Black Winter review by Seymour Duncan

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  • Sound: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.5 (11 votes)
Seymour Duncan: Black Winter

Price paid: $ 199

Purchased from: zZounds

Sound — 9
I am playing with the set installed on a Jackson PDXT though a Peavey 6505MH and a Carvin 1x12 cab with a V-30 speaker. Although being marketed as "KVLT black metal" pickups, they can do so much more! I play metal and try to emulate my favorites (Megadeth, Death, Cannibal Corpse, Immortal, etc), and these pickups are great for those genres. They handle low tunings very well without getting too muddy. Palm muting and chugging sounds brutal and very full. The neck pickup is great for leads, not being too shrill and having just the right amount of gain.

For being such hot pickups, they clean up extremely well. The bridge pickup is actually useful for cleans. Usually, I find that bridge pickups sound too thin for cleans, but not the Black Winter. The neck pickup is fantastic for cleans as well being rather warm (especially when rolling back the volume). They're also great for fingerpicking classical pieces.

Reliability & Durability — 10
It's difficult to rate the durability of a pickup, since they're not the part of a guitar that takes much abuse. That being said though, I have never known Seymour Duncan to put out a poorly made product. I have had numerous sets of Seymour Duncan pickups and they all are made with attention to detail. They have fantastic quality control! Seymour Duncan includes all the necessary parts to install the pickups. Easy to read wiring diagrams can be found on their website.

Assuming I don't do something really stupid to my guitar or the pickups themselves, they sound last a lifetime. Being passive pickups, you don't have to mess with a battery, so there's one less thing to go wrong!

Overall Impression — 9
Sure, the box this pickup set comes in screams METAL, but if you're looking for a versatile pickup set, give these a shot. They're similar to the SH-6 set from Duncan, but clean up much better. They really can do everything from jazz to blistering metal. The Old English font of the face of each pickup is a cool touch that adds to the pickups' "KVLT" status. The Black Winter set is an enormous upgrade from the EMG HZs that came with my guitar (those are absolute garbage, EMG needs to stop making them). The set is a bit expensive at $199 USD, but well worth it.

9 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I put the black winters in the bridge of both of my 7 strings. I love them. Tons of bite in the tone through the Mesa Rectifier. One thing I immediately noticed was how my playing tightened up. The response of the black winters aligned very well with my pick attack and cleaned up my playing. I'm not too good with audio description words, so it's tough to describe. Maybe the ceramic magnet and high output helped remove unwanted dynamics.     I had a SD JB-7 in one guitar and a 7-string SD RTM in the other before switching,
    I was worried they would be incredibly shrill and 'fuzzy' to give you that early 90's Black Metal tin can recording feel. But I bought them none the less after listening to countless demo's etc. but you never know until they are in your guitar, your amp, your space.. But they weren't shrill at all. They have a ton of output, which if you have a noise gate, should keep some of that hiss contained, but I was pleasantly surprised. They are dynamic, responsive and add elevated presence. The neck pickup is great I agree. I was using previously EMG 81/60 and the 60 would kind of kill some of my sustain at times and the BW handles it beautifully. Has great resonance. I do prefer the cleans from the 81/60's though, but ill take the dirt of the Black Winter any day.I probably just haven't adjusted my clean settings enough to compensate the output.
    I used to own an LTD EC-500 with an EMG 81/60 combo and I definitely prefer the Black Winters. I feel like the cleans are much more organic and not so compressed. 
    You're right. I went back and adjusted the settings on my Modeler. BW cleans are much more balanced and less sterile than the 81/60s with the right settings.  Cheers
    Were these the active or passive mounts? Also, how do these stack up towards the Pegasus and nazgul sets? Great review btw!
    These are passive pickups. As for a comparison between the Pegasus and/or the Nazgul, I can't say. I have no experience with either of those. 
    Has anyone tried putting black winter pickups in a semi hollow guitar? Would it sound good for stoner music? 
    Placing the Black Winters in a semi-hollow? That sounds like fun!  For stoner music, these would be a good choice, but I think the better choice would be a SH-14. The bottom end is much fatter than the Black Winters and they still have plenty of output.