#1
Brand new pickup from Duncan. New wind, new magnet. I got it just before heading to Denmark so I tried it over there. I'm probably one of the first persons in the UK to get one not that it's good for anything but eh. So I tried it in a guitar very similar to the one it's going to go in (a Charvel 375 vs my Charvel model 4) and I played it through a JCM800 2203 with KT88 in the power section, through its matching straight 412 with vintage 30s I believe.


Anyway right now the pickup in my Charvie is a Duncan Jazz, so far my favorite duncan. It's full of harmonics, tightens up with gain, stays very clear no matter how much gain you use. I've also used throughout the years the Duncan FullShred, Custom, Custom with A8 mag, Distortion, JB, Screaming Demon, DiMarzio megadrive, BK Miracle Man... i'm also familiar with the sounds of the EMGs 81 and 85 and the duncan Invader. So far the Jazz worked better for me than all of these. I don't really care for the much lower output.

The Alternative 8 is absolutely BRILLIANT. I thought I'd be weirded out going back to such a high output pickup... but not so this way. With the amp's gain on 10 (A LOT of gain), we managed to get a perfectly clean sound just using the guitar's volume control. I am NOT exaggerating. No distortion at all. The clean sound was still thick and very musical sounding.

With gain it's very clear sounding. 9chords and the likes sound as they should. The low end is very tight, and I've never heard such a meaty midrange. There is NO Mud. It's not however a real bright pickup. But I'm guessing in a single guitar mix it'd be amazing. Veeeert thick, full of harmonics and very powerful. This will be MEAN to your amp's front end by the way. But not mushy like most high output buckers can be. And bonus, it cleans up with the guitar's pot very well, better than most humbuckers I tried so far. My other main guitar, a much brighter Fender Strat, has a duncan Custom with A8 mag and I MUCH prefer the Alternative 8.

Thing is, this pickup is brand new. Not just an existing wind with a new mag. It's been designed around the new mag so it's not necessarily something we're used to. I felt it was quite something special.

I could do with less output. But the pickup would sound very different then. Right now I'm very happy with it and I can't wait to try it out with my own rig!

Any questions? Sorry for the limited review, you'll get more later of course.
#3
None. We'd recorded stuff at Niels' house (designer of Carl Martin's Plexitone and AC/Tone) but it got corrupted I don't have any recording gear back in Edinburgh sorry.
#4
Incredible.. the forum is full of people who think they know what they're talking about and advise whichever pickup they own without caring if it fits the thread starter's needs, and when there comes along a (hopefully) meanigful and useful pickup review of a brand new model no one seems to even care...
#5
i'd be interested in hearing it, or seeing a link for it, or a little more info.
#7
Nope. Passive. I don't use active pickups. It's got a HELL of an output though. So far it seemed to be more than any pickups I tried.

No soundclips sorry. Nothing to do them with. They're on the Seymour Duncan website, pretty easy to find. They've JUST come out, I got one of the first built and sold.
#8
nice...imo - keep the info coming. i've been researching this HB for about 3 weeks but not too many people have their hands on it yet. The jist I learned several weeks ago was that this new pickup is the best of both worlds from a gainy-distorted to clean. Is this a SH-15 alt 8?

i want one
#9
Yep. The Alternative 8's Duncan number is SH15. It really is an outstanding pickup guys. It's not as clear as say, a jazz or FullShred but it's clear enough. It cleans up better from the guitar's volume than both, in my experience, the Custom and Distortion and it's slightly ballsier than both of these.
My take on it is, if you have a balanced guitar you'll be overpowered some and with a lot of bass (no mud though trust me, just a big fat yet tight bass). In say, a brightish Strat like mine it'd be right at home and be brightened up some.
#11
tnx Pott. Can I ask how/where you bought it? And how much? I realize you are not in US. I don't think it is too expensive is it? $100 bucks?

I have a Standard HSS strat and I wouldn't want it to over-power my SCoils. thoughs?
#12
Never tried a C5. I'm a big fan of the standard Custom though with ceramic mag.

It was $90 shipped to the Netherlands. Much cheaper if I lived in the US. As it's a brand new model you'll find some for easily around $80 to $85 I think. They're a little more expensive than standard Duncans because of the weird-ish mag.

They WILL overpower your single coils. This is one of the highest output pickups I've ever played. So either you set it as low as you can and your single coils as high as you can, either you use a boost pedal to level up the volume on the SCs. But it would only complement well some pretty high output single coils. Right now my Strat's got Custom (with A8 mag), Quarter Pounder and Vintage staggered at the neck. The single coils get noticeably less loud. It's part of what I want so it's ok but it's a BIG difference.
#13
tnx - i do not have high output single coils i think (MIM tex mex i think HSS) so i am really curious - for the money as that is on par with SH4,5 or JB.

on a strat what do you think? for Page/Hendrix/Slash or Frusciante tone? Recognizing the 60htz hum or whatever what do you think would happen with this pup noise if I put it in pos 3 strait up w/ no HB?
still want it and i'm glad you have tried one (first one?)
buy online?
#15
yep

very true forsaknazrael. maybe i'm more curious as to what happens if i turn this HB off as i like to play all the above.....and there parts of each of these great players that i like incorporate into my playing and i'm worried about the SC hum if i'm *neck strat mode*

oh, and my pedal, although not analog and not the greatest helps me switch back and forth yo
#16
How do you think these would sound in basswood?
RIP Jasmine You.

