Would swapping out Pickup Magnets accomplish my goal?

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by Matteo11, Jul 19, 2017.

  1. Matteo11

    Matteo11 Junior Member

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    Hello all!

    First time post here! Thanks for any help. I posted this over at TGP but figured you guys may have some more insight.

    I am curious to see if swapping out the alnico 3 magnets in my Custom Buckers would remedy what ails me. I am thinking about a alnico 4 in the bridge and alnico 5 in the neck based off Pete Thorns article he did here https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/21912-tone-tips-decoding-the-paf-humbucker . What he says about the Alnico 4 in the bridge and 5 in the neck looks like what I am wanting to achieve. Ive never swapped magnets before so I am not sure if its a huge noticeable difference to be worth the trouble.

    I know its a cheap and easy thing to do but before I go through the trouble I was hoping to hear some feedback.

    I have tried pretty much everything with these pickups lowering & raising the pickups and lowering & raising the pole pieces.

    My guitar is a 2016 LP R8. Here are the things I want to fix.

    Bridge PU:
    Taming (to my ears) the shrill high end
    Little more bight
    Definitely tighter bass/bottom end

    Neck PU:
    Taming Boomy Bottom end without losing output
    More high end

    Appreciate the help!- Matt
     
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  2. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    Alnico 3 is a magnet you are recommended in order to tame a boomy neck position, so no to that.

    In the bridge you have asked for both more and less top-end. The A3 has mids and soft-ish high generally. Any magnet you add in save maybe an A2 is going to give you more brittle......but tone controls is how you solve that issue usually.

    How do you set your amp??? With mainly 1 guitar you can set it to suit......using the neck pickup to make that as defined as needed then rolling the tone knob back on the bridge pickup.
    Added to that are both the overall height and polescrew adjustments. Boomy low end can be reduced by dropping the low string side of the pickup down and raising the pole.
    Similarly if the plain strings are giving more of the brittleness in the bridge try lowering both poles way down then the pickup.
     
  3. jcsk8

    jcsk8 Senior Member

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    The choice is correct. I would try as you said. 5 on the neck and 4 (or maybe 2) on the bridge.
    Also, try with pickup/pole heights and tone controls first.
     
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  4. Dick Banks

    Dick Banks Senior Member

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    Some other things you could try first, with little cost or work:
    Different string gauges, or winding technique (plain or wound G string, flatwound vs roundwound, etc.)
    EQ on the front and/or back end of the signal chain
    Pick technique, pick with different sides of the pick, different picks
    Fret hand technique
    Play middle position on pickups, and vary volume and tone knobs (+1 jcsk8 & ARandall)
    Experiment with pickup heights (+1 jcsk8 & ARandall)
    Raise/lower string action
    Let others play the guitar, and see what it sounds like then, stand in different spots in the room

    Maybe you have tried all of these, but it seems to me that you might be right in the sweet spot with that R8, since your neck is a bit too boomy, and your bridge pickup is shrill. Raising the "Alnico number" will just make the pickup more sensitive, that's my experience anyway.

    Maybe you have a lot more confidence messing around inside of a guitar than I do, but I would be very hesitant to fool around with that nice of a guitar. It would be my last resort.
     
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  5. Matteo11

    Matteo11 Junior Member

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    Thanks for all the suggestions and advice so far! Any input is much appreciated.

    Although It may be my first post but its not my first rodeo. I am very comfortable working on and inside a guitar. I do all my own set ups/truss rod adj, wire and solder in different pickups, install new pots switches etc. I just never have swapped magnets but I know its super easy to do and since I need some tweaks to the pickups for my own ears I figured I would get some feedback first before I go to the trouble to see if its worth it.

    As I said in the first post I have tried raising lowering pickups & raising lowering pole pieces. Also I know by rolling off the tone knob I can get rid of the shrill on the bridge. Problem is the tone knob affects all frequencies across the guitar. Taking away the high end with the tone knob affects the low end. I am looking to zero in on specific frequencies.

