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Fender Noiseless N3 Pickups Review

Fender Stratocaster N3 Noiseless Pickup

N3 Noiseless Pickup

I’ve had a lot of inquiries into the new Fender Noiseless N3 Pickups here at deluxe guitar. My new 2010 American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster has them installed as standard equipment. I also own a 1996 Strat Plus with Lace Sensor pickups, a 2002 American Deluxe Stratocaster with Vintage Noiseless pickups and a 2004 American Deluxe Ash Strat with Samarium Cobalt noiseless pickups. So I’ll be using those guitars as a basis for comparison to the N3 noiseless pickups on my 2010 American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster.

First of all let me tell you a little about the design of the new N3 Noiseless pickups. According to Fender’s promotional material the N3 Noiseless pickup has an improved stacked-coil design and are specially tailored for each Stratocaster pickup position. It also represents a return to the warmth and clarity of Alnico magnets. Also the type of alnico magnets used is tailored to each specific pickup position. The bridge pickup uses Alnico V for power and warmth as well as the signature snap and spank of the classic Stratocaster bridge pickup. The middle N3 pickup uses Alnico II to give the pickup it’s signature sweetness and sparkle. The neck pickup uses Alnico III to give it it’s fullness without undue magnetic string pull.

The previous paragraph is all taken from Fender’s own promotional material so let me tell you what I hear when I play these pickups. First of all, the bridge pickup which Fender states uses the Alnico V magnet. To me it sounds very much like a classic Fender single coil Stratocaster bridge pickup. It has spank, it has twang and it has absolutely no dreaded 60-cycle hum. It is wired to the no-load tone control so you can cut the tone control out of the signal path and wire the bridge pickup directly to the output jack. Of all my Strats this pickup is the most alive sounding pickup I have. It is much livelier than the Samarium Cobalt noiseless pickups and very much more responsive to my picking attack. It picks up more nuances of my hand and pick sliding on the strings as well. It also seems to have a lot more output power than the Vintage Noiseless pickups. It is also the first noiseless pickup I own that can pick up the 3rd fret harmonic as well as I like and I have a suspicion that Jeff Beck may have been using this pickup for a while before they were placed in the American Deluxe line up. This is a very powerful bridge pickup and perfectly noiseless. It’s very close to an original single coil bridge pickup but it does have more of a growl to it.

The middle pickup definitely has the classic Fender Stratocaster middle pickup chime. I use it more than I have ever used a middle pickup on any of my other guitars. I think the best way to describe it is that the middle pickup is balanced with the neck and bridge pickups. There isn’t a big drop-off in volume and attack when switching from the bridge pickup to the middle pickup and there isn’t a huge loss of warmth when switching from the neck pickup to the middle pickup. The middle pickup is just perfectly balanced tonally between the bridge and the neck pickups.

The neck pickup is close to perfection! It is warm, slightly rubbery sounding with a sweet muted attack. I’m sure a lot of this sound comes from where the pickup is placed under the strings as well as the scale length of the Fender Stratocaster. But the pickup captures that true, classic neck pickup sound of the Fender Stratocaster. Again, like the bridge pickup, there is a slight growl to the sound that isn’t found on a classic single coil pickup. It doesn’t bother me and I prefer the slight extra power that the pickup seems to give me. If you’re looking for the true, classic single-coil neck pickup sound the N3 Noiseless is not an exact replica but it is extremely close to it. Of course, it’s completely hum free which is what I love about these noiseless pickups. Again, it’s perfectly balanced with the middle and bridge pickups and still has it’s own signature sound.

In summary, the new Fender Noiseless N3 Pickups are a wonderful addition to Fender’s pickup offerings. I absolutely love them because they are noise free and very powerful. The sound isn’t as dark as the Samarium Cobalt pickups, they are much more powerful than the Vintage Noiseless pickups and they are much warmer and more true to the classic Fender sound than my Lace Sensor pickups. If you’re looking for a Stratocaster that has an excellent set of factory installed pickups then look no further than the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster with the new Noiseless N3 Pickups.

Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster Electric Guitar Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster Electric Guitar

In the newest evolutionary step for the American Deluxe Stratocaster electric guitar includes three N3 Noiseless single-coil pickups that still produce their revered sparkle and snap and with noiseless design no annoying hum. The S-1 switching system adds additional pickup combinations.

17 comments to Fender Noiseless N3 Pickups Review

  • msan

    Sorry, couldn’t disagree more, they are low output and my prs se eg sounds more stratty than these pickups as does my fret king super 60 (all are also much louder)

    Dull lifeless pickups sounds like a srtat being played in a box.

  • LJ Walton

    If you want real Vintage Strat tone/harmonics/timbre,response,compression
    the N3 will not get the job done.
    If you want noiseless you might like the N3;
    and if you like the N3 you might like your Strat better unplugged and in it’s case or hanging on your wall.
    LJ Walton/Cotati CA

  • PK

    I have several strats all with fender custom shop pickups. Since I got the Am Deluxe with N3’s I can hardly stand to play the others. I love everything about them.

