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Seymour Duncan Custom, SH-5 and TB-5 Humbucker Black 11102-17-B Top, SD photo

Seymour Duncan

Seymour Duncan Custom, SH-5 and TB-5

From the manufacturer:


"P.A.F. on steroids" tone. Used for classic rock, heavy rock, funk, punk, R&B, metal and drop-tunings.

Beefed up Patent Applied For tone for a hard-driving, kickin' sound with the right balance of power, sustain, and distortion. This pickup cuts through with a distinctive high end and midrange attack. The ceramic magnet and custom coil design give it compressed dynamics, an enhanced harmonic structure, and a punchy bass. Perfect for dropped tunings without "mushing" out. Comes with four-conductor hookup cable.

complete setup
Recommended for bridge position. Often a Duncan Custom is paired with an SH-1 '59 in the neck for bigger P.A.F. tones in the bridge and vintage-correct P.A.F. tones in the neck.

For balanced and warm instruments. Works especially well with rosewood fingerboards.

available mods
Nickel or gold-plated cover. Trembucker. 7-string version. 

Mike Chlasciak / Halford (bridge), Whitey Kirst / Iggy Pop (bridge), Rick Jackett / finger eleven (bridge), Will Adler & Mark Morton / Lamb of God (bridge)

Magnet type: small ceramic bar, D.C. Resistance 14.4k"


Best videos/sound clips:

Here we have the positively epic 2012 Seymour Duncan 12-way bridge metal pickup shootout in all its glory!  The top video is the "rapid fire" comparison (2 min total), and the bottom video is the 15 minute in-depth comparison.  I've included these videos here as the SH-5 is in the video (middle row on the left).  What's great is that you get to hear the same song being played on the same guitar by the same player.  The licks are tasteful and it's mic'd well.  Now as a critique, the mix is pretty heavy and with the bass and kick drum I find it hard to tell much about the quantity/quality of the bass output of these pickups. My take on this video though:  All of these pickups do a good job – really you could play metal with any of these and be happy.  Note:  As this is an older video it is missing the Black Winter, Pegasus, and Nazgul bridge humbuckers.

The player is Keith Merrow and the song is "Pillars of Creation".  Keith is playing a Strictly 7 Guitars "Cobra" Baritone 6-string 27.5" scale guitar through a Rhodes Colossus H-100 head.  

Short video:

 Full video:



Tom Montalk has made a few of these pickup comparison videos and they are just great!  Same guitar with the same licks one pickup right after another.  This one compares the SD Custom to the DiMarzio Crunch Lab DP228.  The backing tracks start at about 2:14 on this one.  

The Seymour Duncan Custom SH-5 sounds great in a metal context, as evidenced by this quick demonstration video. Beginning with an epic lead sound, the SH-5 has a very airy sound with a nice bright upper-midrange that cuts with ease. Rhythm sounds kick in around 0:12, when you can really hear the SH-5's focused low and midrange tones for thick crunchy chords and heavy palm muting.  Whether you're looking for that aggressive focused rhythm sound or a melodic lead tone, the SH-5 is a great choice for metal players.

The player is SurfaceX and he is using a Schecter Blackhawk through a Marshall DSL 100 amp with a Digitech Bad Monkey Boost pedal.

Here is a nice demonstration of the bluesy tones you can get with the Custom SH-5 bridge pickup. This is a very hot sounding pickup with an emphasis in the upper midrange and treble frequencies. With a little overdrive on tap, you will get a lot of clarity and great harmonic content for a vibrant lead tone. The low-end will give you a warm full sound, while higher frequencies sing with detail.  For a screaming blues tone, the SH-5 is a great choice.

The player is Matt Thorpe and he is playing a 2006 Ibanez AR300 BS through a Line 6 PODxt.


The Custom SH-5 has a great sound for classic rock tones. With a bit of overdrive on tap, the SH-5's focused midrange will give you a tight compressed crunch sound that is perfect for thick rock chords and wailing leads. You can really emulate that vintage Zeppelin rock sound, especially when you couple the SH-5 with a Les Paul and crank it through a low-wattage tube amp. You will get a warm saturation from the pickup with amazing clarity and punch for a timeless sound.

The player is Matt Thorpe and he is using a 1990 Gibson Les Paul Standard through an Egnater Tweaker 15.



Here is another excellent demonstration of the SH-5 and the classic blues tones you can get from it. You can really hear how responsive this pickup is, allowing for a very dynamic and musical sound. The SH-5 sounds great on the verge of breakup and its focused midrange allows for a very clear sound that never sounds too harsh. There is just enough low-end in the spectrum to add some depth and body to the sound, but the upper midrange and treble frequencies really contribute to that classic blues/rock edge. For a good no-frills blues tone you can't go wrong with the SH-5.

The player is Matt Thorpe and he is using a 1990 Gibson Les Paul Standard through an Egnater Tweaker 15.



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