• Seymour Duncan SSL-5 pickup review

    Sometimes it’s just too cold to do anything sensible. We were supposed to be working on some new songs yesterday but it was so freezing cold that we just gave it up. Our brain cells just couldn’t heat up. Anyway, as we already was there we bashed the hell out of some old Floyd tunes. Not much thinking going on there as we’ve been playing these songs for… erm… 10 years or so.

    We did Echoes, Atom Heart Mother, Coming Back to Life and a couple of others. It was fun and I got the chance to try out my new Duncan SSL5 bridge pickup. I installed it last weekend and I’ve been amazed over how much it change the tone in my guitar. I’ve always loved the CS69s but I felt that the bridge needed some balls. A bit more meat to the bone. I’ve tested it on my home rig – the old Marshall 5210 50w combo and the ”backup board” – and with the POD X3 and I must say that I’ve fallen in love with this pickup. Instant love! It sounds warmer and fuller (in lack of a better word) than the CS69 and really does wonders to my ”home tone” as I have to keep the volume at a neighbour friendly level. I get the sustain I need without cranking the compressor and the clean is incredibly rich.

    OK, back to yesterday’s rehearsal. I was especially eager to hear the SSL5 on my live rig and how it sounded with my main pedal board. Naturally, since the pickup has a higher output than the CS69, I needed to make some minor adjustments on some of the pedals to maintain my usual tone. It made a huge difference on the Muff+TD combo and I got some really nasty feedback, which was a cool ”whoa! Animals, dude!” moment but a bit too much when I came to my senses.

    If I was to point my finger on something, I would have wanted a bit more top… just a hair. On some stuff it can be just a tiny hint too dark and I don’t want to turn up the treble on my amp too much. Maybe I’ll try the SSL1 one day and just compare the two.

    What I loved was the tone I got from the Sun Face+Colorsound combo. I have struggled a bit with the Sun Face and its pronounced treble but now it sounds incredibly sweet. I get the smooth sustain and that earpinching attack you can hear on some bootlegs from the Dark Side 1973-75 tours. With just a bit more gain from the Colorsound it sounded wild and I had to bend down and tame the beast! The SSL5 is extremely responsive and dynamic when you roll down the volume on the guitar. You get less gain but keep the tone and body from even the most exaggerated settings on the Muff and Sun Face.

    The SSL5 also gave new life to the Tube Driver. Again, I have felt that it needed some balls when I used the CS69 bridge and it was difficult to balance the Hi/Lo EQ on the pedal without getting a muddy neck tone. The SSL5 adds the rich lower end and a hint of mid range. I mean, – listen to Take a Breath from Albert Hall. There you have it!

    I’m extremely pleased with the SSL-5. I feel that it has taken my guitar to a new level… sadly it doesn’t make me a better player though LOL! I will give it some time and decide whether to keep it or not but I’m on the right track and I warmly recommend it!

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85 Responsesso far.

  1. NS says:

    I bought the SSL-5 because I needed a slightly thicker pickup. I had SSL-1’s in all the positions. I heard Gilmour used the combination of SSL-1 Neck, SSL-1 Middle, and SSL-5 Bridge back in the late 70’s and asked Seymour Duncan to create a hotter version of the SSL-1. They did but it was name something else before taking the name SSL-5. This to me is the best single coil combination in a 3 pickup strat configuration. I couldn’t be happier. I think the SSL-5 is better than playing a humbucker at times. That single coil character is still there but there is more bass and thickness, and higher gain. This pickup soars when playing with some delay and distortion/overdrive.

  2. Pedro Asfora says:

    Hi Bjorn, hope all is well. I’m very interested in getting a bridge single coil and The Wall and Animals are my favorites, so FS-1 it is. Do you know of any similar sounding noiseless pickup?

    Seymour Duncan make a noiseless version of the SSL-5, and while I gather the FS-1 is a tad more mellow (please correct me if I’m wrong) than the Seymour, I wonder if they’re similar enough for me to be satisfied with the noiseless SSL-5. I prefer the tone that sits in the middle of super beefy rock sounds and the OG vintage bridge single coil sound, so I imagine that the FS-1 is really the one for me.

    Thank you so much for everything you do for this website and your YouTube channel! Airbag has become one of my top bands since I discovered you guys :)

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Pedro! It’s been some years since I played the FS1 but it’s very similar to the SSL5 and you should have no problem using it for the Animals/Wall era.

  3. Sondre Søndervik says:

    Is there any humbuckers that sounds like the SSL-5 when splittet?
    Or maby there is a singlecoil that sounds similar to the SSL-5, but can be cranked towards a humbucking sound?

    • Bjorn says:

      I’m not that familiar with humbuckers with split. Anyone?

      • KEITH says:

        I think the SSL-5 is a super high output single, actually hotter than most Gibson PAFs. I use Fralin Pickups on all my guitars, and I’m sure Lindy Frailn can answer the question. I’ll give him a call, and post an answer in a day or two. My thoughts are just getting a humbucker with similar output or a really hot pop style pickup with similar output, and alnico 5 magnets might give you a single that gets cranky like a humbucker. But the humbucker would be more versatile.

  4. Bryn says:

    Hi Bjorn and all,
    Does anyone wire their SSL-5 to a tone pot?

  5. Murray says:

    Please delete my other 2 posts. I went ahead and tried it in the various forms. If you are using RWRP ssl-5, you still need to reverse the wires in same manner as the non-rwrp. you will get hum cancelling and that is the only way it will work. Don’t know if I am missing any tone because of the hum cancelling, but it sounds pretty good to me!

