They are humbuckers, but the configuration gets a facsimile of Strat single coil tones, especially in the B/M position. On my NF3, if you roll the volume back slightly the tone gets a little dull, but rolled back to 5 or 6 on the volume it gets brighter and more single coilish. They are pretty unique and they sound very good overall, but they are not noiseless single coils or traditional humbuckers. If you take them for what they are -- a unique pickup design -- then you can get some great tones from them.
My only complaint is that the high E string gets caught under the lip of the neck pickup coil on occasion, so I have to keep it lower than my ears would like.
Id say the ride they fence pretty well. They have humbucker-ish girth (not quite but closer than a std single coile) but with a clarity/presence you expect from singlecoils.
They WILL expose any sloppiness in youre playing, you cant 'hide' behind them, which is a good thing IMHO.
Best bet is to try one out through an amp youre familar with.
They are a very unique pickup. They are technically humbuckers. To my ears when the guitar volume is all the way up they have a thicker sound more like a traditional humbucker, when I roll the volume down it tends to get thinner more like a single coil. Overall it's more humbucker with single coil flavor.
OP author here...I am a classic rock guy, but sometimes am looking for more clarity in my OD sounds (but not thinner, per se)...would the Narrowfields, lets say, in a McCarty, do the trick (mahogany body, maple cap, with mahogany neck)???
57/08s transformed my McCarty experience... very clear with more top end, but still plenty of girth
btw, I do have the Narrowfield pu's in an NF3. They do not seem to have the full HB girth, but def have a fuller sound than SC's. Their clarity is what stands out to me... not unlike the 57/08 HBs which are clear and full, just not as powerful a HB tone.
I DO think they would work in a McCarty to accomplish exactly what you are after