Guitar Pickup Review

Seymour Duncan Invader Humbucker Set

The Invader arrives on the scene in about 1981. A year after the Duncan Distortion begins feeding the need for more. We are at the time when the NWOBHM is about to go mainstream. In many instances, the aggressive intensity of punk is infusing itself in to a dominant heavy metal force. When it comes to guitar at this time, too much is never enough!

Seymour Duncan early Invader advertisement
Seymour Duncan early Invader advertisement
(click to view large image in new window)

Right off the bat, the Invader is the same wind as the JB. Yep. The Invader, the Distortion, the Stag Mag, the Holdsworth. All the JB wind. Just different magnets and/or poles. In the case of the Invader, it has ceramic magnets. But where the Distortion has one thick ceramic, the Invader has two thick ceramic magnets where spacers normally belong. But it didn’t always!

The earliest version of the Invader has just the primary thick ceramic going down the middle. More to the point, just a Distortion model with different poles. Speaking of the poles, that earlier version has a large bolt-style head. Not the large dome-style we see today. But something like an oversize allen/hex pole.

Now let me throw you from the frying pan and into the fire. That earliest neck version is in the 12k DCR range. Just like the Duncan Distortion neck model. We will get more in to that when we talk about the current version of the Invader neck model.


For this application, I’m going with a double cut 2-humbucker body with maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. The guitar has 09-42 strings and is in E standard tuning.  Hardware includes a German Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo system.

During the install process, I take advantage of the opportunity to hit the frets with the Lizard Spit Fret Polishing System and to apply Lizard Spit Slick Nutz to relevant friction points.

Disclaimer: the normal production style Invader humbucker that are in use for this evaluation are older ones made by MJ. I cannot speak for the current production versions.

Invader Bridge

The bridge model is big and ready to pummel anyone not up to the task. LOL! Lows are thick and robust, where highs are present and have cut. The mid range snarl is about big enough to use as a runway for a commercial airliner. HaHa! This pickup is going to punch the unsuspecting in the chest and then laugh if they can’t pick themselves up. Have your chops ready and definitely bring your A-Game to this show.

What might surprise a newcomer to the Invader bridge is that it’s a brutal as people say it is. But not as muddy as some suggest. Thick, perhaps. But not in the overblown, tubby way that suggest it’s all too loose. There is a substantial focus while maintaining a significant boldness. And that applies across the range.


Check out a few videos from one of the Invaders better-known players, Synyster Gates of Avenged Sevenfold

Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare [Official Music Video]
Avenged Sevenfold – Hail To The King [Official Music Video]

Yes, the Synyster Gates version are the exact same pickup as the production with the cosmetically different poles.

Invader Neck

I’ll shoot straight with you on this one. I don’t usually hear people asking about what this neck position sounds like. LOL! But there is some fun to be had, nonetheless. So let’s keep looking.

In series mode, the end result is a neck tone that people actually should be asking for. Much more clearly defined, with sustain on tap and a responsive character. I did wire it up for parallel mode and it does clean us much more nicely than expected for a triple-magnet monster. HaHa!

You are seeing above where I’m saying the OG Invader neck reads in the 12k range. About the same as the Distortion neck. Now, I’m not clear as to how soon they made the change, but the neck as we know it is closer to (an advertised) 7.2k range. As a total aside, the resonant peak is 8 KHz. Those stats are closer to the Seth Lover neck than people might think. However, we are talking about two totally different insulation types. And for the real surprise…

The cap
Seymour Duncan Invader .010 µf capacitor
Seymour Duncan Invader .010 µf capacitor

A .010 µf capacitor! That is inline, between the finish of the south coil and the connection to the 4-con lead wire. South coil on a traditional Duncan humbucker would be the screw coil. What does that cap do? Well, it keeps you from getting a complete DCR reading from your multimeter. HaHa! Being in the series circuit, it essentially comes between the south coil and the meter. Of course, you can take a reading off just the north coil. This is the reason more than one person has take to the internet wanting to know why their brand new Invader neck is broken. LOL!

The cap is there to roll off the resonant peak. Most of us generally see cap values of .015μF and .022μF at the tone pots. This is at the source…. AND just one coil. What is the actual audible difference from the “prime” coil to the “capped” coil? No idea. Sorry guys, but keeping an entire galaxy under a tight fist takes up a lot of time. Maybe someone can run those different creative wiring variations and get back with us all.


Up first is a 6-string demo. Click HERE to see/hear it without the backing track.

And now for a 7-string demo. As before, go HERE for the guitar-only segment.

NOTE: Both of those videos compare multiple Duncan pickups in the same environment. If you are familiar with any one (or more) of the models, you have a reference point to know how the others sound.


Invader Bridge
Series – 16.136 K
Inductance – 8.507 H
Split – 8.293 K
Split – 7.876 K
Parallel – 4.035 K
Magnet – Ceramic x3
Resonant Peak – 5 KHz (advertised)

Invader Neck
Series – 7.529 K
Inductance – 4.304 H
Split – 3.711 K
Split – 3.812 K
Parallel – 1.7894 K
Magnet – Ceramic x3
Resonant Peak – 8 KHz (advertised)

And since someone is sure to ask, here are the specs for the OG style Invader set with the single magnet and different poles.

OG Invader Bridge
Series – 16.128 K
Inductance – 8.507 H
Split – 8.011 K
Split – 8.164 K
Parallel – 4.044 K
Magnet – Ceramic

OG Invader Neck
Series – 12.503 K
Inductance – 7.516 H
Split – 6.248 K
Split – 6.272 K
Parallel – 3.128 K
Magnet – Ceramic

The Invader is available in 6, 7, and 8-string versions in basic black, zebra, reverse zebra, and white bobbins. Other color options should be available via the Custom Shop.

Players that use the Invader include Tom DeLonge (Blink 182), Woody Weatherman (Corrosion Of Conformity), Whitey Kirst (Iggy Pop), Doyle von Krankenstine (Misfits), Al Function (Cypress Hill), Dimebag Darrell Abbott (Pantera), Adam 12 (PowerMan 5000), James Hetfield (Metallica), Mike Chlasciak (Rob Halford). The Invader is going to be good for alternative, hard rock, classic rock, and metal genres.

For reference, this Seymour Duncan Invader humbucker set evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller.  In addition, 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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