Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Tele pickups: Dimarzio vs Seymour Duncan

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by fakeplastic, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. fakeplastic

    fakeplastic Tele-Meister

    Feb 24, 2007
    For these two major brands, who do you think makes better Tele pickups? I want to say SD, especially since I really like the Jerry Donahue pickup, but I feel like Dimarzio has more interesting pickup choices, on paper atleast. I haven't actually had a chance to play any Dimarzio pickups yet.

    Except the JD, I find Duncan's offerings to be somewhat unappealing, for both single coil and noiseless Tele pickups. I never bonded with the Broadcaster, Little 59, Hot Stack, or '54. I'd love to try some Dimarzios one day though.

    Any thoughts?
  2. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    I don't know if anyone has really compared all the offerings extensively. I've had a few of each, but no apples to apples. I like Dimarzio Area series as the best noiseless out of the few I've tried, I would absolutely use them again if I ever need more tele pickups. I like just about all the duncans I have tried, but I think I've only had the broadcaster and JD for tele bridge pickups.
    As far as what's the better overall brand, I don't know if one is better than the other. Duncan I think has more market presence and choices with the vintage stuff and Dimarzio seems to have more modern / noiseless / diverse options. I will say that I have never encountered a real dog from either brand, and the Duncan antiquity P90 I have in one guitar might just be my favorite overall pickup.
    El Tele Lobo and Mincer like this.
  3. 63 vibroverb

    63 vibroverb Tele-Holic

    Nov 4, 2014
    Lititz, PA
    I haven't played any Duncan tele pickups, but I have a pair of Dimarzios in my rosewood tele - Twang King neck and True Velvet Bridge. I liked them so much, I never considered swapping them out for anything else. The neck is warm and articulate, middle is chirpy, and bridge is fat yet cutting. Combined with the volume and tone knobs, I've got a great vocabulary of sounds. A profound improvement over the stock pickups.

    I've also got a True Velvet neck in my Baja tele to match up with a Cavalier Lion bridge. I would have been happy with the TV in the bridge too, but I got the Cavalier for just a little bit more meat and growl.

    Can't say I can claim that the Dimarzios are the best tele pickups ever, but they were good enough to make me stop looking and just concentrate on playing. And their cost vs other makes is extremely reasonable.
  4. diogoguitar

    diogoguitar TDPRI Member

    May 14, 2014
    Bay Area, CA
    hmmm at least for noiseless and single sized humbuckers I feel dimarzio has more options, so dimarzio would be my choice.

    perhaps SD is more competitive in true single coils...
    I felt the same way with strat pickups.
    Jbnaxx likes this.
  5. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

    Nov 24, 2010
    SD irritates me for stamping their name on most of their pickups. I don’t like being forced to advertise their brand. I had a covered Seth Lover that was nice sounding and lacked the SD name stamped on it but have never touched any of their other pickups. Their antiquities are good sounding (have a friend with a LP with them installed) but I’d rather support a boutique manufacturer at that price point.

    Recently bought a DiMarzio 36th Anniv PAF bridge pickup and feel no shame in putting it on my guitar.

    Now that I know more about pickups, a small part of me would die inside if I used SDs on anything. They seem like the kind of pickups that I would have assumed were extra cool when I was 14 but now I know better.

    The analogy in the realm of alcohol is that when I was 18 I thought Jose Cuervo was some super awesome tequila because it cost 2x as much as the more affordable swill at the grocery store. And while it was probably a step up from the swill, I realized that it tastes like dog piss compared to a decent tequila. And I wouldn’t get hung over as bad if I drank better quality stuff. So SD is to pickups what Jose Cuervo is to tequila.

