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Seymour Duncan STK-S10 YJM Fury

Hum-cancelling Guitar Pickups
By Paul White

Stacked humbucker pickups designed to replace standard single‑coil pickups are nothing new, but most simply strive to deliver a single‑coil tone while offering the noise-suppression ability of a humbucker — and resistance to interference is very desirable in the studio, where today's low‑noise equipment makes guitar‑related hum and buzz seem worse than ever.

Seymour Duncan STK-S10 YJM FurySeymour Duncan's Fury pickups, conceived in collaboration with guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, are somewhat different, because they're specifically designed for players who need a hot pickup with plenty of mid‑range weight. The result of their endeavours is the STK‑S10 YJM Fury three-pickup Strat set, which is available as a conventional set of components, or ready‑wired on a pick guard for those who like an easy installation.

I fitted the Furies to a Swamp Ash Strat I was building and tested it both live and in the studio. Given Malmsteen's playing style, you'd expect these pickups to suit shred, hard-rock and metal players — and indeed they do — but I was impressed by their versatility.

As expected, the Furies are noticeably hotter and more weighty in the mid-range than regular Strat pickups but they don't overwhelm the distinctive Strat tone. Certainly, the warmer mid-range and sweetened highs make them very overdrive‑friendly, but they also work well played clean. I found the bridge pickup less brash and more solid‑sounding than those on my regular Strats, reminding me somewhat of a P90. Furthermore, the middle pickup, which many players use only in combination with the neck or bridge pickups, delivers a very useful tone in its own right, again combining power with great definition. I was also surprised at the 'in‑between' tone gained from combining the middle pickup with either the bridge or neck pickup, as the sound can thin out quite a lot when using single-coil pickups. Here, the familiar 'phasey' tone was underpinned by a healthy lower‑mid weight. All three pickups respond well to playing dynamics, allowing you to 'dig in' for more aggression.

Overall, these pickups turned a typical Strat into something very versatile. Using amp and desk EQ, you can get very close to a classic Strat tone, but you can also make the bridge pickup lean towards a P90‑equipped SG sound. If you want to cover most of the tonal bases using a single guitar that also has great noise immunity, this set has a lot to offer. A one‑trick pony it is definitely not. Paul White

£87.95 each; Three‑pickup set £261.95; loaded pickguard £357.95. Prices include VAT.

Bridge Pickup and Neck Pickup $76.95 each; Three‑pickup set $230.95.

Published December 2010