When you think of Fender, you’re probably imagining a beautiful Stratocaster with a nice set of quality single coils.
Let’s be real here, Fender hasn’t changed their designs significantly since their original release date, and in most cases that was decades ago. With that said, there is one set of pickups which really stand out from their usual stuff, and is often praised as the hardest set of pickups Fender has ever created.
Of course, we are talking about the famous Fender Enforcer pickup. Although these are not available anymore from Fender, they are still considered to be a hot commodity. So much so that many people are scavenging the internet and their local pawn shops to find a set of these pickups.
How good are they really? That is what we are here to talk about. 🙂
Let’s get into it!
Fender had, and still has a very limited involvement with humbucker style pickups. Their bread and butter are Strats, which they are most known for. Since Strats mostly come with a set of three single coils, there wasn’t really much incentive for Fender to go deep into the humbucker field. On the other hand, Fender Enforcers have proven to be a true success.
If you know a thing or two about humbuckers and pickups in general, you know that most of them use Aluminum-Nickel-Cobalt alloy magnets, also known as Alnico pickups. The reason behind this is due to the readily available sources for this alloy, and the fact that it is simply cost effective. Older style humbuckers sometimes used ceramic magnets, which are generally more liked by sound purists.
The difference between Alnico and ceramic pickups is obvious as soon as you plug them in. Ceramic humbuckers have a lot more range, and most importantly, output. Fender Enforcers used ceramic magnets, which made them pretty hot compared to what was available at the time.
In terms of performance, Fender Enforcer pickup was a breath of fresh air. Due to their high output, a pair of these humbuckers would give you the kind of distortion that was rarely found on other Fender guitars. The dynamic range they brought to the table was hard to ignore. For example, the difference between full volume and almost complete attenuation was impressive.
When you rolled the volume on your guitar down while in overdrive, the tone would clean up like a charm. On the other hand, once you pushed the volume all the way up, you got a very saturated distortion that didn’t lack any clarity or definition.
What this means is that you could experiment with different volume knob positions between the ones we already mentioned, and get a whole spectrum of incredible tone variations.
What we like
One thing that immediately places these humbuckers on our ‘good’ list are the ceramic magnets. These are no longer made, and having a set gives you a chance to experience a very unique type of tone. The higher output is nice, but even though this is no longer such an achievement since the tech evolved, it’s still a good thing to have. Lastly, the vintage tone color of these humbuckers make them somewhat unique.
What we don’t like
There is really nothing we can say is bad about these pickups. They are no longer in production, and even though some would like to see another production run, we think it would only dent Enforcer’s reputation. There are much better pickups out there at the moment if you want new ones. The whole point of owning Enforcers today is their vintage nature.
Fender Enforcer pickups are a relic of a time when different technologies were used, and when people had completely different expectations. Finding a set of these can definitely spice up your Fender guitar, but whether or not you should get them purely on their tonal quality is something you need to decide for yourself.
There are many great alternatives on the market today, which is great since your chances of finding a set of Enforcers are really low. With that said, the ceramic nature of these pickups is something every guitar player will appreciate.