    I may be being unfair and may be exposing my deep seeded personal issues that are better kept to myself, but I’m just being honest :)
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
    twr102 likes this.
  6. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    You would "die inside" if you used Duncans? Really? Seymour Duncan is / was one of the great names in pickups, the pioneer of the whole aftermarket pickup industry. Boatloads of the biggest artists on the planet use Duncans and have for decades, because they are very good pickups. Finally, pickups are a bunch of wire wrapped around a magnet, in a few near-identical configurations. They don't need to be "cool" and literally nobody who is going to hear your music cares a single bit about what brand they are. If you want to spend a lot more on something else, go right ahead but it's not necessarily going to make you sound "better."
    Ian T, Jonnyb73 and Mincer like this.

    SPUDCASTER Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    The Twang Kings used to get a lot of press here. Don't hear too much about them anymore. Always thought they sounded pretty good.

    I do like the SD Jerry Donohue. Their neck pickups have plated brass covers. Vintage specs I guess. Brent Mason likes his Vintage Stack bridge. He always sounds pretty Tele'ish.

    What people like about certain pickups is very subjective. I just boils down to what you like to hear.
    JayFreddy likes this.
  8. basher

    basher Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 7, 2007
    Washington, DC
    I don't have much experience comparing the brands, but the DiMarzio Super Distortion (and the tele version thereof) is pretty much what the guitars in my head sound like.
  9. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Friend of Leo's

    Aug 10, 2018
    In space with Ziggy
    I have both and like them both for their differences.
    From the communications I have had I like Larry Dimarzio's personality and attitude better. That's not to say Seymour has ever been rude or unaccommodating. I just get the feeling that Larry is more approachable and just generally seems like a nice guy that puts in a lot of personal effort and really cares about his products. I like his chopper t and twang king pups.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
    ralley and El Tele Lobo like this.
  10. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's

    Oct 21, 2014
    I’ve had various pickups from both companies over the years. I really liked the JB humbucker for rock and metal and I used to have a set of DiMarzio True Velvets in one of my teles. I do have a partscaster with a Duncan Quarter Pound bridge and it’s pretty cool. Both companies have decades of weighty reputation with major artists and everyday Joes. These days, however, at the same price point, I’d rather give my money to a small independent builder like Rob at Cavalier, Wilde (Bill and Becky Lawrence) or O.C. Duff.
    lineboat likes this.
  11. reactor99

    reactor99 TDPRI Member

    Jan 1, 2017
    Georgia, USA
    Haven't tried SD yet, but my Twang King set sounds really nice, classic rather than modern.
    JayFreddy likes this.
  12. Chicago Matt

    Chicago Matt Friend of Leo's

    Aug 23, 2014
    I have a partscaster that has one of each. The last iteration of that guitar had a DiMarzio Area Hot T in the bridge position paired with an Area T neck pickup. They both sound great but the neck pickup just didn't have enough output to keep up with the Area Hot T in the bridge. After replacing the neck pickup with a Duncan SM1-N Firebird style pickup, I'm not changing a thing.

    With all that's offered these days, I don't see any need to pay "booteek" prices for pickups. DiMarzios, Duncans, Bill Lawrence, Cavalier, and some others on the other hand, are all reasonably priced, great sounding pickups. I will say though that I spent an extra $10 to get the SM1-N with no logo on the cover. :)
    El Tele Lobo likes this.
  13. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic

    "die inside"? Both companies have great offerings. The only thing that makes me die inside is Dimarzio's insane trademark on double cream pickups. I'd definitely agree that Dimarzio's noiseless singles are a bit more popular than SD's offerings. I feel like it's the other way around for traditional single coils.
  14. Dr. Bill

    Dr. Bill Tele-Afflicted

    May 1, 2003
    Upstate, SC
    I had an Area Hot-T in my Esquire, but I keep coming back to the Duncan Broadcaster.
    El Tele Lobo and Mincer like this.
  15. RoCkstAr256

    RoCkstAr256 Tele-Holic

    Jan 3, 2017
    Seymour Duncan is really known for being one of these brands which is used in Fender strats and Tellys. I had Duncans in Squier. Really cool. Dimarzio reminds me of brand that is really associated with Ibanez and metal shred guitars. However Twank King is superior from what i have heard.

