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Thread: Differences in AlNiCo magnets/pickups question

  1. #1

    Default Differences in AlNiCo magnets/pickups question

    I absolutely love the sound of my Tribute Les Paul with it's 57 Classic and 57 Classic + pickups. These pups have AlNiCo II magnets, and I can't say enough about the fantastic tone they have. I also have an Agile AL3000 that I just swapped out the stock pickups for some GFS VEH pickups, which have A V magnets. I do like the sound of the pickups, but I was hoping to get a tone more similar to the 57s. They're not worlds apart, but I'm wondering if I go to an A II pickup if the chances are better that I'll get that magic tone.

    What exactly are the differences in the magnets, as far as tone? I'm sure the physical differences are the amounts of the alloys in the magnets, but what effect does that have on the overall tone? If this has already been covered, I apologize.
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  2. #2
    Regular Fretter wingsdad's Avatar
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    This is about how Seymour Duncan summarizes the difference in Alnico mags...which create a 'softer' magnetic field than Ceramic mags:

    Alnico 2 is slightly weaker than 5 and tends to have a smoother, warmer, rounder tone with softer attack. Alnico 5 has a brighter, more dynamic tone with a tighter bottom end than 2.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by wingsdad
    This is about how Seymour Duncan summarizes the difference in Alnico mags...which create a 'softer' magnetic field than Ceramic mags:

    Alnico 2 is slightly weaker than 5 and tends to have a smoother, warmer, rounder tone with softer attack. Alnico 5 has a brighter, more dynamic tone with a tighter bottom end than 2.
    Thanks, WD. That helps. It also seems consistent with what I hear out of the two guitars.
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  4. #4
    Regular Fretter ZMAN's Avatar
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    What they are doing with the 57s with AII magnets is trying to duplicate the tone from a "vintage" or older guitar that the magnets have weakened a bit giving you a more mellow tone. Fender has done it with their Classic Vibe series using A3 magnets in there 50s series. A lot of guys really like it because it reminds them of older 60s guitars they have heard.
    If you look on the Gibson site they have a graph showing the relative pickup output for all of their pickups. You will see where the 57s come in compared to other Gibson pickups. If you are looking at GFS you should try to match the output of the 57s say around 7 to 8k ohms, neck and bridge respectively.
    http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Division...ade%20%281%29/

  5. #5

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    This is from the book The Guitar Pickups Handbook by Dave Hunter

    Alnico magnets
    II weaker magnet softer and sweeter
    III soft but richer and slightly bolder
    IV noticeably punchier more definition in the highs
    V bolder, cleaner and more aggressive still

    Of course the shapes of the magnets also effects the sound.
    Guitars: Epiphone Les Paul Ultra; Squier Acoustic;
    Amps: Vox VT30; Fender Vibro Champ XD;
    Pedals: Dunlop Fuzz Face; Dunlop Crybaby Wah
    My kids have: beat up old Kay acoustic; Squier Affinity Stratocaster MII; Fender G-DEC;

    "I am a sworn enemy of the saccharine, and a believer in grace over karma." Bono 2001

  6. #6
    Leggo of my HoHo! Bloozcat's Avatar
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    Default

    Here's a great thread on pickup magnets that Kevin Taylor of Guitarforce pickups posted at MLP:

    Here is some test results that I did a while ago. I am posting them so you can see the strength of different magnet grades. I used the Carlsen Melton gauss meter to measure the strength of the magnet before (as I received them from the vendor) and after charging to a full charge with my magnet charger.

    The sizes of the magnets are the typical 2.5 x .5 x .125 bar magnets for humbuckers

    To get a representative sample, I picked 3 mags from various orders that I received or I chose them from the same shipment of mags but various positions within the brick (i.e. end of brick, middle of brick, and some in between). I took 3 readings and used the highest reading. On some mags, I took a couple more readings when the numbers were unclear.


    A2
    Before Charging (as they came) / Full Charge
    1. 554 North 486 South / 627 North 671 South
    2. 533 North 493 South / 635 North 671 South
    3. 446 North 457 South / 626 North 630 South

    A3
    Before Charging (as they came) / Full Charge
    1. 407 North 461 South / 531 North 534 South
    2. 407 North 465 South / 554 North 533 South
    3. 414 North 438 South / 541 North 543 South

    A4 Suppliers were out of stock when I placed order, sorry

    A5
    Before Charging (as they came) Full Charge
    1. 491 North 567 South / 927 North 930 South
    2. 611 North 598 South / 786 North 801 South
    3. 765 North 747 South / 721 North 796 South

