Duncan Designed SC101, Analysis & Review Mar 23, 2018 0:55:25 GMT -5
Post by antigua on Mar 23, 2018 0:55:25 GMT -5
I've heard a lot about the Duncan Designed SC101s, which come stock in the Squier VM Stratocaster. In particular, there's curiosity over how they differ from Seymour Duncan SSL-1s. I saw this SC-101 loaded pick guard on eBay, and figured it was a good deal for the parts if nothing else, so I ordered it, and I've taken a look at the pickups.
They're quite different from SSL-1s, where to begin? Long story short, they're more Tele than Strat.
First, the bridge is a very "hot bridge". Not louder so much as darker. The DC resistance is 11.5k, the inductance is nearly twice that of a typical Strat pickup at 3.9H. It's not quite as dark as an SSL-5, but almost. Despite the hotter wind, the voltage output is only about 2dBV higher than the neck or middle pickup, so the intention here is treble attenuation more than it is increased volume output. This inductance is more typical of a Telecaster bridge pickup.
The second difference, and by far the most major, is that all three pickups have copper shielding around the coils, as can be seen in the pic below. A copper shield might seem like a good idea, but it capacitively couples with the coil, adding about 150pF capacitance, which is equivalent to several feet of extra guitar cable length. The resonant peak of a neck pickup with 2.8H inductance is typically around 3.7kHz, but with this added capacitance the peak frequency is brought down to 3.2kHz, which makes for a darker pickup, typical for a Telecaster, but not a Stratocaster.
The neck and middle pickups are typical Strat in terms of DC resistance and inductance, but because of that copper shielding, they end up being closer to a Telecaster neck pickups. The inductance is similar to an SSL-1, despite the DC resistance being higher at 7k per pickup. If not for the copper shielding, they would spec out very close to SSL-1's.
Another difference from SSL-1s that make them more similar to Telecaster pickups; they're flat poled. The gauss measures 950 at the tops of the center-most AlNiCo 5 pole pieces, down from a typical 1050 on center, due to the shorter size of the magnets.
The final difference is that the bobbins are plastic rather than fiber bobbin. This isn't really a big deal, but we're reached a point where you can get real fiber bobbin Strat / Tele pickups for bottom dollar, so there's no need to settle for plastic. One upside to plastic, though, is that the pole pieces can be pushed around without risk of destroying the coil. So they need not be flat-poled, a stagger profile could be applied manually.
If you have a set of these and want to make them sound even more Strat-like, you can carefully snip the ground connection to the copper shielding. This will prevent it from capacitively coupling with the coil, and will raise the peak frequency by about 500Hz for each pickup.
The copper shielding also causes eddy currents, which reduce the Q factor a small amount, about 1dB at the resonant peak. Removing the copper shielding entirely would win that small amount of resonance back.
Duncan Designed Strat SC101B/ADWH BRIDGE 1706
DC Resistance: 11.51K
Inductance: 3.875 H
Calculated C: 375pF (385-10)
Duncan Designed Strat SC101M/ADWH 1706
DC Resistance: 7.00K
Inductance: 2.770 H
Calculated C: 274pF (284-10)
Duncan Designed Strat SC101N/ADWH NECK 1706
DC Resistance: 6.93K
Inductance: 2.817 H
Calculated C: 263pF (273-10)
Duncan Designed Strat SC101
Unloaded: dV: 9.1dB f: 4.12kHz (black)
Loaded w/ 200k & 470pF: dV: 3.7dB f: 2.55kHz (blue)
Unloaded: dV: 8.9dB f: 5.67kHz (red)
Loaded w/ 200k & 470pF: dV: 5.0dB f: 3.24kHz (green)
Unloaded: dV: 8.1dB f: 5.74kHz (pink)
Loaded w/ 200k & 470pF: dV: 4.8dB f: 3.21kHz (lower black)