The Concept Set is the next in the ongoing series about the different versions of the Duncan JB model. But this is about a set of pickups, so you guys get the bonus package this time! Woot! Yes, the Custom Shop Concept Set is the basis for one of the prototypes of the JB/Jazz set.
Sometimes when a pickup maker is working on something, they might make a few options. This is what Seymour was doing when working on some pickups for Jeff Beck in the 1970s. For a little while, the name of the final selection is the JB (bridge) and the JM (neck). We now know them as the JB/Jazz set.
What about the ones that were not selected by Beck? That leads us to the Concept Set. As in, one of the concepts for what became one of the best selling aftermarket pickups of the past 40 years. A variation of a bridge pickup from this run was resurrected in the mid-2000s for the Super V model. More about that some other time.
To get a really good idea of how the Concept Set compares to a really good JB/Jazz set, I installed them in a late 80s Kramer Richie Sambora model. The guitar came loaded with two JB pickups and one Jazz pickup from the JBJ era. I left the original 80s JBJ in the middle position, putting the Concept Set in the bridge and neck slots. The Concept Jazz neck and the stock JBJ middle are wired to switching for series/parallel. The Concept JB is wired in full series.
I have to say that this guitar is chosen specifically for this configuration and the direct swap of these specific pickups.
This is a nice sounding set of pickups. Quite a bit more character than a current production floor JB/Jazz set. I suspect some of that has to do with Seymour’s original design. And perhaps part of that has to do with MJ making them in her Custom Shop rather than by a CNC machine. MJ told me that she prefers using roughcast Alnico magnets in her Custom Shop, so that helps add to the mojo.
Let’s peek at the Concept Jazz neck real quick. I have to say that the Duncan recipe for neck pickups have always seemed like variations of the same theme to me. A few exceptions aside, you can count on a Duncan neck pickup to have a wee bit of a hot wind with a slightly scooped EQ and a low end that lends itself more toward Grandpa Rock. It’s a perfectly serviceable neck pickup for many genres. The best use that I find for this pickup is when on a clean amp setting in parallel mode. Consequently, it’s really good up higher than the 12th fret.
Most of all the Concept JB bridge pickup is the star of this show. This is another one of MJ’s Alnico 2 bridge pickups that helped to change my opinion of Alnico 2 magnets. Not at all loose or flabby. The Concept JB has plenty of edgy high end, but with a touch of a sweetness to it. The low end has a little bit more firmness than commonly associated with the expected sag of an Alnico 2. This one has a little push to it, so getting a nice pristine clean tone from it might mean rolling off the volume knob or perhaps a tweak to your amp. It does have a slightly lower capacitance, which allows it a slightly more open feeling than other JB models that I’ve evaluated so far. Also noteworthy is that it’s a good option if you want to get a little brown.
How about a look at some specs:
DC Resistance – 16.885 K
Inductance – 8.621 Henries
DC Resistance – 7.342 K
Inductance – 3.979 Henries
In conclusion, there is also an interesting footnote to the Concept JB. At one point, there was a LE “Prototype JB” available only in Japan. A Duncan executive at the time told people that if they want the same pickup, ask the Custom Shop for the TeleGib bridge pickup. Interestingly enough, the Concept Set is stock in the LE TeleGib guitar from 2011. Sounds to me that if you want an expensive out-of-production limited edition “Prototype JB” that was only available in Asia, call up the Custom Shop and ask for the Concept JB.
Check out this video of Frank Falbo showing off the LE TeleGib. Frank starts to talk about the Concept Set at about 2:49