Seymour Duncan is a company that became known for making pickups to “hot rod” your guitar. They became famous in the late 70’s when aftermarket upgrades started to become popular in guitars. We’ve done a few reviews of different Seymour Duncan pickups such as the Pegasus and the Nazgul. Today we’ll be taking a look the Black Winter.

Is this pickup for you? Find out in our review!


 – Ceramic Magnet

– Passive

– Available in Black

– 4 Conductor Shielded Cabling

– 16.6 DCR

– Available in F and Standard Spacings

– Available in 6, 7, and 8-String Models

Originally created in 2013, the Black Winter pickups were absolutely designed for black metal players and biggest of kvlt fanatics. Funny enough, they were actually only available exclusively in Scandinavia. How metal is that? Due to popular demand, the became available internationally and can be seen being used by many popular guitarists, such as Wes Hauch.

But how do they sound?


Being designed for black metal and other extreme metal genres, the Black Winters are ridiculously hot. If you’re looking to melt faces, these can definitely do it. As far as how they sound, they are particularly mid-heavy and have a harsh high end. By harsh I don’t mean overly shrill, but the high end cuts through like a knife through butter. Leads played on this pickup have no issue cutting through multiple layers of rhythm guitars. The mid-favored EQ curve also makes for lots of clarity. These pickups hold out particularly well when tuning low and the Ceramic magnet makes for a very tight bottom end. It’s not a super beefy low end like in the SD Pegasus or JB, but it’s tight and makes for some good chuggy sounds.

(We have an article on pickup magnets that dissects the tonal differences between them if you want to learn more about how each one sounds.)

I will say that due to the extra high end compared to many pickups that I’m used to, I did have to adjust my tone significantly on the amp to get a tone that felt balanced. Not a real problem as tweaking is always to be expected, but just something to note.

Now, “someone” might expect that a pickups targeted at black metal enthusiasts would be a “One Trick Pony”… In this case, this “someone” couldn’t be more wrong!

Although Seymour Duncan very specifically designed these pickups for extreme metal, they surprisingly sound good for crunchy and clean tones. I couldn’t have been more surprised by the snappy tones I could achieve on a clean setting. We’re talking usable Strat tones on a massively high output, ceramic magnet humbucker. The neck pickup had a real bluesy vibe to it and I thoroughly enjoyed playing some jazzy style riffage with it.

Final Verdict:

 I have to say that the first time I played this pickup, I really went into it with a biased disposition. I planned on hating it, I really did. I’m not a big fan of black metal and the like, but these pickups had a really sweet sound to them and were way more versatile than expected.

They, of course, excel for black metal and death metal styles, but I don’t think you’d have any issues getting a solid tone for any genre of metal, or even punk and rock styles. It’s quite interesting that Seymour Duncan thought they really created a “One Trick Pony” and launched such a small release, but ended up creating a “Swiss Army Knife” of a pickup that turned into an international success.

Just a little side note: My biggest complaint about these, and lot’s of other pickups are that they are only offered in black (outside of the SD Custom Shop). I wish pickups manufacturers would learn that us guitarists are shallow and like to have more visual options. Just because it’s super metal, doesn’t mean we can’t have a white or cream option!

The Black Winters definitely live up to the Seymour Duncan name. There’s a reason they made it on our Top 5 Seymour Duncan Humbuckers list.


Tone – 4.5/5


Build Quality – 5/5


Features – 3/5


Don’t forget we are Seymour Duncan authorized dealers. If you need our guidance in finding the right pickup for you, check out our custom order option, and we can get you the tone you’re after!

If you liked this article, check out our other reviews here!

This article was written by Zac Buras, our editor located in Louisiana.


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