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Seymour Duncan 59 Sh-1N: The Classic Humbucker That Defined the Sound of Rock
When it comes to classic humbucker pickups, the Seymour Duncan 59 SH-1N stands out as one of the most iconic and revered models in the history of electric guitar. Known for its warm, articulate, and versatile tone, the 59 has been a go-to choice for countless guitarists across a wide range of genres, from blues and rock to jazz and metal. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history, design, features, and applications of the Seymour Duncan 59 SH-1N, and explore why it remains a legendary and timeless pickup to this day.
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1. Seymour Duncan: The Man and the Company Behind the Legend
To understand the significance of the 59 SH-1N, it’s important to first know a bit about the man and the company who created it. Seymour Duncan, born in New Jersey in 1952, is a self-taught guitar repairman, luthier, and pickup designer who has been active in the industry since the 1970s. In 1976, he founded Seymour Duncan Pickups, which quickly became a leading brand in the world of guitar electronics. Today, Seymour Duncan is a household name among guitarists, known for his innovative designs, meticulous craftsmanship, and unwavering commitment to quality and tone.
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2. The Origins and Evolution of the 59 SH-1N
The 59 SH-1N was first introduced by Seymour Duncan in 1979, and was based on the design of the original PAF (Patent Applied For) humbucker pickups that were produced by Gibson in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The PAF pickups were known for their warm, rich, and expressive tone, and were used on some of the most iconic recordings in the history of rock music, from Led Zeppelin to Guns N’ Roses. However, due to changes in production methods and materials, the quality and consistency of PAF pickups declined over time, leading to a demand for high-quality replacements.
Seymour Duncan’s 59 SH-1N was designed to capture the essence of the original PAFs, while incorporating modern improvements in materials and construction. The SH-1N uses Alnico V magnets, which provide a strong, clear, and balanced output, as well as vintage-style plain enamel wire, which enhances the natural warmth and complexity of the sound. The pickup also features adjustable pole pieces, which allow for fine-tuning of the balance and response of each string.
Over the years, Seymour Duncan has continued to refine and expand the 59 SH-1N line, offering variations such as the 59/Custom Hybrid, the 59/JB Hybrid, and the 59/Custom. These pickups incorporate different magnet types, wire gauges, and output levels, to suit a wide range of playing styles and genres.
3. The Sound and Performance of the 59 SH-1N
So, how does the 59 SH-1N actually sound? In a word: amazing. The 59 SH-1N is known for its warm, creamy, and articulate tone, with a full-bodied midrange, smooth treble, and tight bass. The pickup excels at clean and overdriven tones alike, delivering a sweet and singing lead tone, a fat and chunky rhythm tone, and everything in between. The 59 SH-1N is also highly responsive to playing dynamics, allowing for expressive and nuanced playing.
The 59 SH-1N is a popular choice among blues, rock, and classic metal guitarists, who value its ability to deliver vintage-inspired tones with modern clarity and versatility. It’s also a favorite among jazz players, who appreciate its smooth and rounded sound, and its ability to handle complex chords and extended solos. Whatever your style or genre, the 59 SH-1N is a pickup that can help you achieve a classic, timeless, and inspiring tone.
4. Installing and Using the 59 SH-1N
Installing a Seymour Duncan 59 SH-1N pickup is a straightforward process, and can be done by most guitarists with some basic tools and knowledge. The pickup comes with a wiring diagram and mounting screws, and can be installed in a variety of guitar models and configurations. It’s important to note that the 59 SH-1N is a humbucker pickup, meaning it cancels out unwanted noise and interference, but also requires a 4-conductor wiring setup for full flexibility. If you’re unsure about how to install or wire a pickup, it’s always a good idea to consult a professional guitar technician or luthier.
Once installed, the 59 SH-1N can be used in a variety of playing contexts, from bedroom practice to stadium concerts. The pickup responds well to different types of amplifiers and effects, and can be used with a wide range of playing techniques and styles. Whether you’re playing fingerstyle arpeggios, power chords, or slide guitar, the 59 SH-1N can help you achieve a rich and compelling tone that will inspire you and your audience alike.
Q: What’s the difference between the Seymour Duncan 59 and the 59 SH-1N?
A: The Seymour Duncan 59 is a series of humbucker pickups that includes various models, such as the 59 SH-1N, the 59/Custom, and the 59/JB Hybrid. The 59 SH-1N is a specific model that’s known for its warm and versatile tone, and is often used in the neck position of guitars. The other 59 models offer different tonal characteristics and applications, such as higher output, more clarity, or a combination of humbucker and single-coil sounds.
Q: Can the Seymour Duncan 59 SH-1N be used with distortion or high-gain settings?
A: Yes, the 59 SH-1N can handle distortion and high-gain settings with ease, thanks to its balanced and tight low-end, and its smooth and responsive midrange. The pickup is often used by rock and metal guitarists who want a classic, vintage-inspired tone with modern clarity and punch.
Q: What guitar models are compatible with the Seymour Duncan 59 SH-1N?
A: The Seymour Duncan 59 SH-1N can be used with a wide range of guitar models and configurations, including Les Paul-style guitars, Strat-style guitars, Tele-style guitars, and many more. It’s important to note that the pickup requires a 4-conductor wiring setup for full flexibility, and that some guitar models may require minor modifications or adjustments for optimal performance.
Q: How does the Seymour Duncan 59 SH-1N compare to other humbucker pickups on the market?
A: The Seymour Duncan 59 SH-1N is widely regarded as one of the best humbucker pickups on the market, thanks to its rich and versatile tone, its high-quality materials and construction, and its legendary status among guitarists. However, there are many other great humbucker pickups available, each with their own unique characteristics and applications. It’s always a good idea to try out different pickups and see which one suits your playing style and needs the best.
Q: Can the Seymour Duncan 59 SH-1N be used for clean and jazzy tones?
A: Yes, the Seymour Duncan 59 SH-1N is a great pickup for clean and jazzy tones, thanks to its smooth and rounded sound, and its ability to handle complex chords and extended solos. Many jazz guitarists use the 59 SH-1N in the neck position of their guitars, combined with a brighter and more articulate pickup in the bridge position, to achieve a balanced and versatile tone.
In conclusion, the Seymour Duncan 59 SH-1N is a legendary humbucker pickup that has stood the test of time, and continues to inspire guitarists around the world. Whether you’re a blues player looking for warm and expressive tones, a rock player seeking fat and chunky rhythms, or a jazz player aiming for smooth and rounded chords, the 59 SH-1N can help you achieve your sonic goals. With its classic design, high-quality materials, and versatile applications, the 59 SH-1N is a pickup that deserves a place in every guitarist’s arsenal. So, if you’re looking for a humbucker pickup that can deliver the goods, look no further than the Seymour Duncan 59 SH-1N.