Purchased from: Amazon.com
Sound — 9
The Saturday Night Special does exactly what it's meant to - delivering smooth, rich tone with more clarity than its late-50's counterparts.
I have this installed in the neck position of an LTD EC-401VF, paired with a Seymour Duncan SH-5 Custom bridge pickup, running through a Marshall JVM 410H/1960 Vintage 4x12 cab. It sounds (and feels) to me to be somewhat of an update to the '59 neck model, with the S.N.S. having a bit less bass and a tad more in the mids. The lows are clearer than that of the '59, and similar to the beloved SD Jazz model. The highs are bright, yet fatter than those of the Jazz. The overall tone is warm without losing note definition, and in my opinion, cleans up slightly more organically than a lot of Seymour's other pickups.
The cleans are fantastic - with an almost acoustic quality, and without the low end "boom" that can sometimes happen with late-'50s-style PAFs. High-gain leads are also handled extremely well, from smooth sweep picking to single-note runs, the S.N.S. does it all.
The S.N.S. is available in a calibrated bridge/neck set, or can be purchased individually (as I stated, I have the neck model). The DC resistance clocks in at 7.9K, Alnico 4 magnets, and the pickup's output is on par with that of the Alnico II Pro.
Reliability & Durability — 10
The reliability of a pickup is sort of a moot discussion... I've never had anything happen to one (aftermarket or otherwise), even under extraordinary circumstances, but okay, UG. I'll bite.
The bobbins are high quality, complete with the standard black tape covering the coils. The wires were attached very solidly and were in perfect condition for soldering. Screws and springs are included. Installation was easy and straightforward. It's certainly dependable enough to where a player shouldn't have anything to worry about, given that installation is done properly.
Overall Impression — 9
I play lead guitar in a metal/hard rock band, and this pickup has delivered on several requirements I have for a neck position pickup. Fat, smooth, and (although the updates have been made) still retains classic vintage voicing. I have been experimenting with different pickups for nearly as long as I've played guitar, and have probably used upwards of 40 pickups from several different companies.
The Saturday Night Special is a fairly recent addition to Seymour Duncan's lineup, but as impressed as I am with it, I encourage others to look past the three-figure price tag and try one for themselves. Does it turn your guitar into the late-'70s arena-rock monster that it claims to? That's for you to decide. It will certainly get you in The Allman Brothers/Lynyrd Skynyrd ballpark, but that isn't all it can do. It handles the leads in Iron Maiden, Metallica, and other metal just as well. What I CAN say is that it absolutely will give you high-quality PAF tones with clearer lows and fat highs... even in high-gain applications. Outstanding job, Seymour.