Railhammer pickups…the brainchild of Joe Naylor (Reverend Guitars) and the results of much research…all in the quest for better tone…
The concept behind these “unusual” looking pickups is, the combination of rails for the lower strings, and oversized poles for the high strings, with benefits of overall better tonal balance and more clarity.
Having been a fan of rail style pickups, such as the SD hotrails and Dimarzio ChopperT, as well as oversized poles found in SD quarter pounders (in a tele or strat style guitar) this “why not both” approach is very intriguing.
Lets take a look at the Gnarly 90 Set, a P90 in Humbucker form H90 style pickup.
MAGNET – Alnico 5
Neck Measured DC – 7.78K ohms
Bridge Measured DC – 9.05 K ohms
Installed with 500K pots in a Vintage (brand) SG copy
Initial impressions after the first chords brought me back to the very first time i had experienced a feeling of joy as a result of a successful aftermarket pickup upgrade (some 20 years ago). Not many pickup changes since, have resulted in this much of an initial “wow” reaction.
The harmonic content and overtones from the Gnarly 90s with a tube amp on the verge of breakup is just… gorgeous.
Winding the gain up retains a signature clarity and the “feel” of these pickups (which is something that is impossible to capture via the medium of youtube) reveals a crisp attack and bloom, with no mushing out or smearing of notes to hide behind (particularly noticable on the neck position). The tonal balance between high and low strings, when chiming and ringing out chords is just…perfect.
Whatever the secret formula is…it has been nailed on the Gnarly 90 Set and if you dig fatter single coil tones (with negligible amount of noise/hum) + have a humbucker routed guitar, these are a great option to explore.
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