Seymour Duncan Mick Thomson Signature Blackout Pickups
Seymour Duncan, seymourduncan.com
Single, $149.00; set. $279.00
Originally published in Guitar World, May 2010
Seymour Duncan's new Mick Thomson EMTY AHB-3 Blackouts are ideal for the metal guitarist who detunes or uses especially heavy strings.
Seymour Duncan hit a home run when it introduced the original active Blackout pickups. Their quiet operation, balanced inputs, wide dynamic range and expressive midrange instantlymade them the most organic active guitar pickups ever designed by any company. Building on their success, Duncan has since released several iterations of the wildly popular pickup, including a seven-string model, an eight-string model, a metal version with switchable output levels and a special set of single-coils with dual output levels.
The most recent addition to the Blackout family is a signature pickup co-designed by Slipknot powerhouse Mick Thomson, the EMTY AHB-3 Blackouts. Thomson was an enthusiastic fan of the original Blackouts but wanted them to be optimized for his detuned low strings and aggressive highs. In response, Duncan changed some of the Blackout’s preamp components and the windings on one of the coils to arrive at the EMTY signature set (the name is a phonetic spelling of Thomson’s initials). Visually, the AHB-3s have the Seymour Duncan logo on top of the epoxy encasement and Mick’s trademark “Seven” emblazoned on their side. They still feature the three-pin connect system for easy retrofitting into your current active pickup setup and come with everything you’ll need if you’re switching from a passive to an active system.
My first tests with the EMTY Blackouts were with an MTM1 Mick Thomson signature Ibanez Prestige, which was already set up with his piano wire–size low strings. Through a Cameron-modded Marshall and my Mesa Mark IIC+, these pickups delivered crushing lows. The energy from the bass response gave the entire frequency range a menacing roar. While the highs certainly extend beyond the typical Blackout range, to the ear they really just balance the midrange presence and chest-caving bass response.
I also loaded the EMTY Blackouts into a Charvel with standard-size strings. Compared to the original Blackouts, they coaxed out sub-bass overtones and smoothed the typical Blackout midrange curve. The smaller strings’ high notes sang with more fluidity but could still be incited to scream with a little more right-hand attack. Interestingly, the neck pickup capably defines notes, punches with authority and conjures even darker overtones without becoming muddy or lost in the mix.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Seymour Duncan's new Mick Thomson EMTY AHB-3 Blackouts are ideal for the metal guitarist who detunes or uses especially heavy strings. They are specifically designed to accurately amplify exceedingly low areas of the frequency range that are almost impossible to capture with typical passive or active pickups.
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