  6. Hi Bjorn! I replaced my bridge Fat 50s with SSL5 since I haven’t been very pleased with the sound. I have read a lot about the heavenly change in the sound and whole other life beginning. =)
    To my astonishment the SSL5 turn out to be overall worse sounding.
    Yes, lower notes sound cool but the fender`s sound even brighter, juicier. As for the mid and higher notes, those sound too nasally, too in the face and kinda scooped not in the good way, me-e-eh.
    So, I swapped the pickup back to the Fat 50s. It seems more balanced throughout the range. The Seymour seems to have inclination to a specific place in the range.
    The question is: does my perception of the SSL5 depend primarily on the amp (mid-scooped, mid-humped) or just a personal preference?
    (I tried it also on Yamaha THR10 and on the vox amp it sounded more or less ok. My main amp is Bad Cat Cougar 5)
    What else would you recommend to try? What about humbuckers in the single-coil form factor?

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Andrew. Sorry for my late reply. It’s preference. The SSL5 has A LOT more output than most vintage style single coils so swapping from Fat 50s to the SSL5 would make a huge difference. I guess David did it to get more presence and an overall fatt tone when he’s using the bridge and the neck would provide softer tones. He obviously want that difference and versatility but it’s not for everyone. I like it but then again I often play heavier stuff with my Strat and need more output from the bridge. Rolling back the volume a hair or two helps balacing the signal and a compressor would also roll off some of the highs.

  7. Dominick111 says:

    I was thinking on either getting these Duncan’s or the Lace gold pickups , but I’m not sure because I like both ?

  8. Raphael says:

    Hello Bjorn
    I would like to replace the CS 69 bridge pickup (south up polarity, wound clockwise) in my Fender Strat with a SSL-5. Should I take the standard SSL5 and reverse the leads or mount a SSL5 RWRP (reverse wind reverse polarity)?

    • Bjorn says:

      Yes, reverse the leads.

    • Dominick111 says:

      Bjorn , if I buy a set of Seymour Duncan SSL5 pickups will they all sound exactly the same , because I’m hoping that they’ll all have their own unique sounds for each setting , bridge , middle , and neck . It wouldn’t make sense to me if all three pups sounded exactly the same on each setting . help ! I’m confused ?

      • Bjorn says:

        They all have the same output. Keep in mind though that the same pickup will sound different in the different positions due to the tension of the strings. The bridge pickup will sound brighter and more focused due to the higher string tension, while the neck pickup will sound warmer, bigger and softer, due to less string tension. It’s just like any other set with identical output on all pickups. You can also tweak this further by having different height on the pickups.

  9. Chris lee says:

    Hi ..i have recently put a the seymour Duncan staggered SSL5 in the bridge position in my 63 strat ..i had to switch the black ground wire to the switch and the white wire to the vol in order not to get the thin out of phase sound ..The SSL5 seems to me pretty muddy and lacks in highs but pretty thick in the mids.if i was to use the SSL5 Reverse wound as bridge. would i maybe gain more highs with this pickup ? or would you say there is not much of a difference with the normal staggered SSL5 ..fitted with the black n white cables just switched around …any suggestions folks ??? just kind of wish there was a tad more crisp highs to this pub .

    • Bjorn says:

      The SSL5 has a high output, with lost if mid range and a tad compression. It’s the nature of the pickup and it works especially well with brighter sounding guitars and amps. If you switch it around, you’ll get that out of phase tone, which sounds very strange. Check out the D Allen Voodoo Blues for a slightly brighter and more vintage alternative.

  10. Scott says:

    Just checking back in. I installed a RWRP SSL-5 in the bridge position with two cs 69’s in the middle and neck.

    It’s all wired up, sounding great, and has noise cancellation in position 2. (You have to reverse the wires on the SSL 5 as per the notes above).

    Basically fender cs 69’s are the same polarity as a normal SSL 5, but they are wound reversely. Anyway buying an RWRP gives in opposite polarity and the same wind direction. So if you reverse the wires you get the opposite wind direction for true RWRP.

    Works great. I’m really happy with the results, and the quack is still sweet in position 2.

  11. Matthew Pinson says:

    Hi All,

    While reading the comments here, I saw the topic come up a number of times of how to wire the SSL-5 to work in the bridge position along with Fender single coils in the middle and neck and thought I’d chime in to help…

    It doesn’t seem to be widely known, but Seymour Duncan single coils (other than Antiquities) are actually opposite wind and polarity to current Fender single coils. This means that you would want a RW/RP SSL-5 to work with Fender middle and neck pickups. If you reverse the leads on a standard SSL-5, you correct for the wind (which will allow for proper phase alignment in the mid/bridge selection), but do not correct for the polarity (which would allow for hum cancellation in this position). For those that already have a standard SSL-5 and reversed the leads, this is nothing to worry too much over–you just won’t get a hum canceling mid/bridge position and the magnetic pull on the strings will be a little different.


    From the article,

    “…Seymour decided to base his single coils on the original Fender single coils from the 1950’s, which were south, top going. At some point in the 60’s, Fender decided to change their single coils to be north, top coming. The end result is that Seymour’s regular pickups are equivalent to Fender’s RWRP, and vise versa.”


    “If you want this SSL-5 to coexist with a Fender middle pickup with no hum, be sure to order it RWRP.”

    Hope this helps,

    • Scott says:

      Thanks for the info Matt. The only thing I’d caution is that not all fender pickups are the same polarity. In fact I believe the 69s are opposite from standard fender fare.

