New Seymour Duncan Pickups Announced For 2022: 3 AMAZING Classics Meet Modern Design!

By Christoper Horton •  Updated: 05/17/22 •  16 min read

The 3 new Seymour Duncan pickups that were just announced are modern takes on some classic sounds. Today we got over each one in detail!


New Seymour Duncan Pickups For 2022: Some Fan Favorites!

Seymour Duncan pickups are a staple of the modern guitar industry. Every few years, Duncan adds new pickups to keep up with the times, especially when it comes to rock and metal. If you have been playing guitar for a while, chances are you have came across a set of Duncan pickups that you really liked. I certainly know I have!

But as much as Seymour Duncan likes to keep things modern, as a designer he also likes heritage. He started his pickup designs in 1976, inspired by people like Les Paul and later on, legends like Seth Lover. Those pickups that he designed in the 70’s and early 80’s are still very popular today. The JB Humbucker, and Pearly Gates are just two examples of long running pickups that still hold a legacy. When it comes to guitars, legacy and consistency can be very important for many players.

So while it is great to look to the future when designing new Seymour Duncan pickups, sometimes it is good to look into the past as well. There were a lot of innovations in the 70’s and 80’s that guitarists still look for today when choosing a new set of pickups. All three new Seymour Duncan pickups that have been announced are a step back into the older days of rock, and they all have a signature tone.

The best thing about these new pickups, is they are exactly what customers have asked for over the years. Seymour Duncan listens to his customers and artists, and these new pickups might seem like a blast from the past to some people. But these aren’t just simple replicas of classic pickups, they are original models inspired by absolutely iconic tones that we are all familiar with.

These new Seymour Duncan pickups are based on some of the most coveted sounds of rock and metal, making these a tone chaser’s dream. They are all designed around the pickups that defined the personal sound of three very different artists. While these are not exactly “artist” models, I think we can all guess who these new pickups were inspired by.

The three New Seymour Duncan Pickups are not “signature” pickups, but I think we all know what the names seem to imply. Due to branding issues, Duncan obviously can’t use specific names. But like some amp sim models, I think we can all use our imaginations when it comes to the inspiration behind each new model.

So buckle up, and let’s take a look at the 3 new Seymour Duncan pickups that are new for 2022, but have actually been famously heard for decades!


The New ’78 Humbucker

new seymour duncan pickups
The ’78 Pickup

The 70’s was a good time for Seymour Duncan, especially after he met Jeff Beck. The JB Pickup was designed for Jeff to use with his Telecaster on tour, and while Duncan never got the rights to use Jeff’s name, we all know the JB pickup’s story. To be honest, Duncan worked with a lot of artists back then, especially in the 1970’s. He was known as the guy that will “hot rod” your pickups and give them new life.

Eddie Van Halen was famous for designing his own guitars, and the original “FrankenStrat” had an old PAF style pickup in the bridge position. This PAF was supposedly taken from an old semi-hollow guitar, and it was just not getting the job done for Ed. But when it came time to fix that old humbucker, Eddie went to Seymour Duncan for help. He had some very specific instructions on what he wanted in a pickup.

He told Seymour that he needed the pickup to be hotter, so it would push the amp more. But of course, Eddie also had some more specific instructions to perfect the design to suit his playing style. There was some correspondence between EVH and Duncan in late ’77 before Eddie gave the original humbucker to Duncan. The final pickup was designed in 1978 for Eddie ““with the instructions to rewind it and make it more sensitive to natural and artificial harmonics”.

The new ’78 Humbucker is the pickup that Duncan made for Eddie. Due to branding and licensing, Duncan can’t advertise it as the “EVH Humbucker”, and this is a theme with all three today. But this is a faithful reproduction of the original design he “hot rodded” for Eddie. The specs are:

“In the late 70s, Seymour Duncan was well known as the go-to guy for the tone-chasers that needed something custom. Sometime in ‘78 he was given a P.A.F. with the instructions to rewind it and make it more sensitive to natural and artificial harmonics. In other words, give it the Duncan “hot wind” with a little extra.”

