The Secret Agent is in and I really liked it! I couldn’t find anything about it online so I’ll share my experience and I’ll try to be as detailed as possible. I recorded the video using my phone and it was quite loud in the room so the sound is not great. That was the first few minutes of playing after I installed it. So firstly, call me shallow but looks are important. I get more excited playing a guitar that I absolutely love the way it looks and I grew up loving Esquires after seeing photos of BB King, Jeff Beck, Paul McCartney, Steve Cropper and many others. What I think it’s fascinating is that no one judges you for wanting a blonde tele with a black pickguard because you’re a Keith Richards fan, no one judges you for changing a pickguard because you like the look of the other one better, no one judges you for wanting a red guitar instead of a blue one, but then you say you want your guitar to look like an Esquire and everyone go mental. Anyroad, I love the way Esquires look but I hate that “neck position” tone and I love the middle position on teles, so it’s been a while that I’ve been trying (with no success) to find a way to combine both, but the neck pickup under the pickguard always sounds muffled and quiet. A week ago watching a video of Fender’s stealth Esquire I saw a video for the Secret Agent and decided to give it a try. I installed it today, played for a few hours and here’s my opinion: Cost: $130 is not cheap, but again it’s a Custom Shop Seymour Duncan pickup. You’re paying for the name, you’re paying to have something so specific (since it’s not everyone’s cup of tea I reckon they won’t produce as many as their main line) and you’re paying for the attention to details and materials used. If you agree with paying over $100 on a pickup that’s a different story. Construction: Seymour Duncan doesn’t say much on their website so the only thing I know is that it’s a medium output ceramic bar magnet and it reads 10.7k. Since it was designed to be under a pickguard and away from the strings I reckon it’s a mix of a hotter wound, a stronger magnet and it’s probably voiced to compensate for the frequencies you’ll lose by having it under the pickguard. The pickup doesn’t have height adjustment screws and it was rather loose and lower than I’d like in the pickup cavity. SD puts foam in their packaging to keep the pickup in place so I got some of that, cut a piece shaped like the pickup, put it under it and it worked like a charm, now the pickup is pressed against the pickguard and it’s not moving at all. I emailed them asking for more info about the construction and this is what they said: “ Hi, I can tell you that its got a 11K DCR and uses a ceramic magnet. In construction it built on a similar bobbin that we use for our El Diablo and SLUG pickups. I can't go in to details about coil wire gauge or specifics of the wind that we did, we consider that proprietary. When we develop a pickup like this, collaborating with an artist, the artist gives us particular tonal attributes that they would like, then we build to achieve that tone. Brad wanted something to fit under an Esquire pickguard, but still have the clarity and articulation of the La Brea neck pickup that we made for him. Because of the distance from the string, we had to use a higher output pickup with a stronger magnet to react magnetically with the string. Though we are using the El Diablo/SLUG bobbin, it is a different wind than we do on the coils for those pickups. That's about all I can say about that without giving up too many secrets. lol.” I think it’s a fair answer. Sound and first impressions: I didn’t really know what to expect and when I first started playing I was a bit underwhelmed but the more I played it the more I liked it and now I love it, it’s definitely staying. Sound-wise it is sort of it’s own thing. It’s more towards your classic tele neck pickup (which everyone complains it’s too dark) so if you want something more open and snappier (like those twisted tele ones) you’ll definitely be disappointed. I had a Seymour Duncan Antiquity 55 in there before so that’s what I’ll be comparing with. As I said before I reckon it’s voiced to compensate for what you’ll lose by having it so far from the strings, so I find that the Antiquity has more detail, it sounds more complex and more “quacky”, making the Secret Agent sound a bit dull, I suppose. The Secret Agent seems to have more string definition, clarity and seems to sound brighter but in a non chimey way. The Secret Agent matched the Antiquity 55 in the bridge quite well and they go very well together. To be honest I rarely use the neck pickup by itself so the middle position is the important one for me and I really liked it. It’s a bit too strat-y for a tele and a bit too tele-y for a strat, it sounds bright but very smooth. With my setup if I play a bit harder it sounds very nice and jangly but not harsh at all, which is exactly what I want from the middle position. The kind of music I play is very 50s and 60s influenced and that middle position does that strumming/jangly almost Rickenbacker Gerry and the Pacemakers sort of thing very well. With some slap back it does the 50s rock thing really well and picking closer to the bridge with a lot of spring reverb it nails the spy tones. I think the brightness and the definition mixed with not a lot of complexity (compared to the Antiquity 55) makes it very interesting and it works specially well for what I do. I really liked the Secret Agent by itself with a lot of fuzz too, it reacts really well to the volume when using an Octafuzz. So final thoughts: I don’t think I’ve met anyone who likes that “neck pickup” position on an Esquire, so that already makes this a big win. Now, if you’re looking for a rich sounding neck pickup I wouldn’t recommend the Secret Agent (and most other classic tele neck pickups to be honest), but if you have the chance it’s definitely worth trying. It doesn’t sound and feel like any other tele pickup I had whilst still being what I’d expect from a tele pickup, it’s a hard one to describe. If you want to go for the Esquire look but still have a neck pickup I don’t think another pickup will do a better job than this one. I’m very satisfied and I found in this pickup something that I didn’t know I was looking for, my main guitar is an ES 355 and I think I’ll be taking the tele with me a lot more often than I used to now. So if you want to have your neck pickup showing that’s great. If you don’t understand why anyone would want to have a hidden pickup that’s great. If you want to have an Esquire and a tele that’s great. If you think that it’s too expensive and you would prefer getting something else that’s great. Opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one. Now if you’re looking for a stealth pickup, I think the Secret Agent is a great place to start.