If you follow all things Seymour Duncan, you will have seen a couple weeks ago that the company announced that Seymour himself has been working on Angus Young’s guitars. Here’s what was said:
“We’ve been working behind the scenes with Angus Young for the past year. His tech, Takumi Suetsugu, contacted Seymour Duncan about dialing in the sound of Angus’ road guitars. Takumi had already been to a few pickup builders before he came to us.
“He worked with Seymour, Evan [Skopp] and Scott Miller, our technical lead, to come up a variation on Pearly Gates that really worked great in Angus’ performance guitars.
“Once AC/DC’s world tour ended, Takumi came up to the factory with Angus’ ‘Number One’ road guitar along one of the other road guitars in his arsenal. The problem with Number One is that it was recently caught in a torrential downpour at an outdoor concert and it wasn’t working right. Furthermore, the other road guitars didn’t sound as good as Number One.
“Our challenge was two-fold: get Number One up and running, and make the other road guitars sound as good as Number One. The first thing [Seymour] did was a complete set of measurements. Then [Seymour] started listening to pickups and winding special humbuckers.
“Meanwhile, [they] were doing repairs to Number One to restore it after the moisture damage. That’s it for now….”
The PG and Gibson Angus Pickups
The Pearly Gates pickup referred to above is a standard (non-Custom Shop) Duncan pickup made to Billy Gibbons’ specs and named after his famous Les Paul. Here’s what Duncan says about this pickup:
“Warm, slightly-hotter-than-vintage humbucker. Great for blues, classic rock, southern rock…. Originally designed as a recreation of the pickups in the ’59 Les Paul Standard that defined the raw, rebellious sound of Texas blues-rock. The Pearly Gates is sweet, but slightly rude, with great sustain and a bright top end that make harmonics jump out of the guitar.” It also notes that the pickup is “for brighter-toned instruments.”
The Pearly Gates uses an Alnico II magnet (usually perceived as “warmer” than an Alnico V magnet), and its DC Resistance (bridge position) is 8.35K, which is right around “vintage” (PAF) level.
You may recall that Gibson makes a signature Angus Young SG which has an Angus Young Special Pickup in the bridge and a Gibson ’57 Classic. Here’s all the info Gibson released about the signature pickup:
“With enamel-coated wire, special Alnico V magnet and matched coils, the Gibson Angus Young Signature humbucker provides a one-two combination of vintage-style punch and ripping tone that will sear through almost anything. Gibson wax-potted the Angus Young Humbucker twice to eliminate unwanted microphonics.”
No idea what a “special” magnet means.
In any case, “vintage” and “hot” appear to describe both pickups, with the biggest apparent difference being the magnet types – though I’m sure there are other differences.
I’m not sure whether Angus has been using his signature Gibson pickups on his stage guitars, but Duncan’s Skopp had this to say about them: “The pickups Angus has been using in his touring guitars are very similar to the Pearly Gates.”
So there you have it.
Which Pickup Can You Get?
It looks like from Gibson’s website that it no longer sells the Angus signature pickup (though you can get one on sale at Musician’s Friend) – which may mean that it’s out of production.
Skopp said that Duncan won’t be producing a signature Angus pickup (which the folks on the Duncan forum dubbed the ‘Hells Bells’), BUT I’ll bet you a dollar that if you call the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop and ask them to build you a repro of the pickup Seymour wound for Angus, they’ll do it. They’re nice folks that way!
Skopp also said this about what Duncan is doing with Angus’ guitars
1) The #1 Black guitar squeals and had some other problems. We’re fixing that.
2) We’re doing a duplicate bridge pickup for the #1 Black guitar in case it goes down.
3) We’re matching the red guitars to the #1 so he’ll have more “go to” live guitars.
Hells Bells, Largo, MD, 1981
[Listen to how bell-like Malcolm’s tone is here compared to Angus. That’s true of the three live vids I listened to on this tune.]
Sites That Link to this Post
- WoodyTone! - What To Learn from the New Angus SG | November 23, 2009