Hot Rails Bridge Pickup Mod..?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Johnny_B, Jun 18, 2019.

  1. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B TDPRI Member

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    I purchased a tele bridge pickup (Chinese copy) that a local guy was selling. It is a no-name copy of the Seymour Duncan Hot Rails pickup. The pickup is very hot at 16k DC resistance. I was able to get the loud crunch rock tone that I wanted with little effort. Was happy. However, after initial buzz wore off, I started turning down the volume and began to notice that the middle string were significantly louder than the outside strings and after some thinking I realized that it must be because of the concave shape of the rails - the rails are low at the edges and rise up towards the middle.

    So, after more consideration I decided to return the pickup because I just couldn't continue to play anymore with this effect - middle strings way louder than the edge strings. But then I got an idea and that is to grind down the concave blades to a flat surface so that all the strings will be the same height from the rails and therefore should theoretically be equally loud...

    Anyway, its just a idea/theory. Was wondering if anybody else has experienced anything similar.

    I know that a grinder will probably hack up the plastic top of the pickup but I'm actually building a dirty Barncaster of sorts so if I scratch up the plastic top of the pickup I don't think it will be out of place...

    Anybody have any kind of experience or advice with this?

    (I lost my pics so I'm using google pics below)

    serveimage.jpg pic.jpg
     
  2. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    I'm very new to this, but doesn't the radius of the neck and corresponding adjustment of the bridge have the strings similarly arranged to that pickup's configuration? Maybe there is some adjusting needed on that particular instrument...
     
  3. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    mmmm, i have some old Bill Lawrence curved blade pickups like the L500 and L90 and don't have that problem.
    because of the thicker low string, lower that side more and bring the high side more up,
    it could balance things up.
    and when grinding, you get heat, and that can affect the magnet (that is what i have read some while ago)
     
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  4. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    I think that if you take to it with a grinder the heat generated by the cutting process may weaken the magnetic properties of the rails. I have used similar pu's many times and have not noticed any great variation in gain across the width. Experiment with the pick up height under the strings, or raise the "e" side of the p.u. and see if it gives more gain. Running through a graphic equalizer might be a help as well as checking it without any effects pedals etc.

    DC
     
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  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    If you have a guitar with a humbucker that has screw poles ... mess around with lowering the humbucker and then raising the screw poles. Try flat to each other, matching the curve of the fretboard, negative curve of the fretboard. You'll find the tone changes quite a lot. Same thing with your rails pickup.

    I find that for typical humbuckers, on the bridge pickup I will raise the screw poles 1/4 inch and keep the poles level to each other, and drop the pickup and I'll get more of a P90/Tele bridge tone. On a neck humbucker I'll drop it and raise the screw poles in a Strat Stagger for more classic tones there.

    If you are using your rail pickup for the bridge, you'll likely find a benefit from grinding the rails level. Or you can use an EQ pedal or the amp controls to 'cut the mids' as this is the same action. Least risky method is to drop the mids at the amp control knob. But flattening out the rails pickup is an option, especially if you spent 'a pittance' for it.

    .
     
  6. E-miel

    E-miel TDPRI Member

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    If I was going to alter such a pickup, I would attack it with a file. A good file removes all that material in a few minutes. That way you have much more control over the removal and heat.
     
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  7. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    What is the neck radius on your guitar? Really, I think your thinking has got you convinced of something that isn't happening for the reason that you believe. Try lowering the pickup height for a start.
     
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  8. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you do decide to file/sand the rails flat, cover the pickup with tape so that all the shavings won't get into the coils.
     
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  9. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B TDPRI Member

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    Not sure what the radius is, pretty flat, i'd say. I've tried lowering and raising the pickup in different positions and get the same effect. Then I saw a video of a pickup where you can manually raise and lower the individual poles and the guy raised the two middle poles and got the exact same effect I am getting. That's what convinced me that the raised rail in the middle is causing middle strings to be louder. Not that complicated. Perhaps it doesn't happen on the real Seymour pickup but sure does on the knock-off I have.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2019
  10. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    Usually the magnet is only lightly glued, so you can pop it out, if heat is a consideration. BUT , I think just filing a notch in the blades w a Rat Tail file where the overly loud strings cross it might do the trick.
     
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  11. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    how close do you have the pickups to the strings, if to close you could end up with stringpull.
    but maybe it is better to contact the seller.
    if the magnets are a composite off material, maybe the composite is not homogeneous and therefore the magnet strenght could be off?????
     
  12. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    This sounds all off.. the radius is gentle. I think the hot wind is boosting the mids. I find SD Hot Rails unpleasantly mid focussed. The cool rails are better.

    I’d try parallel wiring the two coils first. Should knock some of the mids out.

    If you have a three way on-on-on switch you could have Series, Single and Parallel from the one pickup which could cover a lot of tonal ground.
     
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  13. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire

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    These are manufactured in China. Not likely to get any real answer from them. We'd prob just get barraged with more Universities spam.

    I'm of the mind grinding or filing will get you nothing but a ruined pickup.
     
  14. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for all the responses. It probably won't look pretty when its done, but i'll let you guys know how it works out. Just need some time to file it down and then install and try it out. Cheers!
     
  15. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    Then it has nothing to do with the blades.
     
  16. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    Yeah, the magnetic field falls off quickly so you d notice the blades effects. I agree that it's just the tone of the p-up. Try switching the 3rd and 1st strings. I ll bet that you get very close to the same sound. It's the frequency of the strings , not their location.
     
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  17. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I prefer adjustable pole pieces for this reason.....matching the radius of the poles to the radius of the fretboard yields a balanc3d output across the strings..with one caveat. This only works for a wound G string. With a plain G string, which has a higher output than does a wound string, the G is hot and out of balance with the other strings. This has been known for decades....s8nce the dawn of the plain G string. 45 years ago Guitar Player had an article to the vintage stagger Strat pickups that exhibited this problem and showed how to remedy the imbalance by pushing the G pol down to the level of the two outside E strings.
    This need to balance string output is why Kinman builds non-adjustable polepiece pickups that are radius and string choice set. Once one plays on a well-adjusted pickup, it is hard to go back. I do not play vintage stagger poles, flush poles, or bar pickups as above. I once bought a modern Fender Strat guitar....Road Worn????... that had all poles at the same height——that of a D pole I. A vintage stagger. I adjusted 5 poles on each pickup to get that guitar working well....and those were magnificent pickups when adjusted...Alnico II magnets. A young guy for some I was doing a set up on a guitar just like it liked what my guitar did an had me do the same to his. Gibson has been using adjustable pole piece pickups for a very long time for a very good reason.
     
  18. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    mostly, if you contact hem, they will send a new one is my experience.
    however it will be hard to proof the fault in this case
     
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  19. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    That's what I think is happening, too.

    I've had the real deal, and I've had a few of the knock-offs, and they all tend to have that similar mid-emphasized/treble attenuated thing going on.

    Personally, I've had the most luck just splitting them, because they just don't seem to sound right (to me) when wired in parallel. If I can't get enough treble out of them when they're split, I just end up pulling them.

    I had a Tele with neck and bridge rail pickups, and I added a 5-way switch with them. Positions 1 & 5 were bridge or neck in series. Positions 2 & 4 were bridge or neck split. Position 3 was bridge split parallel with neck split. It worked pretty well for some "rock stuff," especially with the series settings for just some solo bits. But for the most part, I mainly just ended up using positions 2, 3, and 4.
     
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  20. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B TDPRI Member

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    Filed down the rails, not that pretty, but it’ll match the relic design... haven’t tested it out yet though.[​IMG]


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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