Seymour Duncan 59/Custom Hybrid – review

An awesome blend of vintage and modern humbucker tone.

The new Seymour Duncan 59/Custom Hybrid has an interesting beginning compared to many other humbucker designs. First created by a member of the Seymour Duncan community forum, it was born from two different pickups. The classic 59 Bridge screw coil, with thicker 42 gauge wire, and the modern Custom slug coil, utilising the thinner 43 gauge wire. The end result of this is a bridge pickup with the vintage warmth of a classic PAF style pickup, and the modern edge of a modern high output pickup.

Once again I installed this in my test guitar, the Japanese-made Ibanez RG450DX. It’s basswood body and maple neck/rosewood fretboard provide a fairly neutral tone, great for testing pickups. In the neck I currently have a DiMarzio Dominion neck humbucker. I’ll be testing 59/Custom Hybrid with the Dominion in split and series modes.

The 59/Custom Hybrid is a medium output bridge pickup, with a tight bass, a rich midrange, and crisp, but not piercing treble. It is a harmonically rich pickup, thanks to its mis-matched coil winds, and sounds particularly amazing with some dirt. With a resistance of 11.5KOhms the 59/Custom Hybrid is a very dynamic pickup, responding nicely to a players touch. Natural and artificial harmonics pop out with ease with this pickup.

Distorted, rhythm playing sounds great with the 59/Custom Hybrid. The tight bass response, and rich mid-range offers a great tight crunch, while still retaining a full woody tone. Lead work at the low end of the fretboard really cuts through the mix, and pick attack and angle can clearly be heard and used to its full potential. Things may get a little too shrill for some higher up the fretboard, but blending the 59/Custom Hybrid with a suitable neck pickups reduces the high end, and still retains some of the bridge pickup’s great tone.

Switch to a clean tone and the 59/Custom Hybrid provides a dynamic range in which to really express yourself. Play softly and a beautiful warm tone is present, dig in hard and everything gets brighter and more focussed. Hit the strings really hard and things start to crunch just enough to give you some edge to your tone without it being overdriven. If you find that the clean tone of the 59/Custom Hybrid is a bit too bright and gritty it sounds great combined with a neck humbucker. A great thick rhythm tone which never gets to muddy can be found here. It’s also useful for clean leads at the lower end of the fretboard.

Splitting to the Custom slug coil, and the inside coil of the neck humbucker yields great strat-like tones with some nice twang. This works nicely with clean and slightly overdriven tones. It might also suit some country players.

Seymour Duncan recommend the 59/Custom Hybrid for blues, rock, pop and classic rock, but I think this is selling the pickup a bit short. Sure it’s all good for these genres, but the pickup is capable of offering a fantastic platform for heavier rock, and some less extreme styles of metal. Eddie Van Halen tone chasers may dig this pickup quite a bit as a middle ground to cover his earlier and later guitar tones. I also found the 59/Custom Hybrid a great tool for great modern punk rock tones.

Overall the Seymour Duncan 59/Custom Hybrid is an extremely versatile bridge pickup, capable of covering many styles. It’s blend of vintage warmth and openness, combined with a modern edge makes it quite a unique pickup that should become very popular. We have to thank both the members of the Seymour Duncan community forums for creating and popularising the design amongst DIY types, and Seymour Duncan for recognising this for what it is, a really fantastic pickup.

Here’s a demo of the 59/Custom in a few mostly high gain type samples:

Apologies for the crackly audio, my instrument interface isn’t the greatest.

A big thanks goes to Dominant Music, the Australian distributor for Seymour Duncan, for providing me with the 59/Custom Hybrid to review.

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