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FDP Forum / The 'Pup' Tent / Giving Duncan "Designed" SC101's a run....

super mario
Contributing Member


tone to the bone no other way
Oct 28th, 2016 07:49 AM   Edit   Profile  

Sorry - sort of a long read:

Have to say I have not been totally happy with the Texas Specials paired with the SD Pearly Gates humbucker (HSS config). This is my mega switch project that I built years back based on an article in the Fender Frontline magazine. It is set up to be humcancelling in all positions by using the switch to either have the pickups working in parallel or in series with each other. I could not seem to get it all balanced to where I was totally happy, I really think the Specials and their exaggerated magnet stagger was the issue. As I have fell in love with Fender Standards Pickups from the 90's that were flat stagger, I was looking for a neck and middle to trade out.

I found a used pair of Duncan Designed (DD) SC101's (yes I know they are made offshore and not wound in Cali) neck and middle on d'bay for dirt cheap. Thought I would give them a try as they are flat pole Alnico V design. After studying info on the web and a couple of test runs on wiring at install I learned a few things: (1) the SC101's are quality pickups that have a really good tone; (2) they have a foil shield on the windings has has its own ground along with the hot (white), ground (red) leads; (3) the magnets are oriented the same as Fender, i.e. the neck/bridge are South and the middle is North; (4) the wiring direction of the pickups is "opposite" of Fender, i.e. DD's are wired counterclockwise on the neck/bride and clockwise on the middle whereas Fender goes in the opposite direction.

I said all that to say this - once you orient and wire things right these "Duncan Designed" actually really sound good! In order to achieve full, rich sound and get humcancelling like before I had to put the SC101-N in the middle slot and the SC101-M in the neck slot - this got all the magnets in the right orientation with the others. Next I found that by reversing the leads (i.e. using the normal "red" lead that is typically to ground in the hot position (i.e. soldered to the switch lug) and the normal "white" hot lead to ground, I achieved the reversal of wiring direction, i.e. making these act like the Fender Texas Specials they replaced.

The end result: Great note definition in all positions, there is no thin, nasal tone (i.e. no phasing issues) and best of all no noise. The way I have this wired is that I get in position 1 - the SD Pearly Gates on its own; position 2 - the front coil of the Pearly Gates with the middle position (neck) pickup in parallel for the basic "quack" tone; Position 3 - the same to coils as position 2 but in series for a quack on steroids tone; Position 4 - traditional neck position (middle p'up) and middle position (neck p'up) in parallel, the other "jazzy quack" position and Position 5 - the neck position pickup pared with the rear coil of the Pearly Gates for a "middle Tele" position type tone. The tone pots are wired to where the upper pot is on the neck pickup and the rear is on the bridge. Single master volume. In positions 3 and 5 I can roll the lower tone pot all the way off to get more of just a thick single coil sound that is still humcancelling as the coil of the bucker acts sort of like a slave coil.

There is something to be said for these pickups...they are well worth the few bucks I spent! They are dynamic whether at full volume or lower volume with excellent string balance. I think I am more of a flat pole person rather than staggered pole....They are just warm enough (around 6.2k) to really work with the Pearly Gates. Couple all this with the 12" radius of Deluxe Series neck and its jam heaven.....

Tony Salieri

Houston, Texas

I'm a tone deaf hack.
Nov 1st, 2016 07:14 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thank you for an excellent review with some useful advice!

super mario
Contributing Member


tone to the bone no other way
Nov 4th, 2016 07:55 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks Tony...sometimes I think I go too detailed in some of the stuff I write.

FDP Forum / The 'Pup' Tent / Giving Duncan "Designed" SC101's a run....

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