The Seymour Duncan Invader has been around for years now, and is known to be one of the rowdiest pickups for Metal. Today we take a look at what makes the Invader so special.
Seymour Duncan Invader Pickups: The High Gain Monsters!
We have been taking a hard look at Duncan Pickups here lately, since they are such a great brand for Rock and Metal. The company has a lot of great options for passive and active sets, and many of the pickup sets are geared specifically towards heavy music genres. Even something like the Duncan JB, which is versatile enough for Metal or literally anything you throw at it.
This is not a new thing at all. Seymour Duncan has been making aftermarket pickups geared towards Rock and Metal for years. While Duncan definitely makes a lot of “vintage” style humbuckers and custom shop offerings, the main focus has always been on heavy music and making your guitar sound like a beast!
Lots of people in the realm of Metal guitar have sworn by Duncan Invaders. People like James Hetfield, who used Invaders in his Flying V in the early days of Metallica. Someone else that swears by the Invader set is Synyster Gates from Avenged Seven Fold, as all of his custom Schecter guitars come installed with the Invader set. Matt Pike from the famous Sleep has even used the Invader before in some of his custom shop guitars. Troy Van Leeuwen From Queens of The Stone Age and A Perfect Circle also uses them from time to time, depending on the band he is playing with at the time.
Nothing screams METAL more than the Seymour Duncan Invader. These are made specifically for high gain applications, and come in 6, 7, and even 8 string variations. They even look mean, and a little intimidating! Today we take a look at the Seymour Duncan Invader set and go over the specs, features, and what the internet has to say about these amazing pickups.
Seymour Duncan Invader: Features And Specs
The Duncan Invader just looks like it is mean and aggressive, and it lives up to that expectation in every way. The Duncan official website says that the Invader will “change your guitar’s DNA” and this is definitely true! If you are looking for an uncompromising, dirty sound…this may be the pickup for you. It features:
- High output
- Three ceramic magnets
- Over-wound coils
- 12 black oxide screws
- Wide magnetic field, works for any guitar regardless of string spacing
- 4-conductor Hookup (Coil Splitting)
- 6, 7, and 8 String Models Available
- Great for aggressive music
- Neck Position: 7.2k^D.C. Resistance
- Bridge Position: 16.8k^Magnet: Ceramic Bar Resonant Peak
- Neck Position: 8.0khz
Seymour Duncan Invader Pickup
These monsters are expertly designed by Duncan to handle the most aggressive tones and the most extreme music on the planet. These high gain pickups turn any guitar into a Metal machine!
My testing came from the Synyster Gates Schecter Signature model. This guitar comes loaded with the Seymour Duncan Invader set. I borrowed it from a friend to really get a hang of how these pickups work with my various gear. This is one helluva guitar if you ask me, but I can see why the extreme shape and design might put off some guitarists.
Let’s just say, I hated to give it back! It is a really fun guitar. But we are here to talk about the Seymour Duncan Invader pickups, not this bad-ass guitar!
The first thing you notice is the huge hexagon pole pieces on the top of the Invader. These not only look aggressive, but they also expand the magnetic field of the pickup, so you get more output (these are adjustable). Combine this with the three ceramic magnets, and you have an overwound leviathan of a pickup. The Invader screams excess, and that is exactly where it excels.
The bridge position pickup is an overwound humbucker that handles bass better than any other passive pickup I have ever used. The bridge Invader is perfect for chugging, especially with lower tunings like D Standard, or anything lower than that. The increased magnetic field picks up even the lowest notes very clearly, and the string-to-string balance when playing chords is perfect. You will not miss a note!
The neck position, while designed the same, is a little more tame. The neck pickup can achieve some really smooth tones that you would not expect from such a terrifying pickup. Playing leads with the neck Invader sound clear and precise, and if you roll off the tone a little bit, you can get that elusive “buttery” sound that we all love.
Both pickups from the Seymour Duncan Invader set have oodles and oodles of sustain. I tested this against some of my other guitars, and with the same amp settings, the Seymour Duncan Invader holds a note much longer than most of my other pickups. This is great for playing leads, because you can hold a note or a harmonic for DAYS.
