Guitar Pickup Review

Seymour Duncan Custom Shop Candy Humbucker Set

Candy is a 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard. While not as famous as Greenie, many a respectable player has laid hands on Candy over the decades.

As a primer and a reminder, the PAFs from Kalamazoo during this time are all over the place. While there is a basic recipe to follow, what is on-hand is the order of the day. LOL! One spool of 42 plain enamel can be different than the next. It can even be different across the same spool! HaHa! And a magnet is a magnet, so whatever they have in stock is whatever is put to use.

Such is the case with the PAFs in the Candy Les Paul, with DC resistance readings in the mid-7k range.

Eric Steckel is a modern blues player. Or “Bluesmetal” as he calls it. The feel and phrasing and character of the blues as seen through a high-gain, high-octane lens. Want to learn more about how Eric came to know of Candy and how it leads to a signature pickup set? Watch this:

Eric Steckel’s Signature “Candy” Humbucker Set

You can tell by the Mezzabarba and Bogner amps that Eric isn’t messing around when it comes to gain.

Want to see more? Of course you do!

Eric Steckel – Candy into Mezza MZero Overdrive

A PAF style humbucker can do that? Sure it can. Long gone are the days when pickups are about how they can push the amp into overdrive and distortion. Today’s amps are already there! Now we can focus on pickups with tone. And that’s what Eric is doing with his signature Candy humbucker set.

In full disclosure, I have tried a lower resistance Alnico 3 humbucker before. I can only say that we didn’t go together like peas and carrots. LOL! Eric is cool enough to answer a few questions about the Candy set, and his feedback is definitely assuring. So I’m giving a go of the Candy set.

Seymour Duncan Custom Shop Candy Set
Seymour Duncan Custom Shop Candy Set

The Candy set is from the Custom Shop, so you can order it with most any option you like. This set has black butyrate bobbins w/ no logo, standard pole spacing, short mounting legs, and 4-conductor lead wire. The harness has Bourns 500k pots. Switchcraft 12120X 3-way toggle. Pure Tone Full Contact 1/4″ jack. Install is a snap. The guitar is set up with 09-42 strings at E standard tuning.

Seymour Duncan Candy Humbuckers
Seymour Duncan Candy Humbuckers

The set overall is a fairly transparent-sounding affair. But in slightly different ways. Let me lay out why…

The Candy neck is on the clear side, being able to handle clean amp settings without the need for split or parallel wiring. Lower notes have body and higher notes are precise. The mids have a more vocal quality. I did wire the neck for series/parallel operation. Clean amp settings in parallel are bliss with the Candy neck.

When it comes to the bridge position, Candy has a slant toward a upper-mids snarl. Working the volume pot will open up the overall range quite a bit. The key to this pickup is how you play it. It is very responsive to picking technique. Take it easy for expressive blues or dig in hard for face-melting riffage.

In fact, the right attack conjures an almost Strat-ish snap. That’s not uncommon for a really good PAF, if you know what I mean.

An interesting things about the Candy set is that it seems to take whatever amp setting I throw at it. In fact, these pickups seem to be happier with even more gain and saturation. In fact, this set eats high gain amp settings like… wait for it… candy! Oh yeah, I went there. HaHa!

There is also enough focus in the voicing to be right at home with lower tunings. Check out this demo of Eric playing the Candy set in drop C:

Eric Steckel Signature ‘Candy’ Pickup Demo | Drop C Chunk

For an idea of how these samples relate to the actual 1960 Candy Les Paul, refer to recent videos here, here, here, and here.

Seymour Duncan CS Candy 05

Candy Humbucker Bridge
Series – 7.753 K
Inductance – 4.157 H
Split – 3.87 K
Split – 3.875 K
Parallel – 1.9354 K
Magnet – Alnico 3

Candy Humbucker Neck
Series – 7.673 K
Inductance – 4.148 H
Split – 3.82 K
Split – 3.846 K
Parallel – 1.9159 K
Magnet – Alnico 3

Seymour Duncan CS Candy 03

When it comes to reproducing real-deal true-blue PAF style pickups, Seymour is an invaluable commodity. The Seth Lover set, the Antiquity humbucker set, and the Custom Shop Greenie set hold solid rankings in my own Top Ten PAF humbucker listing. I do understand that PAF pickups can be like snowflakes with all the subtle variants. As such, it’s good that there are so many demo samples available of the Candy set. If you are hearing a sound you like from one of the demos, you should expect to get it in your guitar from these pickups.

For reference, this Seymour Duncan Custom Shop Eric Steckel Signature Candy humbucker set evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller.  Real cabs in use are Marshall 1960BMojotone British, and Peavey 6505 cabs loaded with Celestion Classic Series Vintage 30s and Classic Series G12M Greenbacks.

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