Every once in a blue moon, a customer will come into the shop and ask us a rather frank question: "What is the BEST pickup?" The answer (at least the honest answer) however, is never so frank as the question. The simple fact of the matter is, there are thousands of different pickups out there made by hundreds of manufacturers all over the world and no one pickup is the same as the other. Therein lies the complication and the ENORMOUS FUN of finding the best pickup for YOU and YOUR style. We here at Bigfoot consider ourselves experts on the subject since we ourselves aren't only invested in the research of pickups for a paycheck exclusively, but because we honestly geek out about this stuff anyway. Which is why I'm all but ecstatic to take you on a tour through our three favorite pickup manufacturers, what I like to call the "Holy Pickup Trinity": Seymour Duncan, DiMarzio, and EMG. REVERE THEM!
This week's article will focus on the magic of one particular manufacturer you may have heard of...
Feed Me, Seymour!
From his humble beginnings in MacGyvering a busted pickup back together using a record needle and a turntable to his legendary journey as apprentice under Les Paul and Seth Lover, as well as guitar tech to the greats - Hendrix, Page, Beck, Clapton, etc - Seymour W. Duncan’s success story is living proof that sometimes life’s greatest opportunities present themselves when your klutzy friend breaks your stuff. At least, that’s what I told my buddy after I dumped Mountain Dew all over his Xbox.
Don't worry, I went on to fix it myself.
As silly as it sounds, the “Duncan fixes friend’s broken pickup via record needle; goes on to become the apprentice of famous tech gurus and finally, quintessential Jedi Master of pickups” story is as true as that sentence was awkward to type. True to Duncan’s impressive technical resume, Seymour Duncan pickups are known for their high-end quality, artisan approach, and vintage flavor. The folks at Duncan treat their work like fine art and that’s what musicians of all stripes are wont to say about their pickups: “Yes! Fine art! Now bring me some sherry in a glass slipper worn by the Queen herself!”
Maybe I’m exaggerating just a tad…The point is, Seymour Duncan makes some of the coolest pickups out there; hence, Bigfoot proudly stocks them. Why?
1) They Make Something for Just About Everybody
SD makes a wide menu of diverse designs, each one striving for its own voice and dynamics which pretty much guarantees that they make something for just about every player and taste. Some Seymour Duncan pickups of note are:
- Little ’59: their single coil-sized, PAF-sounding humbucker designed in an ultra-slim profile, allowing you to add kick-ass humbucker punch to your strat or tele without having to hog out any more of that precious, precious wood.
- Hot Rails: a punchy, crunchy humbucker in an itty bitty living space.
- Pearly Gates: PAF-style 'buckers with southwestern sizzle (especially ideal for Billy Gibbons disciples).
- Jazz models: light, articulate humbuckers with vintage power for something a lil' more smooooth...
It’s also worth checking out their featured lines such as the Zephyr (silver wound, “Hi-Fi” pups), Blackout (Duncan’s take on EMG’s) and Antiquity models to get a good idea of just how diverse Duncan can get while still making meticulously well-crafted and consistent products. AND! You can even build your own! Aba-WHAAA??
If you end up liking SD pickups for no other reason than the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop, it’s still a pretty good reason. Pretty much any kind of pickup you can think up (ceramic or Alnico, passive or active, double or single, crazy hot or cool as cucumbers, and anything in between) the folks at Duncan will make it for you. To your specs, to your taste, to your UNTAMABLE WHIM. Again…perhaps a bit melodramatic, but if you’re looking to mysteriously lose track of several hours in your day satisfying your thirst for custom pickups and tweaks, here ya go :) Pack a lunch.
Which bring me to…
2) They’re Tech Friendly & Encourage Experimentation
Their website also caters to those of you with a tendency for tweaking and modding your guitars and basses. Remember that the good folks at Duncan love nothing if not experimenting with different materials and configurations in the never ending quest to find that perfect formula of tonal greatness! We here at the shop (being tech dorks ourselves) have reaped considerable benefit from SD’s impressive schematics/diagrams library consisting of virtually any and every configuration of pickups (controls, wiring, etc) you can imagine. We techs get a lot of mileage out of that library, as well as hobbyists and at-home enthusiasts.
And if you’re a self-proclaimed research junkie (you’re in good company) the Seymour Duncan blogs are always a fun and informative read from beginners to hardcore pickup disciples alike.
3) The Three C’s…
…Which is to say that first, they’re manufacturing and production is going to be the same excellent quality all across the board all the live-long day; second, they’re made by an dedicated team of world-class professionals right here in the USA; and finally, as a direct result of all their enthusiasm for great quality and awesome tone, people know and celebrate Seymour Duncan brand pickups. Bigfoot staff, included.
So if you’re shopping around for excellent pickups, Duncan may be the first brand to check out if you consider yourself something of a pickup flavor connoisseur… and perhaps a bit of a history nerd (like us!) All that being said, if you need anything Duncan or if you want to ask for our ingeniously expert and humble opinions, we here at Bigfoot are happy to share our glorious wisdom with you concerning all things pickups and get you hooked up with the perfect pups for you! That’s right, you! With the hair and the eyes and the elbows halfway up your arms…
Stay excellent and have a good week!