Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to review one of the most iconic passive humbucking pickups (click here for a dedicated article) from Seymour Duncan: the SH-6 Distortion.
The Duncan Distortion (that you can hear on a Stratocaster in the song linked above) is a High Output humbucker with a large Ceramic magnet, which grants the guitar a high gain tone but with tight and controlled low end (something harder to achieve with an Alnico one, in which the low frequencies are usually less focused with high gain).
This pickup is used/has been used by several famous guitarists, such as Max Cavalera from Sepultura and Soulfly, Wayne Static from Static X, Karl Sanders from Nile, Ola Englund, Phil X from Bon Jovi, Adam Jones from Tool, many other bands as Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit, Dokken and countless other musicians, and it's considered from many a standard for rock and metal, especially for a certain type of '90s distortion.
The pickup is used mostly in the bridge position, but someone uses it also in the neck position to give clarity to the solos, and there is also some guitar that comes straight from the factory with a dual Distortion setup.
My take on this pickup is this: the pickup sounds quite bright, it doesn't have a huge amount of low end and it's quite high-mid focused, which is good, but it's one of those types of pickups that needs to be balanced with a dark sounding guitar, like a Les Paul or some other with a thick mahogany body, because on a light guitar (such as a Stratocaster or a Randy Rhoads) the highs can become "ice picky", meaning that the attack of the distorted tone when using a palm muting sounds very prominent, like an ice-pick.
To solve this is necessary to intervene with the eq, introducing some of low pass filter or using the treble control, but in general it's a positive thing to have a fast, chugging attack, because on the pickups that doesn't have enough of it, it's impossible to introduce it later with the eq.
The conclusion is that this pickup is quite situational: if you're looking for a nice (slightly scooped) mid range, a good (but not super high) output, a raspy attack and a controlled low end to play hard rock, grunge, punk and a lot of '90s metal, this pickup is for you.
If you are instead looking for something beefier, more modern and with more body (or more output), there are also many other pickups to try, even remaining in the Seymour Duncan lineup.
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