You Want Meaty? The Duncan Custom

Her name is Beth, and yes, she’ll cut you!

Imagine the best PAF sound you could think of, juiced up and in the midst of a meltdown (and I mean this in the best possible sense of the term): more powerful and aggressive, with an added vibe of wild unpredictability (it might go nuts on you, but you’re pretty sure you’d like it) and you have the mighty Seymour Duncan Custom. A hot coil wind and a beefy ceramic magnet give the Custom a forceful drive that won’t be denied. It has a thick, crunchy, powerful rhythm tone with no lack of bass, mids or treble. In addition to the great rhythm tone clean or dirty, it also happens to have a soaring lead voice, and it splits well, too.

The example below was recorded with a TB-5 in my vintage homemade Charvel Ash-bodied, maple-necked, Floyd Rose (with a 42mm Brass FU-Tone Big-Block) equipped mutt Strat using a Line 6 PODfarm Soldano SLO-100 emulation and the Recabinet “Green 4×12″ emulation. I used the stock “Adrian Belew” PODfarm (which I believe uses a Fender 2×12 Bassman amp emulation) preset for the clean tone. Three tracks – clean, dirt rhythm and lead.

Without guitar tracks by jhale667

Even in the rough example here you can hear how thick the rhythm tone is… it’s not playing around. The lead voice is clear and authoritative as well (if only my playing was!). The low-end is corpulent and percussive; there’s no lack of “chest-thump” when palm-muting, and there’s ample mids as well as abundant highs. As you can tell, killer harmonics on both the low and high strings.  Though it sounds great for cleans and mid-gain tones, it excels at high gain. There is no amount of gain Custom will wilt before, nor diminish its crisp, aggressive character. In full humbucking mode it gets a fat clean tone, as better evidenced by this second rough track below:

Bubble Rhythm guitar tracks by jhale667

That one was recorded using the same guitar and the same amp emulations. The Custom is equally if not more at home in a Les Paul-type stop-tailpiece guitar. For big, punchy, PAF-flavored rhythm and lead tones the Duncan Custom is hard to beat!

You’ll find the SH-5 in the ESP Esa Holopainen (Amorphis) signature model.

Jay Hale

About Jay Hale

Jay Hale is a guitarist and guitar-builder located in Los Angeles who has also occasionally moonlighted as a guitar tech for bands like Quiet Riot.
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