Seymour Duncan has always innovated, but the Silver Series Zephyr humbucker set ($1,195 retail/$995 street) is easily their most ambitious pickup design yet, featuring bimetallic polepieces and— most obvious—cryogenically treated silver wire coils. According to Duncan, silver wire offers lower resistance than the usual copper wire used in pickups, yielding more frequency detail, and less loss throughout the frequency spectrum. Silver wire also winds more easily and has lower microphonics. On the flip side, the use of silver is why the Zephyrs are so bloody expensive.
I popped the Zephyrs into a Gibson SG and played through a variety of amps, including a Fender Deluxe Reverb and Twin Reverb, a mid-’70s Marshall 50-watt head through a Marshall 4x12, and a Victoria Regal combo. The Zephyrs have an expansive range with more than your average amount of punchy highs, lows, and mids, yet the pickup remains extremely balanced sounding. More so than many humbuckers, the Zephyr’s ability to translate sparkling highs and chewy-yet-chimey upper mids is exceptional. And although the Zephyrs manage to impart a clean, even sound (silver is often found in highend audio applications such as moving-coil phono cartridges, tube amp output transformers, and speaker cables) they don’t sound clinical or sterile. Quite the opposite, in fact, as they’re dense sounding when you lay into the strings, or slightly airier when you pick lightly.
With distorted tones, the Zephyrs excel at delivering tight, exacting textures that work well with simmering medium overdrives and searing, modern gain-heavy settings. As with the clean tones, the Zephyr keeps control over distorted proceedings with a high-focus detail that oozes clarity and density, while providing a fast, tactile feel under your fingers. Zephyrs have more output than a vintage humbucker (though they’re certainly not in the “hot” realm), and their extended tonal response does yield a fatter frequency sandwich than a standard pickup. Kudos to Seymour Duncan for making a pickup that is unlike anything else available, both in construct and sonics.
Kudos A big sounding humbucker with extended everything. Very musical and dynamic.
Contact Seymour Duncan, (805) 964-9610; seymourduncan.com