Why does everything have to be so hard? Why can’t I have those pickups and wiring already finished? All of those wires and switches frighten and confuse me! Well, whether you don’t like to wire up your own guitar, or just want a great sounding already-wired-up pickguard that is tested and ready to go, Seymour Duncan has got you covered. Our Loaded Pickguards take the guesswork out of which pickups sound great together, and make it easy to start rocking right away without the hassle of rounding up parts and looking up wiring diagrams. This article will describe the pickguards currently available, explain how they differ, and how they can help you get the most out of your Strat.
Dave Murray Loaded Pickguard
Dave Murray is known for his iconic solo tones throughout his career as one of Iron Maiden’s co-lead guitarists. That buttery sound and smooth legato technique has been envied ever since the world first heard Iron Maiden on their 1980 debut. Dave Murray has always been a Strat Guy, and he used his 1957 Strat for years. Nowadays, he uses custom-built Strats that have one thing in common: they all use the same pickup configuration. Now this configuration is all wired up and ready to drop right in your Strat. The Dave Murray Loaded Pickguard is available in white or black, and loaded with his three favorite pickups: A Hot Rails in the neck, a JB Jr. in the middle, and another Hot Rails in the bridge. This is a hum-free setup that drives an old school stack hard, and cleans up in positions 2, 3 and 4. You’ve heard of the Number of the Beast, well, this is the Tone of the Beast.
The Classic Pickguard looks like, well, a classic Strat pickuard on the surface. What it hides just below the surface makes it special. With a beefier Custom Stack Plus in the bridge, the Vintage Hot Stack Plus in the middle, and Classic Stack Plus in the neck, you get Strat tones that span decades. All positions are noiseless, and one of the secrets of this pickguard is that it contains a push-pull pot to split the pickups for pure single coil operation. This allows you to get genuine quack in positions 2, 3 and 4. To sweeten the deal even more, it has one of our Liberator volume pots that make future pickup changes as easy as using a screwdriver.
Triple Rails Pickguard
Sometimes you have to have power. For these times, you can use the Triple Rails Pickguard. Three Hot Rails are wired into this pickguard, with our Liberator system for the ultimate in power. This combination leaves behind the idea of what a Strat should sound like and brings on the output for those that like their music on the heavy side. Truly high output pickups, the Hot Rails will send more power into your amp, punishing the preamp and giving you added sustain, lows and mids that were missing before. You don’t have to worry about an boost pedal here, as the pickups do all of the work for you. They are wired using traditional push-back wire, and feature the Liberator volume control which makes future pickup changes solder-free.
What happens when you have your own pickups, but don’t want to do any of the wiring? Enter the BYOP Pickguard (Bring Your Own Pickups). It is just what you would expect, with impeccable hand wiring from the Seymour Duncan staff. This is a solderless system, featuring our Liberator volume control. Allowing pickup installation with just a screwdriver, the Liberator system is hand-wired with the finest wires, pots, and jack we can find to make your own tone installation fun and pain-free. If you are not using our pickups, make sure to use our own color conversion chart to make sure that the wires in your pickup go where they should.
Everything Axe Pickguard
Some guitarists look for guitars with a specific sound. Other guitarists (like me) try to get many sounds out of one guitar. The Everything Axe Pickguard was designed with the latter in mind. Featuing a high output JB Jr. in the bridge, you will have enough output to compete with hot humbuckers. The JB Jr. is the ultimate hard rock single-coil-sized humbucker, with that classic upper midrange to cut through dense mixes. The middle position features the Duckbucker, a single coil sized humbucker designed to be the ultimate noiseless Strat pickup. You will get all the quack you need in the 2, 3 and 4 positions of your switch.
In the neck, we have the Lil ’59, the classic PAF re-imagined in a single-coil size. You get the old-school humbucker neck tones, with Strat quack in the middle together with a hard rock tones in the bridge, ready to drop right in your Strat.
California 50’s Pickguard
California is the land of surf and sand, of sunshine and nightlife, and hopes and dreams. The California 50’s Pickguard is a tribute to the very first Strats to come out of the Fender factory. Featuring three Vintage Staggered Strat pickups, the classic tones of surf music, early rock n’ roll, and blues musicians can be ours. The clean and clear sound of the Vintage Staggered Strat will cut through any mix with its chimey, touch sensitive vintage output, and the whole thing is wired up and ready to drop right into your Strat. The pickups even have period-correct stagger, and the middle pickup is RW/RP for hum-cancelling in positions 2 & 4. Hand-wired with the best components out there, the California 50’s Pickguard is just the thing for those who grew up on 1950’s tones, hot rod-colored guitars, and the stinging sound of traditional pickups.
Yngwie Loaded Pickguard
Yngwie Malmsteen has one of the biggest collections of Strats around. When he was searching for just the right tone on his signature Strat, he came to Seymour Duncan. Add his tone your Strat with the Yngwie Loaded Pickguard. This pickguard not only features three YJM Fury pickups, but also contains the YJM Speed Pot for fast, furious, precise volume knob changes. The YJM Fury pickups translate Yngwie’s flawless left and right hand technique and features an even hotter bridge pickup to make those solos really jump out of the mix. Alnico V magnets provide a powerful, clear sound and the stacked design makes them hum free. You might have to practice a lot to get to Yngwie’s level, but his loaded pickguard will get you a little closer.
Antiquity Texas Hot Pickguard
The Antiquity Texas Hot Pickguard is a special variation on a classic Fender Strat sound. Like all Antiquities, each pickup is personally signed by Seymour, and hand-aged to look like a pickup that is 60 years old. The Antiquity Texas Hot pickups feature Alnico II magnets for a softer high end, and the bridge pickup has more power to punch those solos up a notch. The middle pickup is RW/RP for noiseless operation in position 2 & 4 of the switch, and the pickguard itself is single-ply, just like the originals. The look even extends to the knobs and switch cap, which have the look of a very old guitar. Even the tape that holds the wires steady in the back is yellowed just like tape in Grandma’s old photo albums. The pots and capacitor are custom selected for these pickups, and hand wired. If you want your Strat to sound and look like a Strat that is decades old, drop one of these pickguards in. It is much easier to obtain than an actual mid-century guitar.
Deciding which pickguard to get isn’t an easy choice. It really depends on your needs: Do you like modern sounds? Vintage sounds? A little bit of everything? Pickguards are available in white or black, and are made to fit an 11-hole USA Fender pattern. Other guitars that are not USA Fenders may work, but you might have to relocate the screw holes.
Which pickguard speaks to you? Are there any combinations of pickups you’d love to see in a loaded pickguard?