The Story Of George Lynch's Screamin' Demon Humbucker
George Lynch’s Screamin’ Demon humbucker has been a mainstay of his sound for decades, across many different musical styles, amp rigs and guitar configurations. It’s a moderate output P.A.F. -style humbucker with extra growl. And surprisingly for a pickup that has been used to record some pretty scorching riffs, it’s actually not particularly high in output. Its DC resistance is hotter than an SH-1 ’59 Model or Alnico II Pro-Slash, but at 10k it’s a lot more restrained than pickups like the SH-14 Custom 5 (14.4k) or the mighty SH-13 Dimebucker (16.25k).
George was the first artist to receive a signature humbucker from Seymour Duncan, and it features one-row of adjustable screws, but instead of a row of slug pole pieces it features a row of hex screws. This helps give it a truly unique sound that is open and airy, and each note is tight and defined.
“I used to make exoduses up to Santa Barbara when Seymour had his old shop by the railroad tracks,” Lynch explains. “He’d have his pickups laid out on tables drying in the sun and I’d try and pick his brain, learn about pickups, and he would wind me tricky custom secret pickups!”
At the time the Screamin’ Demon was developed, Lynch, like many other players of the era, was looking for hotter and hotter pickups. So it’s kind of ironic that the Alnico V-loaded Screamin’ Demon – while definitely a demonic screamer – actually isn’t a high-output humbucker. So how did the Screamin’ Demon come about? What made it rise above the other, higher-output pickups Seymour had been winding for Lynch? “Well at that time I thought I wanted the hottest pickup known to man! Think “Motherbucker” meets “Invader” on steroids. But I eventually realized that that hot of a pickup is not conducive to either good tone or sustain. I believe there was a few protos. I actually have a couple of the Screamin Demon protos. Seymour sent me a wind that had a much lower output than I was asking for and I found myself liking it a lot. All of a sudden the strings were sustaining and the tonal spectrum and dynamics increased substantially over previous winds.”
So who actually named the Screamin’ Demon? “Theres a debate about that,” Lynch says. “I recall that Matt Masciandaro – my former tech and current president of ESP – and I were bouncing names around on the phone and came up with it.” And to this day the Screamin’ Demon is standard issue on a wide range of ESP and LTD George Lynch signature instruments.