Review: Seymour Duncan Whole Lotta Humbucker Pickups

London in the early Seventies was the center of the guitar universe, the place where some of the greatest players of the classic rock era were living, performing and recording.

Seymour Duncan was there too, sought by the famous and soon-to-be-famous for his skills as a guitar tech and his ability to uniquely rewind a pickup so that it matched a player’s voice and style.

Duncan’s pickups were an ingredient in the signature tones of guitarists like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend, David Gilmour, Jimmy Page and scores of others.

One of the era’s most recognizable and iconic sounds came via one of Page’s Gibson Les Pauls that Duncan loaded with a pair of his specially rewound humbuckers, known for their incredibly powerful, clear top end, unbridled midrange and multidimensional crunch tone. Seymour Duncan’s new Whole Lotta Humbucker set of bridge and neck pickups precisely recreates that magical tone and provides access to the legendary sounds that forever changed the world of rock guitar and inspired millions to begin their musical journey.

Seymour Duncan builds these pickups with the balanced magnetic field offered by rough-cast Alnico 5 magnets and 42-gauge plain-enamel wire, wound in his special pattern. As is typical, the bridge model is hotter than the neck version, but both have the characteristically raw, overdriven effect on the amp. Four-conductor leads allow players to tap coils or set up phase-inverted tone colorations, and Duncan is offering them with black bobbins or nickel covers.

Tone may be subjective, and it is certainly dependent on the player and other equipment, but playing the Whole Lotta Humbucker set through a Marshall half stack is history incarnate. It’s scary to hear this tone recreated so accurately, and it’s enlightening to experience how much of the player’s intention can be captured by a truly great set of pickups. What’s just as interesting is how nuanced and energetic these medium output pickups of yesteryear sound when combined with modern high gain horsepower.

List Price black, $269 (set); nickel, $319.99 (set)

Manufacturer Seymour Duncan,

The Bottom Line
Whether you’ve spent a lifetime lusting after this tone or are just now realizing that vintage recreations are the key to discovering your personal sound, Seymour Duncan’s Whole Lotta Humbucker is a timeless work of copper-wound art.

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