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Quote by FaygoBro420
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#17
Quote by 311ZOSOVHJH
yep

very true forsaknazrael. maybe i'm more curious as to what happens if i turn this HB off as i like to play all the above.....and there parts of each of these great players that i like incorporate into my playing and i'm worried about the SC hum if i'm *neck strat mode*

oh, and my pedal, although not analog and not the greatest helps me switch back and forth yo

Turn it off? I don't understand what you mean.
#18
sorry..i'm new. if i put my strat into 3 position on the 5 way pickup selector then i should only pick up the Middle Single Coil and a little HB hum too right? If I put it into pos 1 then I should get nothing but the new HB. In that scenario do i get any unwanted cycle hum and only the Humbucker? For 100 bucks this pup seems like a good way to upgrade my HSS. sorry for long post...

I'll tell you what, I am not an expert and and in learning mode only. What I learned on the Seymour Duncan SH-15 alt 8 was that it combines both worlds of SH5 disti and JB clean by using the volume control...I want to research before i make the wrong decision...and yes i need a tube amp or all of this is not.
#19
I really don't like the JB, and I don't think it'll sound like that. The JB would be a bad pick in a Strat, anyway. I usually recommend an SH-11 Custom Custom.

I see what you're saying...But you're mistaken. Here's how it works:
1 - Neck
2 - Neck/Middle (hum canceling)
3 - Middle
4 - Middle/Bridge (if you have an auto coil split, this will be hum canceling, if wired right.)
5 - Bridge
#20
^that is good to know 'cause i was looking at the JB and the Custom Custom. This may be a re-post as my original message did not get thru.

personally, for the money the new SD SH-15 alt 8 will give me the clean up that I need and the gain from an HB.

BTW - my strat lists the position like this:
1 Bridge
2 Bridge and Mid
3 Mid only
4 Mid and neck
5 neck only
HSS
yo
#22
word

yr right! i'm trading my current amp financially for a Blues Jr or Blackheart or Vox.

funny thing is - i never even noticed my current HB until today when i played it thru a Fender Blues Jr....then it came to life my friend

i'll probably start another thread about how to best spend my money and time but u r right on

the strat configs by date and the various pick up options and amps is very confusing to me right now but i am learning.....tnx forsak...
#23
Quote by forsaknazrael
Eh, whichever. It's just numbers...you know what I mean.

I dunno, I wouldn't even worry about your bridge pickup yet. Get a better amp. I have a Strat with 3 single coils in it, and I get some pretty aggressive tones from it, because I have the right amp.


I see you have the Blackouts. Nice.
What amp do you use?
are you strat only?
#24
Guys, the neck + mid position is NOT humcancelling, unless your middle pickup is RW/RP. If it is, then the autosplit won't be unless you do a wiring mod.
I have my Strat wired as standard, with an Autosplit so position 4 is just QP + one coil of the SH5. THAT's humcancelling. Not position 2 though as my Quarter Pounder is not RW/RP.

The guitar I tried it in is basswood. It's not a particularly bright nor dark guitar, but well balanced and somewhat a little smooth ish sounding. She reminded me of my own Charvel model 4 a lot which is why I tried it in her, and Alex's (friend at whose place I tried the pickup) guitar was pickup less so well... all good. My model 4 is basswood too and they're both very similar axes.

311, what'll happen if you put this pickup at the bridge is that all other positions will sound way less loud/distorted. It's a compromise. You'd need SC size humbuckers or hot single coils to compensate for the volume loss if you need to.

And forsa's right, it'll be all about the amp. I only upgrade pickups and the like when I'm happy with my amp and rig sounds. No point otherwise.
#25
tnx - Pott
very helpful....this whole deal has been confusing to me and I think you helped clear some of it up. The Fender site lists my HSS as the HB being #1 pos and Neck pup is #5 pos which i think is adding to confusion.

I am not planning on changing standard wiring or my stock Single Coils. In that case are you suggesting to NOT upgrade my stock HB in my HSS as i like the Straty sound i get from SC too? I have a $100 credit at Guitar Center but i don't have $500 for tube amp. And the stock HB just doesn't sound as thick as i think it should. ....tnx again
#26
The A8 is very thick.

It'll most likely be an improvement but only you can tell if it'll sound 'better'. If you're ready to not use the single coils as much, and set the A8 lower to the strings than the current humbuckers it'll be ok. Like everything it's a compromise. But it'll be a great modification to start with.
I'm suggesting you do whatever YOU prefer but I don't see the A8 as being a bad thing at all even given your current setup. You'll just be a little more limited in regard to the single coils. That's all.
#27
tnx - not sure yet but i will probably go for it and i think i would like to have the satisfaction of learning how to solder. i simply can't find a lot of info on this pup so i'm thankful for your posts and advice. i'll come back to this thread if i further questions on Seymour Duncan's SH-15 Alt 8.

sorry to keep pestering you - but is it fair to say that this new pup 'fixes' some of past issues of quickly switching to clean tones when running a 'dirty' bucker buy using volume control? did i say that right?
can you contrast it to the SH4 or 5?
#28
Mhm how to explain...
If you're using a distortion pedal or a not so great amp, with loads of gain you won't likely get anywhere close to a nice clean tone. That JCM800 I played it through has LOADS of headroom and it contributed to the nice clean sound I got, even with the gain on 10. It's more the exception than the rule.

