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.