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Am. Deluxe: Diff between N3 and SCN noiseless pups?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by terzinator, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. terzinator

    terzinator TDPRI Member

    7
    Oct 5, 2009
    Minnesota
    Pretty much convinced I want to get an American Deluxe Tele...

    Debating on new vs used... the '10s and newer have the N3 Noiseless pickups... older ones have the Samarium Cobalt units...

    What's the diff? Is it worth the extra $600 or so to buy new vs a nice used '09? (I could get a sweet amp with the difference!)

    (Yeah, I know the new ones have the locking tuners, but it's the pups I'm wondering about.)
     
  2. piece of ash

    piece of ash Friend of Leo's

    Dec 29, 2010
    Sugar Land, TX
    I wanna hear this too...
     
  3. KCJonez

    KCJonez Tele-Holic

    531
    Feb 3, 2011
    Toronto
    I'd like to hear some input, too. I haven't had a chance to play a tele deluxe (selection is generally lousy in Toronto music shops so they're hard to come by). I have, however, played Deluxe Strats in the shops recently as I was in line to buy a guitar and was thinking of a strat before I ended up getting another telecaster.

    Anyways, I can say that the n3 were totally uninteresting to me. Very sterile and did not recreate the classic strat sound, imo. I did, however, prefer the SCN deluxe I played. I think it's the better pickup, more authentic. But these deluxes lack the compound radius fretboard, if that's important to you.

    One last thing about the SCN. In my local guitar shop, there's a custom shop section and people are not discouraged from playing the gear, so I go in and grab things off the wall. There was a great strat, sounded fantastic and played like a dream (out of my price range though) and it had SCNs. So, I would love to hear how this translates to a telecaster.
     
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  5. Starrman44

    Starrman44 Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 15, 2010
    North Dakota
    I've asked around about this question and the only thing that I have heard is that the N3 has a bit more of a midrange sound. I've played both and that sounds about right to me. I like the sound of both guitars, but I've got a Baja and a CVC, so different is always good for me (i.e., the AmDeluxe sounds different than what I've got).

    Personally, I like the whole setup on the new Deluxe (Compound Radius, Locking Tuners, etc), but I don't know if the price is worth the jump.
     
  6. Chutist

    Chutist Tele-Holic

    560
    Aug 11, 2010
    California
    My main Guitar is a Butterscotch Blonde - I think it's an '08 - SCN's and non-locking tuners.

    I don't know what else to say but that I love it. :D It plays great and I get comments on the great tone from it. I don't claim to be a great player but the guitar SOUNDS great.

    I'm lucky enough at this point in my life that I have several nice guitars and the Tele is what I pick up most. :cool:

    I've heard that less mass in the tuners is acually a good thing tone wise, so non-locking might be a plus! But I wouldn't argue that I could hear it! :lol:

    There's no way I'd pay any premium for one of the newer ones because of the pu's. You could buy VERY nice aftermarket PU's AND an amp for $600 difference mentioned above. :eek:

    That said, I am building up my "slush fund" for one of these:
    http://www.tdpri.com/2011/01/17/2011-namm-browns-canyon-tele/

    What can I say? I like Blondes AND Red heads! Don't tell my wife! ;):lol:
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2011
  7. terzinator

    terzinator TDPRI Member

    7
    Oct 5, 2009
    Minnesota
    Ah, didn't realize that the pre-'10s didn't have the compound radius fretboard... not sure I've ever noticed the difference in that, either!
     
  8. Tele-Champ

    Tele-Champ Tele-Holic

    999
    May 8, 2009
    FL
    I'm in the same boat - looking at a nice used one (pre-2010, not sure of the exact year) at GC. I also was wondering about the difference between the older Samarium Cobalt pups vs the newer N3's..

    I also didn't realize that the older ones didn't have the compound radius fretboard.. I knew they didn't have the locking tuners. (And the older ones have the abalone fret marker dots, for what that's worth..)

    (GC wants $899 for this pristine condition pre-'10 - still has the plastic on the pickguard - should I bite?.. Is that a good price for a used one in excellent condition?..)


