The Blackened Black Winter humbucker set is a variation of… YES! the regular Black Winter set. It is July 2013 when the original Black Winter unleashes itself as a regular production model. Before the end of 2014, the Blackened variant is shaking things up.
This is an interesting time for the Duncan company. They are right in the middle of releasing 6 and 7-string versions of a line targeting a specific subgenre of rock and metal. The Nazgûl and Pegasus bridge models. The Sentient neck model. And the Black Winter. Many see this as an attempt to gain market relevance amid the growth of a British pickup brand that’s the rage among metal guitarists.
At first, the Blackened Black Winter is for an artist model of a Schecter guitar. Yet customers can order it from Duncan as a production floor custom order. Which is to say, it’s a tweak done on the production floor and doesn’t fall under the more expensive custom shop umbrella. Still, it’s convenient that it’s available and not an “exclusive” item.
The Blackened Black Winter set is going in to the trusty double-hum test guitar with a German Floyd Rose tremolo system. The harness as a 500k Bourns push-pull pot, Switchcraft 12120X 3-way toggle, and a Switchcraft 1/4″ output jack. It is in E standard tuning. Both are connected to switching for series-parallel. This is the same guitar in play for the original Black Winter evaluation.
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..Let’s plug it in and crank it up.
It’s the Black Winter with a minor alteration.
Not going to blow smoke up your exhaust port. HaHa! For starters, the Duncan company site reflects the same DCR and same EQ for both options.
So what’s the big deal? The Blackened option has matte black bobbins, as compared to glossy. And there are two rows of adjustable hex pole pieces, rather than a standard pole configuration.
About The Poles
Yes, you will normally expect a significant difference with this sort of change in the poles. The Full Shred and the Custom 5 are proof, being the same pickup with different pole pieces. Ah! But those have a single Alnico bar magnet! The Black Winter design calls for 3 thick ceramic magnets.
The magnetic field of power ceramic magnets can really clamp down on subtleties. No one uses the Invader for it’s finesse, if you know what I mean! LOL!
The Schecter artist that commissioned this variation. Here is his own take on the difference: “Under high gain, the differences between the standard Black Winter and the Blackened version are very subtle. Tonally, they are the same, but the Blackened version has a slightly sharper sounding pick attack. Slightly more aggressive feel. Other than the looks, that’s the only discernible difference.”
For giggles, I’m throwing out the specs of my regular Black Winter set as well. It will NOT be identical, as the regular bridge has wide pole spacing and the Blackened bridge has regular spacing. But still something fun to ponder.
Blackened Black Winter Bridge
Series – 16.036 K
Inductance – 5.174 H
Split – 8.368 K
Split – 7.688 K
Parallel – 4.008 K
Magnet – Ceramic
Black Winter Bridge
Series – 18.21 K
Inductance – 7.075 H
Split – 9.17 K
Split – 9.08 K
Parallel – 4.56 K
Magnet – Ceramic
Blackened Black Winter Neck
Series – 12.948 K
Inductance – 4.786 H
Split – 6.424 K
Split – 6.545 K
Parallel – 3.243 K
Magnet – Ceramic
Black Winter Neck
Series – 12.86 K
Inductance – 5.622 H
Split – 6.42 K
Split – 6.46 K
Parallel – 3.28 K
Magnet – Ceramic
Is it different? Yes. Is it different enough to switch from the regular to the Blackened? If you are a pickup nerd and want to drop the $218.00, go for it. Yet pragmatically speaking, if a player thinks the very slight difference will cure all their tone issues, they need to worry more about practicing. HaHa! However, if you don’t have one and are considering both, now you’ve got a little more to ponder.
The Blackened Black Winter set is going to be good for hard rock, progressive & dent metal, nu-metal, thrash, death metal, metalcore, extreme metal, hardcore, punk, progressive rock, tech metal, doom, and shred. It is available in 6, 7, and 8-string configurations.
For reference, this Seymour Duncan Blackened Black WInter 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 1960B, Mojotone British, and Peavey 6505 cabs loaded with Celestion Classic Series Vintage 30s and Classic Series G12M Greenbacks.
7 string 59 Alnico 2 Alnico 4 Alnico 5 Alnico 8 Bare Knuckle BKP Brass Brown Sound Celestion Ceramic Custom Shop Dean DiMarzio DMT EVH Fishman Floyd Rose Fluence Fretboard Gibson Humbucker Ibanez JB Jimmy Page John Petrucci Les Paul MJ Mojotone Nut P-90 PAF Pariah Pickup Professor Guitarism ReWind Satch Satriani Schaller Seymour Duncan Singlecoil Single Width Speaker Tech Tip