Seymour Duncan today opened its largest-ever presence at NAMM by announcing 16 new market-expanding products, led by the very limited-production Seymour Duncan 35 guitar. Beginning its 35th year helping stringed-instrument players find their personal voice, the company and its legendary co-founder, Seymour W. Duncan, are fielding an array of products intended to showcase engineering prowess in pickups and complete understanding of electric guitar, while making tone upgrades through pickup changes easy and available to everyone.
“Guitar requires respect for the past plus unfettered innovation to propel its continuing evolution,” says Phil Ressler, CEO of Seymour Duncan. “In our 35th year, we are pushing in new directions with vision-driven products, breaking down real and perceived barriers to adoption of aftermarket pickups, and broadening the heritage products that made Seymour Duncan the premier provider of tools for personal voicing and tone for guitar and bass players worldwide.”
Seymour Duncan 35 Guitar
The Seymour Duncan 35 guitar is a new hand-built custom instrument in a vintage-modified form pioneered by Seymour W. Duncan over 35 years ago, and which remains today his default guitar for performance and recording. In celebration of Seymour Duncan’s 35th anniversary as the premier builder of pickups for guitar and bass, just 35 of these remarkable numbered and signed, custom-crafted instruments will be offered for connoisseurs of tone.
Inspired by Seymour’s personal guitar, which is an evolution of the well-known “TeleGib” he built for Jeff Beck when Seymour lived in London in the early 1970s, the Seymour Duncan 35 updates, upgrades, and modernizes (where appropriate) the slab-bodied, bolt-on neck and double-humbucker sound that Seymour made part of the guitar lexicon of tones. A collaborative project between Seymour W. Duncan, Seymour Duncan’s resident luthier and Vice President of Products Frank Falbo, and the revered guitar builders at Larrivee, the Seymour Duncan 35 combines the simplicity of its forbearer with the high precision, premier materials, and finish of contemporary hand-crafted luthery. Woods are hand-selected from Jean Larrivee’s choicest inventory. Fretting, nut work and final set-up are performed by Frank Falbo.
“Known commonly as a ‘TeleGib,’ the guitar I built for Jeff Beck and further evolved for myself is my go-to instrument for performance and recording,” remarks Seymour W. Duncan, co-founder of Seymour Duncan. “I play many different guitars, but no one instrument combines my ideal mix of feel, expression, flexibility, and voice that I found when I modified and built those first hybrid bolt-on-neck-with-humbuckers guitars.”
The one-piece swamp ash body’s shape is a direct trace from a 1953 Blackguard from the collection of Nacho Banos (Author of the book The Blackguard). This body shape differs dramatically from the shape of the modern Tele®. The humbucker cavities are routed on top of the traditional Telecaster® cavities, in precisely the same position and fashion as Seymour’s guitar. The neck pocket is deeper than the current spec and matches the original spec from 1950–55. The grain on the body has been carefully stained to match the darkening that naturally occurred from age on Seymour’s instrument. Amber varnish on the body has been color-matched to perfectly replicate the original. A few instruments will be finished in an alternate varnish dyed wine red. The pickguard on the instrument is true fiber Bakelite, varnished to an ultra-high gloss and crafted from a direct trace of a 1950 Broadcaster. Additional unnecessary (but important) modification-correct details were included on the body, including the addition of string ferrules and bridge screw holes. The instrument’s side profile and tummy cut are careful recreations from Seymour’s guitar.