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. piece of ash

    piece of ash Friend of Leo's

    Dec 29, 2010
    Sugar Land, TX
  10. Chutist

    Chutist Tele-Holic

    560
    Aug 11, 2010
    California
    I'd have already bought that!... It's a beauty! Wait for the next coupon and really steal it! :lol:

    They have a used Butterscotch Blonde - JUST like mine at the GC in Palmdale, Ca that they want 1200 for! I offered 1000 and they turned me down...I was going to tune it to G and LEAVE it there ;) Happy they didn't take me up on it. :eek:

    I'm going to buy at least ONE of the FSR Tele's this year! :D

    Didn't know about the compound Radius on the new ones.... I'll have to try it and see if I can feel the difference. ;)
     
  11. pondcaster

    pondcaster Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    51
    Nov 29, 2010
    Tryon, NC
    My 2 cents...

    Just because it says $899 on the tag doesn't mean that's what it will take to have it follow you home.

    Just like car dealerships, that price is 100% irrelevant. Maybe just a starting point? Only teenagers mom's will unknowingly pay that price. Plus it's used.

    If you are serious about that guitar, take $700 cash in & find the most eager salesperson & be blunt: I've got $700 in cash in my pocket... No monkey business.

    Last rainy day of the month, they will take it & run.

    I've done it more than a few times & it works like a charm. At least for me.
     
  12. Tele-Champ

    Tele-Champ Tele-Holic

    999
    May 8, 2009
    FL

    I'm going in tomorrow and will do just that (even though it's not the end of the month).. (Hopefully it'll still be there..)
    Yeah, believe me, I've dealt with GC enough to know that the sticker price is always negotiable...

    Another pic - - (Excuse the bad cell phone pics...)


    [​IMG]
     
  13. lefthandagenda

    lefthandagenda TDPRI Member

    33
    Aug 2, 2010
    Kansas
    I've got one, an 09 model, before the pickup switch and compound radius. I dig it. It's a cool guitar, and definitely pretty. I should probably play it more than I do though. I imagine I'll be rockin it later today. I did just recently acquire a partscaster with a compound radius, and I will say, I dig the compound radius on it quite a bit.
     
  14. Tele-Champ

    Tele-Champ Tele-Holic

    999
    May 8, 2009
    FL


    Well, I waited too long. I went in today to get it, and it was gone. Didn't surprise me...

    I should have jumped on this axe last week when I first saw it.

    Somebody got an almost brand new Am Deluxe Tele for probably a great price - and it wasn't me...

    He who hesitates is lost. Lesson learned.
     
  15. terzinator

    terzinator TDPRI Member

    7
    Oct 5, 2009
    Minnesota
    so sorry you missed out, Champ...

    um, anyhoo... back to the original post...

    Anyone play both the older and newer Am Deluxe models care to chime in on the differences?
     
  16. MahoganyStratDZ

    MahoganyStratDZ TDPRI Member

    91
    Mar 5, 2012
    USA
    I played both Strats. However, I replaced the tone cap and replaced the S-1 cap. Not as dark now. In fact a "great" alternative to my regular old 60-cycle hum Strat.

    As side by side without the mod I still like the Cobalt. To me the N-3s are trying to reach a tonal range that really would be better obtained with a Vintage Style Strat, Custom Shop set of single coils and standard electronics, hardware etc. IMHO a vintage style Strat/Tone and a Deluxe Strat are just different animals.

    Side by side to me the Colbalts sound beefier yet darker which is why I added the caps. However it depends what your looking for in tone.

    To Noise or not to Noise is the question. I see no difference from a Tele/Strat perspective as to Vintage compared to a Deluxe.
     
  17. GCKelloch

    GCKelloch Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 10, 2011
    MA USA
    I see no reason why changing the cap value on a tone knob would make any difference with the tone knob above ~4. This has been discussed ad nauseum in other threads. Unless connected directly in the circuit, the cap value only comes into play below ~4 for the average audio taper pot. Please, do a search to find out why, but lets not go off on that tangent here, OK?.

    The SCN was designed by Willi Lorenz Stich (a.k.a. Bill Lawrence), and is a marvel of simplicity, efficiency and elegance. Patent US7227076 is available online, or at his personal website. Like most modern Fender sets, the bridge SCN has a slightly higher inductance than the others for a more beefy sound with less highs. The other positions are bog standard Fender inductance values -- meaning they have the same high end roll-off point under the same capacitance load as classic Fender SC's. Along with Bill's other designs, I believe they are some of the finest pickups money can buy.

