Best Hot Rails For Telecaster

Brent Mccoy
• Wednesday, 18 November, 2020
• 8 min read

The Seymour Duncan Trails for Tell Set are high output single-coil-size rails thumbsucker. The powerful ceramic magnet, two steel blades and over-wound coils all combine to provide a heavy, raw, distorted tone with incredible sustain.

telecaster 1n sthr rails seymour duncan neck ship
(Source: www.ebay.com)


The 2 thin blades with powerful coil windings combine to give you a raw, distorted rock 'n' roll tone with incredible sustain. Neck pickup Designed for a Fender Telecaster's neck position, the STHR1-N's powerful ceramic magnet, two steel blades and over wound coils all combine to provide a heavy, raw, distorted tone with incredible sustain.

When you buy via a link on our site, we’ll possibly earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Although there are many components you can swap out on your guitar that will have a noticeable effect on its tone and playability, none are quite as important as pickups.

This doesn’t mean that your Tell will sound like an entirely new guitar just because you put different pickups in it. The Telecaster is famous for producing twang, bite and bark, making it perfect for country, and of course blues and rock.

Duncan claims this is a “straightforward”, no-nonsense pickup that gives you the tone that defined an era. It comes with hand ground Alice 5 rod magnets with a raised D and G and a lower output wind.

A waxed cloth hookup wire is then soldered to the coil eyelets. The only thing to look out for with the Seymour Duncan pickup is that it’s exceptionally bright, and that may not be to some people’s liking.

kelly michael cc50 telecaster custom deluxe striped ebony collection reverb seymour duncan rails
(Source: reverb.com)

And, while there is some truth to that sentiment, on the list of players who use DiMaggio, you will find players like Steve Vie, Joe Saurian, John Petrarch, Steve Leather, Paul Gilbert, Phil Pollen and so on. These are the types of players that demand tonal perfection, dynamics and articulation, so it would also be fair to say these are pickups for people who obsess over tone.

It has both thumbsucker and single coil modes for tonal versatility thanks to its four-conductor wiring. Reviewers are generally positive about the pickup, though I would still advise listening to a few demos before you settle on the DiMaggio.

The high-output thumbsucker comes with a ceramic magnet, dual steel blades and over wound coils, giving you a heavy tone with extra sustain. But many guitarists don’t mind a mellow sound in the neck (rhythm) position, as it gives them more tonal variety.

The affordable and attractive Twang King is responsive and dynamic thanks to controlled-tension coil-winding, special wire and hand-calibrated magnets. They were looking for a combination of big, clean lows and fat highs, in addition to a wide dynamic range.

The pickup won’t necessarily make your guitar sound like something other than a Tell, but it’s clear there are shades of other tones in there. If you like that characteristic Tell “quack” and want to bring it out more, you’ll probably love this pickup.

bridge telecaster pickups duncan seymour guitar
(Source: guitar.com)

It features a vintage style coil wind, sand cast Alice 2 rod magnets and deep drawn chrome plated brass cover. The RARE will cancel hum, and the hand-assembled pickup also comes with period correct color and thickness of Carbon and cloth pushback lead wires.

Many players love the warm tone this product offers, and some have even used it for jazz (! It works decently for that purpose, but I would still darken up the tone considerably if I was to play jazz with it.

Hand-built in Santa Barbara, the Hot Tell features Alice 5 rod magnets, traditional deep drawn chrome plated Telecaster cover and wax potted for noise. And, you can draw both Tell and Start like tones out of your guitar with the Hot.

The Nickel-silver neck pickup cover gives you access to crystal clear tones. They come with USA-made “push-back” cloth wire for easy installation and have been wax potted and RARE to reduce feedback and hum.

They come with a custom over wound coil, hand polished Alice 5 rod magnets, Carbon flatworm, deep drawn chrome plated Telecaster for the neck and are wax potted. To me, the Quarter Pound pickups offer a full, thick, warm Tell tone.

(Source: faceitsalon.com)

We can’t forget that Fender makes great pickups, and after all, they are responsible for inventing the Telecaster guitar. As the name suggests, the Vintage Reissues give you a vintage twang and come with Alice 3 magnets, enamel-coated magnet wire, flush-mount pole pieces for even string response, period-correct cloth output wire and fiber bobbin, tin-plated copper baseplate and a one-year warranty.