    A6
    Before Charging (as they came) Full Charge
    1. 644 North 621 South / 768 North 741 South
    2. 721 North 605 South / 838 North 915 South
    3. 633 North 576 South / 740 North 756 South

    A8
    Before Charging (as they came) / Full Charge
    1. 1171 North 1253 South / 1370 North 1494 South
    2. 1216 North 1336 South / 1469 North 1407 South
    3. 1297 North 1288 South / 1355 North 1368 South

    Ceramic 5
    Before Charging (as they came) Full Charge
    1. 1251 North 1259 South / 1251 North 1291 South
    2. 1252 North 1269 South / 1255 North 1287 South
    3. 1297 North 1210 South / 1293 North 1210 South


    Ceramic 8
    Before Charging (as they came) / Full Charge
    1. 1211 North 1216 South / 1219 North 1274 South
    2. 1141 North 1190 South / 1197 North 1221 South
    3. 1195 North 1204 South / 1242 North 1199 South


    What surprised me were the wide differences in the gauss of the A5s. This is probably one of the reasons why PAFs sounded differently.
    __________________

    And here's Kevins "sounds" page on his web site. He states which magnet is used in each pickup and the sound clips let you hear them.

    http://www.guitarforcepickups.com/sound_clips

    This is all analytical information that is independent of influences like differing woods used in guitars, how they're wired etc.

    If I were to guess as to which magnet combination might sound best in your Agile Frankenfretter, I'd say an A4 in the neck and an A2 in the bridge, both wound to vintage PAF specs. That's often what Kevin recommends as well. An A4 in the bridge may work well also. The AL 3000 without a thick maple cap is a big chunk of mahagony, which can sound a little on the dark side sometimes.

    I did a bunch of magnet swapping on a set of vintage wound Highorder pickups trying to get that tone you're talking about. The Guitar? An Agile LP 2800 with a thick mahogany body and a thin maple veneer top. I ended up with a 1-meg pot in the neck tone position along with an A4 magnet in the neck pickup. For the bridge pickup both the A4 and A2 magnets sounded good, so I settled on the A2.
    Ah, nothing relieves the discomfort of GAS pains like the sound of the UPS truck rumbling down your street. It's like the musician's Beano.

  7. #7

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    Some of this I knew some of I did not great info guys.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bloozcat
    Here's a great thread on pickup magnets that Kevin Taylor of Guitarforce pickups posted at MLP:

    Here is some test results that I did a while ago. I am posting them so you can see the strength of different magnet grades. I used the Carlsen Melton gauss meter to measure the strength of the magnet before (as I received them from the vendor) and after charging to a full charge with my magnet charger.

    The sizes of the magnets are the typical 2.5 x .5 x .125 bar magnets for humbuckers

    To get a representative sample, I picked 3 mags from various orders that I received or I chose them from the same shipment of mags but various positions within the brick (i.e. end of brick, middle of brick, and some in between). I took 3 readings and used the highest reading. On some mags, I took a couple more readings when the numbers were unclear.


    A2
    Before Charging (as they came) / Full Charge
    1. 554 North 486 South / 627 North 671 South
    2. 533 North 493 South / 635 North 671 South
    3. 446 North 457 South / 626 North 630 South

    A3
    Before Charging (as they came) / Full Charge
    1. 407 North 461 South / 531 North 534 South
    2. 407 North 465 South / 554 North 533 South
    3. 414 North 438 South / 541 North 543 South

    A4 Suppliers were out of stock when I placed order, sorry

    A5
    Before Charging (as they came) Full Charge
    1. 491 North 567 South / 927 North 930 South
    2. 611 North 598 South / 786 North 801 South
    3. 765 North 747 South / 721 North 796 South

    A6
    Before Charging (as they came) Full Charge
    1. 644 North 621 South / 768 North 741 South
    2. 721 North 605 South / 838 North 915 South
    3. 633 North 576 South / 740 North 756 South

    A8
    Before Charging (as they came) / Full Charge
    1. 1171 North 1253 South / 1370 North 1494 South
    2. 1216 North 1336 South / 1469 North 1407 South
    3. 1297 North 1288 South / 1355 North 1368 South

    Ceramic 5
    Before Charging (as they came) Full Charge
    1. 1251 North 1259 South / 1251 North 1291 South
    2. 1252 North 1269 South / 1255 North 1287 South
    3. 1297 North 1210 South / 1293 North 1210 South


    Ceramic 8
    Before Charging (as they came) / Full Charge
    1. 1211 North 1216 South / 1219 North 1274 South
    2. 1141 North 1190 South / 1197 North 1221 South
    3. 1195 North 1204 South / 1242 North 1199 South


    What surprised me were the wide differences in the gauss of the A5s. This is probably one of the reasons why PAFs sounded differently.
    __________________

    And here's Kevins "sounds" page on his web site. He states which magnet is used in each pickup and the sound clips let you hear them.

    http://www.guitarforcepickups.com/sound_clips

    This is all analytical information that is independent of influences like differing woods used in guitars, how they're wired etc.

