Seymour Duncan ’78 Model

Upscale Touch
Seymour Duncan ’78 Model
Price: $129; $149
(nickel cover)

In the late ’70s, rock guitarists fell down the rabbit hole trying to achieve more sustain, harmonics, and extra crunch via pickup swaps. Seymour Duncan has created a new PAF that flashes back to those days, but designed to be more-sensitive to harmonics.

Previously only made to order for Custom Shop customers, the Duncan ’78 Model is now part of their regular inventory. With the groundwork of warmth and clarity laid by vintage humbuckers, Duncan added output but dimed the EQ with a specific coil wind using 42-gauge plain-enamel wire. This, combined with a hand-calibrated Alnico II magnet and wax potting, gives it unique character. The current version has four-conductor lead wires, allowing for wiring/splitting options. The bridge pickup has a DC resistance of 9k, while the neck is 7.9k.

While designed for superstrats with a nod to Edward Van Halen’s early sound, it brought new life to our Les Paul Standard; plugged into an old Marshall combo, increased articulation was readily apparent using clean and dirty channels. A blanket of mud was lifted from the neck position, while the bridge yielded more-organic sizzle and overtones even when amp gain was pushed.

Overall, the ’78s brought much more oomph, definition, and kick along with smoother midrange; chords crunched and popped, yet cleaned up well when rolling off the Volume control. They’re lively and bring a range of sonic textures that would work great for blues, rock, hard-rock, and “jazz-adjacent” music. Speedy runs were thick and fierce, dirty chords with extensions sounded clear and robust, and pinch harmonics popped.

The Duncan ’78s straddle vintage sweetness and warmth while also adding punch that never turns to mush, all with an upscale touch-responsiveness and craftsmanship.

This article originally appeared in VG’s October 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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