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Seymour Duncan Duckbucker, Analysis and Review

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by Antigua, Aug 16, 2017.

  1. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between
    www.seymourduncan.com/pickup/duckbuckers-strat-bridge
    www.seymourduncan.com/pickup/duckbuckers-strat-neck

    [​IMG]



    The Seymour Duncan Duckbuckers are marketted as a side-by-side style humbucker, voiced like a typical Strat single coil. The Seymour Duncan "Vintage Rails" are essentially the same pickup, but with half width bladesin place of the six screws. DiMario makes a similar type product in the "Cruiser". Barden's single coil sized humbuckers are also set up to have a more single coil-type sound.

    These pickups have a rather high loaded resonant peak 4.1kHz for the bridge, and 4.5kHz for the neck model. This puts Duckbuckers in "Custom Shop '69" territory, the brighter, more "vintage" side of Strat pickups.

    The screws obviously produce less magnetic strength than typical AlNiCo 5 pole pieces, with a Gauss reading of 600 at the little screw tops. This is fairly similar to AlNiCo 3, though.

    I really like these pickups, not so much for aggressive blues, but for clean Strat tones, rhythm playing, fingerpicking, etc. They produce a delicate tone, not especially percussive. I'd suppose it's due to a combination of a high resonant peak and weaker magnetic pull. The 4.5kHz loaded peak of the neck pickup is higher than most all Strat pickups, while the 4.0kHz bridge is still on the high side. I think this set would be even more Strat-like if you were to just buy three Duckbucker bridge pickups, and use them in all three positions. I've never liked stacked humbuckers. I like this approach to noiseless Strat pickups a lot better.

    The only real advantage to stacked humbuckers (Fender Vintage Noiseless, DiMarzio Area), over Duckbucker-style or Lace Sensors, when it comes to noise-reduced single coil tone, is that stacks look "vintage correct". You can't tell they're humbuckers without some other indication. The problem with stacks, though, is that they cancel out some string movement due to their coaxial design. They look good, but sound less good. Word is that the MojoTone "Quiet Coil Strat" addresses this by hiding a single-coil sized humbucker underneath what looks like a typical Strat pickup. You therefore get the superior design aspect of a single coil sized humbucker, while maintaining a traditional Strat pick up look. A lot of Strat players love the original look of a Strat and simply don't want funny looking pickups. I think it would help with the popularity of Duckbuckers, Vintage Rails, etc. if they embraced this camouflage approach, at least as an option.



    Parallel instead of series

    Most all humbuckers on the market are wired in series. This set, as well as the Vintage Rails, are the only humbuckers that I know of that are intended to be wired in parallel. The reason why it's so rare is because it's generally considered a waste of resources. Seymour Duncan could have instead given the coils of the Duckbucker a fraction of the wind count, then wired them in series, and you could end up with the same inductance values, but having used a lot less wire.

    This set is very similar to the Little '59 set, though since it's wired in parallel, it has the low output / high resonant peak associated with a Strat pickup, rather than a PAF, like the Little '59. I have wired Little '59's in parallel, and I can attest that they sound very much alike. It's a good sound. The Little '59 in parallel is slightly lower in output than a Duckbucker in parallel.

    Full sized humbuckers that have been wired in parallel tend not to sound very much like a Strat, but this situation is different, because the pickups in question, are the correct size, in the correct location, and in the correct guitar. Putting typical Les Paul PAF's in parallel sounds un-Strat-like for various reasons that are unrelated to the parallel circuit itself.

    The upside to the Little '59 and the Duckbucker being so similar is that should you choose to wire the Duckbucker in series instead, you should essentially end up with a Little '59. The plots below indicate that by wiring this pickup in series, you should get a +6dB voltage boost. It can therefore also be said that the Little '59 will produce +6dB greater output than the Duckbucker.


    Six screws instead of twelve

    This is mostly just aesthetics, trying to look vaguely like a "Wide Range Humbucker". Under the plastic cover, there are two full sized coils and full sized blades, but three of the screws are omitted, and the plastic cover omits holes for those screws. If you were to take a Little '59, remove six of the screws, and wire it in parallel, you'd have a Duckbucker. The gauss strength reads around 600 over the screws, and 100 over the plastic void, indicating that there is a steel core in there, below the plastic.

    The underlying difference between a single coil, and two coils side by side, comes down to comb filtering. Comb filtering cuts out bands of frequencies at different intervals, because when the string is moving one way over one coil, it can move the other way over the other coil. The opposing movement causes cancellation of voltage. The farther apart the coils are, the more the comb filtering will cut into lower frequencies. Combining pickups together, such as neck + bridge, or bridge + middle, sounds distinctive, in part, because of this comb filtering. A typical PAF humbucker has coils that are offset by only half an inch, so the comb filtering is present, but mostly effecting higher frequencies above 2kHz, as discussed here.With a single coil sized humbucker, the coils are so close together that the comb filtering is almost non existent, effecting only very high frequency harmonics. Removing one row of screws does reduce comb filtering, but the comb filtering is so minimal to begin with that you're not changing much by doing so.

