My favorite electric guitar which I use as my main guitar onstage with my live band is the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster. I have two American Deluxe Stratocasters. One is the 2004, 50th Anniversary American Deluxe Stratocaster and my other is a 2006 American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster. They’re both equipped stock with Fender Samarium Cobalt Noiseless Pickups.
One thing that I’ve always hated about traditional single coil pickups is the irritating 50/60 cycle hum that plague them. If you use a high gain amplifier or use any kind of compression, the hum is amplified and sounds even worse. I play a lot of high-gain, compressed sounds so the hum that comes with a traditional single coil pickup is unacceptable for a lot of what I play. Simply for the noiseless design, I have been very happy with the Fender SCN Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups.
The way the Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups acheive their noiseless design is by having two stacked coils wired to eliminate hum. Back in the 80’s I put a set of Seymour Duncan noiseless single coils on my custom made Stratocaster that achieved the same noiseless operation that the Samarium Cobalts do. The difference between my old Seymour Duncan noiseless and the SCN pickups is that the SCN’s sound even more like a traditional single coil pickup.
Legendary pickup designer Bill Lawrence designed the Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickup. His research into controlling magnetic eddy currents led to his use of the Samarium Cobalt magnet found in the SCN pickups. Samarium Cobalt is a rare earth magnet that is more powerful than the traditional Alnico 5 magnets traditionally used in pickup design.
From a Stratocaster players perspective, I can tell you that the Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickup is the most powerful, noise free single coil style pickup I’ve ever played. I’m sure it has something to do with the magnet selection and pickup design but all I can tell you is they sound great and there’s no more hum than I get on my Gibson Les Paul Custom. These pickups are truly a marvel of good tone and noiseless sound.
So that brings me to the most discussed point about the Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups. Do they sound like a traditional single coil pickup? I would have to say, no they do not. Their sound is just a tiny bit warmer than a traditional single coil. The SCN’s definitely have their own unique sound although I would definitely classify them as sounding like a single coil pickup while not being a clone of a traditional single coil. You still have the twang and bounce associated with Stratocaster single-coil tones although some of the edgy bite isn’t there with the SCN’s. I don’t miss it and I have made some excellent recordings with the SCN’s.
Overall the Stratocaster sound is alive and well with the Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups. The SCN’s pay proper homage to their single-coil heritage while breaking ground with their noiseless design. They are perfect for the newest Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster which is the top of the line for the production Stratocaster. This guitar should be using cutting edge designs so the SCN’s belong on the American Deluxe Stratocaster.
The Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster line was updated big time in 2004 during the 50th anniversary and it’s a whole new Stratocaster. I love the innovation of the S1 pickup switching system in tandem with the Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups. The design is the main reason I bought two Fender American Deluxe Stratocasters. I love innovation on my guitars and they will still get close enough to those vintage Stratocaster sounds to please me and my audience.
Not only do these pickups come close to true single-coil sound but they also sound like no other pickups. That’s one of the biggest draws for me. I don’t want to sound exactly like what has been done for the 50 years. I want innovation and fresh new tones. For me, the Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups fit the bill perfectly. They are my Stratocaster sound and I highly recommend them.