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cosmiqphuz's picture
Lancaster, Pa
Dec 2008
1 year ago

What's the difference in these magnets? These seem to be the most common types used in guitar pickups, and I was wondering if anybody can enlighten me.

knives490's picture
Clinton, NC
Jun 2007
4 years ago

They use a special type of magnet design Al[uminum]Ni[ckel]Co[balt] and are known widely for their more focused attack, treble detail, low end stability, and overall gracious tone. theyre sort of like the brothers to the "Pearly Gate" Humbuckers, and the Burstbuckers and PAFs.

In all honesty; my top pickups are Pearly Gates, Burstbucker 2's, Phat Cats, Alnico 2 [single coils in the Highway 1 Tele], Alnico 5 humbuckers :), and a good ol' Gibson Seth Lover PAF.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by burntumbers
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you gotz da mad skillz dawg.

you mod the titties off pedals, and you just got hair on your balls, what, 2 months ago?

I'm pushing 30 and all I can do with a soldering iron is burn myself.

New001's picture
Nov 2007
6 years ago

alnico 2 is the weakest magnet of the three. lower output, less mids. makes for a more transparent tone. they allow better dynamics, plus they can be raised higher without causing string pull

alnico 5 is the strongest, next to ceramics. basically just more output and more mids in a nutshell, in contrast to A2. bass is more focused, tighter sound.

alnico 3 is the happy medium between the two for those who can't decide LOL

For some people, music is a job...I guess that makes me a workaholic.

Motorhead_2's picture
Toronto
Aug 2003
3 months ago
Originally Posted by New001

alnico 2 is the weakest magnet of the three. lower output, less mids. makes for a more transparent tone. they allow better dynamics, plus they can be raised higher without causing string pull

alnico 5 is the strongest, next to ceramics. basically just more output and more mids in a nutshell, in contrast to A2. bass is more focused, tighter sound.

alnico 3 is the happy medium between the two for those who can't decide LOL

Wrong!

This is why there is so much misunderstanding in the guitar field.

Alnico 3 is the lowest of the common alnico PU magnets.

A3 < A2 < A4 < A5 < A8

And the rest of what was said is 60% accurate just because it used to be the case. The level of Mids really depends on the winding.

Alnico 3 is not a happy medium. A3 is very low output which can sound syrupy or bright, again depending on the winding. When wound right and for the right guitar it is super smooth and has an incredibly different sustain then the other magnets.

Also, NEW01, get rig of that annoying signature!

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Motorhead_2's picture
Toronto
Aug 2003
3 months ago
Originally Posted by cosmiqphuz

What's the difference in these magnets? These seem to be the most common types used in guitar pickups, and I was wondering if anybody can enlighten me.

Alnico 3 is my most favourite neck PU magnet just because they have recently been able to wind them correctly. Boutique PU makers do it right where as machine assembled A3 PUs always end up sounding like mud. Old $$$ PAFs are also sought after because they were done right. What makes A3 PUs so different is that you get the usual sustain and it then dies naturally but at some point it seems to kick in for one last shout.

Usually, the lower output magnet will hump the mid range as you add winds. This is why you often see an A2 hot wound PU with an exagerated level of mid range as compared to treble and bass. This makes for a very articulate PU since it's the combined hi level of mids and bass that make for mud. Hence, this is why low wond A2 and A3 PUs are tricky since you have to wind it so that the mids either surpace the level of bass or that the level of mids is relatively and significantly lower then the level of bass.

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cubby's picture
Over there...
Jan 2003
2 years ago
Originally Posted by knives490

Alnico 5 humbuckers :), and a good ol' Gibson Seth Lover PAF.

It should be noted that Gibson used whatever type of bar magnets they had available back in the "glory days" of the PAF.

Alnico 6 was used in the original Danelectro lipsticks.

I've tended to favor a warmer Alnico 2 pickup. It seems to be more forgiving and consistant in tone. Too many Alnico 5 pickups strike me as harsh and are often wound too hot IMO. I do like the JB humbucker but even it can be too aggressive at times.

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cosmiqphuz's picture
Lancaster, Pa
Dec 2008
1 year ago

I've never heard of Alnico 4, 6, or 8. What tonal characteristics do they exhibit?

Also, I personally prefer Alnico 3 for some reason. I put a set of overwound Alnico 3's in my ash strat and it sounds amazing. It's got a rounder sound compared to the Alnico 5's I used to have. The bass and treble isn't as wide, but the mids really give that extra oomph the ash strat needed.

Alnico 5's always sound scooped to me. It's a good sound, just not mine.

I like Alnico 2's in humbuckers, not so much in single coils.

knives490's picture
Clinton, NC
Jun 2007
4 years ago
Originally Posted by cubby

It should be noted that Gibson used whatever type of bar magnets they had available back in the "glory days" of the PAF.

I wouldnt doubt that at all! :) Theyve just got a nice magic, though overplayed now, to them especially in the neck position.

Stargazer FX Site

I <3 Michel!

Quote:
Originally Posted by burntumbers
View Post
you gotz da mad skillz dawg.

you mod the titties off pedals, and you just got hair on your balls, what, 2 months ago?

I'm pushing 30 and all I can do with a soldering iron is burn myself.

jonbye's picture
UK
Apr 2006
3 years ago

I always thought alnico 5 was a better all round sound while alnico 2 was more classic voice but less good (though not bad) clean. I got a first act guitar a while ago. I was hell bent on modding it for a P90 before I got it but then I heard the alnico 2 humbucker in it and I've had to really re-evaluate my decision because with some gain it sounds amazing.

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berarduur's picture
Losser, of all places........
Apr 2004
4 months ago
Originally Posted by knives490

They use a special type of magnet design Al[uminum]Ni[ckel]Co[balt] and are known widely for their more focused attack, treble detail, low end stability, and overall gracious tone. theyre sort of like the brothers to the "Pearly Gate" Humbuckers, and the Burstbuckers and PAFs.

In all honesty; my top pickups are Pearly Gates, Burstbucker 2's, Phat Cats, Alnico 2 [single coils in the Highway 1 Tele], Alnico 5 humbuckers :), and a good ol' Gibson Seth Lover PAF.

Pearly gates use AlNiCo 2 magnets.

My fav now is AlNiCo 4; more HiFi sounding so they give a great representation of the guitar you put it in.

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Motorhead_2's picture
Toronto
Aug 2003
3 months ago
Originally Posted by berarduur

Pearly gates use AlNiCo 2 magnets.

Pop Quiz: What makes the Duncan Pearly Gates sound so different then other PAFabbees?

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Fat Strat into a Soldano, always.
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