Changing magnets

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by Al Walker, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. Al Walker

    Al Walker Senior Member

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    Recently I've been playing around with magnet swaps. It's fun, easy and inexpensive. I recently built a PGK '58 Les Paul jr doublecut. I had a small time pickup winder (not an insult) build me a P90. 42 gage wire wound to 9K with an alnico2/alnico5 magnet combo. Supposed to be warm yet not loose P90 character. It was all treble. So I was going to put in alnico 5 magnets, realizing the magnets I had that I thought were a5, were Ceramics, I put them in anyway till I could get some 5s. I was amazed how good they sounded. Fat and alot of character. Nice pick attack and cleans up nice. I like it and going to leave it.
    I'm enjoying the way the magnet changing changes the pickups into somethng totally different than what the were. Just rambling on about this. What experiences have you had?


    Anybody who hasn't seen this chart in another forum, this has some great info.

    http://www.seymourduncan.com/forum/showthread.php?182163-P90-magnet-questions/page2
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  2. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    That chart just represents one man's opinion, so just take it with a grain of salt.

    There are two major effects related to the magnet choice, 1) how they effect the electrical properties of the coil, by way of inductance, and 2) how strong they are, and in turn how the pickup pulls on the strings. Ceramic magnets are stronger enough than AlNiCo that they will also cause a noticable increase in voltage output.

    AlNiCo 2, 3 and 4 actually increase the inductance, so they make a pickup hotter, the same as if you were to add more winds of wire. AlNiCo 5 raises the inductances a bit less, and ceramic shouldn't increase the inductance at all, because it has little or no magnetic permeability. For that reason, it's surprising to hear that ceramics made your P-90s sound fatter, but that just goes to show how hard it is to describe the nuances of tone with descriptive words.

    The way magnetic pull effects the tone is very complicated and transcends simple descriptions of "bright" or "dark". People will describe the effect in their own words, but their words might not match up with how you think about tone, and so on. One way you can get a feel for it though is to just raise and lower the pickups, as that will increase and decrease the magnetic pull on the strings also. Also keep in mind that how the bridge pickup interacts with the strings is different than how the neck pickup does, so what seems to be true for the neck is not necessarily also true for the bridge, and vice versa.

    Since ceramics are the strongest of thje options, I suspect that way you're describing your P-90 mostly owes to the way the ceramic is causing the P-90 to interact with the strings, and the increased voltage output, despite having lowered the inductance of the pickup.
     
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  3. Al Walker

    Al Walker Senior Member

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    I was surprised at what the ceramics sounded like. Ceramics get a bad rap, but they worked here. I've found that I don't care much for the Alnco4s. They seam dead, except in the bridge humbucker in my Oscar Schmidt. I tried it in the junior and it was awful, warmer,but, awful.
     
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  4. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    9k is a little high for a neck P-90, about right for a "hot" bridge. As I was mentioning, the lower AlNiCo grades increase inductance, more than A5 or ceramic, so if your coil is already "hot", you're probably overcooking the turkey. I'd bet your satisfaction with the ceramic magnetic owes to the combination with a hotter wound coil. How it managed to be "all treble" with a 9k DC resistance and AlNiCo 2 / 5 is mystery to me. That's coutner intuitive. Maybe it's just a difference in how we perceive things.
     
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  5. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    According to who/what?
     
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  6. northernguitarguy

    northernguitarguy SWeAT hOg

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    My only swap was in a Seymour Duncan JB. I replaced the A5 mag with an A8. It turned into a very ballsy pup on the low end. My guess it would have been perfect for Metal chugging. I didn't have a use for it and had grown to detest the stock JB (icepick), so I sold it.
     
  7. Al Walker

    Al Walker Senior Member

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    I like my pickups around 9k. Just had a thought, Maybe the A2 was installed reverse by the winder. I just did a swap in my Tribute tonight and did that. It was thin sounding. Turned it around and it sounded great.
     
  8. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    That's a strong theory. Both magnets are supposed to have the same face pointing towards the screws, so the magnets will try to repel as you put them in. Someone who isn't aware of that might intuitvely think they're supposed to attract.
     
  9. Al Walker

    Al Walker Senior Member

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    When I put in the a4, I compared it to the a2. So if it was backwards, My change would have been backwards. In the tribute I just screwed up. Just thought it was backwards because it was so weak .
     
  10. AbbeSauniere

    AbbeSauniere Senior Member

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    :hmm: I swapped a A2 in a Rewind low wind bridge to a Throbak A5 and definitely got more juice. Wasn't happy with the A2. Wasn't pushing the amp hard enough. Switching to A5 gave it more push and punch.
     
  11. Zoobiedood

    Zoobiedood Senior Member

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    I changed a Custom into a Custom 5 by using an Alnico V magnet. I then switched it to a Custom Custom by using an Alnico II magnet.
    I switched an Alnico II Pro into a Jazz by replacing the magnet with an Alnico V.
     

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