Seymour Duncan

Out of all of the new Seymour Duncan pickups being announced, this is the one that I am most excited about. I am a huge Van Halen fan, and I have been wanting to build my own guitar as a tribute to Eddie. I had planned on a “hot rod” design, with a single humbucker in the bridge and a Floyd Rose. It looks like the new ’78 Humbucker is what I will be using for my own FrankenStrat !

But I think that this could also be used as a set for anyone that wants that slightly mid-scooped sound in their guitar. With the resistance sitting at around 9k for the bridge, this is a hot humbucker. I think anyone looking for that unmistakable tone can’t go wrong here, especially if you want some modern features thrown in. This is a 4 conductor wire, so it does support coil tapping/splitting.

So that means tons of modern players that need a little versatility may really like the new “78 Humbucker. Having a humbucker that does high gain, and being able to do a convincing coil tap is extremely popular these days. The new ’78 can do both with ease, and should be highly responsive to volume knob controls and dynamics.

After all, that is exactly how Eddie Van Halen used it. He would turn down the volume knob for cleaner parts. I don’t think this would work as well with any modern high output pickup. But it works here because of the more tame Alnico II magnets. So it should clean up, and coil split really well!

The idea of being more responsive to harmonics also should appeal to the younger generations of guitarists. Polyphia, for example have made a whole new sound by incorporating harmonics into their licks. The fact is, the new ’78 Humbucker can cover a lot of ground, and work just as well in modern applications.

Seymour Duncan 78 Model Pickups
$129.00

Own the pickup that was designed for a legend! Based on the 1978 rewind of Eddie Van Halen's famous bridge humbucker, it was rewound to be hotter and more sensitive to natural and artificial harmonics. This thing is a MONSTER!

BUY NOW

The Green Magic Humbucker

New seymour duncan pickups
Green Magic…With A Secret Inside!

This may be one of the most interesting of the three new Seymour Duncan pickups. It has quite a history that most guitarists might know. But in case you don’t, let’s go through a little bit of a story. If you don’t know why this guitar is so special, and the tone so iconic…this might be some interesting information!

There is a single, mythical ’59 Les Paul that became a legend all on its own. Sure, many ’59 Les Paul guitars are highly sought-after instruments. The ’59 is the Gibson Holy Grail to enthusiasts. But one was so special that it was dubbed by the owner “The Magic Guitar”. It has been bought and sold several times over the years, and it currently resides with Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammet.

But this guitar’s legacy began while the members of Metallica were still just children. The Les Paul in question, originally belonged to Peter Green. Peter paid $300 for it, second hand. He was the guy that replaced Clapton in The Bluesbreakers in the 60’s. Peter also had a fantastic solo career, as well as being a member of Fleetwood Mac. That is already a lot of history for one guitar, but it gets even more interesting!

Gary Moore ended up with the guitar when it was loaned to him by Green. Moore loved the guitar so much that he bought it from Peter Green for $300, the same amount Green paid for it. The ’59 LP then became the most used guitar in Moore’s collection, because there was something very special about this Les Paul. Falling on financial problems, Gary Moore sold it to Kirk in 2006. But what made it so “magic”?

The Gibson factory admitted to making an error on several ’59 Les Paul guitars in an interview from 1984. You see, the neck pickup/magnet was installed backwards, so when both pickups were engaged, it was out of phase. This made the middle position sound more like a single coil, but it retained many of the humbucker qualities. It is a very unique sound, and you can check out any of Peter Green’s music to hear it.

I recommend Fleetwood Mac’s version of “Black Magic Woman”. But you can also hear it on most of Gary Moore’s solo records. It is a little crazy to think ho many amazing songs have been played on that one guitar. Joe Bonamossa also owns one of the “accidental” sunburst Les Paul models, since there were quite a few that left the factory with the pickups in that configuration during the 1959 run.

