Price paid: $ 65
Purchased from: Musiciansfriend
Sound — 10
The Super Distortion is a classic high-output pickup. In fact, this pickup essentially gave birth to the world of aftermarket pickups (and the vast array of other options we have today!).
I use this pickup in the bridge position of a Jackson DK2M Dinky, and my primary amp is an Engl Fireball 60. I use this combo for all kinds of hard rock/metal, from early to modern stuff, with an emphasis on '80s era bands/tones. This pickup handles all of those tones with ease, but absolutely nails the '80s sounds! (Which should be no surprise, since countless '70s/'80s era rock/metal guitarists used this pickup).
As it's name suggests, this pickup pushes an amp fairly hard, and likes a lot of gain. It has a thick, ballsy tone, but manages to maintain clarity in high gain situations. Every note in a chord shines through, and single notes scream, allowing lead playing to cut right through the mix in a band situation. Despite being a fairly warm pickup, the low end is surprisingly tight and focused as well. No "muddiness" to speak of - at least not in this guitar!
Rolling back slightly on the volume knob and backing off on your amp's gain will allow you to get a usable clean tone. Don't expect to get a nice, squeaky clean sound that's suitable for something in the vein of jazz/blues/rockabilly out of this pickup. But you can definitely get a usable clean sound for rock & metal.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It's a pickup - Not too much else to really add to that, as pickups aren't typically a guitar part that fails (Any issues from pickups typically stem from improper installation/soldering skills). I've had this pickup in this guitar for a number of years now, and it's held up like a champ. Seems to be very well made. It's even surprisingly quiet for a hot pickup (as in unwanted noise, not the output level!).
If for whatever reason it somehow failed, I wouldn't hesitate to have it repaired or replaced with another one. But I don't see that being an issue.
Overall Impression — 10
It's easy to see why so many rock/metal guitarists love this pickup - It has an ideal blend of power and tone for those styles! If you're a fan of '70s/'80s hard rock and metal, I don't think there's a better pickup for those tones than this one. It can also totally handle more modern rock/metal styles with the right amp! (Though I'm not sure I would recommend it for something like technical death metal or djent, where an extremely articulate/tight tone is required).
Overall, I wanted a pickup that was warmer, and more "natural" sounding than an EMG 81, but also one which had more output, and a tighter low end response than the Seymour Duncan JB that was originally in this guitar. The Super Distortion ended up being exactly that. For classic high gain sounds, and a bit more, it's hard to go wrong with a Super Distortion.