Humbuckers have been immensely popular ever since they hit the market. Their fat, juicy tone allows for easier playing, their higher output makes amps crank out more dirt and with all the various humbuckers around you can easily season your guitar to taste. But some players feel the need to go a bit further.
Few pickups are so amazingly well designed that they take on almost any magnet you throw at it as the SH-5 Custom. There are three totally unique pickups available in the Custom family, all of which share the same basic ‘DNA’ – the coils and baseplate – but differ in its type of magnet.
Recently when I visted the Seymour Duncan factory, I was lucky enough to get to hang out in the Custom Shop. Such history in those walls! Pictures of Seymour and MJ with Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons, Edward Van Halen and many others throughout the years adorn the walls. I saw prototypes for the AH-1, the Frankenstein pickup, early handwound (by Seymour himself) ’59s, you name it. It was a treasure trove of pickup prototypes. No, they literally have a vault of prototypes, in addition to the ones displayed on the wall.
The blues has been slowly disappearing as an element of modern rock and metal for over two decades. This doesn’t mean we can’t learn from ‘old guys’ and the simplicity of playing fewer notes with feeling and the right tone. Now the harmonic minor scale has been associated with guitarists like Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen, who no doubt possess some great bluesy phrasing, but are pretty different from the blues guitarists that influenced them.
A couple of years ago the hybrid pickup made its debut on the Seymour Duncan User Group Forum as a home-brewed pickup. The idea was simple: take one coil of the ‘59 (the acclaimed PAF-type pickup), take one coil of the Custom, the popular hotrodded PAF-style pickup, pair them together and voila: an amazing pickup was…
Ah, it’s an argument guitarists have been having since we started strumming our first G chord: should we learn and continue to play songs we like for fun and money, or should we forge our own path just like our heroes did? Certainly we can debate this in a civil manner, right? Right? Game on!