Upgrading your guitar pickups is one of the best and easiest ways to improve your guitar tone. Unless you’re at the really high end of the guitar spectrum, most stock pickups are designed to save costs rather than deliver incredible tone and buying a new amp or a new guitar can be too expensive for a lot of players. Aside from your amplifier, the pickups are the most important part of what determines your end guitar tone. Cheap, harsh stock pickups will sound rubbish no matter what amp you put them through, but a good set of pickups can make even a cheaper amplifier really scream. Change out those cheap stock pickups you can take a beginner or intermediate level guitar to new sonic heights!
Despite being a household name, Seymour Duncan are still a family run business, a rarity in the age of the billionaire space race and the corporate shareholder. Seymour Duncan himself still spearheads the business and has been making pickups and repairing electronics since the 60s, where he wound for big names such as Hendrix, Page, Clapton and Beck amongst many others. Seymour Duncan pickups have a reputation for quality tone and durable build and have been used by pro level guitarists for just shy of fifty years now and it’s easy enough for you to get rock solid tone whether you're playing at home or you’re a working musician.
The style of music that you are playing will determine the type of pickup that you’ll need, so to help you narrow things down we’ve selected some top picks for four popular styles of music that will help you make the right decision for your sound.
Hard Rock and Metal is all about high output. You want plenty of low end to match drop tunings as well as some nice crunchy treble to keep everything nicely defined. You also want plenty of sustain for those lead breaks and a thick crunch from power chords and riffing.
The Seymour Duncan Invader will transform your guitar into an absolute beast of a machine. They look mean and they sound it too! The Invader has specially overwound coils with three large ceramic magnets to help deliver high output sonic fury with depth and clarity. The oversized metal oxide pole pieces expand the magnetic field of the pickup to widen its grasp of the frequency spectrum, resulting in a rich and massive tone.
For Classic and Contemporary Rock sounds you need enough output to push your amp into overdrive without being overpowering. An emphasis on the treble side of the spectrum is essential for those soaring leads that’ll cut through any onstage sound and they need to clean up nicely for those arpeggiated clean passages.
The Seymour Duncan Slash Signature Pickups are hand built in California in much the same way his original pickups were built in the 80s. They have a silver bottom plate with single conductor braided lead wire and wax potting and yes, these are the exact same pickups Slash has in all of his guitars. With the Slash Signature Pickups you get a warm sound with sustain, crunch and a midrange characteristic of classic rock guitar tone.
When playing the Blues you need your guitar to scream, weep, and whisper, sometimes all in the same song! It’s crucial to have versatility in your tone and nothing says versatility like a Strat style guitar with its various pickup configurations ensuring a wide variety of tones are at your fingertips.
The Seymour Duncan Antiquity Strat Texas Hot gives you authentic single coil tone with the warm bell like chime of a vintage instrument. This pickup set is cosmetically and magnetically ages to simulate a vintage style pickup and the individually ground alnico 2 rod poles deliver the right combination of clarity and warmth you’ll need for playing the blues.
If you’re playing country you need that classic spank and twang of a Telecaster type guitar. That string popping, chicken picking sound is what make’s Country music so iconic, and you’ll need a pickup that delivers harmonic sparkle to your tone.
For this genre we’ve picked the Seymour Duncan Little ’59 and Vintage Stack for added versatility whilst still retaining that core Country sound and feel. The Little 59 does everything from clean Country spank to PAF rock tones with a ceramic bar magnet and 4-conductor lead wire for plenty of options when wiring. Matched with the Vintage Stack in the neck position you eliminate any him whilst still giving plenty of bite and chime.
High quality guitar pickups are by their nature versatile enough to do a few different styles, but by drilling down into your genre you can ensure you get that perfect sound that’ll have you coming back for more. If you do need any more advice then you’re more than welcome to drop us an email or give us a call for more advice. All of our staff are musicians with plenty of industry experience so you can count on us to get you going in the right direction!
Shop all Seymour Duncan Pickups here.
Learn all about a different kind of pickup in our P90 Pickup Guide.
If you're looking for something cheaper you should over to our Tonerider Pickup Guide.