Vintage Meets Not-So-Vintage:
The 59/Custom Hybrid Humbucker

Seymour Duncan's 59/Custom Hybrid humbucker is a compromise between a vintage PAF and a higher-output pickup.

My ears perked up when I heard about Seymour Duncan’s new 59/Custom Hybrid bridge humbucker. I’d never tried a pickup that combined coils from two very different pickups — in this case, the ’59, a vintage-accurate PAF, and the Custom, long described as “a PAF on steroids.”

I was eager to hear how a  hybrid pickup would blend with a vintage-style neck PAF. My test guitar was a Hamer 20th Anniversary retrofitted with Antiquity Humbuckers. (It originally had a JB/’59 pair.)

I had several burning questions:

• Could I could get a hotter bridge tone without losing too much treble definition?
• Would the more powerful bridge pickup overpower the neck pickup?
• Could I still get a delicate, chiming clean tone?
• How would it sound in split-coil mode (which solos the hotter Custom coil)?
• How would the split-coil bridge blend with the neck pickup?

I made some before-and-after recordings. Have a listen:

First I recorded a clean phrase and a crunch phase using the original Antiquity Humbucker and the amp simulations from Apple’s Logic Pro.

Antiquity Clean Phrase (Vox amp model) Antiquity Crunch Phrase (Marshall amp model)

Then I popped out the bridge Antiquity Humbucker and soldered in the 59/Custom Hybrid. (I would have used a solder-less Liberator pot, but I needed a push/pull pot for the split-coil option.)

Then my ears perked up all over again. Check it out:

59/Custom Hybrid Clean Phrase (Vox amp model) 59/Custom Hybrid Crunch Phrase (Marshall amp model)

It’s a cool compromise with the Antiquity. You get a lot more “push” relative to the Antiquity, yet the pickup still does nice, pretty clean tones.

Next, I tried blending the pickups and mixing in the split-coil tones. I switched over to an analog amp are played a clean passage that incorporates all five pickup combinations (neck, bridge humbucker, bridge split coil, neck and bridge humbucker, and neck with bridge split coil, in that order).

59/Custom Hybrid Mixed Settings Clean

Then I added a homemade overdrive for some scuzzier sounds, once more cycling through all five combinations:

59/Custom Hybrid Mixed Settings Crunch

I really dig this pickup.

Anyone else had experience using pickups with “mismatched” coils? Any observations?

3 comments to Vintage Meets Not-So-Vintage:
The 59/Custom Hybrid Humbucker

  • Jakob

    Really tempted to pick up one of these… Too bad I don’t have a spare guitar to put it in, might have to do some Tonefiend DIY and upgrade a cheapo:)

  • Mike

    I phoned MJ at the Custom Shop a couple of days ago… I’ve ordered a 59/Custom Hybrid bridge and a Pearly Gates neck, both non-potted, with aged gold Antiquity covers, but in the normal four wire configuration… am looking forward to installing them on my 1976 Ibanez LP copy.  Since I already have the “standard” JB bridge Jazz neck combo in one guitar, and a JB bridge 59 neck in another guitar, the 59/Custom seemed on paper what I was looking for in a new bridge humbucker… after hearing these sound clips, I definitely know I am not going to be disappointed!  Paired with a Pearly Gates in the neck should prove to be a great match.

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