Seymour Duncan Little 59 Pickups Review

The Seymour Duncan Little ’59 series of pickups combines the beloved PAF humbucker tone with the compact size of a single-coil, making them the perfect upgrade for Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars. In this in-depth review, we’ll explore their features, sound qualities, history, and why they are favored by many professional guitarists. Lets get into the details!

seymour-duncan-little-59-pickups-review-article

A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: The Little 59

The Little ’59 pickups were introduced in the early 2000s as a response to the increasing demand for humbucker tones in single-coil-sized pickups. Named after the iconic Gibson PAF humbuckers, which were first produced in 1959, the Little ’59 captures the warmth and power of those legendary pickups in a smaller, more versatile package. Lets look at the features.

Features and Construction:

  • Single-coil-sized humbucker design: Fits into a standard single-coil pickup slot, making installation easy without any modification to the guitar.
  • Four-conductor wiring: Allows for coil-splitting and other advanced wiring options.
  • Alnico V magnet: Produces a balanced, warm tone with a strong midrange presence.
  • Wax-potted: Reduces microphonic feedback and unwanted noise.

Tonal Qualities of the Little 59

  • Warm, fat, and full-bodied sound: Emulates the PAF humbucker tone, perfect for classic rock, blues, and jazz.
  • Increased output: Provides more sustain and drive compared to typical single-coil pickups.
  • Balanced frequency response: Enhances both clean and overdriven tones without excessive brightness or muddiness.
  • Versatile performance: Works well in various positions, with the bridge version offering more bite and the neck version providing a smoother, rounder sound. You can match them or swap only one for a more unique tone

What Sets Them Apart:

  • PAF humbucker tone in a single-coil size: Offers an easy upgrade to achieve a classic sound without modifying the guitar.
  • Increased versatility: Works well with various musical styles, from clean tones to heavy distortion, just look at the list of pros who use the pickups below.
  • Noise reduction: The humbucker design reduces 60-cycle hum, a common issue with single-coil pickups. This is a big one, every strat and tele player will know what I mean.

Little ’59 for Telecaster

When looking at each model specifically, the Little ’59 Telecaster pickup offers a significant upgrade for Telecaster players looking for a warmer, fatter sound without sacrificing the classic Tele twang.

  • Bridge pickup retains the punch and clarity Telecasters are known for.
  • Neck pickup provides a smooth, full tone perfect for rhythm playing and lead work.

Telecaster players will appreciate the improved noise reduction, allowing for more focused, hum-free performances across a variety of musical genres, and especially recording. These come in a set as well, with matching pickup replacements from Seymour Duncan. Check out the installation and demo video below if needed.

seymour duncan little 59 telecaster pickup set
Little 59 Telecaster Pickup Set

Little ’59 for Stratocaster

Now on to the more popular Little 59’s for the Strat. Stratocaster players can benefit from the Little ’59 pickups by adding a new tonal dimension to their instrument. The PAF-inspired humbucker sound provides increased sustain, a more powerful midrange, and a smoother high end, making it a versatile choice for various styles.

  • The bridge pickup offers a crunchy, powerful sound.
  • The neck pickup delivers a creamy, rich tone, ideal for both rhythm and lead playing.

Similarly to the Tele model, Stratocaster players will also enjoy the noise reduction, ensuring a cleaner sound with less interference. You can choose to upgrade either the bridge or the neck pickup only. However, they also come in a set with all 3 pickup replacements for your Strat if that is what you are looking for.

seymour duncan little 59 stratocaster neck pickup black
Little 59 for Strat Neck Pickup
seymour duncan little 59 stratocaster bridge pickup white
Little 59 Strat Neck Bridge Pickup

Things to Consider:

  1. Your Desired Tone: The Little ’59 pickups deliver a warmer, thicker sound, akin to a PAF-style humbucker. Consider if this tone aligns with your musical style and preferences before purchasing.
  2. Installation Process: Although the Little ’59 pickups are designed to fit into a standard single-coil cavity, the installation process may still require some minor modifications or soldering. Ensure you’re comfortable with the installation or prepared to seek professional help. Check out the installation video below I included for a detailed guide to installing the Little 59 on your Strat. The Telecaster installation video is above.
  3. Compatibility: While the Little ’59 pickups are available for both Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars, it’s essential to choose the correct version compatible with your instrument to avoid any fitting issues.
  4. Budget: Determine if the Little ’59 pickups fit within your budget for guitar upgrades, as there may be alternative options at different price points that could also suit your needs. The pickups run anywhere between $100-140 each depending on availability.
  5. Pickup Configuration: Consider your current guitar’s pickup configuration and how the addition of the Little ’59 would impact your overall sound. Think about whether you want to replace just one pickup or multiple pickups for a more comprehensive tonal change. You can also see how the pros did it. Lets look below.

Famous Musicians and Their Preferred Little ’59:

  1. Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) – Telecaster bridge
  2. Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) – Stratocaster bridge
  3. Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) – Telecaster bridge and neck
  4. John Mayer – Stratocaster neck
  5. Robin Trower – Stratocaster bridge
  6. Steve Morse (Deep Purple) – Stratocaster neck
  7. Warren Haynes (Gov’t Mule) – Telecaster bridge
  8. Brad Paisley – Telecaster bridge
  9. Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains) – Telecaster bridge
  10. Nels Cline (Wilco) – Stratocaster neck and bridge
seymour duncan little 59 pickups for stratocaster set
Little 59 for Strat Set

The Verdict: Seymour Duncan Little 59 Pickups

The Seymour Duncan Little ’59 pickups are an excellent choice for guitarists seeking the warm, powerful tone of classic PAF humbuckers in a single-coil-sized package. Their versatile sound and easy installation make them perfect for both Stratocaster and Telecaster owners looking to enhance their instrument’s tonal palette without having to damage the guitar. I highly recommend these pickups, they are a worthy upgrade for any serious musician who wants to take their sound to the next level. Thank you for reading!

The Verdict: Seymour Duncan Little 59 Pickups

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