Attention Guitar Mod Experts!

I am going do my first guitar mod, and I can use some advice.

I just got an American Deluxe Ash Tele and I want to put a humbucker in the neck. Here's how the guitar looks now:

I was looking at different, traditional humbuckers when I came across the new Seymour Duncan P-Rails.

The P-Rails is a humbucker that can be split to a P90 or a single-coil rail. Plus, the humbucker can be played in series or parallel, so it can produce a total of 4 different sounds.  I love the idea of being able to have one pickup play both a legitimate humbucker and P90 sound.

My issue is how to best set-up the guitar to get all 4 sounds while retaining as clean/stock look for the controls as possible. I am trying to decide between these two options for the setup:

Option #1: Turn the tone and volume knobs into push-pull knobs, and have the push-pull action give you all four options for the P-Rail.

The downside for this setup is, from what I've read, push-pull pots aren't really that good.  Plus you sometimes hit them by accident when playing and change the sound of the guitar. The advantage of using the setup is that the guitar controls would look stock.

Option #2: Replace the 3-way pickup selector with a stock looking 4-way switch. Use that switch to choose between the 4 sounds of the P-Rail. Then, select pickups by using a volume knob in front for the P-Rail and a concentric volume/tone knob in the back that will control the volume for the bridge and the tone for both pickups. The guitar would look something like this (with a P-Rail neck pickup, of course)

The cool part about this setup is that you could blend the volumes between the pickups, (you would turn the volume for a pickup to "0" if you don't want to hear it). The downside is that it does not look stock.

So . . . all you guitar mod experts. Which option do you think is better? Or, do you have an option that's better than either of these two?           

option 2 by far... also lets you blend the pickups as you please...

option 1 is overly complex to use imo

UPDATE: I realized that instead of using push-pull knobs I could use two Fender S-1 push-push knobs, one of which already comes on the guitar.

This removes a lot of the worries aboutpush-pull pots' performance and definitely makes the push-push solution more attractive.

I would go with the S-1 solution if I was confident that the sound levels of the neck and bridge pickup would blend properly. But, I'm hesitating because the sound output of the P-Rail changes depending on whether it's being used as a P90, humbucker, etc.

Hire Racer X!

Thanks, but it's a moot point now.  The guy who is going to do the work talked me out of the P-rails and I ened up buying a SD '59 Humbucker.

It was a case of wanting to get one great tone (humbucker) instead of 4 that weren't quite right.

SHIT! I wish I'd gotten here sooner.

The P-rails sound pretty cool, but the '59 will keep things nice and simple. Sometimes that's best.

Don't put the P-rails totally out of mind. The demo at last years NAMM show had me drooling. I may put a couple in my Les Paul-ish custom after I see how the Gibson Burstbuckers I just got sound.

 As far as type of switching to use, should you ever do so, I have to agree that in performance push-pull pots can be a pain in the ass. I like mini toggles, but they can clutter up a Tele control panel quickly. The S-1 is a good solution, and shows clearly when it's engaged, a nice plus.  The best IMO is the 4 or 5 way switch with enough poles to allow any option so you can use just the 5 sounds you want. ALLPARTS has a 4-pole switch to replace yours that would let you do ANY combo of coils that you wanted.

Part# EP 0078-000

4 sets of five poles. You can do just about anything with this switch. $18.00 part.

Thanks, that's good advice.

If I ever change to a P-Rail I'll keep it in mind.

 If you decide to do something like that down the road, I have a book of wiring diagrams for that switch. I can always send you a copy.


I actually stay away from doing too much work myself.  I'm not too handy with a soldering iron, and I don't want ot screw up the tele.  I'm using a well known luthier here in So Cal to have the work done.

But, I also have a cheap Squier strat, so who knows, I might try experimenting with that some day. 

 Well known luthier in SoCal= John Carruthers? Just guessing, he's the only name I know down south(I'm in San Jose,CA.)


You got it! 

He's nearby and he's charging me a fair price.  (Another local guitar shop said he'd charge a fortune, but they're actually about the same price).  A while back he re-fretted an old Tele (that I sold in order to do this project) and did a great job. 

The way look at it, if I can have anyone do the work why not one of the best?

 BTW, I got the SD '59, a new control plate, switch and knobs.  I'm just waiting for my Area T for the bridge and the guitar will be heading out to Carruthers'.  I'll post pictures when it's done.


I would strive for the same footprint sized pickup rather than remove more material in that crucial area.

Ponyboy - I would strive for the same footprint sized pickup rather than remove more material in that crucial area.

Now you tell me! I just brought the guitar to the shop to be modded yestarday. :)

Actually, the stock body comes routed for a humbucker pickup already.  So, I only need to modify the pick guard.

To illustrate, here's a picture of an American Deluxe Ash Tele without a pickguard:


 Not much you can do about the universal routing in Fenders.

Just don't ever wonder why an American Strat with the whole area routed out between the neck and bridge will sound a little different from a vintage routed body. There's less wood, and it's missing between neck and bridge, it has to have an effect.

I like that your Tele has a solid piece of body wood across the end of the neck pocket. Some import guitars like the cheaper Ibanez models have no end to the neck pocket, just a pickup cavity. Not good.

Racer X,

Notice that it's also routed for a middle pickup.  I came THIS close to doing a Nashville/Brent Mason style mod.


Sweet.........nobody can accuse you of butchering it and you should be able to find a pickguard from fender from one of their humbucker equipped tele's if you want.