Sometimes when you’re contemplating a pickup swap or putting together a custom guitar, the hardest choice to make is what kind of pickup to use. Humbucker? Single coil? P-90? Each have their charms, of course, and you can split a humbucker into a single coil to expand your tonal reach a little further. But we guitarists are well known for looking at our instruments and thinking “What if..?” And it was one of these ‘What If Moments’ which led to a pickup which could do all three: the P-Rails.
Players have been splitting pickups for years but the options have typically been limited: you’ve either got a humbucker or a single coil, or perhaps two coils in parallel. The poor P-90 was feeling neglected. The P-90 offers a bright, occasionally dirty, powerful take on a single coil sound, and it’s very hard to achieve if you’re using a small pickup. So a large part of the P-Rails’ surface area is dedicated to a ‘real deal’ P-90, to ensure that the pickup’s P-90 sound remains authentic. There’s also an Alnico rail-style mini single coil, and this mismatch of coil types ensures a particularly full humbucker sound.
P-Rails are typically used in a neck and bridge set to fully explore their capabilities. There are many ways to wire them up: a three-way toggle can select each of the three modes; you could simply switch between two of the pickup types if you have no need for the third (for instance, a single coil and a P-90, or a P-90 and a humbucker); you could add a switch to take humbucker mode from series to parallel; you can use a DPDT (double pole double throw) switch to change the mode of both pickups simultaneously or you could use one for each pickup for maximum flexibility. Or you could use the Triple Shot mounting ring to access series and parallel options as well as accessing either of the individual coils. You can even order the Triple Shots and P-Rails together, installed and ready to go.
For players who need a more powerful bridge pickup, the P-Rails Hot uses a more powerful Alnico 8 magnet for the rail coil, along with a special wire type for the P-90 coil. It still matches perfectly with the regular P-Rails Original in the neck position.