Ask any experienced player and they’ll tell you that you really need alnico pickups if you want the optimum in tone, touch sensitivity, and dynamics—at least if they’ve swallowed the hype that most of the chat-o-sphere has perpetuated for years. After all, aren’t alnico-loaded pickups truly better than those made with ceramic (ferrite) or other types of magnets? The truth is some are, but some certainly are not, and there’s a lot more to it than simply defining the type of magnet that goes into a pickup’s construction. Let’s dig deeper.
Most guitarists have to admit a predisposition toward anything “vintage” or “classic.” If it helped Hendrix, Page, or Clapton create seminal tones in the ’60s, then it must still be valid here in the 21st century. The vast majority of pickups used alnico magnets in the Golden Age of guitar tone, so they were partly responsible for most of our major reference points. Out of that has grown the assumption that if these classic tones were rich, dynamic, and luscious then, well, alnico pickups must be all of that too.
Sure enough, the good ones can be in the right guitar, when it is played well. Alnico does seem to have a certain softness and roundness to its response that enhances dynamics and touch sensitivity, and along with it, the warmth and girth of the note. But the overall design of the pickup plays an enormous part in it too, and on top of it all there are different types of alnico, with the compositions used in alnico II, alnico III, alnico IV, and alnico V all varying slightly from soft to punchy, respectively.
Does all of this mean ceramic magnets lack these characteristics when used in pickup making? Some early efforts might have led us to believe so. One popular pickup modder’s trick of the 1970s was to jam a ceramic magnet into a design intended for alnico, and get more amp distortion as a result of the increased output. The trouble was, as much as these were fun for high-gain players, such pickups often sounded muddy and harsh in many applications.
Pickup design and construction has come a long way since then, though, and creative makers have learned to harness these more powerful magnets—and other components— in extremely toneful ways. As pickup guru Joe Barden tells us, “Magnetism is magnetism. You just can’t go substituting, blindly, one for the other. It depends how you go about it. Like you can’t go taking a tire off my car and putting it on yours and expecting it to work.”
Learning how to work with a variety of magnets enabled designers to create pickups that opened up a broad range of bold new sounds— from clean and clear to hot and nasty—for players who wanted to break beyond conventional bounds. Barden’s own acclaimed double-rail pickups could only be achieved using ceramic magnets, and Seymour Duncan, DiMarzio, Jason Lollar, Lindy Fralin, and several other notable makers have advanced the art using ceramic and other alternatives. Lace Sensors? EMGs? Yeah, both are ceramic-loaded designs.
Pickup makers today are also turning out better renditions of classic alnico-based designs too, making it easier than ever for players to enjoy consistently great Gibson-, Fender-, and Gretsch-based tones. Bottom line is, if you want to make your mark with a broader sonic palette, there are plenty of stunning pickups available with both alnico and ceramic magnets.
Alnico 5 Polepieces Vintage Staggered Set Rod Magnets for Pickup Bobbin, Alnico 5 (A5) Polepiece Guitar Rod Cylindrical Magnets, Vintage Staggered Set Alnico V Permanent Magnet in Neck Pickup Bobbin, Bridge Pickup Bobbin Cast Alnico 5 guitar rod magnets similar to the ones found in vintage pickups from the ’50s. includes 6 pieces as specified below. * Magnet Merial: Alnico 5 / Alnico […]
Vintage Beveled Pickups Alnico 5 Cylindrical Magnet (0.250″Diameter), Chamfered Alnico 5 Polepiece Rod Magnet FOR Telecaster or Stratocaster Type Guitar Pickup Assembly, 0.250″Diameter Vintage Beveled Guitar & Bass Pickups Alnico 5 Cylinder Magnet HS-GPAR-5 with vintage beveled top / chamfered Fueature: * Permanent Magnet Merial: AlNiCo 5 / Alnico V / A5 * Diameter: 0.250 in * Length: 0.471 in 0.630 in 0.650 in 0.665 in. 0.671 in 0.688 in […]
Cast Modern Bevel Alnico 5 Polepiece Guitar Rod Magnets Chamfered, Alnico V Rod Guitar Magnets, Cast AlNiCo 5 Guitar Pickup Rod Magnets Modern Beveled Top, Polished / Unpolished Vintage Staggered Bass Pickups Alnico 5 Cylindrical Bar Magnet HS-GPAR-5 with modern beveled top / chamfered Fueature: * Permanent Magnet Merial: AlNiCo 5 / Alnico V / A5 * Diameter: 0.187 in / 0.195 in * […]
ALNICO 5 Rod Cylinder Magnets Vintage Bevel, Alnico V Guitar Magnets, Guitar Pickup Magnets (Imperial) – Polished, ALNICO 5 Rod Bluk Magnets Vintage Stagger Set ( 0.187″, 0.195″, 0.250″) HS-GPAR-5 with vintage beveled top Fueature: * Permanent Magnet Merial: AlNiCo 5 / Alnico V / A5 * Diameter: 0.187 in / 0.195 in / 0.250 in * Length: 0.471 in 0.630 in […]
AlNiCo 5 Guitar Pickup Rod Magnets Flat Top, Alnico 5 Polepiece Guitar Rod Cylindrical Magnets, Cast Alnico 5 Round Bar Magnet, Alnico V Magnet for Humbucking, Permanent Magnet Alnico V HS-GPAR-5 with flat top Fueature: * Permanent Magnet Merial: AlNiCo 5 / Alnico V / A5 * Diameter: 0.187 in / 0.195 in * Length: 0.471 in 0.630 in 0.650 in 0.665 […]
Flat Top Style Alnico 8 Cylinder Rod Magnets for Guitar Pickup, ALNICO VIII Rod Magnets Flat Top (0.187″ or 0.195″), AlNiCo VIII Magnets for Electric Guitar Pickups, Cast Alnico 8 Rods HS-GPAR-8 with flat top can be maked by HSMAG. Customized size, Magnetizing and Orientation. Alnico VIII is generally between Ceramic and Alnico V, with quite a bit of magnetic pull, punchy with upper […]
Alnico 4 / A4 Rod Magnet for Guitar Pickups, Alnico IV (though quite rare) Round Bar Magnet, Guitar Pickup’s Magnet for Tele Bridge or Bobbin Quiet, Alnico 4 Rod Humbucker Magnet HS-GPAR-4 flat top or vintage / modern beveled top can be maked by HSMAG. Customized size, Magnetizing and Orientation. Alnico magnets: These magnets are made from an alloy of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt, mixed with […]
Alnico III Round Bar Magnet with Beveled Top, Alnico 3 Vintage Beveled Rod Magnet for Guitar Pickup Vintage Stagger Set (0.187″ / 0.195″ Diameter), Alnico 3 Polepiece Magnets, Electric Guitar Pickup A3 Alnico Round Bar Magnet HS-GPAR-3 with Vintage Bevel Top Fueature: * Magnet Merial: AlNiCo 3 / Alnico III / A3 * Diameter: 0.187 in / 0.195 in * Length: 0.471 in 0.630 in 0.650 […]