Keith Merrow’s New 6-String Metal Bridge Shootout

When Keith Merrow made a video shootout of twelve Seymour Duncan bridge pickups in a metal context, it was a runaway hit. Keith’s video – especially through a set of headphones – provided a clear breakdown of exactly how each pickup in the shootout was different from the next. Of course we’ve released a number of new pickups since then and rather than simply edit in some more clips to the original video, Keith has gone back to the trenches and created a whole new video using that now-classic riff to demonstrate the original pickups plus even more! Here it is. Listen with headphones and at highest quality for the best results, and check out the guitar-only examples in the second half of the video to get an even clearer idea of the character of each pickup.

The pickups covered are:

Full Shred
Distortion
Alternative 8
Nazgul
Invader
Omega
Pegasus
JB
Custom
Custom 5
EMTY
Blackout
Dave Mustaine Livewire
Dimebucker
Black Winter

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38 Comments

  1. They all sound good. I’ve always been a traditionalist though. An SH-4, SH-5 or SH-6 works for me. I will say that I am impressed by the versatility of the Dave Mustaine LIvewires though.

    1. Leading up to it, I wasn’t expecting THAT much (although I’m a huge DM fan). But, I agree, they sound terrific!! Really, I could only pick about 3 pups here that I didn’t like. The rest sound great. Of course, having Keith playing biases things a bit. 🙂 Really like the Dime, too, although I prefer the Bill Lawrence LX-500 instead. And the JB sounds positively weak compared to the Custom right after it. Wow.

  2. They all sound good. I’ve always been a traditionalist though. An SH-4, SH-5 or SH-6 works for me. I will say that I am impressed by the versatility of the Dave Mustaine LIvewires though.

    1. Leading up to it, I wasn’t expecting THAT much (although I’m a huge DM fan). But, I agree, they sound terrific!! Really, I could only pick about 3 pups here that I didn’t like. The rest sound great. Of course, having Keith playing biases things a bit. 🙂

  3. The ones I have or have had in my guitars I could tell right away the differant sounds and nuances but without playing them myself it’s hard to tell how they respond to differant pick attacks plus down/alternate tuning make a huge differance. I will say this, there was not one bad sounding pickup in the bunch, they could all get the job done, It just comes down to personal preferance.

  4. The ones I have or have had in my guitars I could tell right away the differant sounds and nuances but without playing them myself it’s hard to tell how they respond to differant pick attacks pull down/alternate tuning make a huge differance. I will say this, there was not one bad sounding pickup in the bunch, they could all get the job done, j
    It just comes down to personal preferance.

  5. It must be my advancing age, but i have difficulty differentiating between any of them; I’m sure you younger guys (& gals) hear obvious differences, but, as this genre of music, however dazzling in its intricacy, isn’t really my thing, which brings me to where I was intending to go:
    Perhaps Seymour Duncan should somehow screen their email recipients to ascertain the genres of music, and the corresponding pickups, that they are likely to be interested in; I have yet to hear, and see as in depth a demo of P-Rails, or S-D’s P90s, as I’m more into blues-rock, Jazz-blues, & Jazz-rock fusions, as well as classic hard rock.
    Finally, the demonstrating guitarist, Keith Merrow, is really good; which may be why I can’t tell when he switches from one pup to the next..,

  6. It must be my advancing age, but i have difficulty differentiating between any of them; I’m sure you younger guys (& gals) hear obvious differences, but, as this genre of music, however dazzling in its intricacy, isn’t really my thing, which brings me to where I was intending to go:
    Perhaps Seymour Duncan should somehow screen their email recipients to ascertain the genres of music, and the corresponding pickups, that they are likely to be interested in; I have yet to hear, and see as in depth a demo of P-Rails, or S-D’s P90s, as I’m more into blues-rock, Jazz-blues, & Jazz-rock fusions, as well as classic hard rock.
    Finally, the demonstrating guitarist, Keith Merrow, is really good; which may be why I can’t tell when he switches from one pup to the next..,

  7. TOO much distortion. Its too much distortion that the notes takes OTHER forms(i think its the eq ). to me its not a reference , so i cant compare. i see the differences between the pickups, but its not clear.I liked the Black Winter, blackout ,And dave mustaine pickups. the custom 5 that i dislike, sounded surprisingly good in this video. thanks keith for the video. at least it sold the blackwinter to me. ahahahahah now im going to get at least the bridge model and also the blackout.

  8. TOO much distortion. Its too much distortion that the notes takes OTHER forms(i think its the eq ). to me its not a reference , so i cant compare. i see the differences between the pickups, but its not clear.I liked the Black Winter, blackout ,And dave mustaine pickups. the custom 5 that i dislike, sounded surprisingly good in this video. thanks keith for the video. at least it sold the blackwinter to me. ahahahahah now im going to get at least the bridge model and also the blackout.

  9. The only pickup comparison that makes sense to me is a naked, clean sound, with no backing track to mask subtle differences.
    This video reminds me of an interview with violinist Itzhak Perlman on 60 Minutes. The interviewer asked if the violinist’s million dollar Stradivarius really sounded better than other violins. Perlman played a phrase on the Strad, and it sounded wonderful. Then he picked up what he called a “conservatory grade” instrument, played the same phrase, and it sounded WONDERFUL. Then he looked up mischievously and said, “See?”

    1. i find is very important to hear “how the sound cuts the mix”.
      i have x guitars that sounds the same, but in a band mix they come out in very different ways.
      when you play with other 4 instruments, you have to find “where to stay”.

  10. The only pickup comparison that makes sense to me is a naked, clean sound, with no backing track to mask subtle differences.
    This video reminds me of an interview with violinist Itzhak Perlman on 60 Minutes. The interviewer asked if the violinist’s million dollar Stradivarius really sounded better than other violins. Perlman played a phrase on the Strad, and it sounded wonderful. Then he picked up what he called a “conservatory grade” instrument, played the same phrase, and it sounded WONDERFUL. Then he looked up mischievously and said, “See?”

    1. i find is very important to hear “how the sound cuts the mix”.
      i have x guitars that sounds the same, but in a band mix they come out in very different ways.
      when you play with other 4 instruments, you have to find “where to stay”.

  11. I would Love to hear the Parallel Axis Distortion Trembucker in the middle of all of these.

  12. I would Love to hear the Parallel Axis Distortion Trembucker in the middle of all of these.

  13. I thought the Pegasus had the largest sound with all the bite of the others. Even though some may find that a.m. dirty sound of some of the other pick ups atractive.All pick ups are as good as the player and did enjoy them all.

  14. I thought the Pegasus had the largest sound with all the bite of the others. Even though some may find that a.m. dirty sound of some of the other pick ups atractive.All pick ups are as good as the player and did enjoy them all.

  15. Oh and i forgot to add that i would love to hear the custom custom on this demo too. Q: (

  16. Oh and i forgot to add that i would love to hear the custom custom on this demo too. Q: (

  17. I did not like.
    All pickups sound alike.
    At least the active should have some difference in sound…

  18. I did not like.
    All pickups sound alike.
    At least the active should have some difference in sound…

  19. I’m actually missing Pearly Gates in this comparison. Although it’s officially not a “metal” pickup, it cuts through the mix way better than say a JB, which totally goes under due to it’s severe scoop.

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