  • I have to agree with the others–I have this guitar in a HSS and while I like the AH-1 humbucker, the N3s are kind of thin-sounding. They are completely silent, and using the S-1 switching system does deliver useable tones, but compared to, say, a set of Fralin Vintage Hots, or any scatter-wound PU, these PUs are very sterile sounding..too balanced, in fact, and not harmonically rich enough, though they do have a nice woody tone to them in some of the S-1 configurations. I’m beginning to wonder if anyone has a single-coil noiseless PU that sounds good. But I can’t stand HBs in a neck position, esp..too dark and no punch or sparkle, too much mid-range for me. Great in the bridge, though.

  • Eric

    For anyone who doesn’t like Fender’s N3 Noiseless pickups, I think Kinman makes some awesome-sounding noiseless pickups. Kinman’s Traditional Mk-III set capture the classic Strat sound well. I have them in a couole of my Strats. Their newer Impersonator 54 pickups are supposed to be even closer in sound to a ’54 Strat (but without the hum, of course). I’ve also seen some demo videos of the DiMarzio Area pickups, and those sound pretty good too, for noiseless Strat pickups.

  • Al

    Bleh. Two people hate them, 2 people love them. I have a couple of Strat Plus, which (to me) mechanically blow away most other types of Strats. (And I have bought & sold Strats for over 30 years and have owned well over 100 pre-CBS Strats) Excellent construction/stay in tune/sustain/and the quality I call “give-back”. But the Lace pickups, while quiet, are definitely sub-optimal IMO. As I am a jazz player (yes, with a Strat) I can live with the barely average tone because I typically use only the bass pickup. But the other two pickups are decidedly synthetic and flat sounding.

    Gotta love those YouTube videos where someone demos a set of pickups…through massive fuzz-box and amp distortion. Yeah, that’s what I call useful.

  • dalebert

    I had the ‘original’ N3’s on a new deluxe but one pole was dead. Fender replaced it but it was different looking. The new N3 text was in a different location. Don’t know if I got the same N3 sound now.
    The new N3’s are really weak compared to my standard USA Strats, & MIM’s. Have to crank the gain way up.
    The guitar sounds very twangy, almost like a Telecaster (hi treble). The tone is in middle to get the classic sound. Could be the guitar. Otherwise they sound OK. Ho hum, but no hum.

  • Steve Morse

    Wire these in reverse white to ground and they sound awesome.

  • Rattoo

    The N3s sound better than other Fender noiseless. They are great pickups, but there is a price for stopping the noise. Still, the price is worth it, especially at high volume. Well done, Fender.

  • Twang

    I like them a lot. I built my own strat, I built my own tweed deluxe and these just topped off the tones I was going for.
    They, like the amp and guitar, are not strict ‘sounds just like’ pickups, (but as far as I’m concerned these comments about lifeless or synthetic are total BS), which still have tones of the Fender vibe I wanted, and no noise.
    I’m very happy, and will set up my Tele with another set for sure.

  • Old Ale

    These pick-ups are great. You do need technique to obtain a great sound from any guitar. I have two PRS Customs and the N3s in the Stratocaster produce a much better strat tone than the either of the PRS Customs.

  • Hank Hatch

    Be careful. I own a few fenders. My wife thinks too many. And no they don’t just hang from the wall. What you have to consider is does the person posting even know how to setup their pickups? Pickup sound varies so much just based on setup, distance from the strings, variance from low to high end. To accurately compare pickups across the same guitar is almost impossible. I have NEVER received a new guitar and had the pups in the right place. The guy in the factory doesn’t care as much as you do. Try this as an example, just raise and lower the middle pickup on your strat and see how much spank comes and goes. It is the best example I can think of. What I am saying is that make sure you have given the pups a chance before yanking them out of your axe. A level setup is almost NEVER going to be what is best. To just measure and say do a 8/64 height across all three pups is BLIND. You have to use your ears. Start level and move each pickup towards what sounds better. IMHO the N3’s sound better in a strat than the samariums (if your going noiseless). But the samariums sound better in a tele (once again if your going noiseless). Sure if your not going noiseless there are better tones. I have a 50th anniversary american deluxe with samariums and an american deluxe with N3’s. I like the N3s better. But once again they are both a compromise.

  • Great comment Hank and very true.

  • I was feeling a little low that my 2013 American Strat sounded a little thin. I took it into the local music store and played it side-by-side with a deluxe Strat with N3 pick ups. As a result, I traded-away the 2013 on-the-spot. Luv the N3s!

  • Walter Hickman

    I love every pickup that will reproduce the Music I hear.I will make a toy guitar sing. Ranting about pickups is like a bagpipe player worrying about what kind of bag the air is in. I can play any kind of pickup.

  • Peter Blisse

    I installed a set of Fender N3 pickups in my MIM Telecaster. The neck pickup sounds very warm with a decent output, but the bridge pickup is terrible. Low gain and very thin sounding. I thought that there was something wrong with the pickup. But after reading this forum and talking to some guitar technicians, the Fender N3 bridge pickup is just known to be thin sounding. I will try reversing the wiring or just replace it with a Seymour Duncun or Dimarzio Tele humbucker.

  • Mike Berube

    I have a 2011 American Deluxe Stratocaster with N3 Pickups, at first I was not sure…. but when you try a regular Strat with those noisy Pickups….you begin to love your N3, and yoy discover the S1 Switch, at first not so great, but now I used it all the time.
    I will never on a regular cheap noisy single coil… I Really LOVE my Strat with N3, Clean and powerfull, remember the amp produce the sound you like, use a good amp first.
    Thank you Fender.

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