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'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.