As far as I can tell, these pickups give you warmth and fullness along with some spank as you play more aggressively. The single coil sized pickup has a subtly scooped midrange, making it great for country and rock.

The pickups feature ceramic bar and Alice 5 magnets, deep drawn chrome plated cover the neck, four-conductor lead wire and wax potted for squeal elimination. If you’re interested in warming up your Tell, check out the Seymour Duncan pair.

Go for something with the tone you need, whether that’s bright, crisp, twangy, spunky, full, warm, dark, rich or otherwise. And, if you love a specific pickup set because of its tone, despite the noise it produces, I won’t cast any judgment in your direction.

In some cases, you’ll need to replace your pots if you change from single to double or the other way around, so be mindful of that. Though pickups are not absurdly expensive, we always suggest planning your purchases and spending wisely instead of going over budget or even into debt.

guitar wiring diagram tele telecaster coil push humbuckers fender switch way toggle strat splitting pots humbucker diagrams pickups pulls hh
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

Terms like “vintage”, “modern”, “single-coil”, “thumbsucker”, “high output”, “passive”, “active” and others can all add to that impression. But the truth is that most pickups are similar in construction with minor differences to materials and winding methods.

The only problem with single coils is that they tend to produce unwanted buzz, hum and noise. This is one of the reasons hum bucking pickups were created in the first place, as they tend to reduce or even eliminate that hum.

It’s fair to say noiseless pickups were invented because guitars equipped with single coils can’t accommodate thumbsuckers unless they were originally set up that way. So, a noiseless pickup is a single-coil size thumbsucker that attempts to retain as much of that single-coil tone as possible.

As I mentioned earlier, in the guitar world, there is a bit of a fixation on vintage tones. And, another odd factor is that people only use the term vintage when they’re referring to something they like.

Vintage pickups are basically those that have gone through an aging process, and as result have a softer, smoother tone. Guitar customizers love to research, discuss and obsess over aftermarket pickups.

wiring diagram
(Source: wiring121.blogspot.com)

And, when you see those shiny boxes that line the guitar stores, you can’t help but drool over the possibilities. You can even watch demos and reviews, which will give you a good idea of what any pickup sounds like.

A single coil pickup isn’t just one that takes up half the space of a thumbsucker. Because, as we’ve already seen, noiseless pickups are essentially thumbsuckers that take up the same amount of space as a single coil.

Single coil pickups generally have a bright, crisp, lower output, wide dynamic response and versatile tone compared to thumbsuckers. But we can only speak in generalities here, as the factors I’ve mentioned aren’t always applicable.

They usually offer a darker, warmer, fuller, richer and higher output tone compared to single coil pickups. The only difference in construction, as I’ve already explained, is that thumbsuckers have two coils with wire wrapped around them versus one structure.

If your guitar already comes with great pickups, and you’re happy with the tone, there may not be much point in buying a new set. Naturally, if your guitar came with lower quality pickups, or you’re not entirely happy with how it’s sounding, it might be time to upgrade.

rails strat shr 1b pickups
(Source: www.butalacustomguitars.com)

This is based on having a Hot Rails in a Start many years ago and trying both. Surprisingly close to what vintage Wide Ranges sound and play like, but with a bride pickup that matches the neck and isn't prone to shrillness.

This guy has 3 Hot Rails neck pickups, all split table, bottom tone control for bridge p'up only. When split, sounds like a Start, when split, good & fat or jazzy, depending.

I don't like full coil splits, but partial coil splits with an over wound pickup like the Hot Rails can result in really cool, useful tones, and it's incredibly easy and cheap to experiment with. I had the Hot Rails Tell bridge pickup and used a 10k resistor between the series link and ground.

It became my “base” bridge pickup tone, and I engaged full series (e.g. no split) only when I wanted a mid-boost. See “Push Pull Mod #1” on this page at Lindy Train's site for a good description of the concept and photo of how it's wired.

Just tape the resistor to the series link, leave it sticking out of the control area and touch or tape the other end of the resistor to the Tell control plate or a Start's jack plate (anything with a connection to ground). You may get some crackly sounds due to the temporary connections, but you'll get the idea of the tones.

rail pickup artec guitar strat alnico ivory blade pickups iv eyguitarmusic
(Source: www.eyguitarmusic.com)

BTW I wasn't a fan of parallel wiring sounds with this pickup. Later I found it more useful to use them as you would fender noiseless pickups ...EVEN with a boost kit.

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