SHPR-1 P-Rails review by Seymour Duncan

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.8 (11 votes)
Seymour Duncan: SHPR-1 P-Rails

Price paid: $ 140

Purchased from: Alto Music

Sound — 9
These are pretty cool pickups with an amazing level of versatility. At the core its a proper P-90 with a smaller Rail style single coil that are put together like a Humbucker, so its clearly designed to be split. It is literally three pickups in one which means that whatever guitar you put it in now becomes like three guitars in one. I put a set in my Samba Firefly (PRS knockoff; mahogany body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard, Floyd Rose trem) and the tones are top notch. SD says they should be installed with the rails on the inside to get sounds similar to a Strat in a 2 or 4 position depending on the pickup selected with the rail coils engaged, but I wanted more of a Telecaster sound so by installing them upside down, with the rails on the outside, I achieved that goal. The rails on their own are clear, crisp and shiny. The neck has a nice lucid jazzy sound, similar to a jazzmaster but thinner. The bridge is twangy and funky with a nice quack if you get the eq right. Overall they have a very bright, balanced tone. They're not exactly like a normal single coil in a Strat or Tele but they're the closest you're gonna get from a split humbucker and they get really close. I had a friend bring over his Tele and another brought his Strat to do a side by side comparison and the rails held their own. The P-Rails are not quite as distinctive as either the Strat or the Tele, but I'm willing to bet that comes more from the difference in construction and tonewoods. We were all very impressed. The P-90s are thick, punchy and bold. They sound fatter and ballsier than the rails without loosing their chimeyness. The bass is more well defined and the mids are burly. They have a bit of an open sound to them, reminiscent of hollowbodied gutars, somewhere between a Gretsch and an Epiphone Casino. Now used together as humbuckers these things sound HUGE. What you lose in single coil chime you gain in thick, harmonically rich tone. That and a very distinct increase in volume, which is cool and helps to Drive your amp into overdrive easier. All of the modes sound great distorted but in humbucker mode you can still achieve great tones at fairly high levels of gain which surprised me. I'm playing through a Marshall MG100HDFX Head to an MG412A cab and with some eq shaping I've yet to hear them get muddy. They're not proper metal pickups but they can fake it pretty damned well.

Overall Impression — 10
I have both the neck and bridge versions and the best part about both of them is the breathtakingly large amount of versatility packed into each one. You'll get genuine single coil chime, P-90 punch and humbucker power all in one. From Jazz to hard rock these things can handle everything but the heaviest of metal. They make hauling gear from place to place 3 times easier and whether playing Live or recording in the studio you'll never have to change guitars to get the sound you want. Only bad thing I can say about them is that since I put them in upside down (purposely) the Seymour Duncan labels look ridiculous. I'm not saying they're perfect for everybody, but if versatility is what you're after, then boy do these puppies deliver.

Reliability & Durability — 8
So far so good. I installed them back in August and I haven't really had a problem with them. Occasionally when I have it split to rail mode, it'll fizzle out for a second before going back to full strength but I blame that on my poor soldering job since I did it myself and this was the first time I've ever done something like this. All in all though they're rock solid. I've gigged with them and they've never given me a problem when it counts and they're Seymour Duncans so I know they're quality.

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Just picked up a guitar with them already in. I'll have to look to fix up the grounding issue - the installer hadn't properly grounded/shielded them. "It is just like this one... they *all* do that" [How do you tell him "you did them *all* wrong" then?] Nice investment, very different rail tone from what I expected from the single rail, the P90's are nice, high output. MrFibbles up above has it covered, but with 5 guitars I'd say getting these in your favorite style of axe and taking a month to decide what tone you REALLY love and getting the best pups of that style for your beloved axe would be worth it. If you can't decide then keep 'em in your electric fiddle, they aren't bad at all.
    what guitar was it that already had those pickups, and what was the price?
    I installed a set of P-Rails into a Thinline Clone of mine and I couldnt't be happier with them. I love being able to have so many different tones packed into one guitar. I love using the humbucker with distortion, and than being able to switch to the single coil for cleans in the same song. The P-90's are my favorite, crystal clear cleans, and even clear with distortion. I couldn't reccomend these pickups enough, i've tried a bunch of others, and by far these are the most versitle, and my favorite.
    MT in Austin
    Nice review, thanks. I've been eyeing these pickups since they were announced. I've been thinking of getting one. You've convinced me.
    wait so how's this classified? humbucks? if so, how will it fit on the regular shaped humbuck holes??
    Pedalist wrote: wait so how's this classified? humbucks? if so, how will it fit on the regular shaped humbuck holes??
    Yes, it's humbucker sized.
    JoePerry4life wrote: So these are also humcancelling when used in humbucking mode right?
    The clue is in the name. 'hum bucking' i.e....Yes
    Yes they're proper humbuckers and fit into normal humbucker sized routs and to say that humbuckers are humcanceling is a bit redundant lol but yes, yes they are humcanceling in humbucker mode.
    Seems like an ok review, but why oh why have you swapped out the pups in your guitar when you're using a marshall MG halfstack?? I don't wanna sound bitchy but you CANNOT judge tone through that set-up. I'd love to hear a review played through a higher end amp
    I like the style and the design seems to be pretty interesting too. I've used the original P-90s, but they always seemed to have some static when I put them on my Warrior. The P-Rails seem to be better made and probably a good investment to any guitarist. I might end up getting some.
    I've tried these out before in botht he neck and bridge positions of an LP. They're alright but they very much jack-of-all-trades pickups. The humbucker mode doesn't sound quite as powerful and balls-to-the-wall as a humbucker should; the P-90 isn't as thick and smooth as a P-90 should be; the rails single coil doesn't quite have the snap that a single coil should. Really great pickups if you need a lot of tones in one guitar, but if you want to get the very best tones then you're better off using actual P-90s/humbuckers/singlecoils and giving up on one of the other tones.
    I actually HAVE a unused P-Rails...I got it for free by mistake...I want to know if it is Good enough to use because I have Seymour Duncans in my epiphone les paul and dimarzios in my Ibanez