The Legendary Seymour Duncan Pickups Company: Brand History of Industry Leaders

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  February 5, 2023

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Some brands, like Fender, are known for their amazing electric guitars.

But there are some brands like Seymour Duncan, which are known as industry leaders when it comes to building guitar parts, specifically pickups

Although Seymour Duncan is a well-known brand and manufacturer, many people still don’t know the history of this brand and how it became so popular and well-respected among guitarists. 

Seymour Duncan Pickups Company history and products

Seymour Duncan is an American company best known for manufacturing guitar and bass pickups. 

They also manufacture effects pedals which are designed and assembled in America.

Guitarist and luthier Seymour W. Duncan and Cathy Carter Duncan founded the company in 1976 in Santa Barbara, California. 

Starting around 1983-84, Seymour Duncan pickups appeared in Kramer Guitars as standard equipment along with Floyd Rose locking vibratos, and can now be found on instruments from Fender guitars, Gibson guitars, Yamaha, ESP Guitars, Ibanez guitars, Mayones, Jackson guitars, Schecter, DBZ Diamond, Framus, Washburn, and others.

This article discusses the history of the Seymour Duncan brand, why it stands out from others, and explains the types of products they manufacture. 

What is the Seymour Duncan company?

Seymour Duncan is an American company that specializes in the manufacture of guitar pickups, preamps, pedals, and other accessories.

Founded in 1976 by Seymour W. Duncan, the company has become one of the leading names in the guitar industry, known for its high-quality products and innovative designs. 

Seymour Duncan pickups are used by some of the world’s most famous guitar players, and their products have been featured in countless recordings and live performances. 

With a commitment to excellence and a passion for music, Seymour Duncan continues to set the standard for guitar pickups and accessories.

Seymour Duncan is a company that is best known for making a wide range of pickups for electric guitars. Duncan pickups are known for their clear and balanced tone.

They are used by many famous musicians such as Jeff Beck, Slash, and Joe Satriani.

What products does Seymour Duncan manufacture?

Seymour Duncan is a company that specializes in manufacturing guitar pickups, pedals, and other accessories for guitarists and bassists. 

Their product line includes a wide variety of pickups for electric and acoustic guitars, as well as basses, including humbucker pickups, single-coil pickups, P-90 pickups, and more. 

They also offer a range of effects pedals, including distortion pedals, overdrive pedals, and delay pedals, among others. 

Additionally, Seymour Duncan offers a variety of accessories, including preamp systems, wiring kits, and replacement parts for their pickups and pedals.

Popular Seymour Duncan pickups listed

  • JB Model humbucker pickup
  • SH-1 ’59 Model Humbucker Pickup
  • SH-4 JB Model Humbucker Pickup
  • P-90 Model Soapbar Pickup
  • SSL-1 Vintage Staggered Single-Coil Pickup
  • Jazz Model Humbucker Pickup
  • JB Jr. Humbucker Pickup
  • Distortion Model Humbucker Pickup
  • Custom Custom Humbucker Pickup
  • Little ’59 Humbucker Pickup
  • Phat Cat P-90 Pickup.
  • Invader Pickup

Now let’s take a look at the main types of pickups the brand makes:

Single coil

Single coil pickups are a type of magnetic transducer, or pickup, for electric guitars and basses. They convert the vibration of the strings into an electric signal. 

Single coils are one of two popular designs, the other being dual-coil or “humbucking” pickups.

Seymour Duncan’s single coil pickups are designed to capture the sound of classic guitars. They use a combination of magnets and copper wire to create a unique tone.

The pickups are designed to be easy to install, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit any guitar.

The single coils are known for their clarity and punchy sound.

They have a wide frequency range, from the low-end thump of the bass to the high-end sparkle of the treble.

They also have a high output, which makes them great for rock and metal.

Seymour Duncan’s single coils are also known for their versatility.

They can be used in any style of music, from jazz to blues to rock and metal. They can also be used with effects pedals to create a wide range of sounds.

Overall, single coils are a great choice for guitarists who want to get the classic sound of a single coil pickup without sacrificing modern features.

They offer a great combination of sound, versatility, and affordability.

