Railhammer Hyper Vintage Humbucker
Price: $139 list / $89 direct
Developed by Joe Naylor of Reverend Guitars, Railhammers are passive humbuckers that use a combination of pole pieces on the treble side and rails on the bass side. It’s an interesting motif with an effective purpose.
The Railhammers’s six oversize poles under the treble strings cover a wider area than standard poles, so they capture the full range of each string as it vibrates. This, Naylor says, helps increase sustain and keeps the strings from sounding thin. The rails below the bass strings sense only a narrow section of each thicker/wound string, which increase clarity and definition. To maintain consistent volume on the bass strings, the rails are height-tapered.
Another useful feature is the Railhammers’ universal string spacing, which means they’ll fit most guitars.
We tested Railhammer’s Hyper Vintage neck and bridge models, which use Alnico V magnets and are voiced to emulate a pair of vintage PAFs. Mounted in a Squier Strat with a three-way pickup selector and controls for Volume and Tone, we plugged it into a 100-watt Marshall with an added master volume.
With the amp set for cleaner sounds, each string rang clearly – distinct and even. Chords were lucid and chimey. At dirtier and crunchier settings with more gain, notes sang with sustain and produced rich harmonics. Full chords and single bass notes sounded tight, while treble notes were smooth, with just enough bite and attack for playing lead and rhythm; this symmetry of tones would work very well for any genre or playing style. With the pickup selector set in the middle position and both pickups in full humbucking mode, the sound of all four coils was quite nice, particularly for cleaner chordal parts and picking. Often, when two humbuckers are used together, single notes become lost among the mids. But the Hyper Vintage pickups are a perfect match – well-balanced, articulate, and complementary of each other through the range of the guitar’s tones. And, they’re very quiet. Even when the amp was cranked, they produced no noise.
When a guitar sounds good, it can inspire a player to be better, play longer, and be more creative. And who doesn’t want to be enthused by their guitar’s tone? Railhammers’ Hyper Vintage neck and bridge pickups deliver the goods.
This article originally appeared in VG August 2012 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.