When it is DiMarzio vs Seymour Duncan...



While I'm not a "vintage tone" guy in it's most rigid sense, DiMarzio's offerings in this range (Twang Kings, Air Classic & 36th Anni) impress me more than those from Duncan.
Nothing beats Duncan's vintage soapbars, though..nothing.

Matt L

I've been happy with most Duncans that I've tried, so I've never really bothered with DiMarzios. I don't think I've ever owned a guitar with them, honestly.


I was a Dimarzio guy but slowly turning to the other side. Just seem to prefer Duncans for what I'm playing these days.

Agree on the Dimarzio's quality though, had tonnes of them and they never fail me. I had a Duncan Tele pup that died in three months...


I love Seymour Duncan Antiquity humbuckers and Dimarzio Norton's. The Norton might be my favorite all around bridge pickup.

Dr Git

I like some of both of their pickups....i remember putting a super distortion in my newer 77 les paul custom. I don't think Duncan was even making pickups yet. All there was was DiMarzio and he made 2 pickups. Super D and he made a Dual sound pickup and Bill Lawrence made a L-500 or something like that from what i remember then


Silver Supporting Member
I think the blackouts sound good in the right application, same with the jazz. Hot rails are cool, and the old (pre-stamped baseplate) JB's are supposed to kick ass.

Other than those, I have not tried a duncan I liked. I've always been a Dimarzio guy.


only few Duncan's I fond of, like Seth Lover, Jazz, Full Shred.

I had some Duncan's which sound really horrible, like Invader and Screaming Demon and the famous JB.

I used to put JB + Jazz on one of my Les Paul as I was advised to do, said this combination works very good on Les Paul, The Jazz sound really nice and smooth but the JB really made my Les Paul sound thin and funny. I can imagine the 80's hard rocker would love that sound but unfortunately I am not one of them :/.

I never owned a single DiMarzio pickup , for some reasons I don't feel like buying them and install on my guitars but the interesting part is, I tried many guitars with DiMarzio in it and sounds awesome!! my impression is DiMarzio is superior to Duncan's sonic quality wise.

I know it's weird logic that I like DiMarzio and whine about Duncan's but I bought bunch of Duncans and not a single DiMarzio..I know it's weird...
It's because one thing bothers me about DiMarzio, I don't know how you put it. They always sound TOO clean. the audio quality is nice but they just sound different from what I like.

on the other hand, Duncan sound not as good as DiMarzio, audio quality wise but I like the little dirt Duncan has, almost all Duncan's model I tried has a little dirt in the tone, it's like Analog VS Digital, that little dirt works the wonder :D


DiMarzio has actually gotten worse with the logos in some cases. Two of my Strats; top 2001, bottom 2007:


Choosing a pickup brand based on the decal rather than tone is pretty facepalmy. Most of my Duncans have no logo, but the ones with the magic in them, in particular an old Juarez PATB-3, a 59 in the neck of a Charvel, could say "WONDERBREAD" right across both coils and I'd still play them.


For me, there are a couple factors that come into play

Dimarzio's to me, usually have a more hi-fi processed sound while Duncan's are generally more raw and open sounding.

Another factor is the guitars that they usually come stock in. Fore example, Ibanez are pretty much married to Dimarzio, so Duncans seem weird in an Ibanez. Jackson's and ESP's almost always have Duncan or EMG's, so Dimarzio's seem weird in them.


I actually had a pickup custom wound to get one without the logo. I live in Ventura, CA which is a 30 minute drive to the seymour duncan plant in santa barbara. I ordered a reverse zebra JB without a logo to get a guitar I bought on craigslist back to stock. It cost $72 dollars through my local music store and it only took a week to do.

Here's the guitar in question:
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gillman royce

Silver Supporting Member
Hard to make a generalization like that for me. When I'm looking to replace a pup with something new/else, it's usually because I've heard something better. I will compare 2-3 for tone, then price. All tht said, I've never bought Duncans but have a few Dimarzios


Good Day,

I like, and have Duncan Antiquity's on My L.P and my ES-333 I love those P/U's

I also have Rio Grande P-90's on one my Hollow bodies..I love them too..

Great Pickups....

I also have Lace Hot Golds on my Strat..Love those too...

I'm going to try Jason Lollars I've heard some of his P-90's Like 'em

Nothing wrong with DiMarzio's either as far as I'm concerned..

Maybe I just chose the right pickups for those guitars or just got lucky..

My 2 cents....

Cheers Mates


Seymour Duncan make some of the best off the shelf pickups for Telecasters. For humbuckers I prefer Dimarzio.
Both very good, affordable pickup makers.

big mike

Cathode biased
Platinum Supporting Member
In my experience, Dimarzio pickups are better made, better sounding and their range is less confusing.
Once upon a time, around 1990; I was having problems with a couple of guitars - they were too microphonic for the bigger, louder gigs they were doing. The ads, reviews etc led me to send my tech (my band had a record deal at the time) out to buy half a dozen SD alnico II strat pickups and a couple of SD tele pickups. I didn't love their sound, but at least they didn't squeal. However; to cut a long story short; ten years on, 4 of the 6 strat pickups had failed. Not good odds.
Over the years, I've tried numerous single coil pickups; to my ears, the Seymour Duncans are usually ice-picky and harsh - even the much-vaunted, expensive Donahue tele unit. I finally found a SD tele bridge pickup I liked last year; a 'Broadcaster' unit.
I still have 2 Dimarzio pickups that I bought in the late 70s. They are both still in use, still sounding great. Similarly a Lawrence L-90 bought in 1980.

Several independant winders that offer pickup repairs have told me the duncans are much better than the dimarzio due to component and construciton quality.

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