    If I were to guess as to which magnet combination might sound best in your Agile Frankenfretter, I'd say an A4 in the neck and an A2 in the bridge, both wound to vintage PAF specs. That's often what Kevin recommends as well. An A4 in the bridge may work well also. The AL 3000 without a thick maple cap is a big chunk of mahagony, which can sound a little on the dark side sometimes.

    I did a bunch of magnet swapping on a set of vintage wound Highorder pickups trying to get that tone you're talking about. The Guitar? An Agile LP 2800 with a thick mahogany body and a thin maple veneer top. I ended up with a 1-meg pot in the neck tone position along with an A4 magnet in the neck pickup. For the bridge pickup both the A4 and A2 magnets sounded good, so I settled on the A2.
    I find it interesting that the A II has a stronger pull than the A III. That doesn't seem to fit with the numbering system.

    I was looking at the GFS Classic IIs as a possibility on down the road. A II magnets, and wound to 8.2 bridge, and 7.8 neck they should sound pretty vintage. Then again, I may just get used to the VEHs. I'm not sure yet.

    Thanks for all the info, Fretters! Good stuff. If anyone wants to trade a set of GFS VEHs for a set of Classic IIs (or Classic 57s!) let me know!
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  9. #9
    Leggo of my HoHo! Bloozcat's Avatar
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    Want to try a set that will shock you, FrankenFretter?

    Try these:
    EDIT to add: Too late, they're gone....
    I know they're Alnico V magnets, but these pickups have gotten rave reviews from everyone who's tried them. They are plain white bobbins but you can always cover them. You can't beat the price, that's for sure.

    This is the last of the Giovanni pickups being offered. The Manufacturer has decided to just concentrate on their OEM business for guitar companies. If you're interested, I wouldn't wait long. When they're gone, they're gone.
    Last edited by Bloozcat; May 10th, 2010 at 10:35 AM.
    Ah, nothing relieves the discomfort of GAS pains like the sound of the UPS truck rumbling down your street. It's like the musician's Beano.

  10. #10
    Regular Fretter Duffy's Avatar
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    Default Magnets in HB's

    Seymour Duncan makes a full size covered HB pickup called an Alnico II Pro I believe, or similar name.

    I have an Epiphone LP Tribute with the sixties neck and the 57 Gibson USA pickups and it sounds really really good. Glad I spent the money and got that guitar instead of the Gibson faded, which is probably a really good guitar as well.

    Anyway, I played the new ESP LTD EC 1000 Deluxe with the Seymour Duncan pickups. This year's model does not have the JB/59 combination that sounds so good, but has an equally good sounding set of Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups. I played the goldtop and almost bought one but got the Ibanez goldtop SZ320 with Duncan/Ibanez pickups instead, for less than one third the cost of the LTD and it sounds equally good in my opinion.

    Back to the LTD with the Alnico II Pro SD pickups. They sounded really great. Pushed the preamp of a tube amp really well and had an overall sweet and smooth sound. I would buy Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups to put in a guitar without hesitation. The sound is full of sweet musicality and a great overdriven sound without a rough edge sound, uneven sound, or any crackling or popping. Just plain real smooth sounding, musical pickups that compliment many styles of playing, definitely my style of playing.

    I found that after buying several GFS pickups that I will probably go for Seymour Duncans or another brand name instead of GFS, because the price difference is not that great and the build quality and sound of Seymour Duncans and Fender Custom Shops is way better than the GFS equivalents.

    I bought some GFS hot P bass pups that sounded better than my Squeir P bass'es stock pups, but not nearly as nice as a set of Seymour Duncan P bass Quarter Pounders. I regret getting the GFS pups and will probably replace them with the Quarter Pounders.

    Therefore, I would suggest saving up and getting a set of SD Alnico II Pro pups instead of going for the instant gratification of the less expensive GFS equivalents. Just my opinion.

    I am always very happy with the SD pickups. I even had a set of Fender Custom Shop J bass noisless pickups put into a new Squier J bass I bought along with a new cap. Great sounding noisless J bass pickups, and Fender's! Can you believe that? I like my Fender Custom Shop Texas Specials in my Classic Vibe Lake Placid Blue sss aged white pickguard strat, very much as well.

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