I think of it like this: The Custom Custom is like a bowl of clam chowder: rich, and creamy. The Custom 5, while the same pickup in every respect except the magnet, is more like a fine red wine: some body, and a taste that stings a bit going down.
Yes, it is true: The Custom 5 has the same wind as the Custom Custom and the less-obviously named Custom. It came into being by members of the Seymour Duncan forum’s Pickup Lounge. Here, members took these well-loved pickups and wanted to see what would happen if the magnet was switched to an Alnico V.
A Word About Magnets…
According to Scott’s excellent article on pickup magnets, a ceramic magnet, as used in the Custom, is very bright and strong. It retains clarity under lots of gain, so it is a great choice for heavier styles.
The Custom Custom uses the same wind/wire as the Custom, with the exception of the magnet. Here, an Alnico II magnet is used. This magnet is known for having lots of mids and warmth. Besides being my favorite bridge pickup, it seems to add body to bright sounding guitars, and takes up a lot of ‘sonic space’ in power trios or 1 guitar bands.
The Custom 5 changes the magnet again to an Alnico V. This scoops out the mids, tightens up the bass, while keeping some sparkle for solos and power chords. It is a great pickup if a Custom is too powerful or bright, yet a Custom Custom is too mid-heavy or squishy in the bass.
So, if you have either the Custom, Custom Custom, or Custom 5, you can transform it into another pickup with just a magnet swap! Magnets are cheaper than pickups, and after reading Stephen Smith’s great article about magnet swapping, you can be a pro in no time.*
*Don’t do this if you have any doubts about your mechanical ability. It isn’t hard, but be honest about your skills.
Who Would Choose the Custom Five?
People who need a beefier bridge-position PAF tone in warmer guitars would be good candidates for the Custom Five. It has a lot less distortion than the Custom, and matches well with a PAF-alike in the neck position. It keeps the dynamics of a vintage-output pickup, while keeping the bass tight for heavier sounds. It splits well too, and the split sound matches well with single coils in the neck & middle.
My clips below are recorded with a Custom Five in a Warmoth Strat guitar with a swamp ash/maple body and a wenge/ebony neck. Not exactly traditional, but that was the point when I put it together.
Here is the clean Custom 5, playing some chords:
Clean, with single notes:
Now some power chords:
A little solo over a loop:
But wait, there’s more! The Custom Five splits well too! I have it split in combination with my middle pickup, a Five-Two. My favorite true single coil, I have it reverse/wind/reverse polarity when combined with the slug coil of the Custom Five. It has a great sound, and the Custom Five when split is close to a single coil’s output. This is a great combo for an HSS Strat, and this combination gives me a pretty awesome ‘notch’ sound.
Some clean chords:
Some clean single notes:
A solo over a loop:
The Custom Five is the pickup that straddles the vintage and high gain worlds. It is versatile and dynamic enough to play convincing for classic rock, and tight enough for modern high gain without sounding too warm or mushy. The bass is retained under palm muting, and single notes have enough brightness to get through a dense mix.
It is available in stock form with 4 conductor wiring, in black, with logo. It can be ordered with or without a cover, without a logo, normal or trembucker spaced, and in many bobbin colors.
|Category:||Seymour Duncan Humbuckers & Trembuckers|
|DC Resistance:||Bridge: 14.4 k|
|Resonant Peak:||Bridge: 5.4 KHz|
|EQ:||8 / 3 / 6 (Treb / Mid / Bass)|
|Magnet:||Alnico V Bar|
Listen to Ola Englund tear it up with the Custom Five:
What is your favorite bridge pickup? Do you aim for versatility or one very specific tone in your bridge pickups?