David Gilmour playing his Black Strat // Some Rights Reserved // One Schism
Seymour Duncan's Evan Skopp has spoken about one of the most iconic single coil pickups of the last 40 years. David Gilmour approached Seymour Duncan in the the late 1980s to enquire about getting a single coil with hotter output than standard Fender Stratocaster pickups.
Gilmour's tone was so delicate that he wasn't willing to switch a single coil out of the Strat for a humbucker, and thus the Seymour Duncan SSL-5 single coil was born.
It featured stronger magnets and was more aggressive than a standard single coil pickup, but cleaned up nicely and produced a mellow sound with the volume pot rolled off slightly on a Stratocaster.
As a guitarist it's always great to hear these stories, the small changes in the history of rock and roll, changes which may have helped shape entire songs and solos.
In a blog on the Seymour Duncan website, Evan Skopp said:
"When the so-called SSL-1C, which was a one-off designed for Mr. Gilmour, eventually went into production, it became the SSL-5 Custom. The SSL-5 you buy today is essentially the same pickup as the SSL-1C that Phil Taylor [guitar tech for Gilmour] ordered from Seymour and which went into the Black Strat.
"For Fender’s DG Black Strat reissue and as a tribute to this bit of guitar history, we stamp “SSL-1C” into the bottom flatwork of the SSL-5s that are installed in the bridge position of that guitar."
David Gilmour spent years of his life trying to perfect the setup of his famed 'Black Strat', and it's a testament to Seymour Duncan that he eventually stuck with the SSL-1C.
He had previously tried PAF humbuckers, and a number of alternative single coils. It is now a guitar with one of the most recognisable tones in the industry.
If you need reminding of that iconic tone, here's a great example (skip to five minutes in for the epic solo):
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