Getting To Know SD – #1: MJ

Posted on by Richard Irons


Here at Seymour Duncan we think of ourselves as family – not just within the company, but with everyone who loves music, whether it be bedroom players, the geezers at the local open mic, the hero on a stadium stage in front of hundreds of thousands of fans, or those same fans themselves. As readers of our blog, we want you to think of us as family too. The aim of this series is for you to get to know us a bit better, so this will be an occasional series where we profile the people who make Seymour Duncan the special company it is.

To kick off the series, we’re talking to Maricela Juarez, better known to the world as MJ. She works in the Custom Shop, creating pickups for many of the biggest names in music. At NAMM 2014 she was honored with the entirely appropriately named “Legend Award” at the She Rocks awards. MJ took time out of her incredibly busy schedule to answer some questions about her work.

How long have you worked at Seymour Duncan?

I have been at Seymour Duncan for 31 years.

What’s the story of how you came to work at SD?

When my friend asked me for a ride to take an application to SD, she wrote my name as a reference. I went in to the interview with her to interpret for her, and when I got home they called me and offered me the job! I laughed and told them I was just the driver, but they said “we know that” – but they asked me again and I’m still here 31 years after.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

Having people describe the tone they want and being able to create it. Whether they need a fatter tone, more bass, more sustain or harmonics – I love delivering a pickup with their dream tone.

WindingWhat’s your least favourite part of the job?

Believe it or not I love every part of my job!

Can you tell us one of your favourite guitars to make pickups for?

Les Pauls, I love to create many tones for them.

Roughly how many orders a day does the Custom Shop get?

It can be from 5-10 orders, and from one pickup to more than 40 pickups per order – it all depends.

Do you prefer to have very detailed specifications for an order, or simply a description of the tone and to be creative?

I can work either way but the more details I can have the better tone I can deliver to their specifics.

What’s the weirdest order you’ve ever had?

The biggest pickup ever (it weighed 158 pounds and was put in the Guinness World Record largest guitar), or a 13-pole Strat pickup.

What was the most expensive pickup you’ve ever built?

It was a 12-string humbucker.

Is there something you wish someone would order, just so that you could build it?

I’m lucky. I have worked with almost everybody and I love every pickup I make because they all have a piece of my heart.

Have you ever had a pickup wound by MJ? Did it hit the spot?

Written on June 20, 2014, by Richard Irons

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Comments (3)

  • Richard Irons 5 years ago

    I haven’t had the opportunity to get my hands on an MJ pickup, but it is coming soon. A friend of mine on the SD forum has got me talked into the eclair set.. just saving up the funds.. I’m looking forward to talking to the legendary MJ!

  • Richard Irons 5 years ago

    I have a beautiful sounding 59′ that has MJ’s initials on it that’s in the neck of my LP and has a Clapton Cream era tone that’s really smooth. My next move is to ditch the BB Pro in the bridge and find a PAF style pup that is mellow and tone full but can get aggressive with great sustain when I need it and sure MJ can do it!

  • Richard Irons 5 years ago

    I have a late 80’s Duncan Distortion made by MJ that rocks in my Les Paul so I ordered another one directly from MJ herself for my strat. I said I wanted a Distortion Plus. Warm and creamy but with good heavy chug when palm muting. I just got the pickup today and it’s 18.6k. Holy sh*t that’s a whole 2k more than the original DD. Now I’m scared it’s going to be too hot. I’m having it put in tomorrow I will let you know how it goes.

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