Price paid: $ 175
Purchased from: Seymour Duncan
Sound — 9
The Warren Demartini signature pickup, or Rattus Tonus Maximus (RTM). My trusted local guitar shop technician recommended this pickup to me. I was searching for a pickup that would take my tone in a unique direction. The guitar I installed the RTM in was my beat up classic shaped white "V" made of mahogany with a bolt on maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, and double locking Floyd Rose tremolo. The pickups that I previously installed in the bridge were a Seymour Duncan (SD) JB, SD Screamin' Demon, SD Distortion, DiMarzio X2N, EMG Alexi Laiho, and an EMG 81. I used the SD pickups and DiMarzio with a SD 59 in the neck, an EMG hz with the Alexi Laiho, and an EMG 85 with the 81. The signal chain starts with my guitar, then my Line 6 G30 wireless unit, to my 10-band MXR EQ, to my Bugera 333XL or Peavey 5150, to my two 4x12 Celestion GT75 cabinets. I have been fighting a losing battle to balance my tone. I have been mixing and matching pickups in the afore mentioned guitar for years to get a tone that has great output, presence, eq, and response to my playing style. I play mostly lead guitar on a standard tuned instrument. Unfortunately for my wallet, this is the least imperfect pickup I have found to compliment my fingers. At 175 USD it is relatively expensive. The low end response on the pickup is average. I would not recommend it for rhythm specific applications without the proper eqing. The highs and mids are where the RTM sets itself apart from the other pickups I have tried. They are bold and pronounced without being harsh or uncontrollable. The 17.2 ohms of D.C. Resistance, Alnico 2 magnets, and single coaxial output created a balanced bright tone in my mahogany guitar. People playing alone, with drop tuned guitars in a bedroom, will not be able to appreciate the tones it can produce because it cuts through the mix very well. In a full band situation, especially with two or more guitarists, the RTM cuts through without me having to ruin my tone by turning my mids and highs up to an unacceptable level in a less appropriate place in the signal chain. It excels in the crunch and lead departments under moderate to high gain stages. I would recommend the clean tones for someone who wants to hear individual notes ringing within a chord rather than a thick blended chord of 3 or 4 strings.
Overall Impression — 9
The things that I love about this pickup are the output levels, the eq from the winding, the simplicity of design, and the fact that nobody else in the world has one because it's a custom.:p There are a few people who wind for the SD custom shop. My pickup was wound by Maricela Juarez (MJ) who personally hand-winds all of Warren Demartini's personal pickups. It is signed by Warren Demartini, Seymour Duncan himself, and MJ for quality control. Each pickup is different as evidenced by the different D.C. Resistances I've noticed. I have seen RTMs ranging from 17.1 to 17.8 ohms. Of course you could have the shop make it hotter just for you... The things that I do not like about the pickup are the price and the waiting required for the pickup. The SD custom shop makes great items but do not expect them to come to your doorstep cheap or quickly. I had to wait for around two and a half months and spend close to 200 USD for one pickup. Overall it was worth it. I like the way this pickup interacts with the rest of my stage setup and it gets me one step closer to my unique lead tone. This pickup is the closest thing I have encountered to a perfect 9 (because there is no such thing as a perfect 10) for standard tuned lead guitar. Thank you.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I have had this pickup for a year now and it is still rocking steady. I think that the reliability/durability aspect of a pickup is more in the hands of the player than the pickup manufacturer. If the pickup gets treated roughly or left in an overheated situation where the wax can melt and tweak the pickup (I've done this... Fail) then it is the players fault. The first thing I noticed when I picked it up was the weight. It was much heavier than my other Seymour Duncans, the DiMarzio X2N was roughly the same weight. I didn't compare weight to the EMGs. The pickup comes from the SD custom Shop so I expect it to last at least ten years with proper care.