There’s one thing I don’t want when I switch over to a neck pickup, and that’s mud. I want my bridge pickups to have a tight low end and enough mids and treble to cut through the mix without getting fizzy, and to be able drive an amplifier hard enough to get some good chunky tones. My neck pickup on the other hand needs to have a cleaner sound to it, and retain some smoothness even under a lot of dirt.
I previously reviewed the Synyster Gates Invader, and when I was picking that particular bridge pickup – which of course is a bit of a monster – I knew I wanted to pair it up with a contrasting neck pickup that would provide me with the cleaner sounds I like from a neck pickup. Talking with the Seymour Duncan guys, they recommended me the Full Shred Neck. I checked out the specifications and description from the Seymour Duncan site and it sounded right up my alley.
The Full Shred is listed as having an EQ scale of 4 (bass) –4 (mids) and 8 (treble), resistance of 7.4K for the neck model. With an Alnico 5 magnet and two rows of hex head pole-pieces, the Full Shred Neck provides a nice chunky tight tone that is perfectly suited to speedy licks.
I loaded the Full Shred Neck model into my 2003 Ibanez RG 450LTD, which has a Basswood body, Maple neck with Rosewood fretboard and an Edge Pro bridge hooked up with a brass sustain block. As usual I tested this setup through my Blackstar HT-5 head with Celestion Vintage 30 loaded 1×12″ cabinet.
I kicked on the dirty channel to start with and started playing some single note licks. The first thing that is noticeable is that the Full Shred Neck’s tone is extremely tight and focused. The low end isn’t too pronounced and the mids sound full while still cutting through. The two rows of hex-head pole-pieces help fine-tune the high end of the pickup. It is a very clear and articulate pickup with a little bit of a single coil vibe. Hit the strings hard and there’s a percussive quality to the sound.
The Full Shred Neck is in a similar class of pickup to the ‘59 Neck Model and the Pearly Gates neck. The ’59 Neck is a little more low end prominent though, and the Pearly Gates overs a little more attitude, snarl and twang.
Roll back the guitar’s volume control and Full Shred Neck cleans up beautifully. Dig in with the guitar pick and you can get a little grit out, but for the most part it’s nice and smooth.
On the clean channel the Full Shred Neck offers a beautiful tone for both clean rhythm and lead. Chords strummed with a pick sound full with a nice touch of sparkle. Play with your fingers and you’ll be greeted by a beautiful warm inviting tone. Hit notes hard and you’ll get a little twang, but not on the same level as a Pearly Gates Neck.
Wiring the Full Shred Neck in parallel offers even more versatility with full twangy sound that may suit funk styles on a clean channel, and with some gain on top gives some great dirty blues tones. Splitting with a bridge pickup like the Synyster Gates Invader gives bigger and bolder twangy tones that will once again suit the previously mentioned styles. It will also work well for slower clean sections found in many metal ballads.
The Full Shred Neck is a great pickup that offers a modern tone without the usual high compression and output that many modern sounding pickups tend to have. It’s ability to sound clean and articulate even when lumped with tons of dirt makes it an excellent neck pickup for lead guitar work. These qualities also make it an excellent pickup for clean rhythm and lead parts alike. Combine that with the added versatility of parallel and split modes and you’ve got yourself the perfect pickup for all occasions.