Full Shred! Talk about a product name that invokes a certain genre! The story goes along the lines of how Irish axeman Vivian Campbell sussed out some new gear for his new (at the time) gig with Whitesnake.
Vivian was having a few prototypes assembled from Warmoth parts that would eventually become the guitar he was known for when he was with Kramer in the late 80s. Kramer, the guitar brand. Not Kramer, the looney neighbor from across the hall. So, why not figure out a pickup to go with it?
It seems that Vivian, being caught up in the lingo of the time, was big on the word “shredder”. As in, “Oh, did you hear that guy play? He’s a real shredder!” Now imagine that with an Irish brogue. LOL! As such, while working with the people at the Seymour Duncan company, it came time to name this new model. Shredder!! Not to be confused with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle villain. The Duncan company wasn’t quite ready for a product names quite that extreme in 1987. A middle ground was found with “Full Shred”.
And in another chapter of “what-coil-can-we-use-again?”, the Full Shred is based on the Duncan Custom. As in, it’s a Duncan Custom with a couple of changes not related to the coils. Twelve shorter Allen head pole pieces and an Alnico 5 bar magnet are the differences. Alnico 5?! It’s a Custom 5, you say! The Custom 5 was another 15 years after the release of the Full Shred. An interesting thing is that a printed interview at the time has Vivian hinting at a Custom.
My first exposure to the Full Shred was, of course, as a stock pickup in a Kramer guitar. It’s in the bridge position, with a JB in the middle position. As an aside, Kramer put the JB in the middle position of a couple of models and I find that a bridge-voiced pickup in a middle position is a great option to consider. And the Full Shred? It can keep pace with the JB just fine. The different voices allows for a better platform for options. If you want to have a little fun, try the JB in the bridge and the Full Shred in a middle humbucker position.
There is also a Full Shred neck model. That one almost flew under the radar until I started digging into some neck humbucker options to address a bit of the issues I find with common neck pickup options. In all fairness, I’ve not used a Full Shred neck in a few years and I currently have none on hand, so my comments on that one will be from memory and any specs will be what is officially published by the Duncan company.
For the Full Shred bridge, I have two production samples. One is a standard spaced SH-10 and one is a trem-spaced TB-10. Both are older ones made by Maricela MJ Juarez with the old style ‘stamped label’. I do keep reading more and more about players referring to the ‘stamped label’ era as the Duncan company’s “golden age”. I agree for a number of reasons and I encourage people to seek them out where possible.
The Full Shred is a focused, precise humbucker. With less in the lows and mids and plenty in the highs, it’s going to cut through. Falling into the high output category, there is some natural compression going on. You might still get a little grit on clean amp settings, but it gets nice and glassy when the coils are split. If you are thinking that the Full Shred is good for lead work, that’s where you’d be right.
Remembering the Full Shred neck, it does help if you have issues with flab and boom in the low end. It also has a little more bite in the highs. Going to split mode on a clean amp setting, you’re lined up for that chimey character that was all the rage in the LA hard rock scene in the 80s. There’s really no other passive neck humbucker I’ve tried on the Duncan menu that can manage this while offering the more organic vibe of an Alnico magnet.
Lay your peepers on this video by Keith Merrow that demos the Full Shred bridge with (at 00:11) and without a backing track (at 14:23).
Series – 13.559 K
Inductance – 7.689 H
North – 6.875 K
South – 6.7 K
Parallel – 3.396 k
Resonant Peak – 5.5 KHz (advertised)
Magnet – Alnico 5
Series – 7.5 K
Resonant Peak – 8 KHz
Magnet – Alnico 5
Given the mid-to-late-80s release and the genre-restricting name, it’s easy to see how the Full Shred appeared to not get a lot of attention for a while after shred guitar sort of diminished. Razor sharp riffs didn’t seem to take precedence over flannel in the 90s. HaHa! And when there became a need for exacting heavy rhythm work in modern rock/metal, players seem to take note of the Full Shred again.
For reference, this Full Shred bridge pickup evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller. Real cabs used were Marshall 1960B cabs loaded with Celestion G12-65s, Vintage 30s and G12M Greenbacks.