The Dokken Humbucker, or Dokkenbucker, is something that I pretty much found by accident. La Maestra and Queen Of Tone, Maricela Juarez (aka “MJ”) came through town for a guitar show. Lemme tell ya, there’s nothing that will get your attention more than a big table full of MJ’s Custom Shop pickups stacked 3 deep. While lustfully pawing through each and every pickup, I found an interesting one on the bottom called the Dokken humbucker. We discussed it, and I ended up going OCD over the standard-spaced pole pieces and did not buy it that day – hey, Floyds gotta Floyd. I found out a pal of mine randomly came by the next day and bought it. Figures!
Still, I had to check it out. Dokken was a huge influence on my playing when I was first staring to learn guitar. Having met most of the band, bassist Jeff and drummer Wild Mick are good guys and great performers. I read every article and interview that I found with the band’s guitarist. One of the things that jumped out was a comment about when the guitar player would try a tone pickup it would lack the output and when he’d go for output it would lack the tone.
This was all interesting, as MJ said she had been making them for the guitarist since the 80s and was still making them (ed. note – that comment was in 2013, when the former Dokken guitarist was still on Seymour’s artist roster). That was even more interesting, as I never really synced with the Screamin’ Demon as much as I was hoping I would have. When the order arrived, the specs were something much more in line with an archetype 80s rock pickup.
Series – 16.77k
Split N – 8.36k
Split S – 8.41k
Parallel – 4.19k
To really get an idea of how the Dokken humbucker was intended to be used, I installed it in to an ESP Serpent and an ESP Sunburst Tiger. The Serpent is an ash body with maple neck and rosewood board, while the Sunburst Tiger is a slightly over sized maple body with a maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard. Both have German locking trems, Bourns 500k push-pull pots (to go between the bridge and neck pickups) and Switchcraft 1/4″ output jacks. They are strung up with 09-42 and tuned to standard E.
Talk about a great pickup for 80s rock… very cool! More grind than a JB and more tone than a Distortion. Right off the bat, the harmonics jump right out. That’s something I always check for and it doesn’t disappoint. Squeals and pinching and so on are all there. Based on what MJ said about the mids, I made it a point to take a stab at chugging on a C barre chord. With some pickups, I can expect that chugging on the 3rd fret C on the A string to have a little thump to it. The Dokken humbucker is tighter in that range and that chugga thump is far less pronounced – in a good way.
I think it’s an excellent pickup for 80s hard-rock/metal shredding… especially if you prefer the days of spandex and aquanet from your favorite bands. But I don’t think it’s a 80s niche pickup by any means.
As you order this pickup from MJ, here’s an idea of what you can be looking forward to hearing:
Darth Phineas is a long time music industry insider who provides his readers with unbiased reviews on musical instrument and guitar gear. You can read more of his reviews and check out industry news on his Facebook community Darth Phineas, Twitter or his website is darthphineas.com