top of page
  • Writer's pictureBarış Şahin

Seymour Duncan 59N (SH-1) Review

Seymour Duncan '59 neck humbucker
The '59

For this time, i like to present you one of my personal favourite mass production humbuckers. It is very common and you can easily see this humbucker from Seymour Duncan on many guitars by any brand; Ibanez, Schecter, Heritage, Yamaha, FGN, Fender for a small list of '59 user brands. It is very common but this does not mean the worth of ’59 is well known, unfortunately. The reason is somewhere down there...

First of all, the techical specs;

Seymour Duncan ‘59(n) SH-1

Magnet – Alnico 5

Advertised DCR: 7,6K Ohm (Series)

Measured DCR: 7,43 K Ohm (Series)

Inductance: 4,45 @100Hz

Resonance Peak: 6,80KHz (advertised)

Output: Vintage

EQ (T/M/B) – 8/3/6 (advertised)

Wire Gauge: 42 AWG

Wire Insulation: Plain Enamel

First of all, Seymour Duncan '59 is a PAF clone. Thus all typical specs are reminiscent of pickups of a 1959 Gibson Les Paul. Call it snake oil or not but Seymour Duncan has very detailistic approach to their true PAF clones like Seth Lover set or the Antiquity series. ’59 is no exception. It has vintage correct maple spacers, paper tape around the coils, all wound on the Seymour’s classic Leesona 102 pickup winding machine from the old Gibson factory in Kalamazoo. Just can!t remember if they have buthrate bobbins, anyway. If you are obsessed with vintage occuracy, ’59 is clearly the BEST option you can buy for that money. Thats a obvious advantage for '59. Anyway, typical '59 humbuckers come with single braided wire but four conductor versions are available, too.

Seymour Duncan 59N (SH-1) Review

I believe the easiest way to describe this humbucker is this; "precisely made Alnico 5 PAF clone for great versatility". Actually, i, still, have no experience with bridge model but the neck is very cool humbucker that serves well. It has lots of basses and trebles with clarity. Low mids and upper mids are present but not accentuated. I do not find ’59 neck is too mid scooped regardless its advertised EQ chart. Feels smooth bright to me.

The general sound will be cool if your guitars is not too bright. On the other hand if your guitar sounds more than just "warm", especially if you play a Les Paul or its variant, because of fully charged powerful polished Alnico 5 magnet, muddiness can be your problem, especially on the wound strings. In order to overcome the mud on the neck position, you have some cures; what you can do primarily is lower your humbucker heigh from the strings till the output begins silly and then slowly raise the screws of your humbucker bobbin, then re-raise the humbucker bit by bit to find a sweet spot where the output is not too low and the muddiness feels better afterall.

Seymour W. Duncan suggests this tip on Q&A section of Duncan website;

“This is a trick I’ve seen Jeff Beck do on a guitar I built for him during the 70’s. It was nicknamed The Tele-Gib and he used in on songs like “Cause we’ve ended as lovers” and he was seen playing it on the “Secrets Policeman’s Ball” video. He would lower the bridge pickup about 1/4” from the strings and raise the adjustable pole pieces to about 1/16” from the strings. This would give him extra bite without the sound being to fat or full and still be humbucking. By raising the poles keeps the stud side further away from the strings and not as dirty when the volume in up all the way on the guitar. He could make the guitar cry more when manipulating the volume and tone controls during the intro to the song “Cause we’ve ended as lovers”.”

There is also a tricky way: magnet modifications. Swapping the magnet can be good alternative in two ways; i) swap the Alnico 5 magnet with an Alnico 4 bar or partial charged/unoriented rough cast alnico 5 magnets. Both will serve you well.

Well, '59 neck model sounds really good on certain short scale Les Paul type guitars, also good on longer scale strats or superstrats as well. Versatility is the key factor for ‘59. Whether you play hard and heavy music or warm blues, you will hear nice tones from your guitar on neck position. The amount of that "nice tones" i've just mentioned is up to your guitar and its tonal characteristics. Because '59 is not an overwound pickup, it will not suppress the overtones, harmonics etc. which will come out from the wood from your guitar. Next thing you know, you will like it in pair with a powerfull humbucker on bridge position as Dimebag Darrel had done before. Most people like pair ’59 with Seymour Duncan JB as a classic pair on the bridge.

I like the tight responce of ’59 on 25,5” scale guitars; strats and superstrats with alder, basswood or ash bodies. You may fall in love with the sound you will hear on your tube amp which set up in a region about-to-breaking or lightly overdriven range. I think you can guess the sweet area on your amp; if you hit harder amp will break, if you pluck the strings softer, then it sounds clean. And ’59 will do its job well in those amp settings. So you will like the dynamics of ’59 humbucker.

back of Seymour Duncan 59N SH-1

Another advantage of ’59 is for 24 fret superstrats. Most people, including myself, find the neck position of 24 fret monsters don’t sound like it should be. 24th fret position is very special spot and full of “richness”. So if your humbucker does not align under them, your tone lacks of that; since the position is closer to the middle of the guitar, neck tone becomes somewhere between neck and middle. Anyway, ’59 neck emulates the darker neck tone thanks to its relatively powerful a5 magnet and tight and rich basses.

Still unsure about the quality of ’59 as a PAF clone? Welcome to the official test of GITEC (Forum E-Gitarrentechnik e.V. ). GITEC presented the results of their comparison study of six 59-style PAF clones, by a team with a range of engineering/physics, research, and playing expertise (K. Härtl, W. Hönlein, J. Lody, M. Vochezer, T. Zwicker).

It's in German, but don't forget using youtube's German-English auto-translation. It does a good job of making it understandable to non-German speakers. To summerise, six 1959 type PAF clones have been tested and compared which are;

Throbak SLE 101 MXV

Haussel 59

Kloppmann HB 59 Set

Amber 'Spirit of 59'

Seymour Duncan '59 Model (SH1)

Roswell LVS

Bode Plots of Throbak, Kloppmann, Haussel, Amber, Seymour Duncan and Roswell PAFs
Images from GuitarNuts2 forum

Blindfold test still stands here;

And the results;

Seymour Duncan 59N for the win
And the winner is...

1 Seymour Duncan '59 Model (SH1) - 186 points

1 Amber 'Spirit of 59' - 186 points

3 Haussel 59 - 167 points

4 Throbak SLE 101 MXV - 151 points

5 Kloppmann HB 59 Set - 131 points

6 Roswell LVS - 80 points

’59 is one of the oldest humbuckers of Duncan production line. It has very reasonable price and can be seen on countless guitar brand as i told before. That’s the reason i see some people who can’t evaluate the real worth of ’59. But ’59 has very fair price for a pickup in that quality. So the price/performance(or quality) ratio is very low, relatively. Thats why if you have limited budget to go for a successful and versatile PAF clone, ’59 makes itself as a great choice. If you have much budget to spend and haven’t tried ’59 before, why don’t you give ‘59 a chance?

For more information, click to link go for Seymour Duncan website;

Guitar pickup reviews

Seymour Duncan 59N (SH-1) Review

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page