A few months ago I was jamming in my music room when it hit me: my perfect guitar tone. I could hear it in my head, but it wasn’t coming out of my amp. I know my amp’s capabilities very well, and I could tell that whatever it was I wanted to hear was available in there somewhere. It dawned on me that if the amp was doing what I wanted, and my guitar was hanging in there, then maybe I needed to change pickups. But there wasn’t anything out there that did exactly what I wanted: if there was then it’d be in my guitar already!
Of course, the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop can build anything you want, whether you’re a famous pro or simply a player who cares about their tone. They can build you a pickup based on an existing design or they can make you something completely from scratch. Now, I tend to think of music in some pretty abstract terms, so here’s the description I sent to MJ at the Custom Shop:
“…A custom shop 7-string bridge pickup for a basswood Ibanez RG (maple neck, rosewood fretboard): tight bass and slightly scooped mids but a bit of a kick in the upper mids and treble – a sort of ’dry’ sound that gets percussive when palm-muting. I tend to favor bridge humbuckers between 11k and 14k. To put it another more abstract way: a pickup whose tone feels like sanded maple, tastes like creme brûlée and looks like sunlight through a glass of beer.”
And here it is: the Magnetar. A Magnetar is a neutron star with an extreme magnetic field… seems like the perfect name for this pickup, which has an Alnico 8 magnet and a DC resistance of 13.90k. It’s great for hard rock, metal and djent, with plenty of prominent harmonic overtones. It doesn’t get all smooshy between palm-muted chugs, and it sounds great when double-tracked. It also does something that I admire in the differently-voiced-but-also-awesome Full Shred: it has plenty of bite for chords but the more snappy elements of the high end seem to roll down progressively as you move to the higher frets, which helps solos to sound vocal rather than shrill, while still giving you plenty of aggressiveness for heavy rhythms.
The Magnetar is happily residing in an Ibanez UV777BK seven-string. I’ve recently bought an Ibanez Iron Label 8-string and I’m planning to order an 8-string Magnetar in active housing for that (maybe paired up with a Sentient neck pickup). I like having a pickup that’s designed to my exact requirements – it’s almost having my own signature pickup without going through all the hassle of being a famous guitarist with fans and record company advances and fast cars.
So what does this beast sound like? Have a listen!