This is the neck pickup offering from Seymour Duncan's (originally) 7-8 string-only series of metal-oriented pickups. The Nazgul and Pegasus bridge humbuckers are the other models in this series and are voiced to work with this neck pickup. Recently offered in 6-string versions, these pickups are a great addition to the Seymour Duncan humbucker lineup.
This is a nice, clean, articulate pickup that pulls off rock and metal nicely. All the tones you could want really are in there - if you use a good 3 channel amp like the Mesa Mark V or similar you can really make the most use of all three channels with this one pickup. Very pretty clean tones. You won't get almost that ringing sound you can get out of a very bright humbucker or tele pickup, but you can't expect every tone out of one unit. Rock lead sounds are creamy, and the articulation and note separation on metal riffs is fantastic.
In general one of the best things about having a good amount of high end on tap from your pickups is that you can always roll it off with the tone knob, but adding it back requires either active onboard electronics or an EQ/pedal, and even when you add back highs in this way you don't get the same sound/response as a naturally articulate pickup (this is because the pickup has a resonance peak that blanket adding back more high frequency response doesn't put back).
Unlike the normal Seymour Duncan humbucker lineup these black covers are matte black (they look really nice). Also, the screws and pole-pieces have a darker finish to them - not painted or lacquered all the way black like the screws on the Invader, for instance, but almost like a DLC coating frequently seen on tools or golf clubs. If I'm able to find out what this coating actually is I'll report back.
From the manufacturer:
The Sentient is voiced to capture a blend of vintage PAF and modern tones with enough output to deliver harmonically rich distorted lead tones but subtle enough to give you deep, detailed cleans. Think of it as combining the best qualities of the '59 Model and the Jazz: clarity, detail, depth, attack and expression. It's the perfect neck pickup for natural, complex warmth and tight articulation.
Use with any bridge pickup. It's the natural companion to the Nazgûl.
Best with bright to semi-warm woods (from Maple to Korina) with either Maple or Rosewood fingerboards.
Can be ordered with black matte metal cover. Also available in 7 and 8-string versions.
Aaron Marshall (Intervals), Keith Merrow, Jason Frankhouser, Patrick Sheridan (Fit for an Autopsy) "
Best videos/sound clips:
First we have this fantastic pickup demo video put out by Seymour Duncan themselves. What is great about this video is that they include clean, blues, rock, and metal tones, both with and without a backing band. The tones and the playing are really dialed-in, and the amp is mic'd well - basically a perfect product demo video. There's even a quick clean chord comparison at the end between the Sentient and a few other popular SD neck pickups.
The guitarist is Darius Wave and he is playing a Mayones Setius GTM 6 guitar. The clean video is through a Marshall JCM 2000, the blues through a Cornford Roadhouse 30, the rock through an Orange Rockverb 50, and the metal through a Peavey 5150 II head.
The following video, also by Seymour Duncan, is pretty fun (it shows off multiple tracks of guitar with backing band playing both the 6-string Sentient neck and Pegasus bridge pickups). Frankly I find it much harder to make out the character of the pickups in this demo given how compressed the tones are. The Sentient gets a solo starting at 1:35, so you could skip right to that point if desired. The guitar used is an Ibanez S470DXQM played directly into a Kemper Profiler modelling amp. The band is called Stormborn and the song is "Survive".
Here Youtube user Lone Phantom created a video with the 6-string version of the Pegasus and Sentient humbuckers installed in an Ibanez Prestige RGR 1570 tuned to E standard. He plays through the Positive Grid BIAS desktop amp modelling software, and the models used are Peavey 6505 for crunch and a Fender '65 Blackface for cleans. Even though none of this gear screams Metallica to me the crunch tone definitely conjures a Metallica-like tone.
That wraps it up - this pickup only recently came out in a 6 string version, so the web clips are limited at this time. That said, as I find more good ones I will post them here!