    It's for the same reason that the close coils make for a true "single coil" tone that the Little '59 doesn't sound all that much like a real PAF. They might get the electrical values close, but the Little '59 can't duplicate the physical comb filtering that is exhibited with a full size humbucker. It would be like trying to make a neck pickup sound like a bridge, or vice versa. They can match the EQ, but they can't match the underlying timbre that is brought about by physical comb filtering.

    J Donald Tillman made an awesome tool where you can see for yourself how the comb filtering pattern changes along with pickup width www.till.com/articles/PickupResponseDemo/

    Seymour Duncan says "Its unique, split-pole pattern with 3 poles on each coil, also contributes to the single coil bounciness and snappy low end." For the reasons stated above, this is not true. It is the parallel wiring, and close proximity of the coils, that causes this "single coil" tone. This is just an attempt to claim that an aesthetic decision has functional merit, which is a very common occurrence in this market. (think "speed holes")


    Q Factor

    Another aspect of Fender single coils that makes them distinctive is a high Q factor, which makes for a stronger treble characteristic that is distinctly surf rock "electric guitar" sounding, and less "acoustic" sounding, like Filter'trons. AlNiCo produces a higher Q because it has low conductivity, and causes low eddy currents, which would otherwise reduce the resonant Q factor. Eddy currents are effectively a series resistance that increases with frequency, and series resistance reduced the Q factor. Pickups with lots of steel parts produce a lot of eddy currents, and therefore have a low Q factor; pickups such as PAF humbuckers and Gretsch Filter'trons. Higher Q factors cause pickups to have a more nasal voicing, while a low Q factor causes a pickup to have a flatter response, more like an acoustic guitar. Strat pickups, with their high Q factor, are therefore more nasal sounding, while Filter'trons and PAF's are more clear and even sounding.

    Since Duckbuckers have a couple of chunky steel blades in between it's two coils, as well as six little steel screws, it should have a lower Q factor also, but the Q factor is actually rather high, just like a Strat pickup, for one reason: extremely low DC resistance. The parallel wiring scheme that you're instructed to follow produces a resistance of 2.9k ohms for the bridge and 2.6k ohms for the neck, which is far lower than any production Strat pickups or humbucker wired in series. The very low DC resistance makes up for the series resistance that is caused by the eddy currents, leading to a resonance with a +5dB voltage at the 4kHz resonance, which is similar to most AlNiCo 5 Strat pickups. If you compare the height of the "loaded series" peaks to the "parallel loaded" peaks in the plots below, you can see that the series wiring produces a lower Q factor, as you'd normally expect.



    Seymour Duncan Duckbucker Bridge SDBR-1B

    DC Resistance:
    - series: 11.71k ohms
    - parallel: 2.918k ohms
    Inductance:
    - series: 5.722H
    - parallel: 1.434H
    Calculated capacitance:
    - series: 256pF (266-20)
    - parallel: 578pF (588-20)

    Resonant Peak:
    - series: dV: 8.0dB f: 4.08kHz
    - parallel: dV: 8.1dB f: 5.48kHz
    Loaded Peaks (200k ohms & 470pF):
    - series: dV: 3.0dB f: 2.28kHz
    - parallel: dV: 5.0dB f: 4.08kHz

    Gauss at hex screw tops center: 600G

    [​IMG]



    Seymour Duncan Duckbucker Neck SDBR-1N

    DC Resistance:
    - series: 10.42k ohms
    - parallel: 2.600k ohms
    Inductance:
    - series: 4.340H
    - parallel: 1.085H
    Calculated capacitance:
    - series: 283pF (293-20)
    - parallel: 595pF (605-20)

    Resonant Peak:
    - series: dV: 7.0dB f: 4.46kHz
    - parallel: dV: 7.6dB f: 6.21kHz
    Loaded Peaks (200k ohms & 470pF):
    - series: dV: 2.4dB f: 2.55kHz
    - parallel: dV: 5.4dB f: 4.57kHz

    Gauss at hex screw tops center: 600G


    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2017
    vid1900, Tomas83, irie and 2 others like this.

  2. TheDuck

    TheDuck Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 12, 2016
    Lil' Rhody
    SD finally named a pick up after me :)

    I was beginning to lose hope. :D
     
    Noahclem, vlxerdon and alainvey like this.

  3. alainvey

    alainvey Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 31, 2015
    London, UK
    Excellent analysis as always.
     

  4. Seymour Duncan

    Seymour Duncan Senior Stratmaster Vendor Member

    Its been there for years, actually.
     

