A Closer Look At The Seymour Duncan Jimi Hendrix Signature Strat Pickup Set

 

In commemoration of their 40th anniversary, Seymour Duncan has decided to scrounge their archive of early designs in order to reintroduce a few sets of pickups that could best convey their founder’s ingenuity and innovation. One such design buried beneath miles of broken coils, hundreds of dust ridden schematics and years of product knowledge are the Jimi Hendrix Signature Stratocaster set -- three single-coil pickups that are as much a product of Seymour Duncan the man as they are of Hendrix himself.

 

 

The History Behind The Seymour Duncan Jimi Hendrix Signature Strat Set

Before we dive into the specifics of this signature set, it’s important to take a look at the story behind them and the reason why these specific pickups hold so much weight. The story goes back eight years before the official existence of the company, back in 1968 when a young Seymour Duncan met with Jimi Hendrix.

Seymour Duncan And Jimi HendrixJimi Hendrix was set to perform in front of a crowd of eagerly awaiting fans at Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, with a few hours to kill. He was set to meet a young pickup guru by the name of Seymour Duncan, who was eager to give Hendrix a gift in the form of custom wound pickups. By 1968, Duncan’s reputation for handcrafted pickup greatness had already been solidified. With patrons such as Jimmy Page, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour and Pete Townshend, he had more than earned his stripes, having made custom wound pickups for some of the biggest names around. Still, Duncan was extremely nervous.

When the two finally met, Hedrix embraced him with a hug as Duncan handed him three single-coil pickups wrapped in wax paper. J The two took to each other instantly, chatting extensively about music and tone, even taking a few pics together in the process. By then, Jimi's guitar tech, Roger Meyer, had installed the pickups into Jimi's iconic white Strat. That night, Ducan himself would introduce Hendrix to the crowd by holding that white Strat in front of the crowd before the show. The rest is rock and roll history.

 

 

The Tone Of The Duncan Jimi Hendrix Signature Set

While this set has plenty of little accents that set it apart from similar designs, the core tone is still based on that classic ‘60s single-coil sound that made the Stratocaster -- and Jimi himself -- a guitar legend. In other words, players that crave that well-known, punchy late ‘60s blues rock tone that ruled the era (and can still be heard in today’s modern records as well) will find a lot to like with these single-coils.

Like the originals given to Hendrix, these pickups are custom wound to deliver a richer, more melodic tone. And while they are a tad bit hotter than ‘60s stock Strat pickups, they remain vintage by today’s output standards. The bridge model consists of a dynamic attack that can cut through the mix, staying true to Jimi's signature lead tone. The neck, meanwhile, has that prototypical blues punch, thick and full, making it perfect for rhythm, bluesy riffs and -- of course -- Hendrix-style hybrid chord/soloing.

Aside from the punchier and slightly more aggressive overall attack, the biggest difference between this set apart from a typical set of vintage Strat pickups are the magnet poles. Specifically, they feature a reverse magnet stagger in order to capture the effect of playing a right-handed guitar upside down and restrung for a lefty -- the way Jimi himself did it. While this doesn't change the overall tone too drastically, discerning tone connoisseurs might feel as if the tonal balance is a bit "off" than what they might be used to with a traditional set. Personally, I found it refreshing as it gave a slightly new spin on the vintage Strat sound.

Check out the video below to hear the Duncan Jimi Hendrix signature set in action ...

 

 

As far as purchase and installation go, Seymour Duncan offers two flavors. First, you can buy the complete set as is which consists of the three separate pickups. Soldering is, of course, required, either by you or your local guitar tech. You can also go the pre-built route in the form on the Jimi Hendrix Loaded Pickguard. Consisting of a 3-ply white pickguard, 250K pots, a 5-way pickup selector switch and .047 caps, this is by far the easiest way to upgrade. Seymour Duncan Loaded Pickguards still require some soldering, but it's very minimal (instructions can be found here).

 

Seymour Duncan Jimi Hendrix Loaded PickguardJimi Hendrix Signature Strat Pickup Set @ $279.00

Jimi Hendrix Signature Loaded Pickguard @ $379.00

On a chilly evening in March of 1968, Jimi Hendrix asked a young Seymour W. Duncan to walk his guitar up onstage. That Strat was loaded with pickups Seymour had wound just for Jimi, and that unforgettable night would set in motion Seymour's future and his legacy almost five decades later. Now you can be a bit closer to Jimi's world with Seymour Duncan's Signature Strat Set and Signature loaded pickguards!

 

 

Final Thoughts ...

Whether you’re a fan of the Jimi Hendrix’s sound or not, the fact remains that these are solid, vintage-style Strat pickups that imbue the quality and craftsmanship that has echoed Seymour Duncan’s products throughout their history. While the reverse stagger might make these pickups feel somewhat off balanced compared to what most Strat players are accustomed to, they do give the set a unique feel. And while they sound great with both clean and dirty tones, they remain vintage-style pickups. Players that are looking for a modern, hotter tone for their single-coil Strats might want to take a look at Duncan’s Hot Strat Calibrated Set or their Hot Rails For Strat. But for those of you out there who crave that classic Strat tone -- albeit with a Hendrix-style twist -- the Seymour Duncan Jimi Hendrix Signature set has plenty of vintage style and magic like the man himself!

 

If you have any questions regarding the purchase of the Jimi Hendrix Strat Set, Jimi Hendrix Loaded Pickguard or any other piece of gear we carry, don't hesitate to chat with one of our friendly PAL pros by using the live chat feature below or by calling us toll-free at 1 877-671-2200!

 

 

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