An in depth text on AlNiCo magnet grades used in guitar pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by Antigua, Dec 9, 2017.

  1. paruwi

    paruwi Kraut-Rocker Super Mod Premium Member

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    This guys 'knowledge' is more than doubtful, to say it friendly

    the good thing is, I don't need to translate it :rofl:
     
  2. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    Well... he cites his sources.
     
  3. EL-34

    EL-34 Senior Member

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    Great article. Thanks for sharing. So it's technically not alnico 3 it should be alnicu 3...haha.
     
  4. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    Another interesting consequence of considering the residual flux (Br) density and the coercive force (Hc) is that it means that staggered Stratocaster pole pieces are not merely different distances from the string, but because the magnets are different lengths entirely, their magnetic fields are shaped differently, with the taller pole pieces having taller, skinnier magnetic fields.

    What effect, if any, this has on the tone production is hard to guess, but the takeaway is that taller pole pieces are not merely closer to the strings, they're magnetically "sharper" as well. It's possible that a more narrow magnetic focus causes more high end harmonics to come through, because you'd get less comb filtering of those physically narrow harmonics, those which are fractions of the width of the magnetic aperture. Of course, high frequency transient harmonics are the kinds that don't last long, and are mostly only associated with the "transient", or "pick attack". So, to summarize with adjectives, that sharper magnetic focus might mean a more abrasive attack. If the effect is in fact audible, it would mean that staggered Strat pickups not only vary in terms of string-to-string balance, but string-to-string attack, as well. Because the differences are so small, you'd need a reliable blind A/B test to establish whether the difference is truly perceivable.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
  5. EL-34

    EL-34 Senior Member

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    In page 4-21, third paragraph it states the Gibson pickups that are in the factory guitars are not wax potted even today. That's not true. From what I understand the Gibson pickups in their guitars are potted. But the pickups you buy separately from Gibson are not potted.
     
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  6. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    This is correct. Gibson pickups were not potted clear through the 1970's.

    Nearly all modern Gibson pickups after that are vacuum potted in some rather soft and nasty waxy compound. Not a simple mixture of beeswax and paraffin. There is some other softening component, perhaps an oil, added, and not always at the same consistency. This could be to aid in faster penetration, adjustment of melting point, or cost-cutting, at my best speculation.

    It's also the case that many of the pickups Gibson sells as aftermarket products are also wax potted.
     
  7. LtKojak

    LtKojak Senior Member

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    AFAIK, the only ones not being potted as aftermarket items are the Burstbuckers, apparently.

    All the others are, in fact, potted.
     
  8. ThroBak

    ThroBak MLP Vendor

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    Pickup makers use science every day. It is empirical science. It is a cycle of constant research and improvement that includes observation, induction, deduction, testing, evaluation returning back to observation. This is the same science that master violin makers like Stradivari practiced and makers like Santa Cruz Guitars and many others are dedicated to. Frankly it is the best method for pickup making and musical instrument manufacturing.

    The link Antigua provided is nearly useless as it relates to magnets in guitar pickups. It is really just a laundry list of tech data that anyone who places full heat magnet orders from magnet manufacturers is already schooled in. The article is actually noteable for the amount of opinion that is falsely presented as empirical science. You can't apply a number to tonal esthetics, it is too personal. When it comes to music, numeric data is useful as a tool as part of empirical science but beyond that it is of limited use when it comes to describing tone.

    Just as an aside, inductance measurement is what I would call the lowest resolution scale of measuring tone of a guitar pickup. I can change the magnet in a pickup or the pole screws and change the inductance of the pickup. That change in inductance measurement will not describe the tonal impact the change in magnet or pole screws had on the pickup. Inductance is simply a way for a large manufacturer of pickups to know they hit the dart board but it won't let you know if they hit the bullseye. Given that, it is useless as a way to judge or describe tone for the guitar player.
     
  9. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    It can't hurt to learn more about what AlNiCo is, what the different grades mean, etc. Get the information first, then worry about what is applicable and relevant later.

    I haven't found a more concise resource on AlNiCo to date, on account of the fact that there are fewer and fewer uses for AlNiCo in industry. Most of what is out there comes in bits and pieces, and / or isn't based around the study of guitar pickups.

    As far as the commentary, there's no such thing as a free lunch. Some people are selling pickups, others are merely selling their point of view. It's a lot to ask that someone should provide something, and ask for nothing in return... so maybe they ask for your ear. Most of the information we have today owed to one motive or another, not the least of which is the profit motive. That doesn't mean the information is wrong, it just means the information should be properly scrutinized: did they provide references? Is the information corroborated by other sources? Did they detail where their data came from, or how it was gathered? Was it subject to peer review? Are the assertions blind, or are they supported?
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
  10. ThroBak

    ThroBak MLP Vendor

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    The people making Alnico in the USA are the best resource as they have made Alnico for pickups since the 50's. It is not a some guy in Germany. You won't get that info if you are not a customer though.

