pickup output: ceramic vs. alnico

Discussion in 'The Tone Zone' started by paul hancher, May 31, 2019.

  1. paul hancher

    paul hancher Well-Known Member

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    with all else being equal will a switch from ceramic to alnico magnets affect pickup output?
     
  2. Michael Roe

    Michael Roe Well-Known Member

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    From what I understand, ceramic will be hotter than alnico. Alnico V being hotter than Alnico II. Tone will be different as well. Do a search on youtube. I have seen some vids which guys show the difference. It is quite considerable.
     
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  3. mickeydg5

    mickeydg5 Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Which ceramic pickup?
     
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  4. Adieu

    Adieu Well-Known Member

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    "Ceramic" is pretty vague, but USUALLY the consensus is:

    Ceramic > A8 > A5 > A2

    (possibly: A8 > Ceramic > A5 > A2, because the really hot Ceramic buckers use oversize magnets)
     
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  5. paul hancher

    paul hancher Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the responses. there is no particular pick up in question. it is just that i have noticed that in general high output pickups have ceramic magnets and i was wondering if this was a general characteristic of ceramic material in regards to magnetism. just like higher wattage speakers tend to have ceramic magnets. i understand that a factor in this is economics, that ceramic materials are usually less expensive but was wondering if there were other factors that go into the decision on what to use.
     
  6. 67Mopar

    67Mopar Well-Known Member

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    My favorite HB pickup, is the 8O's era SD Distortion. I believe these were/are ceramic. I play alnico now... Why, I have no earthly idea?
     
  7. Delete!!

    Delete!! Well-Known Member

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    To my ears the ceramic magnets impart a hard crunch into the tone. Depending on how well the pickup is designed this can be interpreted as “aggressive” or even “harsh” or “stiff”, or “compressed” to some people. Personally, I don’t care for them - although I have liked some vintage DiMarzio Super Distortions. Not sure how the new models sound.
     
  8. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    Seen this YT vid on Ceramic vs Alnico?

     
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  9. Solid State

    Solid State Well-Known Member

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    In general, ceramic magnets tend to be stronger so you get a tighter sound and faster response - but I think it's a subtle difference. There are ceramic pickups in jazz or blues and alnico in extreme metal.
     
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  10. mickeydg5

    mickeydg5 Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    I see A8 as impressive as ceramic. I also see lots of artist with lower output pickups. It all depends on the signal chain and amplification. I, myself, like AlNiCo.
     
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  11. Adieu

    Adieu Well-Known Member

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    This guy is seriously odd.

    Video about a magnet swap, yet doesn't even say which pickup he's swapping it into, or what it had before (2,3,4,5,8?)
     
  12. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    He is a bit "self professed" but I think well meaning.
    There is a vid on the building of the original guitar and the neck pickup he is testing is a Vintage Vibe P90, but again the pickup magnets are stated as 'AlNiCo' or 'Ceramic' (you get both with the pickup).

    Most of my guitars are ceramic (Dimarzio IBZ, X2N + D Activator X, EMG HZ passives) with only a JB + '59 set being AlNiCo 5s.
    The JB is actually the harshest sounding one of the Humbuckers to my ears, even when dropped fairly low in the body (5-6 mm from low E). The '59 is sweet and they both do coil splitting beautifully. The IBZ set are fairly bright and the X2N D Activator set are perfect all rounders for me (the D Activator X in the neck is sweet with parallel and split options too, both set low again).

    So I think it comes down a lot to taste and pickup height settings, plus all magnets are not equal (the EMGs are the lowest powered of all and ceramic).
     
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  13. BowerR64

    BowerR64 Well-Known Member

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    Really? i thought the 59 sounds twangy

    I had an american standard SSS and i wanted a humbucker in the bridge so i got a lil59 and it sounded kickass, in the bridge so i thought ide build a pickguard S/H and put the lil59 in th eneck and get a full size 59 when i got it and put it in they could not be anywhere near the same. The lil59 sounds full and a nice forward midrange. The full size 59 sounds darn near like a single coil stacked it lacks bottom end and its just overy trebely horrible pickup imo. In a mahogany body fender rosewood fretboard.

    Befor eyou say it, i thought it was wired wrong also so i tried it in different ways and nothing helped. SO i went on the duncan forum and they all say the lil59 and regular 59 are nothing alike.

    Its weird the lil59 is like 12Kohms and the regular is like 8ohms and they both are very mild outputs
     
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  14. Lo-Tek

    Lo-Tek Well-Known Member

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    I only have experience with single coils. I like both but prefer my ceramic pickup guitars. Not only a bit hotter but they seem fuller with more harmonic content. Also more string feed back. Generally speaking I find them more versatile. I still like alnico p’ups but they seem a bit flat and one dimensional in comparison.
    Obviously there is tremendous variation amongst different pickups though.
     
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  15. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    The '59 in my San Dimas is in the neck position. I've never hear it in the bridge. There is a bridge model, maybe that's the one you tried? The Little '59 has less of a scoop on the mids than the full sized ones.
     
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  16. El Gringo

    El Gringo Well-Known Member

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    I will tell you from my experience that A2 are very treble , A3 somewhat the same but to me seem weaker than the A2 , and A5 will have mucho plenty midrange growl which I love in my Les Paul's and my 2555X . To me that is the sweet spot for killer tone with my Marshall 2555X :headbanger:
     
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