Seymour Duncan Blackouts: Seymour Duncan Blackouts are Duncan's response to the EMG actives and summerized in one sentence, they did it great. They made active pickups more responsive and more natural sounding, they did it with a great design and they did it in passive mount and active mount version.
Packaging: I've installed them on a basswood 7-string Ibanez. They were easy to install and i must compliment how neatly packaged they were with every accessory you can imagine (they will even send you long shaft pots if you have a Les Paul).
With amp on clean settings: They can sound surprisingly clean, they have no overdrive of their own, and have quite a wonderful clean tone, as long as your amp isn't overdriven. The bridge pickup has less mids that one would usually find annoying when playing a passive bridge pickup on clean channel (but that in no way means it lacks mids), and the neck pickup sounds less mellow than passive pickups, making it cut through better. With both pickups engaged, the sound is beautiful, very balanced but not as acoustic sounding.
With amp on overdrive settings: With overdrive engaged, those pickups turn into a metal beast! The clarity is not a problem on the lowest string, nor is balance between strings, and note distinction is amazing with both pickups. Even the neck pickup gives extreme chugging tones and crazy pinch harmonics. The leads sound fluid on both pickups and the noise level is incredibly small. However, they are much more agressive sounding than passive pickups due to the enhanced treble response. That can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your taste. For technical death metal or thrash riffages it truly does the job well, but for Petrucci-style leads Blackouts might not excel. Their trebles are more agressive than guitar players using passive pickups are used to, and it gets even more pronounced when one rolls the volume down. In that situation it is not unusal to hear ear-piercing low gain sounds, as there is no treble roll-off as there is in passive pickups.
Opinion: Even if i said a bad word or two about Blackouts in the last paragraph, it?s only the matter of personal opinion. I do believe Blackouts are amazing pickups, however, you mustn?t expect them to be gentle in any way. They can be made to fit any style but you have to adapt the settings on your gear adequatly. For me they have trebles set too agressively and lack a certian lushness one can find in many passive pickups, but that comes with choosing active pickups over passives. For what they are built for they do well.
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