      For those that have upgraded 69s to a normal ssl5 in the bridge did you get noise cancellation in position 2?

    • Steve - FreewayJam says:

      Matt, the info you have posted is backward.
      The Fender Single Coils for Stratocasters from 1954 to about 1959 were all NORTH TOP Polarity,
      ( TL/TG -which is Top Going and in simpler terms means the pickup is wound clockwise dir. usually )
      Easiest way to confirm direction is to look down on the pickup, with the side with the leads coming out towards the bottom, and if the Black / GRD lead is on the left side eyelet, it is wound clockwise. If the GRD Lead is out
      of the right side eyelet, it is CCW. ( which makes knowing if you need to reverse the leads to get the correct wind direction very easy !

      Around mid to late 1959, Fender decided to change the Magnet Polarity, and thus all Stratocaster
      Single Coils BECAME SOUTH TOP POLARITY, ( but remained TL / TG ) and remain that way. Of course the RW / RP pickups
      that eventually came out later would be North Polarity with a CCW wind direction.

      As per Seymour Duncan, when he began building the Stratocaster Single Coil pickups in his shop, his
      decision was to wind them as they had done originally at Fender in the 1950s.
      Thus the majority of his Single Coils are NORTH TOP POLARITY TL / TG- and this applies to the SSL-5.

      If you have a Strat, with 3 Fender Single Coils, and the Middle is RW / RP, and you are going to add
      the SD SSL-5, the easiest thing / way to go, is just order the SSL-5 in RW / RP, and install it into the bridge
      position, and just reverse the Hot and Grd ( Black and white connections ) and you will get all 5 switch positions working correctly.

      If you have the SD SSL-5 and didn’t get it as RW / RP, then install it in the Bridge Pos. as you normally would, BUT you will have to swap the existing Fender Mid pickup up into the Neck Pos., and reverse the leads on it when connecting. ( WHT or hot to ground, and BLK or Grd to hot.
      What you will have left to do is now install the Neck pup in the Middle Pos. and reverse the Hot and Grd leads on this one as well.

      You will now have all 5 Positions working properly. ( and i believe there was a post above that indicated to do
      this if you had the stock SD SSL-5 – just to point out i wasn’t trying to correct that post, or pretend it had
      not already been stated ! )

      To simplify all of the above – get a blank pce of paper, and draw out each pickup / in position, and you can quickly see exactly what you will need to do to wire it correctly for hum cancelling and proper phase.
      If either of the 2 or 4 positions sound really thin / weak, you have phase issue, and if either of them is humming excessively, then you have incorrect hum cancelling.

      Hope this long winded explanation will help, but every forum or page i see,seems to have a lot of conflicting / incorrect info, which makes it more confusing then it need be. And in the last month i have gone through this exact same situation with 2 different customers and their installing of the SD SSL-5. So i thought i would try to write the entire thing out, to hopefully save someone else time and efforts.

      • Steve - FreewayJam says:

        Just to follow up again to Matt, as i indicated, his information is incorrect in part, and incorrect / backward in part. Here is a chart, from a Vintage site, but that was Written by Seymour Duncan.
        ( i am simply copying the chart, it is originally as above, from SD.

        1954 to 1967 Fender Stratocaster Pickup Specs
        Year Ohms Wire OD Insulation Turns WD MP Wound
        1954 5.76k .0030″ Formvar 7956 TL/TG North Hand
        1955 5.89k .0029″ Formvar 7844 TL/TG North Hand
        1956 5.98k .0029″ Formvar 8012 TL/TG North Hand
        1957 6.02k .0029″ Formvar 8105 TL/TG North Hand
        1958 6.20k .0028″ Formvar 8350 TL/TG North Hand
        1959 5.95k .0030″ Formvar 7925 TL/TG North Hand
        1960 6.33k .0028″ Formvar 8293 TL/TG South Hand
        1961 6.19k .0029″ Formvar 8119 TL/TG South Hand
        1962 6.22k .0028″ Formvar 8220 TL/TG South Hand
        1963 6.37k .0028″ Formvar 8319 TL/TG South Hand
        1964 6.25k .0027″ Form/Enm 7980 TL/TG South Hand
        January 4, 1965, CBS bought Fender Musical Instruments.
        1965 5.80k .0026″ Pln Enml 7626 TL/TG South Machine
        1966 5.76k .0026″ Pln Enml 7630 TL/TG South Machine
        1967 5.88k .0027″ Pln Enml 7656 TL/TG South Machine
        Year Ohms Wire OD Insulation Turns WD MP Wound

  12. Dawson says:

    I replaced my CS Fat 50s with an SSL-5 two hours ago and after a bunch of playing and tweaking height, I’ve got that ballsy Gilmour tone I’ve been craving. it didn’t only change the tone of the bridge pickup either, it changed how my guitar sounds as a whole. Yeah, the bridge+middle position has a bit too much of the lows, but if you dial the volume back slightly, you can fix that. Plus graphic EQs and stuff can help obviously. Overall I’m extremely pleased. My Strat already had the Fat 50s in the neck and the middle, so I’ve basically made my own Gilmour replica so to speak. So, instead of buying the Custom Shop version for $5000, I spent $1250 on an American Standard (not necessary, just had the Fat 50s and BUILD QUALITY ROCKS), and one easy payment of $52.95 on pickup. One soldering iron burn later, I’ve got my custom Strat. Awesome pickup.

  13. Adam says:

    Bjorn, if you bought the reverse wound SSL-5 a) is that a big no no and b) do you need to reverse the wires still. Thanks!