    I would go Duncans
    Mincer likes this.
  16. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

    Nov 24, 2010
    So you think all pickups are pretty much the same but like SD because he is/was a pioneer of the business model? That seems quite arbitrary.
    twr102 likes this.
  17. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

    Nov 24, 2010
    I never knew this about the double cream. That seems like an injustice to have copyright protection over something so small and ridiculous. That said I don’t have any guitars where double cream is needed so I’ll count my blessings where I can get them.

    I liked the rail pups in a strat I once owned.
  18. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Well, no not really at all. Yes I think that once you've specced out a pickup by type, magnet, and wind you are talking about minute differences at best, and the "quality" differences are in materials and construction, not in sound. Lollars don't sound "better" than GFS, they just sound different and you may well prefer them or not, but you'd be wise to be a bit skeptical of a lot of boutique claims. For the record I have a couple of Lollars and I like them too.

    I like Duncans because 1) I've been pretty pleased with their products, overall 2) their website clearly describes how each pickup is made (magnet, wind, wiring) and what it's supposed to sound like and 3) they are not ridiculously expensive for what they are and they are always easy to resell if they don't work out. That's not to say other brands aren't also great. But I appreciate a business that doesn't seem to employ scarcity pricing (artificially expensive to draw in the "pay more = better" crowd) and clearly describes what its products do. They also sponsor a very informative web forum that I have found useful in the past. I like other pickup makers too, my most recent purchase was from Cavalier and I'm very happy with those.

    Finally, if Duncan were a Tequila it would be something like Hornitos Reposado- a nice, quality spirit but not rare or out of reach. BTW not a single person IRL has ever asked a question about what brand of pickups I use.
    Mincer likes this.
  19. Matt Sarad

    Matt Sarad Tele-Meister

    Apr 29, 2003
    I haven’t switched out my Fender Noiseless Tele pups. I have the Duncan Everything Axe set in my Sunburst MIM Strat. Great sound, and very unStrat on the bridge and neck with the Little’59 and JB ‘59. The Duckbuster in the middle is classic Strat.

    I put three Dimarzio Super Distortion Humbuckers on my PRS SE. They are cleaner than the PAFs in my Melody Maker and Throbaks in my SG.
  20. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

    Nov 24, 2010
    I think you’re fundamentally misunderstanding my post about SD.

    I stated why I don’t like them and it’s my personal preference and it’s not meant to pass judgement on you personally if you have a different opinion.

    I never said anything about my decision being based on what an audience perceived about my choice in pickups so I don’t know why you keep suggesting that would be a decision maker for me. It’s not.

    What I don’t like about SD is what I perceive to be arrogance in assuming I want to advertise the SD brand on my guitar, which I don’t want to do, and don’t think their pickups are special enough to buy it anyway.

    I wholeheartedly disagree that there aren’t substantive differences between boutique makers and big box makers’ products. However even if I were to put that aside, I would still be willing to pay extra for a US made product or a “little guy” (regardless of their geographical location) trying to make good pickups because they love to share their talent with the world as opposed to giving my money to a big corporation who sells something cheaper and stamps their name on it like its gold. I would also prefer a pickup maker who is willing to email back and forth with me prior to buying their product to make sure I’ll have the right sound and be happy with my purchase. I have email threads that are pretty long with Lollar, Bareknuckle, Fralin, and a few makers that might just be some guy in his garage, who are willing to ask and answer questions to make sure it’s a good fit. I have emailed with GFS, SD, and DiMarzio with zero response from them. If I had to pay 2x the cost to be sure I have the right pickup, I might be willing to do that.

    You are welcome to like SD pickups for whatever reasons you choose and I have no reason to doubt that you’ll get what is best for you. But yes, if I got a SD pickup I’d barf a little in my own mouth out of the sense that I’d be betraying my values in doing so.

    It’s fine to agree to disagree. After all, it’s a forum.
    El Tele Lobo likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.