Is There A “Pop Sound”?

Discussions about how to get “that” tone are usually centred around a particular genre. It’s easy to discuss rock, jazz, metal or country tones, because the genre itself carries an implication about a rough tonal ballpark. When we talk about rock, we immediately bring to mind various overdrive and distortion sounds. Jazz makes us think of that warm, articulate clean tone. Metal is all about crushing distortion, and country musicians can’t get enough twang. Continue reading

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Black Winter 7/8 String Now Available

black_winter_8string_bridgeThe Black Winter was originally created for the extreme metal players of Scandinavia who were looking for more aggression without sacrificing definition and clarity. They give you a tightness with plenty of mids and clear highs for articulation and underlying saturation – perfect for many forms of metal. The neck pickup is particularly prized for its versatility, great sustain and cleans with plenty of chime that can sometimes be unusual for a high-output pickup using Ceramic magnets. Seymour Duncan is happy to announce you’ll now be able to get all the heavy saturation, articulation and aggression of the Black Winter in your 6, 7 or 8 string axe. Continue reading

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Top Ten: Influential Bassists

As someone that’s been a working musician for a number of years, I’ve found that I try to keep my mind – and ears – open to all sorts of music, as you never know when inspiration is going to hit you and inspire you to new heights. It gives you a more well rounded view of music, which is always good (especially when that music is paying the bills). So with that, here’s a list of the Top Ten Influential Bassists worth checking out. Continue reading

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Hot Rod Guitars Of A Bygone Age

The 1980s are a difficult era. On one hand this era was awful: tight lycra pants, big hair, the rise of the synthesizer… One the other hand, the 1980s were amazing! Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Winger’s debut album, Metallica’s first string of albums, Megadeth’s first few albums, Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms… Timeless bands and albums, written and recorded in the 1980s. I am sure I missed a ‘few’ amazing 1980s acts and albums. The impact the 1980s had on us, guitar players and guitar lovers, is unmistakable and undeniable. Not in the least due to the amazing guitars the 1980s spawned unto the world. In this article I wish to take a look at some common traits of the best 1980s ‘shredstick’ guitars, as well as some neat wiring tricks those guitars had. Continue reading

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Play Nice With Others

Mom always told you when you were young (and probably also when you were old enough to know better), “Play nice!” And while it was probably given to you in the context of a sandbox, or during a Transformers debate (because while everyone longs to be Optimus Prime, they yearn to rule the world with the cold hand of Megatron), it translates directly into the role of a musician, especially when it comes time to play with musicians you’ve never met or played with before, or when you walk into a situation that you’ve never been in. And that ability to “play nice with others” will provide invaluable as your musical palette expands. Continue reading

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Talking Tone With Dimebag Darrell’s Tech Grady Champion

Seymour Duncan User Group ForumGrady Champion was Dimebag Darrell’s guitar tech for 13 years, and he was by Dime’s side as he found and continued to refine his tone, from Pantera through to Damageplan, across countless gigs on stages all over the world. Towards the end of his life Dime had been using his signature Seymour Duncan Dimebucker pickup, but Grady tells us that Dime was also a fan of the ’59 Model, using the bridge version of the ’59 in the neck position of his guitars. In between teching for bands like Incubus and Blondie, Grady took some time out to have a chat about how pickups fit into Dime’s tone and what it was like to work with one of the most unforgettable metal guitarists ever. Continue reading

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Solving Floyd Rose Troubles With Guitar Surgery!

A buddy of mine bought a replacement guitar for his beloved Strat. The neck was just too worn out and instead of buying a new neck, he just got a new guitar. He chose something very close, a Mexican-made Fender strat, factory loaded with a Floyd Rose tailpiece and a humbucker in the bridge position. Unfortunately he was having major issues with his Floyd: it just wouldn’t return to its neutral point. Tuning issues can be caused by bad tuners, poorly cut nuts, worn knife edges (the section of the Floyd that pivots against the studs in the body) or wobbly studs – but it wasn’t any of those issues. There wasn’t enough space for the trem to get to a neutral point, at all. So after two band rehearsals he got fed up with the issue and decided to solve the problem once and for all. In his opinion he needed to make the trem a full-floating one in stead of a flat mounted bridge. The trem won’t just return to its neutral point, but will also have the ability to be pulled ‘up’, increasing the pitch as well as being able to lower the pitch. Continue reading

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Chords of the Harmonic Minor Scale


In the last music theory blog article, I introduced you to the odd and sometimes dissonant chords derived from the melodic minor scale. This time we’ll look at the prettier-but-slightly-aloof older sisters of the melodic minor chords: Chords of the Harmonic Minor scale. This article will explain how to derive the chords from this dramatic scale, and provide some ideas for chord progressions using those chords. Continue reading

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#AprilFools2014: The Seymour Duncan Triple Cream Humbucker

Seymour Duncan Triple Cream HumbuckerFor many years, players have been asking us to make double-cream humbuckers: pickups with two cream-colored bobbins. We make single coils in cream of course, but for certain reasons we’re not allowed to make double-cream Seymour Duncan humbuckers. So we’ve decided to go one better by introducing the Seymour Duncan Triple Cream LD Model™. Featuring three whole coils of rich creamy goodness, this pickup is available exclusively from the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop.

Sounds like a great idea.

“Sounds like a great idea guys, when’s lunch?”

The basis for the LD Model™ is the Duncan Distortion. In place of the Distortion’s traditional ceramic magnet we use a Fe-Ni alloy extracted from slivers of the Chelyabinsk meteor. The wire was salvaged from the actual giant speaker used to jettison Marty McFly across the room in Back To The Future (we found it at a yard sale in Encino), and the bobbins are potted in a special wax formula derived from Earwig nests, and for smoother consistency we blend this wax with whipped cream (we got the idea when we dropped an Éclair into our wax potting mixture during this photo shoot, oops). This helps to neutralise microphonics and also gives the pickup a gently sweet aroma.

So how does it sound? Well, in a word, loud. It’s 133 percent more aggressive than the Duncan Distortion when wired in series. Or you can hook it up as a regular twin-coil humbucker with a mini-switch or push-pull pot to engage the third coil for additional gain for solos. Probably. We haven’t tried that yet. We’re too busy trying to chisel an extra-wide pickup cavity into one of our test guitars.

The only problem we’ve encountered with it so far is that its increased magnetic field disrupts the navigational senses of passing bats, but frankly it looks really cool having a colony of Pteropus poliocephalus nesting amongst the Black Winters and Nazguls.

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Five Questions With Jerry Donahue

JerryDonahueJerry Donahue has had quite the career. Playing with folk rock bands such as Fotheringay and Fairport Convention, and working with artists like Robert Plant, Joan Armatrading, The Proclaimers, Elton John, George Harrison, Hank Marvin, Cliff Richard, and Roy Orbison just to name a few. Add The Hellecasters to the mix and you’ve got one very impressive catalog of work. His preference of the Telecaster shape, and his mastery of string bends has helped give him the title “Bendmaster of the Telecaster.”

We thought we’d ask Jerry a few questions about his influences, his signature Seymour Duncan pickup, and his new signature Fret-King Black Label JDD Guitar. Continue reading

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