    The beauty of business is that every transaction is scrutinized by the customer. The good businesses thrive and the bad die. It is a daily peer review and the stakes are pretty high for the business.
     
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  11. freefrog

    freefrog Senior Member

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    I’ve refrained to post this because it would have sounded pedantic from an anonymous member like me… but it’s true that the mentioned doc contains nothing that a patient Google research can’t bring (and that our student engineers learn most of these things during their two first years in our school).


    Please, consider what follows as it is: a serene peaceful translation of my admitedly subjective perception, uninteresting as it might be. ;-)

    Although I don’t think human beings to be angels, I don’t think either that everybody posts to “ask” or to “sell” something…


    Some folks might post online just to have a bit of distraction during busy days. They might just share a few slices of their own experience, not because they consider it better than other people’s experience but simply to make their own findings potentially useable (if not useful) for other persons, in the restrictive frame offered by Internet…


    That’s how things seem to work in the small forum of lutherie where I’m moderator, for example : the founder of this forum is a retired luthier/former winder, so he has nothing to sell. Members don’t give lessons to each others. They prefer to (be) treat(ed) (by) others as equals. They share what time allows them to share and they let their interlocutors do their own experience/ build their own conclusions on this basis, without trying to dictate their opinions as a dogma… That’s why I love this community, albeit it’s sadly dying slowly because of Facebook.


    I think that you know what I’m talking about since you share freely your experiments on guitarnuts2, for example.

    I often disagree with your experimental findings (the approach practiced here being noticeably different) but I’d never try to dismiss your work, precisely because I find it TOTALLY respectable IF it comes from someone without commercial motivations.


    Now, if you disagree with this answer, won’t it suggest that we must consider you as a shill working for Chinese pickups makers? :)


    JK. :)


    If something like altruist share exists on the Web, it must involve many persons… and there’s even no reason to consider that such an altruism can’t be found in pickups makers themselves since they are also human beings. :)


    Happy new year to ALL of you in advance!
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
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  12. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    As a consumer of the end product, and not raw materials to be bought in bulk, this does me little good.
     
  13. jbash

    jbash Senior Member

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    /Thread.
     
  14. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    The "you can't hear numbers" thing is a straw man argument. Nobody is saying measurements and numbers replace art and aesthetics.

    Guitarists and pickup makers alike talk about DC resistance all the time, so numbers are already on the table. It's merely a question of what you do with those numbers, and whether or not they help you achieve your goals more quickly.
     
  15. EL-34

    EL-34 Senior Member

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    http://store.gibson.com/burstbucker-type-3/

    Here it says the burstbuckers, for example, are not wax potted.
     
  16. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    I said "nearly all" modern Gibson pickups are wax potted, both in guitars and aftermarket. Here's a link to the same store, stating that '57 Classics are wax potted.

    http://store.gibson.com/57-classic-pickup/

    Besides what the store says, I'm also going by experience. I had a pickup here form a forum member's True Historic last week that was supposed to be not potted and, man, was it a waxy nasty mess inside!

    I have also seen some that are not potted. ...but the vast majority of modern Gibson humbuckers are.
     
  17. LtKojak

    LtKojak Senior Member

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    Gibson's rule of thumb is, all OEM p'ups installed on their instruments are wax-potted, unless specified in some limited-edition series.
     
  18. EL-34

    EL-34 Senior Member

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    Makes sense because I'm quite certain that all Gibson pickups supplied in Les Pauls are potted from the factory, even burstbuckers. For some reason they apparently don't pot them when sold separately.
     
  19. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    It's just a few models sold unpotted aftermarket and it's likely either because Gibson knows that potting them kills the treble clarity or because Gibson knows that some customers upgrading their stock pickups are looking specifically for unpotted pickups and wants a piece of that market.

    In the guitars, people are going to buy them anyway and Gibson doesn't want warranty guitar returns over feedback or people hanging them back up on the wall at the shop because they squeal. That's why only some special models are advertised as having unpotted pickups as stock.
     
  20. EL-34

    EL-34 Senior Member

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    I did a search here for "Gibson wax" and there were only a few informative threads. One showed a link to an article dated in 2014 saying that he factory BB loaded LP will be potted from then on because of complaints about microphonics.

    I have a 2011 so I'd be disappointed to play it loud and have it squeal. Easy fix though to just have them potted.
     

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