The neck on the Seymour Duncan 35 features a 1 3/4″ nut width, as well as neck-width measurements matching Seymour’s instrument. The neck is crafted from quarter sawn rock maple, and utilizes a traditional anchored-trussrod design but with a CNC-machined walnut skunk stripe for a stronger, closer fit to the truss than normally found in necks of this style. We chose to use Tahitian black mother-of-pearl for the fretboard dot markers. The nut is handmade from 35,000-year-old fossilized mastodon ivory. Hardware on the Seymour Duncan 35 is not only vintage-accurate, but is the best available. The bridge is machined from a medium-carbon stainless steel billet by Callaham Guitars and features enlarged studs. The tailpiece is the standard Tonepros model. The knobs, extra-thick-neckplate, and screws are manufactured by Glendale. The pots are not vintage-correct, but are Seymour’s favorite “blue-box” pots by Bourns. The tone capacitor is handmade by Luxe Capacitors and is a vintage paper-in-oil replica from a 1956 Tele®. Tuners are hand-engraved custom “single-line” Kluson. All screws on the instrument are traditional flat-head screws.
The Seymour Duncan 35 is supplied with both vintage-inspired and modern exotic pickups. Seymour Duncan’s new JB & Jazz™ “Concept” humbuckers are installed in the guitar. The “Concept” pickups are reproductions of the prototype pickups Seymour wound for Jeff Beck’s guitar, well before there was a Seymour Duncan Company. These pickups later became the basis for further development of the Seymour Duncan JB & Jazz™ production models, after formation of the company. Additionally, a set of Seymour Duncan Zephyr ™ Silver premium pickups will be supplied in the case. The guitar is equipped with Seymour Duncan’s Liberator™ Quick Pickup Change System for easy swapping of both sets of pickups. Vintage-style or new tone-drenched silver, players will find the sound of the Seymour Duncan 35 to be extraordinary. The Zephyr™ Silver pickups combine silver wire, bi-metallic pole pieces, nylon glass fiberfill bobbins, and cryogenic treatment for a wide-open, tone-dense, explosively dynamic sound and super-responsive feel. The installed Liberator™ volume potentiometer is 250kOhms. A spare control plate with a 500kOhms Liberator™ volume potentiometer is included in the supplied tweed case.
“Fortunate buyers of the Seymour Duncan 35 can expect a precision handcrafted guitar built to the highest standards of solid-body lutherie,” says Frank Falbo, VP of Products at Seymour Duncan. “As a luthier myself, I take painstaking pride in the guitars we can produce from our collaboration with Larrivee, and I will personally fret, inspect, and set up each Seymour Duncan 35 as though it is my own.”
The Seymour Duncan 35 is an unusually responsive, toneful guitar rooted in the history of Seymour W. Duncan’s friendship with Jeff Beck. It will be a prized voice in any owner’s guitar collection, and is designed to be put to work onstage or in the studio with enviable results. MSRP $6,250.
Introducing Seymour Duncan Zephyr ™ : The Next Great Sound of Guitar
In pickups and guitar, reverence for the past is the prevailing theme of many popular and enduring products. It’s no different for Seymour Duncan, where the JB™ is by far our most popular single pickup model, and our Custom Shop and Antiquity lines are living testaments to the appeal of what came before us. We love the best of the past at Seymour Duncan, but we’re not only looking back.
Zephyr™ is “the west wind,” and for Americans, the west represents what’s next. Over the western horizon lie the next trends that will make life better, more enjoyable, more interesting. It’s also from where we expect innovations that give us what’s new and best. Introducing Seymour Duncan Zephyr™ — a continuing series of products focused on defining what’s next for guitar, unbound from what was. Zephyr products are the newest way we will channel our restless compulsion to create the next great sounds for guitar, relentlessly working to make expressive tone affordable, but willing to accept that sometimes “the next” costs more.
Seymour Duncan Zephyr ™ Silver Pickups
Seymour Duncan Zephyr™ Silver pickups give guitar players everything they love about electric guitar, but more: richer tone, more explosive dynamics, more responsive touch, a deliciously dense but wide-open sound. Zephyr will represent Seymour Duncan’s view of what’s next for guitar. They are premium offerings built to the company’s point-of-view, without influence of focus groups. Seymour Duncan began with the then-new idea that stock pickups could be improved, and that the beautiful sound of old pickups could be cloned in newly wound wire. Zephyr™-series products, including Zephyr™ Silver pickups, signal renewed commitment to lead with further innovation while continuing to offer the fullest range of known and loved guitar tones of any pickup maker.
