Did you ever see the bridge pickup on a '53 butterscotch blonde? It's not clean or shiny or new-looking. In fact, some folks would say it's downright ugly. That's because it's probably spent night after night on a wooden stage in a smoke-filled club under a sweaty wrist pounding out the sweetest guitar tone around. It's got grime, sweat and smoke impregnated deep into the bobbin. The lacquer has thinned and the magnets have discolored. The coil wire and insulation have been tempered by the surge of thousands of hours of electricity, and it may have even blocked a flying bottle or two. To some, it's not a pretty sight. To me, however, it's as beautiful as a work of art. My name is Seymour W. Duncan and I build guitar pickups. I've been doing it for a long time and I'm really proud of the products I've created. One project that I'm really excited to be involved with is my Antiquity series of aged electric guitar and bass pickups.
Finding an Arrowhead
One of my most memorable experiences as a kid was discovering an arrowhead on a farm near my parents' house. I often think about that arrowhead and remember all the edges honed by a skilled craftsman using nothing more than hardened stone and muscle. There was a raw, untamed beauty in that arrowhead. I found that same beauty in the old American electric guitars and basses of the '50s and '60s. And now, with Antiquity and Antiquity II pickups, you can capture that beauty without having to pay seven figures for a vintage instrument.
Antiquity: The '50s Series
The '50s marked the birth of rock 'n' roll and Antiquity pickups capture the tone of the era. Each Antiquity pickup is hand-crafted in Santa Barbara from the same materials and the same production techniques as the originals. I hand wind each single coil pickup using a "scatter wind" process that captures the original winding patterns in a way no machine can duplicate. The bobbins are carefully aged and impregnated with fine dust particles, the Alnico II magnets are ever-so-slightly demagnetized, and the wire and insulation are treated to duplicate the tempering of years of use. Of course, all of this is done in order to accurately replicate that unmistakable vintage tone of the early pickups in a way that could never be done with a mass production process.
Antiquity II: The '60s Series
The '60s were ushered in with the sound of the surf and hot rods. They hit screaming adolescence with the British invasion. And they came of age with a three-day music festival, the likes of which will never be duplicated. When I think about the '60s, I think about the music of the era. I think of daring surf guitar. Of jangly rhythms. And of one guy in particular who used to light his guitar on fire. With my Antiquity II series, I set out to recreate the sounds of the guitars and basses that were around when I first started playing in the mid-'60s. Like the Antiquity series, I hand-build Antiquity II pickups in my Santa Barbara custom shop from the same materials and using the same production techniques as the originals. However, there are certain appointments unique to the Antiquity II series that make them authentic '60s repros. For example, you'll find custom calibrated, Dun-Aged, sand cast, Alnico V rod magnets with vintage-correct surface features, as well as the characteristic bone gray flatwork. Also the cosmetic and sonic aging isn't quite as intense with pickups in the II series.
Born of a Craftsman Heritage
To some, this is craziness -- imagine, intentionally creating an aged electrical component. But if you're like me, and you appreciate the personal commitment and hand craftsmanship found in early electric guitars and Native American arrowheads, then you'll want to capture that timeless beauty with an Antiquity pickup.