The Fender Telecaster has to be one of the most moded guitars in the history of the instrument. The bolt-on design and front loaded electronics make the Tele an easy target for guitar tweakers. Countless guitar stores have tons of options for hardware, plates, and knobs. With all of these choices available one of the most difficult options to change on the Telecaster are the pickups.
The Tele pickup has a unique 3-screw design. This makes mounting almost any pickup not designed for the Telecaster almost impossible without some serious modifications. To add a standard humbucker to your beloved Telecaster, you will need to buy a new bridge and route the body.
That is until now, Seymour Duncan has a ton of great options for Telecaster players ranging from classic Broadcaster pickups to high output rockers. Today we are going to review Seymour Duncan’s STHR-1b Hot Rails pickup.
Application: High output single-coil-size “rails” humbucker. Great for classic rock, garage, punk, heavy rock, thrash, classic metal and nu-metal.
Description: Delivers a fat, full sound with incredible output. The powerful ceramic magnet, two steel blades and over-wound coils all combine to provide a heavy, raw, distorted tone with incredible sustain. Compared to the Little ’59, Hot Rails has more output and a chunkier mid-range. Comes in black only with four-conductor cable.
One thing I love about the STHR-1b is the rails. Rails give me clear articulation when bending notes, pole placement is not an issue. What I love best about the STHR-1b is the searing output. The Hot Rails has a deep mid-range throaty bark to it that allows me to cut through the mix.
Yet another great aspect of this pick up is the four-conductor cable. Depending on taste and style, you can wire the STHR-1b with a multitude of options. In my application, I kept it simple with a single coil split switch. Running on a single coil the STHR-1b sounds great. There is still plenty of mid range in the punch but the tone gets a bit cooler and rounder. When breaking up the signal a bit with a line booster I conjure up a nod to Jimmy Page’s early Led Zeppelin recordings.
With both coils on and my Marshall’s gain cranked, I am ready to play anything from Metallica to Five Finger Death Punch. Shredding with this pickup is also a dream. The response and the harmonics are sweet, fast runs are clear with perfect elocution. The sustain seems to go on forever with a response that feels like a high-end sports car flying around a tight corner.
The Hot Rails has a street price of around $80 making it a painless upgrade to your Telecaster.