This has been a popular mod in the blues community for this reason. Tons of guitarists have chased this sound on their own. The second of the new Seymour Duncan pickups, solves that problem for you! The Green Magic set fully replicates the original sound of Green’s Les Paul. The Specs:

Guitarists have long sought out the lonesome hollow blues rock tones that emerged in the late 60’s. For one guitarist, his signature tone was achieved as the result of a fortunate accident – a pickup with a magnet installed backwards and out of phase.


With these humbuckers you’ll get the classic neck and bridge tones as expected, but when you activate both Green Magics you’ll get the clarity and expressiveness generally associated with single coils. The Green Magic set recreates this magical out of phase sound by flipping the neck pickup’s magnet to reverse the phase when combined with the bridge pickup.”

But these new Seymour Duncan pickups are no “one trick pony”. The do the famous Peter Green tone by having reversed polarity, but they are also carefully balanced. The EQ for the Green Magic set is very treble-focused, with plenty of high-midrange poking through. This means they will sit well in a mix, and soar for solos.

Now I imagine a vast majority of people are going to install these in their Les Paul, whether Gibson or Epiphone. But since these have a 4 conductor wire, you can also coil tap/split them. This opens up a whole world of unique tones that could be beneficial in all kinds of guitars. I think they would work great for more experimental music, and could go in any dual humbucker guitar.

It may seem a little funny that a mistake made over 60 years ago would inspire a set of brand new Seymour Duncan pickups. But as anyone who has done this mod on their own can attest, the sound is truly unique when you engage the middle position. It is one of the most sought-after tones, and now you can have it with a simple pickup swap.

Seymour Duncan Green Magic Pickups
$129.00

Get the famous sound of the most coveted '59 Les Paul on the planet with the Green Magic pickups! When each pickup is chosen individually, you’ll get the classic neck and bridge tones expected with PAF sounds. In the combined position, with the neck pickup’s reversed magnet, the pickups will be out of phase with each other, giving the clarity and expressiveness generally associated with single coils.

BUY NOW

High Voltage Humbuckers

new seymour duncan pickups 2022

I don’t think you need any other info to figure out who these new Seymour Duncan Pickups were inspired by since the name alone gives it away. Angus Young is famous for quite a few things, but one of them is his tone. How many times have you used the term “AC/DC sounding” when describing a crunch tone? I know I use it all the time, because it is such an iconic sound.

But what makes that sound so special? Unlike the other two new Seymour Duncan pickups that we have discussed today, there really isn’t a story attached to the new High Voltage Humbuckers. There is no ancient rock myth to explore really, but what we do have is a very distinct sound. Angus and Malcom reigned in a very unique sound for AC/DC that we still emulate today.

That distinct sound is overdriven and crunchy, but it is also very clear and distinct. When you listen to the riffs for “Highway To Hell” you can hear every note in every chord. This is because their signature sound is all about that bridge pickup being able to produce certain frequencies. You want to hear every note, but also be able to crank up the gain. The specs:

“Powerful chords, low end legato riffage and generally expressive tight rhythms on one end and screaming, sustaining leads on the other. The High Voltage humbuckers are a nod to the old school with the familiar Alnico 2 magnets, but they are wound for a bit more aggressive voicing that creates a noticeable sonic distance. The bridge pickup is degaussed in this calibrated set that delivers a very balanced tone.”

Angus Young’s particular style is high velocity blues when it comes to rhythm and lead playing. The High Voltage Pickup set is a great choice for anyone chasing a similar tone. The EQ on both pickups seems to have a bit of a treble boost, and a limited amount of bass frequency. This gives the pickups a chime-like quality, with a little bit of dialed up midrange. This EQ curve goes for both pickups, giving a good balance.

But what about the degaussing of the bridge pickup? What does THAT mean?

