Seymour W. Duncan

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Seymour W. Duncan
Seymour Duncan & Cathy Duncan.jpg
Seymour Duncan and Cathy Carter Duncan
Born (1951-02-11) 11 February 1951 (age 71)
New Jersey, United States
Years active1975-present
Fender Esquire guitar (1952), sold by Duncan to David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, at which point it already had a Fender Stratocaster pickup in the neck position. Seen displayed at the Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains exhibition.[1]

Seymour W. Duncan is an American guitarist, guitar repairman, and a co-founder of the Seymour Duncan Company, a manufacturer of guitar pickups, bass pickups, and effects pedals located in Santa Barbara, California.

Life and career[edit]

Born in New Jersey, Duncan attended Woodstown High School.[2] He grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, during a time when electric guitar music grew into greater acceptance. In a 1984 interview [3] Duncan talks about when he started to play guitar:

I guess when I was about 13. I used to watch the Ted Mack Show and the Ricky Nelson Show and watch James Burton play who was, and still is, one of my favourite guitar players. He was one of the big influences on Tele sounds - you know I basically play Telecasters and Fender Strats.

Duncan began playing clubs and during one show, his Fender Telecaster's bridge pickup broke, forcing him to play the rest of the night on the neck pickup. Necessity being the mother of invention, Duncan rewound that bridge pickup on a record player spinning at 3313 rpm.

While he developed his playing skills, Duncan's knowledge of how guitars work grew. Duncan took every chance he had to talk with players about guitars, tone and electronics. After spending time with musicians such as Les Paul and Roy Buchanan, Duncan realized that it was his guitar, and not his playing, that prevented him from producing those wonderful tones that defined great players. Suddenly, and forever, Duncan was hooked on the dynamics and character differences of pickups.

As Duncan tinkered with materials and techniques, his bag of tricks grew and grew. At Les Paul's suggestion, he moved to England in the late 1960s where his intention to play soon mixed with the opportunity to further his pickup research working in the Repair and R&D Departments at the Fender Soundhouse in London. It was here that he did repairs and rewinds for such artists as Jimmy Page, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Pete Townshend, Peter Frampton and his guitar hero Jeff Beck. It was through his work with Beck in particular, that Duncan honed his pickup winding skills—some of Duncan's first signature pickup tones appear on Beck's early solo albums. Duncan's sabbatical in England resulted in a flock of new fans and friends.[4] Duncan came back to the United States and eventually settled in California. He established contact with people such as Leo Fender, Les Paul and Seth Lover (inventor of a humbucking pickup) and continued learning about and making pickups. Demand for his custom pickups grew and in late 1978 together with Cathy Carter Duncan, he started his own company, Seymour Duncan Pickups. Today the company has over 120 employees.

Fender Custom Shop makes a Seymour Duncan Signature Esquire. Duncan is still involved in designing and fabricating pickups at the factory as well as playing guitar and making appearances at clinics and conventions.


Year Album Artist Credit
1975 Home of the Brave Chris Rainbow Bass
1978 Looking Over My Shoulder Chris Rainbow Bass
1992 East Side Story Kid Frost Guitar, Engineer, Mixing
1993 American Music Bugs Henderson and the Shuffle Kings Guest Appearance
1996 1996 Merle Haggard Guitar (Electric)
1997 Guitar Zeus, Vol. 2: Channel Mind Radio Carmine Appice's Guitar Zeus Performer
1998 Lost Years Dave Mendenhall Guitar
2000 Best of Chris Rainbow, 1972–1980 Chris Rainbow Guitar
2006 Ultimate Guitar Zeus Carmine Appice Project Guitar
2011 TBA Seymour Duncan Guitar


  1. ^ Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains exhibition label
  2. ^ O’Mahoney, James. "Seymour Duncan", Juice magazine, June 1, 2008. Accessed January 12, 2023. "I went to Woodstown High School in New Jersey."
  3. ^ Music UK magazine p.74 (May 1984 issue)
  4. ^ [1] Archived August 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]