Seymour Duncan SH-5 Duncan Custom
Seymour Duncan SH-5 Duncan Custom

SH-5 Duncan Custom , Humbucker guitar pickup from Seymour Duncan in the High Output Humbuckers series.

Mythrandir1 05/21/2015

Seymour Duncan SH-5 Duncan Custom : Mythrandir1's user review

« Versatile and heavy in sound »

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Value For Money : Excellent Audience: Anyone
I purchased Seymour Duncan’s SH-5 bridge pickup because I received a wonderful Fender Strat as a gift but it had only single coil pickups and I needed something beefier and heavier for the music I play. I had the body of the Strat modified to be able to fit in a humbucker pickup and after a good deal of consideration I decided to go with the SH-5. My decision was certainly a good one and I do not regret making it because this SD pickup brought life to my guitar and it improved everything about it when it comes to sound, tone and sustain as well, not to mention the fact that my guitar is now less of a background hummer with the humbucker instead of a single coil pickup which tends to bring out some unwanted background noises.

Features and Sound

The SH-5 bridge pickup is a high output pickup using a ceramic magnet and as with all Seymour Duncan pups that I have some experience with, it comes with 4 conductors giving the more advanced players and modders the option of coil splitting which simply means that the player will have the ability to use the humbucker exactly as a single coil pickup with the simple flick of a switch. The SH-5 is similar to the famous JB pickup from Seymour Duncan. It has a beefy low end, a rich but moderate midrange and a decent amount of treble and while it is a high output pickup, the sound it produces will remain tight and focused at all times by having just the right amount of compression. It still is an open coil pickup but it still has a certain amount of compression to it which keeps the sound just tight enough.

The SH-5 is extremely versatile when it comes to sound and tone and you can literally play pretty much anything with it, depending on the rest of the gear you have available of course. Played clean, the sound it produces seems to be nothing really special but it does sound great to my ears during the few times I actually get to play clean. To me the pickup shines when overdriven or distorted. The sound is heavy with good sustain, natural and pinched harmonics sound very much alive while the rhythmic dead note chugs sound thick and powerful. More or less I made my Stratocaster sound pretty close to my Les Paul and it became much more versatile in sound. Before the modification, the single coil was too weak and lacked a powerful bottom end, especially for metal, but now I can play whatever I want.

Durability and Reliability

I own two Seymour Duncan pickups, the SH-5 and JB (SH-4) and so far I had absolutely no problems with either of them. They are easy to install, they feel extremely solid in your hands, it doesn’t feel like holding a cheap pickup made out of plastic. All Seymour Duncan pickups come with highly detailed installing instructions, including coil splitting and other options you may have other than the standard installation. You can fit your guitar with new pickup yourself, you just need a soldering iron and to pay attention to make the connections properly and solid enough to ensure proper functionality. The older SD pickup I have is a little over 2 years old and not once have I had a problem of any kind with it. I haven’t tried another pickup brand yet, but if I will change my guitar’s neck pickups as well, I will certainly rely on Seymour Duncan pups.

Overall Impression

If you are into hard rock and metal especially, you should really look into this pickup because it may be exactly what you are looking for. I love it mostly because it turned my Strat into something I actually enjoy playing and it made its sound and output much more appropriate for heavier genres of music.
To give you a better idea on how this pickup performs I will attach two covers I recorded using my Fender Strat with the SH-5. One of the covers is one of my favorite songs by Tool and there you can hear how the clean tone sounds, how the harmonics perform, dead note chugs, muted strings and of course a healthy dose of distortion. If you want to skip straight to the distortion part on Tool’s song just go straight to 5:15.

Tool cover -,m.474895.html

Two steps from hell, Heart of Courage arrangement with guitar -,m.474894.html