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Thursday

Samarium Cobalt Noiseless Pickups Clarified

Samarium Cobalt Pickups
"Hung like Einstein - Smart like a Horse"
March 2009
If you're like me and not much of a science geek, you may have wondered what these Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups are all about.

Or maybe you haven't...


Anyway, at first I thought "Samarium" was some term Fender made up, like a Star Trek term-- or like those stoopid yogurt commercials using bogus names like "Bifidus Regularis" or "L Casei Immunitas". 

"Let's all boldly beam down to the planet Samarium to seek intelligent life!"

Not so Grasshopper! Samarium IS a real "rare earth metal", a term referring to magnetic material (which also sheds some light on where the 70's band "Rare Earth" may have gotten their name-- those cats were deep!).

Next, does Samarium and/or Cobalt make the pickups noiseless? Not quite. Samarium Cobalt is an alternative magnet material to the Alnico grades we often see used for pickups. It has it's own characteristics and thus it's own tone aspects, and is worthy for use in guitar pickup design. But noiselessness requires something else. Samarium Cobalt Noiseless or SCN pickups, as originally designed by Bill Lawrence, and also utilized by Fender, incorporate a stacked coil configuration which accounts for their "Noiseless" aspects.

Any stacked config, when wired & installed correctly will buck 60 cycle hum. Why, one could even call them "humbuckers"-- just a play on words you understand. Many stacked designs exist utilizing Alnico, Ceramic or SC. It's the "stacked" factor kids. So, am I out to trash SCN pickups? Not at all! Some data supports that SC's field properties may make it a better material for maintaining wide freq response in a stacked coil config. But let your own ears be the judge.

So in a nutshell, Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups ARE what they're stacked up to be-- just as long as they're stacked that is...

Pickup gurus Lindy Fralin & Jason Lollar appear to utilize mainly Alnico grades, and they also make stacked designs that folks like.

Even "The Story of the Samarium Cobalt Noiseless Pickup" by Dan Smith, published at www.billlawrence.com , makes no mention of stacking. Marketing, folks! So, is there intelligent life on the planet Samarium? Again, let your ears be the judge.



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