Both of the Seymour Duncan Invader pickups also have a certain clarity, or “bite” to them. I have heard this mentioned before as being a negative. I just turned down the treble on my amp settings to rectify the situation. I would rather have too much treble and clarity, than to have a muddy pickup. Some guitarists have mentioned turning down the tone knob a little also, to handle some of the bite.
Something else I noticed, is that the Invader has such a wide magnetic field, that it does not have a Trembucker option. There is only one model for the bridge position. This is because of the large pole pieces and huge spread. So if you were looking to buy the Invader for a trem-equipped guitar, just buy the standard model.
There was only one drawback for me. If you are going for pristine clean tones, I am not sure that the Invader set is going to be for you. This is just my personal experience, but I have always struggled to get a good clean tone out of an Invader. But that is by design, I think. The Seymour Duncan Invader is made for handling distortion and fuzz, and not for playing beautiful clean tones. But that’s just my opinion!
Seymour Duncan Invader: What’s The Word Around The Web?
It seems like I am not the only person out there that really loves the Invader set for high gain tones. There are tons of reviews from around the internet that say a lot of the same things that I have already said. In fact, the Invader set might be my favorite for high gain when it comes to Duncan’s offerings and selection. But let’s see what others think:
Far from what I would consider a subtle boost, the Seymour Duncan Invader pickup set completely transformed the tone of my guitar. There’s a distinct richness and crunchiness to the treble end, responding well to pick dynamics and small scrapes. This gives off a uniquely pleasing resonance amidst clean tones, especially with a delay effect added, similar to what you hear The Edge (David Evans) pull off on many of U2’s tracks.
The high output of the Invaders, particularly at the bridge, made it noticeably brighter than what I was expecting. Though it wasn’t too shrill or high-pitched. In most cases I found myself turning the tone knob back to balance things out, but once I did that it felt like I was getting a really broad frequency range. It was the best of both worlds on the high and low EQ spectrum.Guitar World
The Seymour Duncan Invader bridge humbucker is the epitome of LOUD. Utilizing three large ceramic magnets and an overwound coil design, it’s a screaming high output pickup with no room for the weak. The EQ response on the bridge is very mid heavy with extremely beefy lows and a fairly conservative high end which prevents it from being too harsh, but it does sacrifice a bit of clarity and articulation.Wired Guitarist
The oversized metal oxide pole pieces combined with the Invader’s iconic hex caps allow for a broad capture area for each individual pole piece. What does that mean in English? It means your sound is very well balanced across all your strings, minimizing the volume differences between your highest and lowest string.
Rhythm parts have a consistent punch and bite on medium and high gain tones, with a very percussive pick attack that you feel in your chest. Lead tones demonstrate this trait extremely well, and alternate picking passages have an enhanced rhythmic quality to them as a result. To top it all off, both Seymour Duncan Invader pickups have a week’s worth of sustain to boot.
I bought this pickup for one purpose and one purpose alone, and that is crushing colossal metal tone and this pickup does precisely that. While I’ve heard people claiming that this pickup is muddy and horrible sounding, I can assure you that is not the case. When played on a good amp, this pickup sounds amazing.
It is very full sounding with a powerful deep end sound, however even with the impressive output, it’s actually clearer than its imitators like K-mise and Dragonfire/TNT guitars. The pickup belts out palm mutes like a M-60 and it isn’t painfully high-pitched or grating on your ears like a Dimarzio X2N or Lace Deathbucker. Very deep and gritty, but not unpleasant. Incredibly solid sounding.Ultimate Guitar
Seymour Duncan Invader: Wrapping Up…
I certainly haven’t tried every single high gain humbucker on the market, but I have tried quite a few. The Seymour Duncan Invader is one the best that I have tried when it comes to high output madness. It is totally unmatched in my opinion when it comes to dialing in a powerful Metal tone. I usually like active pickups, but the Seymour Duncan Invader set might have just changed my mind.
That being said, these pickups are definitely made for high gain purposes. I really wish the clean tone was just as good as the distorted tones, but it definitely lacks character in that department. But with that being said, if you play any kind of Extreme Metal…just how often are you playing with a clean tone?
If you are looking for an aggressive, in your face, powerhouse pickup set, then the Invader set is where it’s at. I can see why so many Metal artists prefer the Invader, and why it has been around for so long. I think we will still see the Invader used for years to come!
Christoper HortonChristopher 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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