Seymour Duncan and Brandon Ellis team up for the Dyad Parallel Axis, a high-output humbucker that proves you don’t need active pickups for gnarly metal tone

Seymour Duncan Brandon Ellis Dyad Parallel Axis
(Image credit: Seymour Duncan)

Seymour Duncan and Brandon Ellis of The Black Dahlia Murder have joined forces for a signature electric guitar pickup that proves that there is plenty of innovation to be had yet with passive pickup design, and that great metal guitar tone needn’t mean active pickups all of the time.

Available with nickel or gold slotted pole pieces from the Seymour Duncan custom shop, the Duncan Brandon Ellis Dyad Parallel Axis humbucker is a real hybrid design, taking elements from two Parallel Axis pickups and presenting them in one pickup.

The Dyad is comprised of the north coil of the Crazy 8 and the “hotter” south coil of a Parallel Axis Trembucker Distortion, both paired with the Alnico II magnet from Seymour Duncan’s Warren DeMartini signature ‘bucker, the RTM. 

This greatest hits remix of Seymour Duncan’s passive pickup line was just what Ellis is looking for, with the Parallel Axis’ slotted pole piece design removing unwanted distortion from the string’s vibration to enhance clarity even at – or especially in high-gain situations. The pickup’s design creates a decentralised magnetic field that also boosts sustain.

“I always want metal to have that nice old-school aggressive, sharp kind of sound in the guitars and that’s something that the Dyad does very well,” he said.

As Ellis admits in the demo video, he is an inveterate tinkerer when it comes to pickups. Having joined The Black Dahlia Murder in 2016, by the time the sessions for 2020’s Verminous came around, and Ellis was holed up at his Shred Light District studios in Morristown, New Jersey, he had assumed role of producer and engineer, and had taken to taking his pickups apart.

“I was definitely concerned with learning how pickups work,” he said. “I’ve definitely opened them up and seen how they work inside, then I started swapping magnets to see which magnets I liked best, and how I could manipulate them with the limited amount of tools at my disposal.”

Ellis’ new Dyad humbucker will go straight onto his Jackson Kelly signature guitar, but it was Jackson’s sister brand Charvel and his JB/‘59-equipped USA made San Dimas that introduced him to Seymour Duncan.

“That was the turning point for me because that nice organic round sound of that JB really turned me onto the passive pickups of Seymour Duncan’s line,” he said.

Seymour Duncan Brandon Ellis Dyad Parallel Axis

(Image credit: Seymour Duncan)

The Dyad is described as “a high output Humbucker with a sizzly bite and a super articulate pick attack”, and is especially well-suited to players who are play at standard tunings, who might need a bit more oomph across the frequency ranges to sound a little heavier.

It is available now from the Seymour Duncan custom shop, in standard humbucker or trembucker configurations, with the brand hinting that they might offer it for 7-string guitars in the future.

Priced $180, it is available now. See the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.