    Lowering the neck pickup and raising the pole pieces does work to some affect but you lose output that way too. The neck I'm 75% ok with. The bridge is more of my focus but I figured I would tweak the neck pu a little while I am at it. But as ARandall said above it does work to lower the pu and raise the pole pieces its just that I notice the Output is decreased doing this and thought maybe a diff magnet would work maybe better.

    As far as EQ goes. Yes... EQ can fix about anything. Thats what I have been using currently to get the sound where I like it but IMO EQ should be used like a surgeons tool for very small cuts or boosts in the frequency. IMO if you are tweaking the EQ massively there are bigger issues elsewhere. Either the amp, guitar or pickups. My amp is an Elmwood M60 Modena and its definitely not the amp (I have other guitars that sound great with it too). Its definitely not the R8 itself either but just certain characteristics of the pickups IMO. Even though I have a Fractal FX8 running with the Elmwood/R8 and can run multiple EQ's I would prefer not to have separate EQ's running for the neck, bridge and middle pu's for various reasons.

    Don't get me wrong the Custom Buckers are AMAZING pickups. I really like them and the R8 sounds GREAT with the Elmwood. I am just trying to take something that sounds great to something that sounds amazing. Small tweaks that would IMO produce big results.

    Bridge: Looking for tighter bass response, dialing out the higher freq shrill to my ears and a tad more bight/oomph
    Neck: Increasing the high end while lowering the bass end all without losing output

    Again I appreciate all the help! I'm definitely being picky about the specific tweaks I am looking to do. To me where I am at though is like building your perfect dream house and its exactly how you like it its just now you are choosing paint color schemes for the interior. Finishing touches on something that is already awesome. If I can get the pickups (that already sound great) to sound amazing......Holy shniekies I will have the perfect rig to my ears. :) Im so close!!
     
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  6. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    Didn't manage to read everything the first time......the A5 in the neck you propose will do all the wrong things. It has strong bass which is precisely NOT what you want, and the mids adding cut to the tone are reduced. And that article also says the same thing.

    I would do A4 neck and UOA5 bridge. For mine I would go Throbak mags, as they are a much more vintage accurate casting. Those two are also close enough so that if its just a little bit off, then you can sometimes fond the swap between the two to work - I've done the same thing with some ReWinds and got great results
     
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  7. Matteo11

    Matteo11 Junior Member

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    Thanks @ARandall ......Do you think for my purpose the UOA5 bridge or A4 neck should be polished or roughcast? (I also heard of sandcast but not that familiar with it)

    Also a tad confused on the sizes short or long or if I even have a choice on that matter since one certain size may only fit?

    Thanks for your help and input!
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
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  8. Kuttlefish

    Kuttlefish Member

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    in my experience, roughcast vs polished doesn't make a huge difference, neither does long vs. short. The biggest differences come in alloy (which grade of alnico) and gauss (strength of the charge), with gauss being the biggest difference maker.

    I would also recommend a UOA5 in the bridge. It's softer than an A5 but has plenty of upper midrange bite. I also find A8 is similar tonally to UOA5, but stronger and more pronounced. Don't let all the metal pickups scare you away, A8 can make some good vintage sounds too.

    As for the neck, I don't know what to tell you, in my experience an A3 is the least boomy magnet there is. I would try the Joe Bonamassa trick of lowering the pickup way down and raising the pole-pieces. It gives you a more asymmetrical / single coil-ish presence to it. But little tricks can only take you so far.

    I would also buy a small neodymium magnet so you can wave it over the pickups once they're installed. Just make sure the neo magnet charged in such a way that you can easily tell the north end from the south or else it gets really tricky trying to control what it's doing to the alnico magnet. Lowering the charge on one side of the neck pickup (by waving the same polarity neo magnet over it) might also take away some of the boominess. Lower charged magnets tend to get a woodier, more hollow sound.
     
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