Degaussing a pickup is like aging it, artificially. Degaussing itself is removal of magnetism, or a magnetic field. So for a humbucker, this would be like lowering the pole pieces. It will make the pickup more “mellow” sounding.

I think this is a cool trick, and it was a surprise with the new Seymour Duncan pickups. Some guitarists will want to avoid this degaussing, especially with single coils. But with an Alnico humbucker, this can help you achieve that clarity that is so prominent in AC/DC. You can still add all the gain you want, and keep the pickup raised to the normal height. But with the boosted treble and degaussing, you might get some extra oomph needed to hear every note in a distorted chord.

There is a lot of info out there about degaussed vintage pickups being a “tone myth”. But if you check out the science, it really should make a difference in the overall tone. Your plain strings should lose some of their brightness, making a big chord sound more “even” or “open”. Is this the biggest secret to the AC/DC tone? Maybe?

But what you will be getting is a balanced set of vintage inspired PAF style pickups. Now would this set be good for all kinds of styles? I absolutely think so. You don’t need high output pickups to play heavy music. In fact, the clarity of the High Voltage set might even be a benefit when it comes to high gain, or fuzz tones. The clarity can add definition to high gain chords, without being ear-piercing in tonal quality.

The fact that you can wire these to a coil tap/split is even more interesting to me. This means you would have all kinds of sounds to work with, and this would be especially beneficial to blues players. You could emulate King or Clapton with one guitar! I’m all about having the clearest sounding pickup possible, and that seems to be the biggest selling point for the High Voltage set.

Seymour Duncan High Voltage Pickups
$129.00

Get that legendary AC/DC crunch! The High Voltage humbuckers are a nod to the old school with the familiar Alnico 2 magnets, but they are wound for a bit more aggressive voicing that creates a noticeable sonic distance. The bridge pickup is degaussed in this calibrated set that delivers a very balanced tone.

BUY NOW

The New Seymour Duncan Pickups For 2022: Final Thoughts

All of the new Seymour Duncan pickups have one thing in common: They all use Alnico II magnets. For those of you not familiar, Alnico II magnets provide warm, creamy midrange tones and lesser overall output. They are popular for having a more “vintage” tone because of these characteristics. But the difference between all of these new pickups, is how they are wound.

Seymour Duncan got so popular because of his winding techniques when it came to humbuckers. Different gauges of wire, as well as how many times you wind the wire around a humbucker is one of the main ways to change the tonal properties. We see this in the EQ charts for each of the new pickups. Duncan has this down to an absolute art!

There really is something for everyone with all three different pickup types here. From EVH heaviness and tapping harmonics, to bluesy riffing, each pickup has a different flavor. I always say that pickups, amps, and your speaker have the biggest effect on your actual tone. Yes, “tone is in the fingers” when it comes down to how you play. But a great set of pickups can take your sound to the next level!

Who are the new Seymour Duncan Pickups based on?

Due to branding issues, Seymour Duncan cannot use specific names. But it is obvious that the inspirations are as follows:
The 78: Eddie Van Halen
Green Magic: Peter Green’s Les Paul
High Voltage: Angus Young

Why are all of the new Seymour Duncan pickups for 2022 Alnico II magnets?

Alnico II magnets are known for low output, warm tones. This leads to them being compared to vintage pickups. The three new Seymour Duncan pickups are all based on vintage pickup sets from Van Halen, Peter Green, and Angus Young.

Can I play metal with a low output pickup?

Absolutely. Some players actually prefer a lower output humbucker since you can get more clarity out of them. You may have to add more gain, but you can still get heavy with vintage/low output pickups.

Christoper Horton

Christopher has been playing guitar and piano for 27 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. He has toured for years with several bands and music projects. He worked in LA as a studio musician and engineer working with bands like IAMSOUND, Baroness, Kylesa, Black Tusk, Reflux, and Tripping Daisy. In between giving private lessons, he is recording a solo album for 2022-2023. Christopher plays Schecter guitars, BOSS amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.

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