The Stealth Brutality of the Custom Custom

Posted on by Jay Hale

Varying on an already proven theme (the venerable Seymour Duncan Custom), the Custom Custom features the familiar Duncan Custom coil-wind with an Alnico 2 magnet as opposed to the standard ceramic magnet for a sweeter, more subtle yet no-less deadly variant on the Custom tone. If the ceramic Custom were a hacksaw, the Custom Custom, or “CC” as it’s known, is more like a surgeon’s scalpel. It’s far more cutting and precise, but in a smooth, pleasant way that’s never harsh or overbearing.

“Whatever Duncan resideth in me, I shall smite thee!”

For those who love the “PAF on steroids” vibe of the Custom yet want something a little less brash, with a more pleasing high end and punchier mids, the Custom Custom is for you. It’s been my go-to in my 1-piece Koa-bodied Warmoth Super Strat, dubbed “Excalibur” for a number of years (until it became a test bed for newer Duncans), and it never once let me down.

The Alnico 2 magnet softens the characteristic aggressive snarl of the CC‘s ceramic cousin (which I had in another Superstrat); slightly taming the highs, adding more mids, and ever-so-slightly softening the bass. This feature may not make it the best choice for down-tuned palm-mute heavy riffage, but in the right guitar it’s certainly capable of it, as evidenced by this example track:

As you can plainly hear, the Custom Custom is capable of some epic, gut-thumping riffage. Nothing “loose” or “flabby” about that low-end! It handles gain well, and also splits for a more-than-adequate, pleasing single-coil tone.

In addition to its excellent rhythm tones, the Custom Custom has an amazing lead voicing – smooth and articulate with great clarity and note-definition; never harsh or abrasive. You can’t go wrong. It would pair well with a ’59, Jazz or Alnico 2 Pro as a neck humbucker, or equally well with an STK-S6 or STK-S7 in the neck as part of an S/H or S/S/H combo.

So if you’re looking for something that’s slightly hotter than a vintage PAF-style like the ’59 or the Pearly Gates, and want something a little more gutsy than the Alnico II Pro, the Custom Custom may just be the ticket for you! Pristine cleans to ridiculously high-gain metal, the CC can hang with the best of them!

“Let us resume the quest for the grail. Oh wait, I AM the grail!!”

Written on December 12, 2012, by Jay Hale

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  • I have one in my super strat Alder body Maple top H-S-H and its great for what it was designed for.

  • I love it. “Excalibur” currently houses a JB and it sounds great too, but not completely ruling out the possibility that the CC may return to it someday. 😉