  14. Bryce says:

    Hello Bjorn, I was wondering if you have any experience or knowledge of the seymour duncan ssl-52? Im wondering how it compares to the ssl-5. Thanks!

    [It’s basically the same as the SSL5 but you have both alnico 2 and 5 magnets in the same pickup for a better balance between the bass and treble strings. I haven’t tried it so I can’t really tell how it sounds. I warmly recommend the SSL5 though. Great in the bridge position for a bit more bite and output. – Bjorn]

  15. mohammad says:

    nice site man helped me a lot with Gilmore sound
    i bought my American standard strat last year and i’m going to get a callaham bridge in the next few days and do the neck / bridge mod on it as well. i was wondering is the ssl5 really that good and should get it, i don’t have enough money to change my other pickups .
    any suggestion will be appreciated

    [The SSL5 has a transparent vintage tone with a bit more output and lower end than the Fender CS69s. It’s great for David’s lead tones and a perfect combination for the Big Muff. – Bjorn]

  16. Felix says:


    I currently have cs 69s in my strat and want to upgread to ssl 5s in my bridge but im wondering, should i get the tapped version or does the normal just sound fine?

    [I’ve only tried the normal and it sounds just fine. – Bjorn]

  17. Rafal says:

    Hi – I switched Fender stock middle pickup with neck one – now it works good as middle is RWRP to SSL-5 :)

    [Great! – Bjorn]

  18. Rafal says:

    Hi Bjorn. Seems standard middle is reversed polarity – it is silent in 4th position with neck one – so this is my assumption. SSL-5 with Standard middle working together have slightly lower output comparing to original pickups, thats what made me wonder if my connections are correct – I was thinking rather that if SSL5 is hotter so the middle/bridge output should at least remain similar;). I will try to reverse it once again, but still I would like to remain noiseless in 2nd position. Thanks!

  19. Rafal says:

    Hello. Great site! I have American Standard Stratocaster with American Startocaster single coils (according to specs) – but I could not find any info about these pickups – are they similar to CS69?
    Anyway I replaced brigde pickup with SSL-5 and the sound is cool but not so much differs from the replaced pickups – still has more output. But I have one question – in the bridge/middle position seems like guitar has less output comparing to previous pickup combination. It is kind of weird (I have switched the connectors eventually – at first I connected it according to SD instruction but there was noise in 2 position). Now there is silence but output is kind of weak. Do you have any idea what can cause it?

    [I’m not sure if the Standard pickups require a reverse connection on the SSL5. You need to check that. The Standard PUs do have a slightly lower output so the 2. position will have a slightly lower output than just the SSL5 alone. The Standard PUs has more mids and an overall darker tone than the CS69s. – Bjorn]

  20. mariosyjp says:

    how would you compare the ssl-5 to the texas special at the bridge?

    [The SSL5 has a higher output and it’s much warmer. The TS is basically a beefed up CS69. – Bjorn]

  21. mariosyjp says:

    hello! i usually wire vintage output single coils with a tone control. what about the ssl-5? would that make it too dark to sound straty?

    [I don’t have any experience with that but I’d assume it’ll get too dark since it has a rather dark character to start with. – Bjorn]

  22. small axe says:

    Bjorn, ssl5,ssl5rwrp,ssl1,ehx black finger,bad monkey, big muff, mistress, memory man, epiphone valve junior half stack. I’m in tone heaven. Thanks for all of the input. My fingers are bleeding.

    [Sounds great! Keep on rocking! – Bjorn]

  23. small axe says:

    bjorn, you’re the king. Ordered the ssl5,ssl5 re/rp, ssl1. The duncan site has a great tone comparison. I’ll let you know how it turns out, should be installed this week, new pots, selector switch, gilmour style pickguard. your input is invaluable. If you need to thaw out come to Florida, the sun shines every day.

    [Cheers! Let me know how it turns out :) – Bjorn]

  24. Mark Davis says:

    Thank you Bjorn – in that case “I think I’ll have to think it out again” :) Rgds, Mark

  25. Mark Davis says:

    Hi Bjorn, no problem – thank you for your reply.
    I totally agree that the CS69’s sound much better than the Fat 50’s and your set-up with CS69/CS69/SSL5 set sounds great – I was just concerned about suffering from wolf notes if I fitted the staggered SSL5 on my 9.5″ radius neck (hence the idea for the flat pole SSL6). Just out of interest, what cap specs are you running on your guitar? I’ve read that most people use a 0.047 or 0.50 cap for the CS69’s (suggesting that anything less sounded too bright) but as far as the SSL5/6 is concerned I’m not at all sure whether it should go through a tone pot (even if it’s a ‘No-Load’ version) with a cap or not?? Again, any advice is gratefully received – Mark

    [I think my expertise on this is quite limited. All I can say is that I’ve never had any problems with neither a 9.5″ or any other necks with these pickups. – Bjorn]

  26. Mark Davis says:

    Hi Bjorn, first of all may I say ‘Thank you’ for a fantastic website – a truly great resource for all things Gilmour.

    I play a variety of styles (mainly rock & blues) including Floyd, Hendrix, Dire Straits & SRV but am looking to change the pickups on my main Strat (MIA 2008, Alder, Maple 9.5″, Delta Tone, twin post Pro) to improve it’s tone in neck/mid and give more oomph from the bridge – the rest of the guitar suits me fine.

    My first choice was CS69’s in neck & middle with a Custom staggered SSL5 in the bridge but I’m concerned that a) this won’t suit the 9.5″ neck radius b) the 13k resistance may be a bit over the top for what I have in mind, so instead I was thinking CS69’s with a tapped SSL6 in the bridge?