  5. Teleplayer

    Teleplayer Strat-Talker

    466
    May 29, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Thanks for the awesome analysis! It was interesting reading.

    I think the labels on the graphs may have been swapped, ie. Green/Black lines are parallel (showing higher frequency peak) and Grey/Red is series connection.
     

  6. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between
    You're right, the labeling it messed up. Will fix.
     

  7. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between
    Ever so very unfortunately, Strat Talk does not permit editing of posts after 24 hours, despite my repeated attempts to lobby the site's administrators to allow editing after a longer period of time. So here are the updated graphs, as I can't replace the incorrect images in the OP:



    Seymour Duncan Duckbucker Bridge SDBR-1B

    DC Resistance:
    - series: 11.71k ohms
    - parallel: 2.918k ohms
    Inductance:
    - series: 5.722H
    - parallel: 1.434H
    Calculated capacitance:
    - series: 256pF (266-20)
    - parallel: 578pF (588-20)

    Resonant Peak:
    - series: dV: 8.0dB f: 4.08kHz
    - parallel: dV: 8.1dB f: 5.48kHz
    Loaded Peaks (200k ohms & 470pF):
    - series: dV: 3.0dB f: 2.28kHz
    - parallel: dV: 5.0dB f: 4.08kHz

    Gauss at hex screw tops center: 600G



    [​IMG]



    Seymour Duncan Duckbucker Neck SDBR-1N

    DC Resistance:
    - series: 10.42k ohms
    - parallel: 2.600k ohms
    Inductance:
    - series: 4.340H
    - parallel: 1.085H
    Calculated capacitance:
    - series: 283pF (293-20)
    - parallel: 595pF (605-20)

    Resonant Peak:
    - series: dV: 7.0dB f: 4.46kHz
    - parallel: dV: 7.6dB f: 6.21kHz
    Loaded Peaks (200k ohms & 470pF):
    - series: dV: 2.4dB f: 2.55kHz
    - parallel: dV: 5.4dB f: 4.57kHz

    Gauss at hex screw tops center: 600G

    upload_2017-8-17_20-29-28.png
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017

  8. Swampash

    Swampash Senior Stratmaster

    Jun 13, 2012
    Here
    LOVE your work Antigua!
     

  9. Ebidis

    Ebidis Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    50
    Nov 14, 2013
    Alabama
    So... Do they sound good?
     
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  10. Brucifer85

    Brucifer85 Strat-Talk Member

    36
    May 2, 2015
    South Africa
    Can anyone please explain to me the differences in tone the Duckbuckers would give in comparison to the Seymour Duncan STK-S4 set?

    Thanks.
     

  11. Seymour Duncan

    Seymour Duncan Senior Stratmaster Vendor Member

    I like the STK-S4 a little better, as they can be split and combined with a rw/rp middle STK-S4 to make a true in-between hum cancelling sound. The Ducks can't be split. I don't mind the Ducks (personal preference here), but I like the Vintage Rails (essentially the same but with rails) and the STK-S4s the best for this sound. The S4s are my favorite Strat pickup, though.
     
    Brucifer85 and Ebidis like this.

  12. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between
    I haven't used the STK-S4, as I'm not fond of stacks, but I'd fully expect the STK-S4 to sound more genuine Strat-like if for no other reason than the Duckbuckers are so un-Strat like, due to their high resonant peak and weak magnetic field. I think the Duckbucker was mostly designed to sit in between Little '59's, as it does in their loaded pick guard, and maybe not so much as a stand alone set. I like it as a stand alone set, but I think it's sort of limited in terms of versatility, with the main issue being that, in addition to sounding sort of bright and thin, they don't push for anything. The STK-S4 is probably a safer bet if you're going to a noiseless Strat tone.
     
    Brucifer85 likes this.

  13. zhutwo

    zhutwo New Member!

    Age:
    29
    2
    Aug 23, 2017
    Toronto, Canada
    I'm mostly a lurker, but your pickup analysis threads have been very useful to me so I thought I'd say thanks. I feel sorry that sometimes you have to contend with resistance from people who have no science background. It must be frustrating to argue with people who don't even speak your language. :rolleyes:

    Keep up the good work. :thumb:
     

  14. Swampash

    Swampash Senior Stratmaster

    Jun 13, 2012
    Here
    Whatever happened to that video demo of Nick Johnson playing a set of Duckbuckers in a Strat? they sounded absolutely incredible.
     

  15. Brucifer85

    Brucifer85 Strat-Talk Member

    36
    May 2, 2015
    South Africa
    So what's the thoughts on a Duckbucker neck and middle and a Little 59 bridge or a Little 59 neck, Duckbucker middle and Little 59 bridge?

    Has anyone tried these combos?

    Thanks.