Humbucker pickups

Humbuckers are a type of guitar pickup that use two coils to cancel out the interference that can be picked up by single coil pickups. 

They were invented in 1934 by Electro-Voice, and have been used in many different guitar designs since then.

But the Gibson Les Paul was the first guitar to use them in substantial production.

Seymour Duncan is a company that specializes in making humbuckers.

They offer a wide variety of humbucking pickups, including the popular ’59 Model, the JB Model, and the SH-1 ’59 Model. 

Each of these pickups has its own unique sound, allowing guitarists to find the perfect tone for their style.

Seymour Duncan humbuckers are designed to reduce hum and noise, while still providing a full, rich sound.

They also feature a unique design that allows them to be wired in either a single-coil or humbucking configuration. 

This allows guitarists to get the best of both worlds – the clarity of a single-coil pickup, and the warmth of a humbucker.

Seymour Duncan humbuckers are also known for their versatility. They can be used in a variety of genres, from blues to metal.

They also work well with various effects pedals, allowing guitarists to create a wide range of sounds.

In short, Seymour Duncan humbuckers are a great choice for guitarists who want a high-quality pickup that can deliver a wide range of tones.

With their ability to reduce hum and noise, while still providing a full, rich sound, they’re a great choice for any guitarist.

Where Is Seymour Duncan headquarters located?

Seymour Duncan is a company that’s been around since the ’70s, and it’s located in the sunny city of Goleta, California. 

The company has less than 200 employees.

Where Is Seymour Duncan factory located?

The Seymour Duncan factory is located in Santa Barbara, California, USA. 

This is important because many of the best guitar manufacturers have outsourced their factories but Seymour Duncan still makes their products at home in the United States.

Are Seymour Duncan products made in the USA?

Yes, Seymour Duncan products are made in the USA.

The company has its manufacturing facility in Santa Barbara, California, where they produce their pickups, pedals, and other accessories.

According to the company website, Seymour Duncan uses the highest quality parts for their products, and they try to find the materials in the United States whenever possible. 

Products are marked with “Made in the USA” or “Designed and Assembled in Santa Barbara” to indicate their origin.

Why do guitarists like the Seymour Duncan brand?


Seymour Duncan is known for producing high-quality pickups, pedals, and accessories that are designed to last.

Their products are built to meet the demands of professional musicians and are known for their reliability and durability.

Also, people trust the brand because they make their products in the USA.


Seymour Duncan pickups are designed to be versatile, providing guitarists and bassists with a wide range of tonal options.

Whether you play rock, metal, blues, jazz, or any other genre, there is a Seymour Duncan pickup that is suitable for your needs.


Seymour Duncan is a company dedicated to innovation, constantly exploring new ideas and designs to improve their products.

They are known for being at the forefront of pickup technology and for their commitment to providing guitarists and bassists with new and innovative products.


The Seymour Duncan brand has a well-established reputation for producing high-quality guitar gear.

Over the years, the company has earned a reputation for excellence and has become a trusted name in the guitar industry.

Customer support

Seymour Duncan offers excellent customer support, providing musicians with the resources and support they need to get the most out of their gear.

The company is known for its commitment to helping musicians achieve their goals and for its dedication to customer satisfaction.

Seymour Duncan vs the competition

There are some similar brands that make very good pickups. Let’s compare them.

Seymour Duncan vs EMG

When it comes to guitar pickups, Seymour Duncan and EMG are two of the most popular brands. But what are the differences between them? 

Well, Seymour Duncan pickups are known for their vintage tone, which is great for classic rock and blues.

EMG pickups, on the other hand, are known for their modern sound, making them ideal for metal and hard rock.

Both companies were founded around the same period and they both have a huge share of the market. 

But EMG is different because it makes the super popular active pickups.

Seymour Duncan vs Dimarzio

Seymour Duncan and DiMarzio are two of the most popular pickup brands in the guitar world.

They both offer a wide range of pickups, from single coils to humbuckers, and each has its own distinct sound. 

When it comes to Seymour Duncan vs DiMarzio, there are some key differences. 