    I’m not an electronic wizzard but in order to give good tone and a variety of options I was thinking of wiring it as follows: Pos’n 1 – bridge SSL6 through Tone 2 pot (Fender 250k ‘no-load’ pot with o.o22mf 630v Cornell-Dubilier cap). Pos’n 2 – tapped bridge SSL6 & middle CS69, again running through Tone 2 pot. Posn’ 3 – middle CS69. Pos’n 4 – middle/neck CS69. Pos’n 5 – neck CS69. Posn’s 3 – 5 would run through Tone 1 (CTS 250k pot with 0.047mf 630v C-D cap).

    Hopefully this would give me the right tone, with the option to set up a gear when playing bridge pickup only.

    I was also thinking of using a CTS 250k volume pot with a treble bleed kit, to save losing the high end at lower volume settings.

    I assume the SSL6 will still need to be wired in reverse (like the SSL5)?

    Just wondered what you thought of my proposed setup …..I would welcome your comments (good or bad).

    Many thanks in advance,


    “Playing for ages – still learning what it’s all about…”

    [Sorry for my late reply Mark. Well, I’m no technical wizard either… I haven’t tried the SSL6 my self so I can’t really tell. All I can say is that I’m incredibly pleased with my current combo – CS69s neck/mid and SSL5 bridge. The 69s has that omph you’re talking about without getting thin or too bright and the SSL5 has an incredibly rich character ith a fat bottom and still a bright top. I prefer this setup over the one on David’s signature… the Fat 50s and the custom wound mid pickup lack the punch of the 69s. – Bjorn]

  27. Sebastien says:

    Hi Bjorn, i’m about to buy a SSL5 for my bridge (I will keep The CS69 I have in the middle and neck positions).
    When you write that “The SSL5 needs to be reverse connected to avoid phase problems in combination with Fender CS69 pickups”,
    does it mean that I’ll have to buy the “SEYMOUR DUNCAN SSL-5 RW/RP ” version instead of the standard “SEYMOUR DUNCAN SSL-5 ” standard version ?



    [The standard is what you want. Just reverse the connections on the white and black cables when you connect the pickup to your guitar (the black Duncan goes where the white Fender was soldered etc). – Bjorn]

  28. Robert Farrer says:

    Thanks for that Bjorn, i take it the bk butler, fuzz and Big Muff’s ( love this one especially ) pedals you use on your mainboard would be no good for a 15w tube amp. ( i was gonna go for the 30w version of that amp but they are so LOUD ). my trouble is i am trying to make things as future proof as possible really. in hindsight maybe such a small amp was not so well thought out ! Cheers

  29. Robert Farrer says:

    Hey Bjorn, I just had the 69 Pickups installed in the neck and middle with the ssl-5 installed in the bridge and its totally blew me away. its made my MIM strat a totally different animal. ( i have installed a callaham bridge as well mind you but how much impact this had on the tone i don’t know ). the ssl-5 is awesome for doing Gilmour tones and should definately be considered by anyone looking to achieve a similar tone … only thing is i am using a Korg multi effect unit which is definately the weakest link now ( needs binning really ).

    A quick question though, im currently using a Laney VC-15 amp whats you opinion on Laney for Gilmour tones .. personally i am finding it difficult at times considering the clean channel is very ‘clean’.

    [Glad to hear you’ve found your guitar tone! I’ve never tried the Laney VC15 my self so I can’t really tell. As far as I know it’s a tube amp so you should be able to tweak it for some really nice tones. The “trouble” with these smaller tube amps is that they’re mainly designed for mild crunch or full tube gain sounds, so getting THE clean tone can be a challenge. I’ve used a Fender Champ a lot, which I guess is quite similar to this one, and you need to allow some gain just to have the tube working or else, you’ll end up with a flat, thin tone. Seems like the Laney has some EQ controls as well, so you might need to spend some time finding the right setup. Check out this article for some general tone tips and this one for tips on pedals for smaller amps. – Bjorn]

  30. Francis Berthiaume says:

    Ok thanks a lot!!! I’ll check it out. Btw, they are stock 57/62 pu but maybe my problem is that I put copper tape inside the guitar and on the pickguard to avoid any noise problem ( wich clearly doesn’t work for me for the moment ). Someone told me that when you do that, you gotta make sure that it does not touch the metal of the guitar ( and that includes the screws ) or the grounds…Thanks for the help goodman!!! :)

    [Yeah, you need to make sure that no metal is touching the copper foil when you close the pickguard. – Bjorn]

  31. Francis Berthiaume says:

    Hey you all!!!I just bought a 57’reissue black strat and installed a ssl-5 and a toggle switch for the bridge/neck combination. Now, I’ve read that you reversed the wires need to be reversed but is it for ALL Fender pickups? Cause I have a big ground problem that happens the second I touch a metal piece of the guitar. Thanks in advance my friend and keep on Gilmourizing!!

    [Are the neck and middle PUs stock 57/62? I’m no expert on this but check out Fender.Com and see if the middle PU is reverse wound or not. The SSL5 needs to be reverse wired with the CS69 at least. You shouldn’t experience a ground problem anyway… as far as I know. If the SSL5 is wired wrong it will sound hollow and thin. Much like the middle position on a Tele. It should sound very fat and warm with a slightly higher output than the 57/62. – Bjorn]

  32. gaëtan says:

    Hello, i have received 2 fat 50’s for neck and middle position, and a SSL 5 for bridge, for my “gilmour strat project “……The “”midddle/bridge” position is thin and a bit “screamy” (far from a “sweet home alabama intro ” sound , like a normal strat sound ) ..I put the black cable on the ground and the white one on the selector, did i go wrong ? because they explain on the box (i red it after !!!!) to inverse the wiring diagram with Fender pickups…thanks for helping me …gaëtan(France)
    PS: I put the 3 black wires (from pickups) to the ground, and all the white ones to the selector….is it wrong for the SSL 5 ?

