Review: Seymour Duncan Classic Fully Loaded Liberator Pickguard for Strat

The following content is related to the March 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

Installing pickups can be a laborious and time-consuming task, even for a tech who’s proficient with a soldering iron. Now Seymour Duncan has taken the difficulty out of the process with its new Liberator volume pot and fully loaded pickguards, which install with no soldering required. I tested the Classic Fully Loaded Liberator pickguard for Strat, which Duncan designed specifically for rockers who want powerhouse tones, single-coil cut and no hum. It’s prewired with the Liberator volume pot and includes a Custom Stack Plus in the bridge, a Classic Stack Plus in the middle position and a Vintage Stack Plus in the neck.


True to its name, the Classic Fully Loaded Liberator pickguard comes complete with everything you need, including the Liberator volume pot and an output jack. In addition, the pickguard features a coil-splitting option that lets you select between traditional single-coil operation and a hum-cancelling Stack mode.

The Liberator volume pot is the cornerstone of the system. The back of the pot has a miniature patch bay where the pickups and pots connect. Should you prefer to use your own existing pickups or replace pickups in the future, simply insert their bare wires into the clearly labeled receptacles on the Liberator volume pot and tighten down the tiny screw-clamp connectors that hold each wire in place, using the included screwdriver. The result is a solid and reliable connection.

The Liberator pot is also available separately in 250k or 500k versions, for single-coil pickups and humbuckers, respectively. It will work with practically any passive pickup wiring, so you can convert your current guitar and make future pickup swaps a quick, solderless operation.

For players who prefer to solder their ground, input and output connections, the pot features gold solder pads. They heat up extremely fast, so there’s no more waiting for a pot can to reach temperature, no worries about cold solder joints and less danger of overheating and ruining a pot. Even for a novice, a job that can easily take an hour or more is reduced to about 10 minutes.


Seymour Duncan did an excellent job of engineering the Liberator to produce the same strong, noise-free tone that we expect from a traditionally soldered system. There’s no noticeable loss when using the Liberator pot, and some users may even find that this system is better grounded and less susceptible to electrical interference. The hum-cancelling Classic Stack pickups are fantastic for heavy blues and rock, with a chiming top end, a thick, growling midrange and snappy bass response.

List Price Classic Fully Loaded Liberator pickguard, $TK; 250k or 500k Liberator volume pot, $TK

Manufacturer Seymour Duncan,

Cheat Sheet

Seymour Duncan’s brilliantly conceived Liberator volume pot makes it possible to connect all of pickup, output, input and ground wires with a simple turn of a screw.

The Classic Fully Loaded Liberator Pickguard is an almost instantaneous solution for a Strat owner who wants hum-cancelling performance, chunkier tone and the unmistakable single-coil quack.

The Bottom Line

Seymour Duncan’s thoughtfully engineered, solderless Liberator volume pot makes it possible for novices and experts alike to rapidly change pickups with ease. If you want to beef up your Stratocaster’s output and tone, the prewired Classic Fully Loaded Liberator Pickguard can let you transform your guitar in minutes.

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Paul Riario

Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.