    SCN's have an increased fundamental to upper harmonic ratio, making pitch definition clearer, and the resulting timbre "sweeter". They also have a lower Q factor than classic Fender SC's, which means there is less accentuation at the resonant frequency, making the mids/highs smoother and richer, and actually clearer due to less masking. There are other things about the design and construction that eliminate random resonances and notches for a more accurate representation of the string vibrations. FI, since the total volume of the active coil is very small and mathematically phase-aligned within the field, it produces no eddy-current resonances in the upper mids/highs. The absence of those resonances can easily be interpreted as sounding darker. However, simply dropping the bass and treble, and increasing the midrange on your amp's tone stick will give the same kind of tone as a classic Fender SC, but with a less peaky and harsh upper mid response.

    Other than being completely hum-free, SCN's have some other differences compared to the classics. The thinner gauge wire has a higher Rdc value, so the same length of winding will register higher Rdc than a standard 42g wire pickup. Although roughly the same amount of windings as in a classic Fender SC is used, only the top coil is active within the magnetic field, as can be seen in the patent. Further reading will reveal how the use of opposing side-mounted magnets and a "moderator bar" not only completely isolates the bottom coil, but also reduces eddy-currents, and provides an increase in output to make up for the loss of the "unused" wire in hum-canceling coil.

    Once you get the height adjustments right for the guitar (including string type/gauge) to fit your style, and experiment with various amp settings, you'll come to appreciate the versatility, and increased clarity and richness. As with all pickups, a low capacitance cable will provide more highs by raising the resonant frequency. It's an oft overlooked, yet crucial component to getting the type of tone you want from a passive guitar circuit. I can recommend some values that will optimize the performance.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
  18. editorjuno

    editorjuno Tele-Afflicted

    The SCN was designed by a legend. The N3 was designed by a committee. Simple choice IMO, YMMV.
     
  19. GCKelloch

    GCKelloch Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 10, 2011
    MA USA
    Yeah, I forgot to mention that. :D The N3's were an attempt by Fender to alter the voicing of the SCN design via magnet type without an understanding of how to compensate the other design elements to achieve maximal clarity/efficiency through phase-alignment and no eddy-current losses. Bill has his own variations that are correctly compensated.
     
  20. MahoganyStratDZ

    MahoganyStratDZ TDPRI Member

    91
    Mar 5, 2012
    USA
    I do. The Tone output varies slowly as the pot is operated at the low end and varies more and more rapidly as the pot is operated toward the high end. The Pot is a variable resistor/rheostat and will effect the tone immediately when rolled back as the variable resistor immediately comes into play. Your talking a full open pot (no-resistence) thus just about negating the Cap as opposed to roll back of the pot/resistor. Through electrical theory this makes no sense or I'm not following you. That said I have seen a variance in the taper of some pots which could be consistant with what your saying, I'm sure we all have. Here's some info all can follow without theory. And the cap value plays a role in bright/dark Tone once engaged in the roll back process without a doubt. Perhaps I'm missing your point?

    You may like the Tone as is, to that I say Amen. I would drop the pups low due to the magnetic pull of these magnets "first". So yes you need to set the guitar up correctly first. These are stong magnets. So you lose tone in this case as opposed to Lace Sensors which can be much closer.

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...8IwdIPKN0Y6sYxWIg&sig2=hBYDAV_zwuthYvuujJNpCw

    Anyway good luck with you choice. The SCNs are a pretty expensive solid pick-up build and nothing to scoff at. Bill did a slam up job with these. However tone is subjective. IMHO the N3 and Fenders take on the history from Lace foward is bias and doesn't do Bill credit. Perhaps I read to far into the N3 history and made a rash judgement.
     
  21. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    The SCNs can be close to the strings and have less pull than many conventional Alnico 5 pickups.

    Any cap value is going to have the same effect between 5-10 on the tone control as a bare wire. It's the resistance of the control that's making the difference.


    I wouldn't romanticize the SCNs toooo much. Many runs were not produced at Bill's own standard (ie free of shorts in the coil, which is something he insures with all of his pickups) when he wasn't overseeing production, so don't take for granted that they're better than other Fender-produced pickups in that regard.



    My comparison between the N3s and the SCNs is that the SCNs were a solid design that had great results in many guitars, and the N3s never did much for me :D
     
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