Seymour Duncan pickups tend to have a warmer, more vintage sound, while DiMarzio pickups have a brighter, more modern tone.

Duncan pickups also tend to be more responsive to subtle changes in playing dynamics, while DiMarzio pickups are more consistent in their sound.

If you’re looking for a classic, vintage sound, Seymour Duncan is the way to go. Their pickups have a warm, mellow tone that’s perfect for blues and jazz.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a brighter, more modern sound, DiMarzio is the brand for you. 

Their pickups have a punchy, aggressive tone that’s great for rock and metal.

So, if you’re trying to decide between Seymour Duncan and DiMarzio, consider the sound you’re after and pick the one that’s right for you.

The DiMarzio brand was created in 1972, around the same time as Seymour Duncan and they made the first replacement pickups for electric guitars.

Seymour Duncan vs Fender

Fender is best known as a guitar manufacturer.

They make some of the world’s best-selling electric guitars like the Stratocaster and Telecaster as well as bass and acoustic guitars. 

They also make very good pickups but the pickups aren’t their specialty, as is the case with Seymour Duncan.

Seymour Duncan is known for its high-end, custom-made pickups that offer a wide range of tones, from vintage to modern.

Fender, on the other hand, is known for its classic, vintage-style pickups that offer a more traditional sound.

Seymour Duncan pickups are typically more expensive than Fender pickups, but they offer a greater range of tones and more versatility. 

I have a line up of some of the best guitars Fenders makes here

What is the history of Seymour Duncan?

Seymour Duncan is an American company that’s been around since the ’70s, and it’s all thanks to a guitarist and luthier named Seymour W. Duncan and his wife Cathy Carter Duncan. 

They founded the company in 1976 in Santa Barbara, California and it’s best known for manufacturing guitar and bass pickups.

Seymour W. Duncan grew up in the ’50s and ’60s, when electric guitar music was becoming more popular.

He started playing guitar when he was 13 and was inspired by James Burton, one of his favourite guitar players. 

He eventually started tinkering with materials and techniques to make pickups and even moved to England in the late ’60s to work in the Repair and R&D Departments at the Fender Soundhouse in London.

He did repairs and rewinds for some of the most famous guitarists of the time, like Jimmy Page, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Pete Townshend, and Peter Frampton.

After his sabbatical in England, he returned to the US and settled in California, where he founded Seymour Duncan Pickups. 

Nowadays, the company has over 120 employees and Fender Custom Shop even makes a Seymour Duncan Signature Esquire.


Who is the new CEO of Seymour Duncan?

As of November 2022, the new CEO of the Seymour Duncan company is Marc DiLorenzo.

What’s the difference between Seymour Duncan and Duncan designed?

In comparison to the somewhat muddy and less focused tones of Duncan Designed pickups, the high-end offerings from Seymour Duncan are a clear winner. 

Pickups designed by Duncan Designed are exclusive to guitars in the mid-price range, whereas Seymour Duncan pickups can be found on high-end guitars and can also be purchased separately.

Does Seymour Duncan make custom products?

Yes, Seymour Duncan offers custom products.

They offer a custom shop service where they can make pickups to meet specific tonal requirements and specifications.

This includes custom windings, custom magnet types, and custom covers. 

Additionally, they offer custom-designed pickups for specific guitar models, such as Stratocasters, Telecasters, Les Pauls, and more. 

The custom shop service provides guitar players with the opportunity to have pickups built to their exact specifications, allowing for a personalized and unique tone.


Seymour Duncan is a legendary guitar repairman and co-founder of the Seymour Duncan Company, a manufacturer of guitar pickups, bass pickups, and effects pedals. 

With his expertise in guitar pickups and electronics, Seymour has been able to create signature tones for some of the most iconic guitarists in history. 

It’s no wonder that many famous guitar players trust this brand for high-quality American-made guitar pickups. 

So, if you’re looking for a unique and innovative sound for your guitar, look no further than the Seymour Duncan Company.

And remember, when it comes to guitar pickups, Seymour Duncan is the “G.O.A.T” (Greatest Of All Time)!

Read next: my full review of the top 10 Squier guitars | From beginner to premium

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:

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