There are vast tonal differences between the pickups on these audio samples. However, you’ll have to play these audio samples on a decent sound system to hear them. Otherwise, they’ll all sound pretty much the same -- and that’s not fair to you or to us. For many people, the speakers that shipped with your computer do not have the sonic clarity to enable you to distinguish the subtle tonal characteristics between the pickups. Like anything else, discriminating the differences between tones may take some practice. Some people are born with a great ear and others have to work on it. If you don’t hear big differences right away, don’t despair. With a little practice, you will.
These audio samples were designed with one purpose in mind: to highlight the tonal differences between various Seymour Duncan® pickups. To achieve this, we used the most unbiased scientific demonstration method available. We used the same guitar for all the Strat® replacement pickups, the same guitar for the Tele® replacements, etc. The pickups were all played through the same amps -- one for clean, one for dirty -- at the same settings, all by the same player playing the same licks. In real-life playing situations, the amps would certainly be optimized differently for Strat® tones, Tele® tones or humbuckers, as the case may be; but in this case, we used the same setting for all the various pickups to achieve the fairest comparison of pickups across broad categories. Please keep this in mind.
What does all this mean? It means, for instance, that the Strat® pickup you love on these audio samples might not sound exactly the same played through your Strat® You have to consider all the variables in the tone chain -- the particulars of your guitar, the amp, the room you’re in, etc. However, if you’re seeking a scooped midrange tone, or a fat & warm tone, or a quack tone, or whatever, if you hear it on these audio samples, you can presume that your guitar will approximate the same tone -- at least as compared with other Seymour Duncan pickups of the same style.
Please keep the Tone Chart handy while you’re listening to the pickups. That will help to objectively quantify the tones you’re hearing. For example, if you know that a Vintage Flat for Strat® has a significantly higher resonant peak than a Hot Rails™, you can think of the tonal difference between the two pickups in terms of resonant peak (the brightness of the Vintage Flat versus the fatness of the Hot Rails). Also, if you see that the Vintage Flat has a much lower d.c. resistance than the Hot Rails, that will (partially) explain why it has less output and more brightness. Please keep in mind that d.c. resistance is just a very general indicator. Your best bet will be to use a good sound system, keep the Tone Chart handy, and trust your ears.
Another great please to hear more sound bytes of Seymour Duncan pickups is the Tips and Clips Forum. Use the "Search This Forum" tool to specify the name of the pickup you'd like to hear. These are clips written, performed and recorded by regular Seymour Duncan users, like yourself. We hope you find them enjoyable and useful.