GUITAR PICKUP MAGNETS – AlNiCo & Ferrite
The magnetic pickup mounted on the Electric guitar’s body help the sound production. A vibrating string cuts through the magnetic field in the pickup to produce a signal in the pickup’s coil.
What the magnets in pickup look like:
Two type permanent magnets are used in pickups: AlNiCo and Ceramic/Ferrite. Magnets can be made into many shapes, but the pickups usually use cylinder and square. Regarding grades, people usually choose AlNiCo2, AlNiCo5, and Ceramic 8.
AlNiCo and Ceramic list at the end row of the magnet family based on magnetic force. Alnico is expensive but Ceramic is cheap. The price gap is also reflected in pickups. People only know that Alnico pickups are good, but do not know the ceramic ferrite pickups are good as well. So if you want to ask which is better, there is no answer totally. It refers to the individual subjective feelings. Therefore MPCO made an interesting test. Use one guitar which assembles different magnets, playing the same song.
DIFFERENCES IN GUITAR PICKUP MAGNETS
There are a lot of components that go into shaping the character of a pickup’s sound. Everything from the gauge of the wire, the amount of turns, the pitch of the winding, whether it’s wax potted and one of the most important elements, the magnet. We recently teamed up to produce these clips showing the same pickup with the same amp settings but with different magnet types to show you how the sound of the pickup changes with a different magnet type.
In these examples, CUSTOMER used the Pearly Gates / Custom Hybrid that he ordered from the Custom Shop. The Hybrid combines coils from the Pearly Gates – which is known for that sweet Texas rock blues sound – with the Duncan Custom which has a hot P.A.F. sound with a more distinct mid/high range attack.
All these examples are recorded with the same guitar and same amp settings. Pop on some headphones to get the most out of them as some of the differences are subtle.
So what can you expect from these magnets?
Alnico II is a lower output magnet that is smooth and usually has just a bit of warmth.
Alnico V has more scooped mids and tighter in the low end. Provides some bite and sparkle.
Alnico VIII is generally between Ceramic and Alnico V, with quite a bit of magnetic pull, punchy with upper mids but a little more warmth than ceramic.
Ceramic is quite strong and gives a very bright tone. It retains articulation and clarity even with heavy distortion which makes it suited for heavy distorted styles.
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