    [Hm… I’m not entirely sure. I have CS69s in mine and I had to reverse the SSL5 connections. The sound you’re describing sounds just like a phase problem. Try switching back the wires for a normal setup and hear if it makes a difference. Not all Fender pickups requires that you reverse the SSL5. Depends on model and year. – Bjorn]

    • Marek says:

      Hello, I’m testing fat 50’s with SSL5 too. I was testing the magnetic polarity of Fender pickups and I recognize, that FAT 50’s and 69’s has the same magnetic polarity like SD SSL 5 but opposite wind direction. So if the middle Fender CS69 or FAT50’s is RWRP, correct paired bridge SSL 5 is standard one, with switched black and white wire. (White to ground). In my case some hum in 4th position remains (5 -10%), but I expect it is generated by different resistance of pickups?
      Other Fender pickups I could testing (CS Texas Special and Fender Americans Standard) has the opposite magnetic polarity to SD SSL 5. And I (just) thing they have opposite wiring direction too. So correct SSL 5 to middle RWRP CS Texas Special should be RWRP SSL 5 too and the wires remains in Fender order – black ground. (?)
      So what they write on SD webpage (“If you want this SSL-5 to coexist with a Fender middle pickup with no hum, be sure to order it RWRP.”) is not correct info for Fender CS vintage pickups, which has the same magnetic field orientation like SDs, but mostly reverse wind direction.
      I hope I didn’t make more mess than it actually is in this question :)

      • Scott says:

        I just thought I’d add some comments to help clarify.

        I agree with your observation that the polarity of SD and Fender CS pickups are the same, but the winding is reverse. Therefore when wiring together you always need to reverse the leads on the SD SSL5.

        For CS69’s there are no RWRP versions of this pickup. Hence to pair with a normal CS69 in the middle you would want a RWRP SSL59 for noise cancellation.

        For CS Fat 50’s, the standard middle pickup is RWRP. Hence to pair with a RWRP CS Fat 50’s in the middle you would want a standard SSL5 for noise cancellation.

        I hope this helps some one. I can confirm from personal experience that the SSL5 RWRP and CS69 in the middle is a winning noiseless combination.

      • KEITH says:

        The only pup that should be RWRP is the middle pickup, so if wired correctly you will get hum canceling in positions 2 and 4 and less in 1,3 and 5.

    • KEITH says:

      I’m sure this has been taken care of, but in case others have issues, almost all new Fenders, and their custom shop pups have a RWRP Middle pickup, so that’s why they tell you to reverse the leads. However, if your Fender was made I’m the 70s, or earlier, and is stock it will not be RWRP, nor will the bridge pickup be connected to the tone controls. The upper tone is neck only, lower is middle only. Make sure you know the pickup configuration when you connect the SSL5, if it sounds thin and weak in position 1, and doesn’t have that Strat quack in position 2, reverse the leads on the bridge pup! Or, make sure the neck and middle are wired correctly!

  33. Rodrigo Sarzosa says:

    if i put a baseplate on the brdige CS69 pickup… do you think will act better..? 10% more bass 10% more mids..

    100% more BALLS!!

  34. Daniel says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Recently purchased an ssl-5 for the bridge of my MIM strat, and a set of custom 69’s for middle & neck. I have yet to install them. I was wondering is there much need for any shielding on these pickups, or are they pretty much hum free?

    Dan, Dublin Ireland

    [No passive single coils are hum free. That’s just the nature of the PUs. Whether or not you should shield your guitar depends very much on your the other components in your rig… everything from the amp, all cables (including patch) and pedals. There’s many things that can cause hum and interference that doesn’t have to relate to the pickups but as a rule I’d shield a guitar with single coils to at least eliminate that source. The most effective way is to cover the whole inside of the guitar with copper foil. There’s also a bit on how to prevent noise in this article (middle of page). – Bjorn]

  35. Antony says:

    1-You guys are all saying that the ssl5 is “missing a little top” What do you mean by that?
    2-And also does the ssl5 have enough gain to play metal? Dont get me wrong i love pink floyd more then metal but smtime you want to loosen up and crank it to the full.
    3-Finally does this pickup sound still good without any effects added to it?
    PLS sm1 answer to my 3 questions cause im thinkin of buying the ssl5.

    [1. They’re not as bright as the 69s or 54s. Very fat in the lower end but you need to make slight adjustments on the amp and pedals to get the same top… which is only natural when getting new gear.
    2. Depends on what distortion pedal you’re using. Most single coils are a bit weak for the most aggressive metal stuff but the SSL5 have enough balls to make a Boss DS-1 or a Muff to sound pretty evil.
    3. I think that’s where the SSL5 shines. Most pickups sounds OK or great with pedals but many fail to produce a clean tone that doesn’t sound thin or weak… especially the bridge pickup. The SSL5 sounds very warm and fat on cleans without losing that vintage flavour. – Bjorn]

  36. Stuart says:

    Would the SSL 5 be a good replacement for the 69 bridge pickup in my 60s classic player strat. The bridge pick up is kind of thin and weak and I don’t really like it very much at all. The other options I was thinking was to replace all the 69s for a calibrated set of SSL1. The 69s do seem to lack in the mids in all positions they don’t sound bad though.

