Jason Becker is one of those players that has inspired countless guitar players. His command of the guitar blew people’s minds, and when ALS so tragically took his ability to do almost everything, he, with the help of his father still found a way to keep on communicating with people, and create new music, continuing to inspire people even more.
While recording with David Lee Roth, before ALS had robbed Jason of his ability to play guitar, he had been working with Seymour Duncan on a signature pickup. When the ALS diagnosis came the project was shelved. Many years later, Jason had good friend Michael Lee Firkins checking out some of Jason’s old guitars to record some parts for his upcoming album release. They discovered the prototype pickup in one of the guitars and were “‘blown away” by what it was capable of. Jason reached out to Seymour Duncan and they got back to work on creating the signature pickup. The result is the Perpetual Burn humbucker. Check out the full story and more in our Jason Becker interview.
With an Alnico 5 magnet, 12.11K resistance and moderate output the Perpetual Burn provides a nice balanced platform to create a range of awesome rockin’ tones. I’m certainly nowhere near the player that Jason Becker is/was, but I wanted to showcase what the Perpetual Burn can do for the average player that bangs out a bunch of rhythm guitar and a bit of lead. If you would like to check out a Perpetual Burn review from more of a shredder’s perspective have a look at Jay Hale’s great write-up.
I installed the Perpetual Burn into my custom single humbucker equipped Strat with an Alder MIM Fender Stratocaster body, one-piece Maple Warmoth Strat neck with stainless steel frets, and custom titanium and brass vintage six-screw bridge. As usual I tested through my Blackstar HT-5 head, running into a Celestion Vintage 30 loaded 1×12 cabinet.
Hitting up the dirty channel of the HT-5, the Perpetual Burn provides a raw, organic rock tone with plenty of punch. The Perpetual Burn is a bit like a more balanced JB, with a little less output and and more open sound. The low end is a little tighter and less full, and the mids are much less honky which will most likely suit a lot of players that have found that the JB was a bit too much for them. Don’t think the lower output and more open sound means that the Perpetual Burn has any less attitude. There’s still plenty of that, just in a more balanced way.
The Perpetual Burn has a number of qualities that rhythm players will love. The low end is nice and tight without being overbearing, providing the right conditions for a tight organic chunky tone when palm-muting heavy riffs. The mids and highs offer a clarity that is great for complex chord work, even with a healthy amount of distortion on tap. Rolling back the guitar’s volume knob cleans up the tone substantially, making the Perpetual Burn fantastic for players who control their clean and dirty sounds via the guitar’s controls.
Lead players will love the Perpetual Burn for its balanced tone that’s not too wooly in the low end, and not to shrill in the high end. It’s particularly useful in single humbucker, single volume guitars, where the right pickup to cover all bases can sometimes be a little tricky to find. When it comes to screaming harmonics the Perpetual Burn may make you work a little harder than other high output pickups, but it ultimately rewards you with it’s ability to pick up all of the dynamics and nuances of your playing.
Over on the clean channel, the Perpetual Burn provides a clean tone that features the standard humbucker punch, but backs it up with a clarity that many higher output humbuckers lack. Pick softly, or finger pick and the tone softens up, hit the strings hard and the Perpetual Burn will bark back, in a clean way of course. If a strictly clean tone is what you are after then just roll back the guitar’s volume control slightly and the sweet spot is easy to find.
Jason Becker was of course known as a virtuoso, capable of things that us mere mortals could not even dream to do when it comes to our favourite instrument. The Perpetual Burn is definitely the pickup that would have been able to showcase his immense talents, but the beauty of Perpetual Burn is that it is so incredibly versatile that players of most forms of rock, punk, metal, shred and blues will find tones that will excite them. If you are looking for a fantastic all-rounder for the bridge humbucker position of your guitar then definitely give the Perpetual Burn a go.