Price paid: $ 25
Purchased from: ricardo.ch
Sound: This review is the BRIDGE version! This pickup is not the absolute output monster, it has way less output than SH6, SH8 or SH4, but in my opinion the output level is a completely overrated factor when choosing a pickup. The amp I'm using is an Engl E 650 Ritchie Blackmore Signature 100. This pickup has Alnico V magnets, which gives it a pretty warm, defined sound with medium high output. It's got quite some bass, so if you use a rather muddy amp this could be a bit too much in combination with a mahogany guitar. With some tight amp like the Engl this is no problem at all. The mids are smooth and loud, and the treble is rather balanced and tamed. I am aware that I am completely contradicting the tone guide on Duncan's website, but that's just my impression. In my opinion the full shred is perfect for people looking for a detailed, dynamic and wood-responsive hi-gain pickup. I am a metal player, and it's more than suited for that with the right amp. It's strengths lie in progressive metal, technical death metal, melodic death metal and shred stuff imo, but it's suited for all other subgenres as well. Maybe a bit too nice, smooth and polished sounding for going to the most extreme edges of brutal death (Devourment, Defeated Sanity...), but Suffo, Dawn Of Demise and thrash like Kreator, Testament or Exodus sounds very convincing. As the name indicates, it's a very good lead pickup! The attack just seems perfect for leads, it doesn't stab your ears on the higher strings but still gives you a very pronounced pick attack. It's also very dynamic and responsive to different picks, picking angles and picking position, it really captures all the details of your playing. If you know what you are doing you are rewarded with such a colorful, deep and emotional lead tone like I've never heard of any other pickup. Cleans as a humbucker break up pretty fast, but tastefully. Split it sounds convincingly stratty, nothing to complain about. Definitely not the metallic, sterile clean often found on ceramic pickups. 10, one of my fav pickups of all time. // 10
Reliability & Durability: It's already 7 years old, and I haven't encountered any problems with shielding or potting yet. And even if they would appear, that's just natural and easily fixable. 100% dependable if you don't mess up the wiring (which I kinda did first try... Stupid me cold soldered all the way through, was a complete mess to remove all the excess solder).
The installation is actually very simple, Duncan's diagrams are very easily understandable, you just have to inform yourself a bit on soldering if you never soldered before. I think I you search for soldering basics on YouTube you'll find some very good vid. The trick is apparently to heat the piece you're soldering and not to heat the solder... Can't really say anything about how it looked like new, but for a 7 year old pickup it still looks and works very good. I'll give it a 9. // 9
Overall Impression: I bought a used set of shred bridge and full shred neck version from the swiss imitation of ebay almost 2 years ago, both for 50 bucks. I currently have them in my Schecter hellraiser special (mahogany/maple body, set in maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, string thru bridge), and before that pair was in my Jackson JS32T Kelly (indian cedro body, bolt on maple neck, rosewood fingerboard. My Schecter came with EMG 81/8585 stock, and I was pretty happy with it for the first week - until I grabbed my Kelly with the full shreds again. Even that 300 bucks guitar completely humiliated the Schecter sound wise, and unplugged the Schecter is by far the better sounding guitar! Kelly had more balls, more definition, more character, more life, and due to me being a heavy picker in combination with the very dynamic response of the full shred even more gain! When I then put the set into my Schecter I pretty much found the perfect tone. The combination with the full shred Neck version and a push pull pot for splitting gives you tremendous versatility, tonally I can really fit into every musical context! What I absolutely love about these pickups is their reaction to my playing. I have all the control over my tone in my fingers (with the disadvantage that I sound like shit if I have a bad day), something you'll never experience with actives or even ceramic magnets. Those 50 bucks must have been one of the best investments I've ever made, for the price I payed I just have to give it another 10. Even for the retail price I'd have to give it a 10 though. // 10