) the rail would have been in the bridge position. The obvious advantage of this is to put the beefier, thicker, rail in what for many, is the most unusable pickup position on a Strat. Additionally, it's a way to get more of a humbucking tone without having to route a S/S/S body for a full size humbucker (as is also true for the other two positions as well).

If one can afford to do so, the ideal situation is to have several Strats, all set up in different configurations. I had a set of Joe Barden S pickups in a Strat once. They sounded great, but not great like single coils should. They had a character all their own. I regret selling them instead of saving them for another Strat set up just for that tone.

Duff
August 25th, 2008, 08:53 PM
I thought of putting the rail in the bridge but decided to try it in the neck and it sounds really great.

The JB Jr sounds great in the bridge too.

I thought about switching them around some day but for now it sounds really good in all three positions, plus 2 and 4. It is a neat combination. I could have went with all rails but I wanted to try something that would give me more variety of tone and still have pups that work well together.

I have a HWY 1 fat strat with stock pups. They sound good. I'm sure I could improve upon them though.

That hot rail sounds surprisingly good in the neck. Because it really beefs up that affinity, could be why.



Duffy

tot_Ou_tard
August 26th, 2008, 07:41 AM
Are rails & blades the same thing?

There are single blade designs like the Charlie Christian type. Not exactly a strat on steroids type of sound though.

aeolian
August 26th, 2008, 10:56 AM
Are rails & blades the same thing?


I think they are. My Godin has blades in the neck and middle. It does a decent job sounding like a Strat. I'm not a purist so sounding exactly like a Strat is not that high a priority.

http://home.comcast.net/~kitn13/GODIN2.JPG

marnold
August 26th, 2008, 11:30 AM
When I bought my Charvel Model 7, the original owner had replaced the stock bridge pickup with some form of rails pickup that I could never get positively ID'd. He did an amazing hatchet job on the wiring in the process. At any rate, this particular pickup seemed to be the worst of both worlds. It was relatively low output, ~6K resistance. It did not have any of the classic Tele bridge characteristics beyond that. Its output was so low that it really didn't have a classic humbucker signature either. It's only saving grace was that it was hum-canceling, and that wasn't much to recommend it.

I'm not saying that all rails pickups are a waste of time. I'm just saying that this particular one was.

tot_Ou_tard
August 26th, 2008, 11:42 AM
I think they are. My Godin has blades in the neck and middle. It does a decent job sounding like a Strat. I'm not a purist so sounding exactly like a Strat is not that high a priority.

Me neither. If one is after strat sounds I'd say stick with strat specs. If all you want is for it to sound good. I dunno, as I have no experience with rails.

Marnold, what is wrong with low output per se? If you need to trash the front end of the amp that could be down with, say, a clean boost.

Bloozcat
August 26th, 2008, 11:46 AM
Are rails & blades the same thing?

There are single blade designs like the Charlie Christian type. Not exactly a strat on steroids type of sound though.

Yeah, blades were what they were called when they first came out. Now, they seem to be called rails most of the time.

When I bought my Bill Lawrence L-150 back in the mid 70's, it was called a blade (single blade), because there were two stacked coils. Later, there were dual blades when some construction went to side-by-side coils.

marnold
August 26th, 2008, 12:29 PM
Marnold, what is wrong with low output per se? If you need to trash the front end of the amp that could be down with, say, a clean boost.
Nothing inherently. My point was that it simply was the worst of both worlds. It was low output with nothing even vaguely resembling single coil tone. It was a humbucker without any "oompf" (that's a technical term). If it had output in the range of my Screamin' Demon (~10K), then we might be talking. If it had any Tele twang at all, I could see some value. IMO, if a Tele bridge doesn't twang at all, what's the point?

Conversely my Area 61s, while they have roughly the same output as that rails pup, have single coil tone to spare and are hum-canceling. Instead of being the worst of both worlds, it's the best of both worlds. I wouldn't hesitate to put an Area 61 in the bridge of a Strat. I wouldn't want that particular rails one ever again. I've also tried a Tele with a Dimarzio Virtual Hot T in it and liked it quite a bit. Plenty of twang, no hum.

I had a friend who had (I think) a Duncan Hot Rails in the bridge of a Strat. It sounded great for metal/hard rock. It didn't sound anything like a typical Strat bridge, but in that guitar for that player, that wasn't the point. I think I prefer the sound of a full-sized humbucker to a single-coil sized one (as far as humbucker tones go), but that's why my Floyd is an HSS :)