However what the rule often is, is that ceramic powered pickups tend to clean up less well: more harshly, still with that little distortion in the sound... This one cleaned up nicer I felt, warmer sounding in a way. The SH5 and the SH6 clean up ok, but not as well as the SH15 basically.

I'm not THAT familar with the JB other that I don't like it that much. It's very loose on the low end and has a lot of high mids, so it can be perceived as a very bright pickup. It's great for cutting through a mix, and has a real nice leads voicing. But for heavy metal rhythm a lot of players prefer something else.
The SH5 on the other hand is better suited for rhythm for me. Tighter, more focused low end, slightly more balanced EQ, still bright but not overly. REALLY nice pickup.
The A8 has a very nice sound for leads but had that tight low end and that controlled EQ of the Custom. All with the output of the Distortion

But again keep in mind this is a DIFFERENT pickup with different voicings alltogether. I say it's got bits and bits of this and this, but ultimately it's a sound of its own.
#29
Well, my neck/middle position is hum canceling. One most Strats it is.

Quote by 311ZOSOVHJH
I see you have the Blackouts. Nice.
What amp do you use?
are you strat only?

Um, no, I don't have Blackouts. The thing in my sig is just a joke.
I use a Traynor YCV40 loaded with KT77's.
And I also own an Epi SG G-400, that's my number 1. That Strat has been a recent love affair.

Quote by 311ZOSOVHJH
word

yr right! i'm trading my current amp financially for a Blues Jr or Blackheart or Vox.

funny thing is - i never even noticed my current HB until today when i played it thru a Fender Blues Jr....then it came to life my friend

i'll probably start another thread about how to best spend my money and time but u r right on

the strat configs by date and the various pick up options and amps is very confusing to me right now but i am learning.....tnx forsak...

Start a thread when you decide to get a new amp.


Pott: How would you describe your bridge/middle position's tone?
#30
Not so different Right now I have a Custom with A8 mag and a Quarter Pounder. It's quite a bright guitar so I had to tame her down some. It's basically very ballsy and beefy, but it still sounds like position 4 sound. I use it A LOT. It's humcancelling too but I use it for chicken picking and country is tones. If I want a Tele alike sound too.
#31
tnx guys

will any of these pups we are talking about fit in my HSS strat that has Vintage Synch Trem? I know there are threads on this so I'll use Search too. Someone told me to get a 'trembucker' version of the Seymours. Is that true? Do they make a Trembucker version of these Duncan SH pups we are discussing.

When I played my strat with my pedal thru a Blues Jr yesterday i was AMAZED on how much better my stock HB sounded. But at this time I think I'll give the Alternative 8 a try as I need to burn this GC credit, and start saving now for a tube amp
tnx again - very helpful
#32
Quote by 311ZOSOVHJH
tnx guys

will any of these pups we are talking about fit in my HSS strat that has Vintage Synch Trem? I know there are threads on this so I'll use Search too. Someone told me to get a 'trembucker' version of the Seymours. Is that true? Do they make a Trembucker version of these Duncan SH pups we are discussing.

When I played my strat with my pedal thru a Blues Jr yesterday i was AMAZED on how much better my stock HB sounded. But at this time I think I'll give the Alternative 8 a try as I need to burn this GC credit, and start saving now for a tube amp
tnx again - very helpful

Yeah, they make TB versions of all their humbuckers, AFAIK. I'd get the amp first, sir.

Quote by Pott
Not so different Right now I have a Custom with A8 mag and a Quarter Pounder. It's quite a bright guitar so I had to tame her down some. It's basically very ballsy and beefy, but it still sounds like position 4 sound. I use it A LOT. It's humcancelling too but I use it for chicken picking and country is tones. If I want a Tele alike sound too.

Doh! Forgot, you have the A8 in there. Well, with all single coils, it was pretty bright and thin sounding, right?
#33
The bridge pickup was, but that's most Strat's issues. Not necessarily thin otherwise. Just bright. I had a PATB3 in, which is a pretty balanced/dark pickup and it was too honky and middy for me. Mostly it's high mids but there's a lot of trebles too. The C8 fits fine right now, I doubt I'll change. That Strat needs a flat EQ, and if possible dark pickup.

The A8 will replace a Duncan Jazz in a less brighter, smoother sounding Charvel 4. The Jazz is my favorite ever pickup so I hope the A8 will do it justice it sure did in that 375. With the model 4 I can go for brighter pickups and it sounds amazing. She's got a very nice natural voice, so most pickups sound great in her. The jazz is so far the one that sounded best.