Review of Seymour Duncan Whole Lotta Humbuckers
Originally available in the UK only, Seymour Duncan's Whole
Lotta Humbuckers might have come out of a time machine of tone.
Rick Graham plays Dr. Who.
So, the story behind these pickups begins way back before the
development of the now legendary Seymour Duncan company, when
Seymour himself was a young American living in London. Back in the
day, he would often be found doing work for his fellow guitar
slingers, who formed part of the London music scene. One of these
guitarists had approached Seymour to do a re-wind on a set of PAFs
he had which were to be fitted back into his Les Paul. Seymour
completed the work for him and, aided by his new and improved
pickups, created an instantly recognisable Rock and Roll sound.
This guitarist then went on to become one of the most influential
guitarists in music history. Ever meticulous with his work, Seymour
kept his notes and was able to recreate the exact pickups
responsible for the sound that blasted through speakers the world
over. The 'Whole Lotta Humbucker' was born. The question
remains the same, though: will this pickup offer a stairway to
great tone or will they just leave you feeling dazed and confused?
Why not name the guitarist in question? Presumably for endorsement
reasons. Let's take a closer look, anyway.
At the heart of these humbuckers lie Alnico 5 magnets, which,
contrary to the more modern approach, are sand cast and have very
rough surfaces. Seymour himself is quoted as saying: "I liked to
rewind the pickups with 42-gauge plain-enamel wire. I'd also insert
sand-cast Alnico magnets with a better-balanced magnetic field,
which made the B and high E sound as powerful as the other strings.
This modified pickup had more output and a higher frequency
response." The bridge pickup is most definitely hotter than
vintage with 8.78k DC resistance and the neck pickup is not too far
off that coming in at 8.20k.
Both pickups have been wound using Seymour Duncan's unique wind
pattern and, of course, no pickup purporting to be vintage would be
complete without the use of plain enamel wire. Both pickups have
small mounting legs, which mean that they are able to be fitted to
a wide variety of guitars, and also feature four-conductor wire on
each pickup, with push/pull pots or mini-switches for complete
control over the set-up and both are available either in uncovered
black bobbins or nickel covers.
For the purposes of this review we needed a guitar to test them,
so it was back to the Hagstrom Swede Ultra, which has become our
testbed for humbuckers. I was instantly impressed with the sound of
these pickups. I'm always somewhat sceptical when companies are
keen to push the 'vintage and modern' approach, as it's not an easy
balance to strike, but I most definitely felt that this was
accomplished with these pickups. They felt great to play, always
tracking playing dynamics really well and they certainly brought
the best out of our Hagstrom. Harmonics were clear and precise and
in higher gain territory the clarity was exceptional. They also
added a very subtle and very natural sounding compression to the
tone and pushed the sound of the amp beautifully, offering lots of
sustain in the process.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these new Duncans. Although
they are clearly steeped in that classic Rock tone we all know and
love, I feel that they are versatile enough handle a variety of
different playing styles. They aren't cheap, but they are very,
Check out the full review inc. video of the Seymour
Duncan Whole Lotta Humbuckers by Rick Graham featured in
Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 17.