    [That’s what I have done – replaced the CS69 with the SSL5. The tone is much “fuller” and richer now but you might also want to consider the SSL1 if you think the SSL5 is just too dark/hot. – Bjorn]

  37. Salvo says:

    Hi Bjørn

    Great review, and yes the SSL-5 it’s really a great “gilmourish pickup”!!!

    I would like to let you know that I have solved the problem of volume drop on middle-bridge and combo neck-bridge position.
    As you remember I have wrote an email to you about this problem.

    Well, at the I have swapped the leads on the SSL-5, and resoldered the white wire on ground and the black one on the 5-way switch. And now it’s ok.

    Always thank you for your help!!!

    Greetings from Sicily (Italy)

    [Good to hear! Cheers! – Bjorn]

  38. Hey Bjørn! I installed a tapped SSL-5 last year, along with the amazing Chromacaster rotary switch, which changes the bridge pickup’s position in the circuit, giving me a total of 16 combinations. However, the tapped version (SSL-5T) is pretty much a waste, unless you have a need for the weakest bridge pickup output that you might find in a Korean Squier with low pickup height. Once or twice I’ve found a combination that sounds good (tapped bridge + neck pickup with Tube Screamer) but they’re not very useful sounds. Just thought I’d add my 2¢ for those shopping for an SSL-5T.

    [Thanks for the input Jonathan! – Bjorn]

  39. RLee says:

    Forgot to add that I didn’t have to reverse the leads on the Antiquity II with the CS69’s… they are the same polarity, in case anyone was curious.

  40. RLee says:

    I was in a similar position, having recently put a set of CS69’s in my strat. I absolutely love the neck and middle tone of the CS69, especially the neck… it’s amazing. But, similar to many others, I felt the bridge, with a dc resistance of 5.8k, was just too thin, and it was hard to drive pedals with enough mids.
    I was considering the SSL5, but after listening to many clips I decided it was a bit too dark for me (at over 13k resistance), so I went with the duncan Antiquity II custom bridge (which is around 9.7k), hoping to find a compromise between hotter pickups with more mids, and treble bite/chime.
    I installed the Antiquity this weekend, and it’s just perfect, for what I was going for. Still has the treble bite and chime, but adds a bit more meat in the mids area, and it drives pedals much better than the CS69. So now I think I’m set for awhile, with CS69/CS69/Ant II custom bridge.
    I highly recommend the Antiquity II bridge. There are a few reviews on it in the Seymour Duncan forums…

    [Thanks for the tip! I might try it out one day. I love the SSL5 but it’s right there on the edge of being a bit too dark. – Bjorn]

  41. Drew MacKenzie says:

    Hey Bjorn, I’m very much a beginner with guitars and have no experience with pickups or guitar hardware… is the SSL-5 a set of pickups or is it just one? if it is just one pickup what do you recommend for the remaining pickups? thank you,


    [You can have them in all positions but I have Fender Custom Shop 69 in the neck and middle positions and the SSL5 in the bridge. – Bjorn]

  42. bernhard says:

    hehehe ;) cool you like it (that much)! yeah, take a breath, it’s all there with the TD and the ssl-5, I told you. it’s a mindblowing sound once you nailed it yourself, I always thought it was maybe a wee bit too “normal”, but when you hit that chords for yourself, the roof takes off.

    I agree about the tiny wee lack of high end. regarding my two setups, that characteristic is very helpful for my band setup, since a lot of compressing and boosting is going on for my sound there. the “shortcoming” becomes more obvious at home, also due to neighbours haha ;)), but there I use a vintage dyna and the preamp of my ehxdmm to give me some extra beef, so the pickup has more room to show itself!

    I love it to bits, too, though, probably the most dynamic pu I ever played.


  43. Jackson says:

    It seems this pick-up is getting the thumbs up and really want to try one, but would you say this pick-up is hotter than say the american standard bridge pick-up. Im sure it’s a better quality than the american but american standards are pretty “hot” as it is aren’t they? how would they compare?

    [I’m not sure which is hotter (maybe someone can fill me in here) but I think the two have a completely different “flavour” in that the SSL5 has that vintage scooped mids tone (although more mids than the CS69) while the US Standards has a more modern tone with more mids and in my ears not as suiting for David’s tones. – Bjorn]

  44. dstein5717 says:

    Could anybody tell me from experience how a Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb is for DG tones?

  45. Halem says:

    Hi, Bjorn!

    Your vintage style pickups rewiews are great and 70% of all what i know about guitar gear i got from this site, thank you for that!

    The thing i want to ask is have you ever delt with Lace Sensors? Could you share some info of what ones(gold, silver, there are a lot of them) are best for some Gilmour tones?


    [Thanks for your kind words! Glad you fin my site useful :) I’m not sure if I can’t help you with this one however. My experience with Lace is rather limited. I think they’re an option if you consider something similar to David’s EMGs. I wouldn’t recommend Lace for the 70’s or present tones. They’re perhaps not as “extreme ” as the EMG DG20 but tonally somewhere in between. They’re shielded, which is helpful if you’re experiencing a lot of noise and they have a lot more midrange than the typical vintage pickups. But again, I’m not an expert here. Anyone want to fill inn? – Bjorn]

  46. Luca says:

    The SSL1 is not the same as the SSL1 Custom!

    [Sorry. Didn’t read your comment correctly. – Bjorn]

  47. Brad says:

    Did you happen to know if the leads were switched (black and white) on the SSL-5 to work with your CS-69s? I was just curious because I think you have to reverse the leads so it doesn’t sound thin when used with the CS-69s. I am considering purchasing one and putting it in myself.


