SH-18 Whole Lotta Humbucker Set Review

manufacturer: Seymour Duncan date: 08/09/2013 category: Pickups
Seymour Duncan: SH-18 Whole Lotta Humbucker Set
For classic rock and especially British Invasion tone these bad boys are serious.
 Sound: 10
 Overall Impression: 10
 Reliability & Durability: 8
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
review (1) 1 comment vote for this gear:
overall: 9.3
SH-18 Whole Lotta Humbucker Set Reviewed by: ne14t, on august 09, 2013
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Price paid: C$ 220

Purchased from: Long and McQuade

Sound: The output level of the WLH set is a moderate Vintage output, essentially they are a slightly overwound PAF with some other tasty little mods. The set replaced a set of '57 Classic Plus pickups in my Gibson Traditional which are exact replicas of PAFs the '57s had a resistance of 7K and 7.1K where as the WLH set has a resistance of 8.2K and 8.78K, and I certainly heard an immediate difference between the two sets. The WLH set pushed the amp more because of the higher output getting you more sustain and distortion, but they also have a bit of noticeable compression that honestly gave me shivers. The high strings have also had the power of their magnets boosted with some sort of witchcraft to help bring them up to the same output level of the low strings so they really cut through which the '57s didn't do as good, this was also one of the things I really liked about the WLH set. The tone of these pickups is EXACTLY what you would think it to be, after I dropped them into my guitar I played the intro riff to "Whole Lotta Love" and the intro riff to "Black Dog" and it was Page's tone almost dead on, and this was direct into a cranked Marshall Haze 15 with the gain at about 2 o'clock-ish, I literally had a huge grin from ear to ear. They are quite balanced when used together or separately, sometimes I find the neck pickup on a guitar can be a bit too bassy on its own or the bridge pickup could be too sharp on its own but neither of these pickups have exhibited that problem. While this is a moderate output pickup it certainly wouldn't cut it for the metal heads out there especially on its own. It could be a nice pickup to use for metal as even with fairly high gain it still rings out each note really clearly; however you would certainly need a pedal to stack some more gain onto it. But for that classic rock and especially British Invasion tone these bad boys are serious. 10/10 - I honestly tried really hard to find something wrong with these pickups but I can't and I am still waiting on new capacitors before I wire in the push/pulls to take advantage of the 4-wire connectors. Even using stock Gibson ceramic disc caps these pickups really shine, can only imagine what some paper in oil caps will do to them! They are exactly what I expected and more, and being a Jimmy Page pickup they certainly pull of the tone with very little effort. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I have been in possession of these pickups since they were available to purchase in about mid spring, I have had absolutely no indication that there is any design flaws or short comings in the quality. They really thought of everything when they made these pickups. The conductors are shielded to keep out interference, they have short mounting legs so they can be mounted in ANY guitar without running into space issues. The only thing I can caution about durability wise would probably be the conductor wires, they are extremely small and can easily be cut while trying to strip them so you have to use extreme caution. There is enough wire to make a couple mistakes but you don't want to make any or else you wont be able to take them out later and put them in a different guitar. As for the dependability I am not concerned in the least about that, its a set of USA made Seymour Duncan pickups, heck they will probably outlive me! They mount solid and come with extra mounting hardware in case a spring and screw go flying (we have all had it happen!) I will say after trying it NOT to use chemicals to remove the silk screening on the bobbin. I am making a replica of Page's #1 so I needed to remove the Seymour Duncan logo, well the plastic used for the bobbins with these pickups did not like lacquer thinner. Sometimes you can get away with it but in this case even a tiny amount on a q-tip was almost melting the bobbin. I immediately stopped, dried it off and proceeded to use 2000 grit sand paper to sand off the remainder of the logo and fix a bit of the superficial damage. 8/10 - In all reality this could be a 10/10 section but the fact that even a tiny tiny amount of lacquer thinner did as much damage as it did as fast as it did kind of bummed me; however it is my fault and not the pickups. It is though a good indication that the bobbins may have an issue with chemicals or solvents which could come into play when cleaning the guitar (unlikely but not impossible). The neck version I have has the nickel cover on it so it is more protected and I can say the nickel cover is a premium one it looks real thick and nice and glossy so it shouldn't fall victim to the offshore plating syndrome that causes them to fade and rust after a year. Nickel ones come with a thick protective film on them for clean installation as well. // 8

Overall Impression: I love everything about these pickups and hate nothing, but I knew that before even purchasing them. As mentioned I am building a replica of Page's #1 so I was after a specific sound and look and these pickups sure played their part perfectly. They were installed into a 2011 Gibson Honeyburst Traditional, so your standard slab of mahogany/maple/rosewood. I sadly had to utilize my factory wiring components as my local store is still waiting for all parts to deliver my VitaminQ caps but even with stock components they do a great job. The price point is a smidgen higher then a lot of Seymour Duncan's other pickups but only by about $10 for a pickup without a cover and about $20 more for the covered ones which is honestly a great price, I paid $220 after taxes for the set I got (neck covered, bridge uncovered) and I certainly can't complain as it got me closer to the tone I was after for the same as one mid-grade pedal. 10/10 - People might think I am full of it or work for Seymour Duncan or some crap, but I don't. I just picked a great set of pickups for exactly what I needed to do. Anyone wanting Page's tone should look to these pickups even if you don't have a Gibson guitar. Provided its mahogany/maple/rosewood its going to get you into the right ball park, please note this is Page's Les Paul tone these pickups will NOT get you anywhere near his Telecaster tone. TLDR: If you like Led Zeppelin or that whole British Invasion era tone these pickups will be right up your alley otherwise don't bother with them there is probably something better for you. These are the exact same pickups Seymour Duncan used to sell as the Jimmy Page Custom Shop pickups that were originally only retailed in the UK. Video from YouTube:

// 10

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