LiveWire Dave Mustaine Signature review by Seymour Duncan

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (18 votes)
Seymour Duncan: LiveWire Dave Mustaine Signature

Price paid: $ 189

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 8
My main guitar, a Schecter C-1, came with some pretty mediocre pickups from the factory. So I eventually got around to looking for a new set of pickups. Something with a little more clarity, and a little more bite. I didn't want to go with the usual active pickup choice of EMGs, because they had terrible cleans and just sounded a bit too thin for my taste. What I eventually stumbled upon were the Dave Mustaine signature LiveWires from Seymour Duncan. They're basically the same thing as regular LiveWires, just with a bit more gain. The great thing about LiveWires are that while they're active, they still retain the characteristics of their passive Seymour Duncan counterparts. According to the official website, "the resonant frequency of the bridge and neck pickup is matched with that of the SH-4 JB and SH-2n Jazz Model (neck) respectively". This means that even though you'll get ridiculous amounts of power, you won't lose that great SD tone. Unfortunately, my main amp is a solid state modeling amp (no names here). The problem with that is that the guitar itself has a smaller impact on the tone than normal. But, having tested my guitar on a wide variety of amps, tube and solid state, I can honestly say that these pickups have made a huge difference in my tone. They're not muddy, and they're relatively well balanced. Each note has the opportunity to Shine through. These pickups are literally on fire. Don't expect to get a clean tone out of these pickups unless you space them far away from the strings, though. My local guitar tech told me that he had to push the pickups way down, otherwise he couldn't play on the clean channel of his tube amp without the pickups pushing it into overdrive. The bridge position really brings the heat for riffs. It's incredibly chunky, and I don't even have to turn the overdrive on my amp up as high anymore. I play metal mostly, and I tune down pretty far sometimes with thick strings. Not once have I had a problem with the pickups sounding muddy. The neck position is great for leads and cleans. Not the best, but it's still a step up from what I used to have. At times I feel like the sound is a bit too hollow and the cleans are too cold, but that's probably my amp more than anything. When you put the Switch in the middle position and use both humbuckers at once, I think that gives you the best clean tone.

Overall Impression — 8
There isn't much negative to say about this set, unless you don't want ridiculously high gain. You'll have to fiddle around a bit for your clean tones, but if you're buying active pickups, chances are that clean tones don't really run too high on your priority list anyway. If you're looking to compose your own smyphony of destruction, these pickups are for you.

Reliability & Durability — 8
These pickups are rock solid. I actually think I dropped one once before installing it, but I've had no problems. They're nickel plated and they cant' be taken apart, so really the only thing you can manage to screw up is the wiring. In fact, I haven't had any problems with it at all, despite all the sweat that must have dripped inside the pickup rings. The input jack that came with it has been giving me problems though. It may be my cord (it usually is), but I can't tell. I had major problems with my last input jack too. Other than that, it seems pretty damn solid. The nickel plated pickups came with plastic covers over them, which really keep them shiny. I pulled the covers off as soon as I installed the pickups, and man, these things tarnish fast. But, that's just a cosmetic issue. They still sound great. Letting them rust just gives them that "Vintage" look. Overall though, I'd say very reliable pickups. Just change the battery out whenever you hear them getting weak. These pickups are rock solid, and they're ready to go down the killing road and take no prisoners.

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    They're a perfect mix of blues and metal pickups. I installed these in a guitar I built and they are great clean, though I usually go with light fuzz for my strumming bits. it's all up to the player's ear, really. All I can say is they are perfect for the variety I play, and I can't see going back to any passives or EMG actives after having used them. As for tarnish, just wipe the pickups down with a teeshirt or dry soft cloth after every couple uses, and they will last awhile, shining like new. Mine are anyway... 10/10 in my opinion, metalhead or not.
    I have to say, in regards to the sniping and "metal only" application being cited above, some of y'all need to diversify a bit. These pickups aren't just for rock/metal, I've played some great skiffle and country tunes with them too, it's all about your amp and FX setup. I'd hate to see these pigeon-holed Just cause Mustaine's name is on them. Dave's got a great range too, and I'll bet he uses these in his melodic bits as well as the thrash.
    when you have a pickup thats designed for METAL .. obviously you wont be playing any strumming chords on them.. jeeze
    Metalcore Jero
    I don't think anyone who's buying these is REALLY concerned about cleans because afterall, they are METAL pickups
    Mmm, no clean sound? That's a bit disapointing, isn't it? Im not a big Megadeth fan but im sure there must be sections where DM plays with a clean tone and it seems odd then that he designs a pickup with poor clean's. Personally, i play EMG's in the traditional 81/85 set-up. They also have a very usable clean tone and the new line from EMG lets you coil split as well, giving twice as many switching options. I have no doubt these pickups are great for high gain, crunchy rhythm or lead work but with no good clean tone (really? they dont have one?) then i'd pick EMG's instead.
    Amuro Jay
    ^well, it's not that there isn't a good clean sound. You have to set them at the correct distance from the strings to get a good sound. I had a pretty good clean sound when I first got them installed, but I decided to raise the pickups up higher. It made my distorted tone chunkier but my cleans suffered. It is possible to reach a balance though.
    THEY ARE NOT METAL PICKUPS F**K!!! I have this pickup set in my ltd M-1000 w/Floyd Rose, the emgs had horrible cleans compared to the Dave Mustaine LW. The wiring set up I have is just volume and a three way switch,which means more power to the pickups and I can still play anything from Clapton to JFAC with the proper amount of clean and gain.
    I have these in two guitars. I haven't had the issue with cleans, but mostly because I have tweaked and tinkered for a while. I agree though...they tarnish VERY quickly. All in all, great sounding pickups.
    "These pickups are literally on fire." LOL! What did you do to them, man?! Hot pickups aren't supposed to be THAT hot!
    hothot wrote: THEY ARE NOT METAL PICKUPS F**K!!! I have this pickup set in my ltd M-1000 w/Floyd Rose, the emgs had horrible cleans compared to the Dave Mustaine LW. The wiring set up I have is just volume and a three way switch,which means more power to the pickups and I can still play anything from Clapton to JFAC with the proper amount of clean and gain.
    Well, heck, they definitely are not blues pickups idiot.
    Are those pickups good for different kind of metal (and maybe some hard rock?)or only for megadeth? And about the clean tone, it is really that bad? or cant i play metal sont who use clean and distorion (like Systeme of a down)? I'm looking for a new guitar and i'm thinking about those pickups!
    These are super chunky on the bridge...I kind of like it for standard tuning and even drop D, but if you go any further (d flat, C, B, etc.) it gets a bit muddy. Also if you have a mohagany guitar, it'll be even more muddy, so just keep that in mind. With 9's and a les paul in standard tuning the bridge is still really good's definitely a lot better than an EMG81 or even the duncan blackouts...they are just so thin ^_^ -- I think the best EMG comparison with these would be an 85X in the bridge and a 60X in the neck...but these would still win.