The Story Of George Lynch's Screamin' Demon Humbucker

Posted on by Peter

George Lynch’s Screamin’ Demon humbucker has been a mainstay of his sound for decades, across many different musical styles, amp rigs and guitar configurations. It’s a moderate output P.A.F. -style humbucker with extra growl. And surprisingly for a pickup that has been used to record some pretty scorching riffs, it’s actually not particularly high in output. Its DC resistance is hotter than an SH-1 ’59 Model or Alnico II Pro-Slash, but at 10k it’s a lot more restrained than pickups like the SH-14 Custom 5 (14.4k) or the mighty SH-13 Dimebucker (16.25k).

George was the first artist to receive a signature humbucker from Seymour Duncan, and it features one-row of adjustable screws, but instead of a row of slug pole pieces it features a row of hex screws. This helps give it a truly unique sound that is open and airy, and each note is tight and defined. 

A 1991 magazine advertisement for the Screamin’ Demon

“I used to make exoduses up to Santa Barbara when Seymour had his old shop by the railroad tracks,” Lynch explains. “He’d have his pickups laid out on tables drying in the sun and I’d try and pick his brain, learn about pickups, and he would wind me tricky custom secret pickups!”

At the time the Screamin’ Demon was developed, Lynch, like many other players of the era, was looking for hotter and hotter pickups. So it’s kind of ironic that the Alnico V-loaded Screamin’ Demon – while definitely a demonic screamer – actually isn’t a high-output humbucker. So how did the Screamin’ Demon come about? What made it rise above the other, higher-output pickups Seymour had been winding for Lynch? “Well at that time I thought I wanted the hottest pickup known to man! Think “Motherbucker” meets “Invader” on steroids. But I eventually realized that that hot of a pickup is not conducive to either good tone or sustain. I believe there was a few protos. I actually have a couple of the Screamin Demon protos. Seymour sent me a wind that had a much lower output than I was asking for and I found myself liking it a lot. All of a sudden the strings were sustaining and the tonal spectrum and dynamics increased substantially over previous winds.”

So who actually named the Screamin’ Demon? “Theres a debate about that,” Lynch says. “I recall that Matt Masciandaro – my former tech and current president of ESP – and I were bouncing names around on the phone and came up with it.” And to this day the Screamin’ Demon is standard issue on a wide range of ESP and LTD George Lynch signature instruments.

Written on August 30, 2012, by Peter

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Comments (5)

  • Peter • 6 years ago

    I got one of the original Screamin’ Demons, back when they had the 3-screw mount that let you micro-set the pickup tilt. I love the pickup, but I think it has an unfortunate name – it actually sounds exactly the opposite of a Screamin’ anything! From the name, I would have expected it to be a shrill Invader, but it’s fairly low output and really well balanced tone.

    • Peter • 6 years ago

      it sounds like a screamin demon to me!!.s.d have a uniqw harmonic squeel.i use this pickup,& its killer!!! tried a bunch of humbuckers.mostly high output.found out mid output works best for my style of playing! i use the trembucker s.d with a hardtail bridge.volume only..single humbucker guitar
      .i own 8 guitars various pickup styles.but i play the single humbucker guitar daily..hhhmmm what could it be??? its the fucking demon under the hood!! thanks george and seymour for such a killer pickup!! btw no anniversary s.d model?

  • Peter • 6 years ago

    It’s kind of funny that an article about the Screamin’ Demon shows a video where George Lynch is obviously NOT playing a Screamin’ Demon as the black hex screws would not be able to be seen against the black bobbin. Unless of course the pickup is customized and has a row of chrome hex screws (doubt it). Or even if he customized it by replacing the hex screws with another row of chrome fillister screws (doubt that too). Either way it would be customized and not the standard. It seems most plausible that the pickup in the video for the article about the Screamin’ Demon just isn’t one. I could be wrong but it’s looking pretty sketchy. Could you please find, and post, a video of George Lynch actually (obviously, not hidden or customized or questionable) playing the actual Screamin’ Demon.

    The pickup does actually scream if you have a high gain amp and can really push the gain, or use a booster in front of a moderate gain amp, the big thing is it’s also very articulate with all that gain and “screams” instead of getting “muddy”, works very well with drop tunings retaining clarity with lots of gain.

    Would just like the video accompanying the article to actually show an example of the Screamin’ Demon being used.

  • Peter • 6 years ago

    I love the Screaming Demon. I used it in the bridge position of a PRS with a ’59 in the neck. Ran straight into a Mesa Roadster with a BBE sonic maximizer in the effects loop. Playing Melodic Death metal. Lead guitar player used a Comparison guitar with EMG 81/85 into a Rivera knucklehead Tre and together it sounded Big clear and amazing. with both amps rhythm gain in the 5 to 6 area. We could not believe the heaviness and how articulate it was. in the mix it sits amazing even for Rhythms. With the gain topped up for leads it rips very nicely, but keep in mind if you dont like the Lynch lead sound then you wont like this pickup for your leads.

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