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Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader Review

In The Beginning… there were single-coil pickups and not much else. Yes, they made a hum, but the ‘60-cycle hum’ was all part of the sound. Then along came Seth Lover.

He worked out how to wire coils out of phase and, by reversing the magnetic polarity, cancel the hum. That was in 1955. A Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader Review, such as this, was still a few years away.

Changing the scene…

This new pickup didn’t go down so well at first, as some people are always resistant to change. The P90 was a much-loved pickup, and rightly so. A single-coil pickup. The new “humbucker” was a two-coil system. It went in the Les Paul range to replace the P90s in the late 50s. Sales began to falter. Some blamed the “new” pickup.

But things recovered as the sound it produced was explored. Some say the humbucker made the Les Paul. It would have been nothing without it. They have a point. P90 lovers might disagree, of course.

The Holy Trinity…

In our view, three people shaped modern rock music. Described here, but not in order of importance.

First came Leo Fender, who gave us the first “real” solid body rock guitars and certainly the first rock basses. Second came Seth Lover and his humbucker pickup. But then we needed something to crank up the sound, and along came Jim Marshall.

Fender, Lover, and Marshall. The Holy Trinity of rock music.

Plenty around today…

In today’s world, time has moved on. There are plenty of humbuckers to choose from if you are replacing pickups. Some good, some not so good, and some, well, downright awful. If you are looking for the best replacement pickups, then Seymour Duncan should be one of the first places you look.

But who are they, some might ask? For those that might not know, let’s have a brief reminder.

Seymour Duncan

Seymour spent time working at one of the growing numbers of comedy clubs in London. Otherwise known as the Fender Soundhouse, he soon went back home.

The concept of the Soundhouse was okay. I remember the free drum and guitar clinics, as well as the coffee shop. But it certainly wasn’t Marshall’s in Hanwell on a Saturday. As we say, the concept was good, but it lacked something. Quality products.

Let’s go home…

He went back to the US and started to make replacement pickups. Then he got married and set up his business. And before too long, he got some big-time endorsements from people, like Dave Gilmour, who had one on that “Black Strat.” Soon others sat up and took notice.

Fast forward to today, and they are still going strong. Producing great replacement pickups, especially his humbuckers. This Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader is one of the best humbucker pickups Mr. Duncan has produced. Let’s take a closer look…

Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader
Our rating:4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader – Overview

Do you ever look at some products and just know what they are all about? This is one of those. It looks mean, and it certainly sounds like it. If the music you play is laced with aggressive tendencies, then this could be for you. However, if you want a humbucker with a delicate, soft edge when you pull it back, start running now. This thing bites.

Passive pickups have been known to produce some heavy sounds at times, but this pickup sets a standard in that area. The design and build of these pickups and the wide magnetic field create one of the most powerful humbucker pickups.

It becomes easy to throw a bucket load of signal through whatever amp you are using. Driving the gain towards some extreme metal responses. In other words, if you want mayhem (and by that we mean violent sonic disorder, not the infamous Norwegian Black Metal band, although they would have loved this pickup!), the Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader is going to give it to you.

The Build

We are sure that when Seth Lover was tinkering about with his double-coil experiments, he couldn’t have imagined this. How could he have known this would eventually be one of the outcomes?

This is a high-output humbucker that will attack. And everything about its design is set up to make some serious noise. There are three ceramic magnets with over-wound coils.

There are twelve uncovered black screws adding to the effect and a four-conductor hook-up. The 4th wire is the grounding conductor. That is the wire that is missing from older configurations that have only three wires. Furthermore, the 4th wire also offers the opportunity for some rather complex switching configurations.

Suitable for any guitar…

One of the problems with replacing pickups is the magnetic field. To accommodate the various spacings, they invented the trembucker for guitars with tremolos and wider spacings. No need here. It is a standard-sized design, and on that basis, it should fit on any guitar that has a normal humbucker route.

The wide magnetic field on this pickup will work just fine. It will work with any six-string guitar, irrespective of spacing. But, do keep in mind, this pickup is made to give you some aggressive tones. Something Seymour Duncan knows a little bit about.

The Sound


We think you need to recognize something very early on with this pickup. It is built for only heavy rock styles. It is very good at it, but it is what it is. You will not find too much in the way of finesse with this pickup. That said, it is easily one of the best pickups for metal currently on the market.

Usually, you can pull a humbucker back a bit and get some nice tones. That isn’t really the case here. Pull it back, and it becomes very difficult to control the sound. We hate to use the expression one-trick pony, but in many ways, that’s what this pickup is.

Plug it in, turn it up, and let it rip…

So with such an aggressive and often harsh tone, it has its genres where it will work. Thrash and Metal, but also Punk and Hardcore styles will benefit, as will some other extreme rock styles. It is a high output pickup, and it has an aggressive sound. That’s about all you can say and probably all you need to know.

The Performance

The combination of the ceramic magnets and overwound coils make this pickup a serious performance weapon. There will be no shortage of power pumped through your amp.

This is a pickup designed for the bridge position, which is where it is most commonly used. There is a version available for the neck position. This has a reduced output level and offers a few more tonal options. But the SH-8 is set up to be one of the best bridge pickups you can buy, and that is where it will perform at its nasty best.

Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader Review – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • All black design that gives off a threatening style.
  • Three ceramic magnets.
  • Over-wound coils.
  • Four conductor hook-ups offer complex configurations.
  • A wide magnetic field.
  • Easy to fit in a standard humbucker routing.
  • Aggressive, high output sound.
  • Realistic and attractive price point.

Cons

  • Doesn’t have too much in the way of a variety of sounds.
  • Limited to a few styles of music.

Looking for Something Else?

If so, and you’re interested in the Seymour Duncan rage, check out our in-depth Seymour Duncan JB Humbucker Pickup Review, our Seymour Duncan 59 Model Review and our Seymour Duncan Black Winter Review.

Or, if you need a specific type of pickup, take a look a our reviews of the Best P 90 Pickups, the Best Single Coil Pickups,  the Best Telecaster Guitar Pickups, the Best Stratocaster Pickups, the Best DiMarzio Pickup, the Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups, the Best Guitar Pickups and the Best Electric Guitar Pickups you can buy in 2021.

Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader Review – Final Thoughts

From our experience of looking at pickups by Seymour Duncan, they usually have one thing in common. They are all usually very good. This is no exception, providing you like the genres it excels at.

Unlike other Seymour Duncan pickups, though, that have tonal varieties, this doesn’t. It goes for the throat and makes sure you don’t get in its way. The price point has to be considered very attractive as this is not a cheaply made pickup.

Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader


Metal lovers, take note…

This pickup is a metal machine, and to be honest, not much else. But we don’t want to denigrate it. For what it is designed to do, it does it well, very well. It is loud, aggressive, and with a nasty edge. The sound is as sinister as the look.

Seymour Duncan designed this with one thought in mind. Some serious metal sounds. It does that. If that is what you do, then take a listen. You aren’t going to be disappointed.

So, until next time, may the music make you move.

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