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Duncan Designed SC101, a technical analysis and review thereof

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by Antigua, Mar 23, 2018.

  1. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between
    [​IMG]



    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.




    Measurements:

    Duncan Designed Strat SC101B/ADWH BRIDGE 1706
    DC Resistance: 11.51K
    Inductance: 3.875 H
    Calculated C: 375pF (385-10)
    Gauss: 950G

    Duncan Designed Strat SC101M/ADWH 1706
    DC Resistance: 7.00K
    Inductance: 2.770 H
    Calculated C: 274pF (284-10)
    Gauss: 950G

    Duncan Designed Strat SC101N/ADWH NECK 1706
    DC Resistance: 6.93K
    Inductance: 2.817 H
    Calculated C: 263pF (273-10)
    Gauss: 950G


    Duncan Designed Strat SC101

    Bridge
    Unloaded: dV: 9.1dB f: 4.12kHz (black)
    Loaded w/ 200k & 470pF: dV: 3.7dB f: 2.55kHz (blue)

    Middle
    Unloaded: dV: 8.9dB f: 5.67kHz (red)
    Loaded w/ 200k & 470pF: dV: 5.0dB f: 3.24kHz (green)

    Neck
    Unloaded: dV: 8.1dB f: 5.74kHz (pink)
    Loaded w/ 200k & 470pF: dV: 4.8dB f: 3.21kHz (lower black)



    [​IMG]





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    Attached Files:

  2. Smokesletsgo

    Smokesletsgo New Member!

    Age:
    28
    3
    Apr 3, 2018
    United States
    Thanks for this. I have these in a squier vintage modified strat and I really don't think they are too bad. I'm really on the fence about replacing them. Anyone switch from SC101s and regret it/ find it not much an improvement?
     
  3. metale

    metale Strat-Talker

    Age:
    34
    150
    Jun 4, 2011
    Portugal
    I've got them on a Squier Deluxe, haven't felt the need to swap them.

    May remove those shieldings one of these days though.
     
  4. Spino

    Spino Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    55
    34
    Apr 21, 2016
    Germany

    Hi Antigua,

    very interesting review/analysis.

    One question? Is this the ground connection and does it mean the pickups will sound more brilliant?

    proxy.jpg
     
  5. ChukkerNation

    ChukkerNation Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    49
    Apr 9, 2015
    Magrathea
    Nice analysis Antigua. I’ve had a couple of sets and never really liked the tone out of them. I thought they were a bit too harsh. I swapped one set and sold the guitar on the other set. I figured I was in the minority though as many have posted how they really like the 101s.
     
  6. fenderkev

    fenderkev Most Honored Senior Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    Back In Blighty
    Excellent and informative thread yet again. Makes you wonder why Squier fit copper shielding to them though when it has a negative effect on how they sound?
     
  7. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between
    I doubt Seymour Duncan actually "designed" these pickups, considering they don't foil wrap any of their other passive single coils, while I have seen this with other pickups from China. I'm sure they do it because they think it's helpful, as it would be in 99% of most electronic applications. It's only because of the particular situation in which this really high inductance causes a resonant peak to fall into the audio range, for a device that is being used to handle audio, that would want to forego the shielding. If the shielding were on the inside of the pickup cover, that would be a lot better than having it in direct contact with the coil.
     
    rolandson likes this.
  8. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between
    Yes, that's the ground connection.
     
  9. Lester H

    Lester H Strat-Talker

    Age:
    45
    166
    Jun 6, 2018
    Kansas
    I had a set that came stock in my Squier Deluxe Strat with maple neck. They weren't bad in that guitar but I had other pickups in mind for that guitar so I put the duncan designed pickups in my old Squier Standard with a rosewood neck and I really do like them in that guitar and I don't have any reason to change them out of it.
     
  10. Spino

    Spino Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    55
    34
    Apr 21, 2016
    Germany

    This is the info from Seymour Duncan:


    The Duncan Designed line of pickups was started in 1995 at the request of several of our larger
    original equipment manufacturer (“OEM”) customers who wanted to offer a pickup tied in to the Duncan
    identity on their mid-level instruments. While USA-made Seymour Duncan and Basslines pickups are intended
    to fit on instruments with list prices over US$800, the Korean-built Duncan Designed pickups are intended for
    OEM use on guitars and basses with retail prices between US$300 and $800.

    The Duncan Designed club members include Squier, Jackson, ESP LTD, Schecter Diamond Series, Daisy Rock, Hamer, Aria Pro II and Samick’s Greg Bennett series.