Zephyr™ Silver pickups combine four distinct innovations unbound from pickup tradition:
Silver Wire Coils — Known as “The Great Conductor” for having the lowest resistivity among metals (5.36% lower than copper), silver wire’s sonic excellence is well established in high-fidelity audio applications, including moving-coil phono cartridges, vacuum tube amplifier output transformers, and cabling. Softer and more supple than same-gauge copper wire, silver allows more controlled and repeatable winding, with layers of wire stacked more neatly and evenly. Just as silver in audio makes music reproduction more convincing and alive, in pickup coils it lends electric guitar a punchier, more bursty feel, with remarkably rich harmonics and uniquely high tone density, without the perceived rising top end often experienced from silver in signal cables.
Nickel and Stainless Steel Bi-Metallic Pole Pieces — Combining the sensitivity of pure nickel with high dynamic range of stainless steel further contributes to the vivid, energetic sound of Zephyr™ Silver.
Glass Fiberfill Nylon Bobbin — Nylon is a low-Q material less prone to microphonics and ringing. Glass fill renders Zephyr™ Silver bobbins exceptionally tough and dimensionally stable for more precise winding.
Cryogenic Treatment — Supercooling permanently aligns the crystal lattice of all materials and removes stresses introduced during the manufacturing of raw materials and the winding and final assembly of pickups. The crystal structure of magnets is also improved for more consistent gauss strength across all strings and from unit to unit. In high-end audio, cable, vacuum tubes, and even entire electronic components are sometimes cryogenically treated for improvements in clarity and realism; we achieved similar results for guitar tone by cryogenically treating completed pickups, copper, and silver alike. Cryogenics enhance string definition and boost the “way huge” potential of your guitar.
“‘Best’ is a controversial term in guitar circles, where individual preferences prevail. Zephyr™ Silver pickups are engineered to be uniquely vivid and toneful, dynamic, and expressive,” observes Kevin Beller, VP Engineering at Seymour Duncan. “We set out to create more sensitive, expressive pickups using non-traditional materials and techniques, and our listening tests confirm we succeeded. We like the combination of dense tone and explosive touch Zephyr™ Silver pickups lend to every guitar we’ve installed them in. If those characteristics are attractive to any given guitarist, we think they will love Zephyr™ Silver sound, and ‘best’ will be how like-minded players will come to think of them, too.”
While these options are now available for any order to our Custom Shop, in combination they lend our new premium Zephyr™ Silver pickups uniquely fast transients, wider but smooth frequency response, deeply rich harmonics, and unprecedented midrange tone density, with audible gains in string detail, articulation, and overall definition. A slighter touch produces expressive sound, yet peak dynamics are more explosive, making your guitar feel more energetic and alive. We consider Zephyr™ Silver the most expressive pickups so far. They are not inexpensive — but from squeaky clean to buzzsaw grind, you’ll hear and feel more power, projection, and expression from any electric guitar.
Zephyr™ Silver models will be available in Humbucker, Stratocaster®, and Telecaster® sets. MSRP $1,195 per set.
Liberator ™ Solderless Pickup Change System
Announced in December and now available, Liberator™ is the first universal solderless pickup change system. It combines a high-quality volume potentiometer with screw-clamp bare wire Lockdown terminals for completely non-proprietary solderless pickup changes. Re-voicing or upgrading the tone of an electric guitar has never been easier.
