Neck & Bridge P-Rails with Triple Shot Mounting Rings


In a previous blog I explained how I installed a set of P-Rails with two Triple Shot Mounting Rings. These went in my Steinberger ZT3, which is a maple/graphite hybrid instrument, and quite an unusual candidate for these particular pickups. P-Rails are capable of some very diverse sounds, and Triple Shot Mounting Rings allow dozens of potential sounds available – even more if each pickup is wired to its own volume and tone controls. My particular guitar has a master volume and master tone as well as a 3-way switch.



The sound clips you’ll hear below are concentrated on each pickup individually, recorded semi-clean and classically distorted. It would have required a few dozen more clips to demonstrate both pickups together in various wiring configurations would have needed dozens of clips, and besides, you get a pretty good idea of what they sound like here! The clean clips were recorded into a low-wattage 2 x 6v6 amp just at the point of breakup. The chunkier clips were recorded into a Marshall clone. The clean clips varied wildly in volume due to the differences in wiring, so they were normalized. The chunky clips were not compressed afterwards at all: all compression came from the amp’s natural tone.

OK, let’s start with the specs:

Mode

DC Resistance

Resonant Peak

Neck
Humbucking

12.87KOhm

4.6KHz

P-90

7.25KOhm

3.6KHz

Rails

5.60KOhm

7.0KHz

Bridge
Humbucking

18.80KOhm

3.0KHz

P-90

10.20KOhm

3.1KHz

Rails

8.56KOhm

6.0KHz

Magnet: Two Alnico 5 bars Cable: Four-conductor

We can tell a few things from the numbers alone. The neck pickup in humbucking mode can be considered medium to high output, while the bridge pickup’s humbucking mode is more like a higher-output humbucker. The lower resonant peak of both pickups make them a little darker sounding than most pickups. This isn’t a problem in my maple/graphite combo, but it’s something to consider if you have a darker-sounding wood combination. I am not sure if this darker sound comes from two very different coils being wired in series or it is just the way it is constructed. However, the parallel sound of both pickups are both clean and clear, and surprisingly one of my favorite sounds of the P-Rails. I don’t like traditional parallel sounds at all, but this a pretty unique pickup set, as we’ll find out.

 

Lets get to the clips! We’ll start with the four different neck pickup clean sounds. Here is the neck pickup in series, making it a traditional humbucker. Due to the unusual combination of materials in this guitar and the 24-fret neck, it’s darker with a higher output than I’m used to (it replaced an Alnico II Pro). You can hear it drive the amp into distortion, yet it retains touch-sensitivity like lower-output humbuckers.

 

Here’s the neck pickup in parallel. The different coils produce one of my favorite P-Rails sounds.

The Triple Shots allow me to select either coil. This is the true P90 sound.


This is the Rail coil of the neck. This is the cleanest sound of the group, since the output is close to a vintage single coil. This coil is further away from the neck than on most Strats, and the 24 frets of this guitar push it even closer to the bridge.

OK, now let’s get to the crunchy sounds! I demonstrated the neck P-Rails a bit differently, playing a short solo over a short loop. The natural compression in the distortion blurs the lines a bit between the different sounds, but that happens with any pickup. You can hear the sounds change, though it isn’t as drastic when there is distortion present.

This is the neck P-Rail in series, like a normal humbucker. It has a pretty thick sound, with lots of lows and mids.

Here we have the neck P-Rail in parallel, which sounds a lot more open and clear to my ears.

Now here is the neck P-90 coil. It’s a little noisier than the humbucking modes, but not bad at all.

The neck Rail coil is noisier still with distortion, but less so than a traditional single coil. I really like it crunchy.

Ok, now on to the bridge P-Rail. The Triple Shot mounting ring again does its job here, allowing four distinct sounds without the need for additional switches on the guitar. First, we hear the cleaner clips. This is the bridge in series, wired like a normal humbucker. It doesn’t sound like a traditional humbucker though, due to the mismatched coils.


The bridge pickup wired in parallel sounds, to me, better than most pickups wired in parallel.

The bridge P90, which is physically closer to the bridge itself, has that traditional P90 sound.

Cleaner still is the bridge Rail coil.

Finally we get to the bridge P-Rail’s crunchier sounds. I did a pretty basic rhythm using 6th chords to showcase how well this ickup translate complex chords when using a bit of distortion.

The bridge in series gets a slightly darker sound than most humbuckers:

The bridge P-Rail wired in parallel opens it up a little:

The bridge P-90 provides my favorite setting for this pickup. It has both power and openness:

For the last clip, here is the bridge Rail coil. It is furthest from the bridge, so it loses the edge a bridge-position single coil might have to the sound. It is slightly quieter than the other positions as well, but the natural compression in the distortion boosts it a bit:

 


As we can see, if it is versatility you want, the P-Rails/Triple Shot combo certainly are capable of many sounds. Remember, this doesn’t include clips with the pickups combined, or if there were 2 volume controls to blend the pickups. You really do end up with dozens of sounds after a while.

 

Who are the P-Rails/Triple Shots for? I think they are for anyone who wants lots of sounds from one guitar. They excel at crunchy chords, and my favorite sounds are the parallel humbuckers and the P-90s. If you are a rhythm guitarist that plays many chords and set your amp with a little bit of dirt, they are perfect. The Triple Shot switches are more of the ‘set before the song starts’ kind of switches, as they can be somewhat difficult to change a pickup selector switch and then go to the Triple Shots right before a solo.

 

No pickup set is good for everything though- most metal guitarists wouldn’t go for them, and if your thing is shredding, you might want to look at Seymour Duncan’s other pickups.

 

There is nothing like these pickups in the Seymour Duncan line, and I haven’t heard of anyone else coming up with a similar design. The cornerstone of this system is that great P-90 sound, so if you have a humbucker-equipped guitar and always wondered about P-90s, you will love the P-Rails/Triple Shot Mounting Rings combination, and you get some fantastic bonus sounds in there as well.

 

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