    The SC-101 single coils represent a tonal cross between Seymour Duncan’s SSL-2 Vintage Flat and SSL-6 Custom Flat models.
    Unlike many inexpensive single coils that have a large ceramic magnet glued
    underneath non-magnetic steel slugs, the SC-101s use real Alnico V rod pole pieces
    with a flat magnet stagger for exceptional string balance. The three single coil
    models are each specially calibrated to either bridge, middle or neck positions, with
    the middle pickup reverse wound, reverse polarity. The tone is chimey and bright
    with exceptional “quack” in the notch positions.

    Source:
    https://www.seymourduncan.com/blog/product-news/duncan-designed-pickups
     
    Namelyguitar and Seymour Duncan like this.
  11. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between
    Yeah it says nothing about SD "designing" the pickups, though, unless specifying AlNiCo 5, flat tops and a target DC resistance constitutes the entirely of the design input, though all of these features are to

    Neither the SSL 2 or 6 have foil shielding. That's a feature that is seen with some imported pickups, but no domestic single coils I'm aware of. The only passive Seymour Duncan set I've seen with foil shielding are the newer rails and Little '59 type pickups, which are glues shut. If you crack one open, you do find foil shielding around the coils. It would be normal for active pickups to have foil shielding, as active pickups are not vintage spec from the outset, and they're much less likely to be sonically impacted by capacitance or resonance damping.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
    Namelyguitar likes this.
  12. Lonn

    Lonn Mod Admin Staff Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Admin Post
    I bought a Squier with these pickups yesterday. The only reason I changed them is because I had another set of pick ups that I’ve been dying to try out. I listed the SC101’s for sale today and they sold in about 20 minutes. They’re pretty popular pick ups.
     
    Guitarmageddon likes this.
  13. ChukkerNation

    ChukkerNation Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    49
    Apr 9, 2015
    Magrathea
    So I just picked up a VM Mustang on trade. It has the DD Mustang pickups that are really just SC101s. Oddly, I didn’t hate them in the Mustang. Not sure I really like them but they didn’t have that harsh tone that I thought the ones in the VM Strats had.
     
  14. Spino

    Spino Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    55
    34
    Apr 21, 2016
    Germany

    Hi Antigua,
    i want to put up a DD SC101 in a Standard Fender Strat.

    Question:
    if i snip the ground connection to the copper shielding i don't need to attach the black cable to the pots, right?
    Is it useless then. I just need the red and white cable?

    Thanks and Greets

    IMG_1460.JPG
     
  15. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between
    Sorry for the late response, Google Chrome was telling me that http://www.strat-talk.com was an "unsafe website" for nearly two weeks.

    I feel dumb for not thinking about this earlier, but if you just disconnect the shield wire at the selector switch end, you eliminate capacitive coupling between the shield and the coil, as well as the hookup wire. The amount of noise the shielding is blocking is probably negligible, as most noise seems to come from electromagnetic sources, which are only thwarted with humbucking coils.
     
  16. Spino

    Spino Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    55
    34
    Apr 21, 2016
    Germany
    Sorry my english is not that good:
    does it mean it is the same effect to snip the black wire at the pot instead at the pickup shielding?

    Greets
     
  17. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between

    Basically yes.
     
  18. Namelyguitar

    Namelyguitar Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 3, 2009
    Mobile Bay
    Regarding the external appearance, without the white stickers affixed on the back/ bottom, are there other distinct markings to otherwise help take the guesswork out/ identify this model of pickup?

    My guess is that SD does not specifically address this question anywhere on their site. Identification is important to guitar collectors, especially in this era of mod this/ mod that.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  19. fattboyzz

    fattboyzz Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    53
    Sep 24, 2017
    Newnan ,Ga.
    Thanks for the detailed info on these pups !

    I have an 07 Squier Deluxe with these and it's really a great Strat .

    Tones and playability are :thumb::thumb::thumb:
     
  20. Deviljho

    Deviljho Strat-Talk Member

    27
    May 8, 2018
    Canada
    I've been wondering if I should spring for a set of these that I found locally. Just another set for a partscaster build, but wanted to move away from the typical "Strat" sound. I've heard them stock in some Squiers, and while they didn't sound bad, they weren't fantastic either. Thanks for the analysis and tips on adjusting the sound.

    Also, I sent you a DM in regards to a pickup question. If you have the time, I'd love to get your advice and insight. Thanks!