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Seymour Duncan

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Seymour Duncan
Company typePrivate
IndustryPickups and effects pedals
Founded1976; 48 years ago (1976)
FounderSeymour W. Duncan and Cathy Carter Duncan
HeadquartersGoleta, California, U.S.
effects pedals
Number of employees

Seymour Duncan is an American company best known for manufacturing guitar and bass pickups. They also manufacture effects pedals which are designed and assembled in United States. Guitarist and luthier Seymour W. Duncan and Cathy Carter Duncan founded the company in 1976, in Santa Barbara, California.


Seymour Duncan and Cathy Carter Duncan in the 1970s

Seymour W. Duncan became interested in guitars at a young age. After lending his guitar to a friend who accidentally broke the pickup, Duncan decided to re-wind the pickup using a record player turntable to hold the pickup in place and rotate it while spooling wire around the pickup bobbin. Seymour was then inspired by how the guitar's tone improved, inspiring him to learn more about pickups from Les Paul - guitarist/inventor - and later mentor, Seth Lover: inventor of the humbucker. After developing considerable skill working on guitars, Duncan gained employment at London’s Fender Soundhouse.

After moving to California he met and married Cathy Carter and decided to start a pickup rewinding service. With demand for his services growing, Duncan and Carter started offering custom Stratocaster, Telecaster, and humbucking pickups. Within two decades they were manufacturing an assortment of electric, bass, and acoustic guitar pickups; as well as electric guitar accessories. In 2012, Seymour Duncan was inducted into the Vintage Guitar Hall of Fame for contributions to the music industry.

From the 1980s until 2013, Seymour Duncan made bass pickups under the Basslines brand name, before rebranding them under Seymour Duncan; without redesigning the pickups.[1]

Seymour continues to create pickups in Seymour Duncan's Santa Barbara factory in California.

Notable users[edit]

The first artist signature pickup was the SH-12 Screamin' Demon model, created for George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob). Another well-known Seymour Duncan artist, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, collaborated on a signature pickup, the SH-13 Dimebucker. The pickup has been used on Abbott's tribute guitars produced by Washburn Guitars and Dean Guitars, but not on Abbott's own guitars. Seymour Duncan pickups were also popularized in Japan by notable rock bands. Dino Cazares of Divine Heresy and formerly of Fear Factory worked with Seymour Duncan to produce the Blackouts line of active pickups, which come in different sizes to fit various pickup routes in seven string guitars.

Seymour Duncan's best selling pickup model is the SH-4 "JB Model" humbucker, that originated from a pickup Duncan made in the early '70s for his hero Jeff Beck who had the PAF pickups switched out of his guitar by a dishonest guitar tech. Beck used the pickups in his seminal release "Blow By Blow" in a guitar built for him by Seymour, dubbed the Tele-Gib, which featured a JB pickup in the bridge position and a "JM" or Jazz Model pickup in the neck. The JB was never an official signature pickup, and Duncan cannot use the name Jeff Beck.

Other artists known for their use of Seymour Duncan pickups include, but are not limited to:


Pickups on an electric guitar
Dirty Deed distortion pedal, released in 2013

Seymour Duncan produces a large range of pickups for guitars in several formats including Humbucker, Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jaguar, Jazzmaster, P90, Filtertron, Mini Humbucker, and Acoustic; as well as effects pedals and bass pickups.

Some of their most popular guitar pickups include the '59 Model, the JB (bridge) and Jazz (neck) set, Duncan Distortion set, and the Pearly Gates set.

For almost every kind of pickup, Seymour Duncan manufactures a vintage, modern, and high output version, and an antiquity model based on the vintage version but with an aged appearance. As of 2013, the company has moved into the 7 and 8 string guitar pickup market. They also produce a line of active pickups.

Seymour Duncan also produces a line of Korean-made "Duncan Designed" pickups for OEM use on mid-level guitars and basses; $300 - $800.[3] The Duncan Designed pickups are based on Seymour Duncan’s most popular pickups and are in addition to their standard American-made product line.[4] Duncan Designed pickups are, however, different from their Seymour Duncan roots. While Seymour Duncan sets voice the neck and bridge pickups differently to optimise tone, Duncan Designed pickups produce one pickup to be used in either the neck or bridge position. For example, The HB-102 is based on the USA-made SH-4 JB (bridge) and SH-2n Jazz Model (neck) set. Homogenising the design reduces cost, produces a slightly different tone, but does not produce a lower quality tone.

They also manufacture a range of effects pedals, including the 805™ Overdrive, the Vapor Trail™ Delay and the Dark Sun Digital Delay + Reverb, made in collaboration with Mark Holcomb of Periphery.

Seymour Duncan produced a small line of guitar amplifiers during the 1980s and 1990s.[5] Although the effort was short-lived due to the company's lack of reputation as an amp builder, Seymour Duncan amplifiers are well respected and sought after today.[6] At Winter NAMM 2017, Seymour Duncan announced their PowerStage family of pedal amplifiers by launching the PowerStage 170 and the PowerStage 700.[7]


  1. ^ "Basslines Pickups Become… Seymour Duncan Pickups".
  2. ^ Kurt's equipment
  3. ^ "Guitar Pickups, Bass Pickups, Pedals". Guitar Pickups, Bass Pickups, Pedals.
  4. ^ "Duncan Designed". Seymour Duncan. Archived from the original on March 7, 2014. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  5. ^ [1] Archived January 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Paul Marossy. "The Seymour Duncan Convertible 100 1x12 Tube Amp". Diyguitarist.com. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  7. ^ "NAMM 2017: Seymour Duncan to Expand Offerings at Winter NAMM". Guitar.com | All Things Guitar. January 19, 2017. Retrieved February 1, 2022.

External links[edit]