    [Yes, I reversed the leads. – Bjorn]

  48. Jared says:

    Hi, Bjorn

    I have a Dimarzio FS-1 in my main guitar, an 08 Amst Strat and a SSL-5 in my MIM back up…

    I’m getting very tempted to swap them out… The FS-1 great: nice bite, wicked sound, but there’s just SOMETHING about the SSL-5…

    If I had to compare the two, the FS-1 is like a tenacious Rottweiler that bites and snaps at you as you go near it… The SSL-5 is like a large menacing German Sheppard you just don’t want to mess with… If that makes sense…

    Ever try the FS-1?


    [Just keep in mind that pickups will sound different on different guitars. The SSL5 might sound great on your MIM but it will not sound the same on your main guitar, be it better or worse so why not have two different setups :) – Bjorn]

  49. Vincent Schellevis says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Where did you get your SSL-5 from? I’m using google to find a good webshop for this pickup and get results like “SSL-5 Custom Staggered”. Is that the correct pickup we are talking about?



    [Yep. I bought mine on EBay. Just do a search and you’ll find several dealers. I do most of my buying at ProGuitarShop. Great store and super fast delivery. – Bjorn]

  50. Luca says:

    Hi Bjorn! The Seymour Duncan SSL1 is a classic single coil for strat, the tone is the same as the 57/62 pickup. If you want the SSL1 Custom you have to order it, but…. the pickup is signed as “SSL Custom for DG Strat” ad it is not different from the SSL5!
    I think that the only difference is the cable position, I have talked with a guy that’s have both and he confirmed that they are identycal.. I’m sorry for my terrible english…
    The FS1 is very similar to the SSL5. A very good chioce for the neck and middle pickups is Seymour Duncan Antiquity Surf II.

    Cheers! Luca

    [I’ve never tried the SSL1 but from what I understand the SSL5 is a hotter version of the SSL1 and I don’t think the SSL5 is anywhere near the 57/62 pickups. To me, the 57/62 sounds closer to the ones used on MIM and US Standard with the beveled poles. I wouldn’t recommend these for recreating David’s tones. – Bjorn]

  51. Kit Rae says:

    The FS-1 is very similar to the SSL-5. I like the SSL-5 better though.

  52. Alex Mircica says:


    Im hearing all the great stuff about the SSL-5 and I do want to try it one day, but at the moment I’am so smitten with my FS-1, have you ever been tempted to try one?
    With my pretty basic 8 pedal board it nails ‘Animals’ yet retains a sweet clean tone.

    In the neck I have an SD Alnico Pro and in the middle an SSL-1 which works very well with the FS-1.

    All the choices and combinations out there its worth having about 3 other strats just to nail ‘that ‘ tone!! ;-)

    Cheers for the review.


    [Never tried the FS-1 but from what I understand it’s in the same range as the SSL-5. – Bjorn]

  53. Leandro says:

    Bjorn, in your opinion…a set of SSL1 in the neck and middle positions and a SSL5 in the bridge…would it be a recommendable “gilmourish” set of pups?


    [I guess so but I’ve never tried the SSL1 so I can’t say for sure. – Bjorn]

  54. dstein5717 says:

    I have the SSL-5 on my DG strat and I love it! I get some great Gilmour tones from it and it has just the right amount of bite. I highly recommend this baby!

  55. Hugo says:

    Hi Bjorn!! nice pickup is the SSL5 indeed. How do you feel the balance in the EQ with the neck pickup now? Do you need readjust the EQ in your amp or pedals for songs that require the neck pickup?

    [As I said in the article it lack some top. Not much… just a hint but if I needed to increase the treble on my amp by a hair. – Bjorn]

  56. Jae says:

    I put a SSL-5 in my bridge back in December, I’m still in love. Paired with the 69’s it’s just a joy to play. I think I’ve found my guitar tone.
    Anyway, I,ve got a few bucks and I’m looking at an electric mistress. Do you think I can get a decent uni-vibe effect out of this? kind of an Any Colour You Like. I’m considering getting a Uni-vibe but I’d like more flexibility.
    Glad you like the SSl-5 have fun with it.

    [The Mistress doesn’t sound like a UniVibe. A phaser is closer so I wouldn’t use the Mistress on stuff like Breathe and expect it to sound like David’s tone. However, the Mistress is an excellent choice for that rotating speaker, swirling kind of sound on Any Colour. I think it’s a better choice than a UniVibe (David’s not using a UniVibe on the track anyway) because the Mistress has the ability to not sound detuned like most chorus/flangers when you turn up the speed. Anyway, the Mistress is a fantastic pedal and a must for that Animals/Wall tone. – Bjorn]

  57. Kit Rae says:


    I replaced my CS69 with the SSL5 last year and have never gone back. It is just what my strat needed for that Gilmour tone. I agree 100% that the SSL-5 is much needed when using the Tube Driver, but it also makes the Muffs come alive, especially my Sovteks.

    Here is a clip I made with the BKB Tube Driver.

    …and one with a Civil War Muff.

    Keep up the great work!

    [Nice clips! I can’t see any Civil War Muffs on your gallery picture… better update! Cheers! – Bjorn]

    • Sahil says:

      I know it’s been a while since you posted the links Kit but DAMN! Awesome tone!!
      Been thinking of replacing my CS69 bridge with the ssl-5, did you have to wire it in the reverse way or did the normal wiring work? (assuming you had a CS69 in the middle)

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