Blackouts ™ Modular Preamp
Blackouts ™ Coil Pack
Blackouts ™ Modular Preamp + Coil Pack Complete Set
Extending the easy-change idea to active pickups, the Blackouts ™ Modular Preamp allows guitar players desiring the ultra gain of our active Blackouts pickups to “Blackout” any passive pickup, either to mate the voicing of a favorite pickup with active gain, or to have the look of traditional pickups in a metal maven’s guitar. The Blackouts™ Modular Preamp combines the preamp from Blackouts pickups with a quality volume potentiometer, in a compact assembly installable on most electric guitars. The Blackouts™ Modular Preamp also includes the screw-clamp bare wire Lockdown system from Liberator™, for effortless pickup changes after installation. Blackouts ™ Coil Pack makes the coils that, when combined with the Blackouts Modular Preamp, will duplicate the sound of our integrated Blackouts pickups, for buyers who “Blackout” their stock passive pickups and wish to complete the upgrade to the full Blackout sound, incrementally. Blackouts ™ Modular Preamp + Coil Pack Set combines everything needed to get Blackouts sound with the appearance of traditional pickups, in one package.
Limited Edition 35th Anniversary Commemorative JB/Jazz ™ Set
To be made only during 2011, the Limited Edition 35th Anniversary JB/Jazz™ pickups are built with the long legs, butyrate bobbins, and single-conductor cable used in the earliest production JB & Jazz™ pickups. Current production JB & Jazz™ pickups have modern appointments to fit a wider variety of guitars, including short legs and four-conductor cabling.
Custom Shop JB/Jazz ™ Concept Set
Before the Seymour Duncan company, Seymour W. Duncan modified a familiar, major-brand, bolt-on-neck guitar with custom-wound double humbucker pickups, for Jeff Beck in the early 1970s. Those pickups were precursors to (and became prototypes for) the production JB & Jazz™ pickups introduced a few years later after formation of the company Seymour Duncan.
Antiquity JB & Jazz ™ Set
The earliest production JB & Jazz™ pickups are now old enough to be vintage! For the first time, Seymour’s Antiquity aging treatment is applied to pickup designs from the 1970s. These Antiquity JB & Jazz™ pickups are new-production pickups that look and sound genuinely old.
Antiquity Gold Humbuckers
Frequently requested from our Custom Shop, Antiquity aging is now available on P.A.F.-style humbuckers in gold covers.
A Seymour Duncan exclusive, P-Rails pack three sounds in one space: single-coil, humbucker, and P-90. Trembucker P-Rails have wider spacing for tremolo bridges and modern Gibson guitars.
’59 and JB for Epiphone Nighthawk
Nighthawk’s unusual slanted bridge pickup limits pickup options when upgrading this Epiphone classic. Now, two of our most popular humbuckers have been reconfigured to fit Nighthawk for legendary Seymour Duncan tone.
New for Telecaster®: Custom Shop ’53 Tapped Tele Model T “Guitar Shop” Set
Seymour’s favorite Tele® set pairs a custom-wound Telecaster® rhythm pickup with a lead pickup tapped for two output levels — high or ’53-style vintage. The “Guitar Shop” set from the Custom Shop includes a five-way switch for wiring to cover all possible combinations.
New for Telecaster®: Vintage Broadcaster Set and Hot Rails for Tele® Set
Traditional twang or hot, raw, and chunky, these new Telecaster® Sets combine popular individual pickup combinations into packaged sets for the first time.
YJM High-Speed Volume Pot
Yngwie Malmsteen demands a friction-free volume potentiometer for immediate response to lightning-fast starts and stops in volume-control rotation. The YJM High-Speed Volume Pot is smooth, undamped, and effortless to turn, and has a split shaft to accommodate a wide range of preferred knobs.
“Seymour Duncan intends to be the continuing innovator and concept leader for providing personal voicing for guitar and bass,” says Phil Ressler, CEO. “At 35 years old, we’re not nearly finished with this agenda.”
About Seymour Duncan Pickups & Pedals
Seymour Duncan is the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of musical instrument pickups, offering musicians a wide range of pickups and a full line of effect pedals, along with renowned customer service. The company also operates the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop, a boutique workshop that has created custom guitar pickups for scores of top guitarists, including Slash, Mark Knopfler, Billy Gibbons, Los Lobos, and Steve Miller. For more information about Seymour Duncan Pickups & Pedals, visit www.seymourduncan.com.