Review - Seymour Duncan Antiquity Pick-ups

This month I have to shine a light on a product that I fear could be overlooked if not explained properly.

Now I don’t have to tell you that Seymour Duncan is one of the best pick-up brands on the planet today, and I don’t have to tell you that they are on the cutting edge of technology. (A.K.A. Blackouts, P-Rails, and the new Triple-Shot) Not to mention they have a very impressive artist roster and most guitar manufacturers offer Duncan pick-ups as a standard feature. They are a very impressive company that makes great products.

The point that I want to make with this review is that Seymour Duncan knows how to make a modern pick-up because he knows where they come from. He has studied their birth and knows their beginnings. That’s how he is able to take pick-up technology into the future. He respects the past, and he knows it better than most out there today.

Like most guitarists I have many Seymour Duncan pick-ups in my guitars and I love the little twists Seymour has done to traditional pick-ups over the years. The JB, the Custom/Custom, the Little 59’, and the Hot/Cool Rails, all of these pick-ups plus many more have given us guitarists and our heroes our voice on the instrument. When we want to sound a certain way we initially change the pick-ups in our guitars to achieve our tonal nirvana.

So now let’s step back and talk about this new trend in the industry where we want everything that is new to look and sound old, or vintage if you wish. Maybe this trend came about when the actual vintage market went through the roof and the prices skyrocketed making it impossible for most guitarists to afford an older guitar or amp, but whatever the reason; manufacturers want to fill that void and offer those type of products to their customers.

Most “Relic” guitars I have played are pretty impressive; these builders seem to have figured out a pretty good formula for making a new guitar feel and look old. The only grip I have is most of them don’t sound authentic. I’m here to tell you that I have played many of the “Wound to vintage spec” pick-ups offered on the market today and the Antiquities are head and shoulders above the competition.

I was in the process of building a strat and I wanted this one to be as old school as I could get it so when I was ready to drop in the pick-ups I used some other brands that I had lying around, thinking that they would be fine for this guitar, and they were until I was in a music store and played a couple of real 50’s and 60’s strats. That’s when I realized that the pick-ups I had in my strat were not at all wound to “Vintage” spec. Since I didn’t have a few hundred thousand dollars on me to purchase the originals, I just figured what I had in my guitar was as good as it was going to get; but I couldn’t get that sound out of my head. The tones those guitars produce are intoxicating, and not at all like modern strats of today.

Months later I called my buddy Evan at Seymour Duncan about another matter and we stumbled on this topic, he explained to me that their Antiquity pick-ups might be what I was looking for, and filled me in on the amount of research Seymour has done over the years, assuring that the materials are correct, that the winding is done just like it was back in the 50’s, and how they have invested in the old machines etc… I was sold, so he sent me a set single coils and I have to tell you that the presentation of how these pick-ups are packaged is impressive in itself.

The pick-ups come in a single tweed looking box; they are wrapped in paper and placed in a pouch inside the box. They are tagged with a serial number and sighed by Seymour himself. By the way the pick-ups themselves were signed by the man, very cool. The schematics are written on parchment paper and the attention to detail is impressive, but when I un-wrapped the pick-ups; that was the kick over the edge I didn’t expect.

The pick-ups themselves are reliced. The screws look old and the cloth wire looked worn. You feel like you are opening a piece of history, a lost jewel. The pick-ups smelled old and felt like they were 50+ years old; there was even dust in the pouch. You get the impression that if they went to this extent to make the pick-ups look this way then how good will they sound.

THEY NAILED IT!!! That’s the only thing I can say to describe the tone of these pick-ups. These are by far the most authentic sounding recreations I have ever heard. These pick-ups have the “IT” factor when it comes to describing the tone. Now some guitarists might not have access to a real 50’s or 60’s strat to compare too, so let me re-assure you that Seymour has done his homework and has the goods.

The thing that I think most guitarists will love about these pick-ups is that when you try to get a sound like Stevie, or Jimi, or Rory, or whom-ever, the tones are there they are obtainable because those guys played old strats and old strats sound good… If you’re a session guy that needs that real strat tone? These pick-ups maybe your saving grace.

These pick-ups record better than most single coils I’ve used in the past, some single-coils can sound thin and the mids don’t always cut through the mix. These pick-ups are full bodied and the top end isn’t harsh.

Checkout some sound samples I did at:

Remember that these pick-ups are “Vintage” pick-ups by design so if you’re looking to crank a ton of gain through them, these might not be your cup of tea but if you desire tones form the golden age then these pick-ups will be your flux capacitor in your Delorian time machine.
(That was a bit of a stretch)

Tony J. Pasko

Be sure to check out my other reviews and advice at www.rockhousemethod.com and click on GEAR411.

Retail: $110.00

©2009 Tony Pasko & Fred Russell Publishing, All Rights Reserved. This article can not be used without permission from the Author. To Contact the Author email curt@RockHouseMethod.com

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