The difference between all of the Alnico magnets grades and Ceramic guitar pickups.
We know that figuring out how to get the tone your after can be a challenge, but do not get discouraged. learning the basics of the magnets that make up the core of most pickups will help you gain a better understanding of what pickup will provide the tone you’re looking for.
There are 5 magnets we will cover in this article. So whether you’re looking for an atmospheric clean, screaming overdrive, or anything in between this will give you all the information you need.
Starting off with Alnico (an alloy consisting of aluminum, nickel, and Cobalt mixed with iron) the most popular magnet for pickups. There are four grades of the Alnico magnet that we will go over.
Alnico 2 is the second weakest Alnico magnets, this means it has less string pull which gives it a smooth warm tonal characteristic. These magnets are generally used in vintage voiced pickups because of its loose and bouncy lows, rounded highs and warm mid tones. Generally this magnet is used in PAF style humbuckers.
Alnico 3 magnets are the weakest grade and have the lowest amount of pull on the strings. This comes into play in pickups with smooth lows, full mids and glassy highs that are generally used in Stratocaster pickup sets. These magnets are perfect for a clean tone.
Alnico 4 lies in the middle as far as strength of Alnico magnets. They will produce the most tonally balanced EQ with tight highs, punching mids, and strong lows. This magnet is most commonly used in modern style humbuckers or in the over wound style pickups like p90s to get the most out of the balance that it offers. This is, in our opinion, one of the best magnets for a rock tone style pickup.
And finally Alnico 5. This is by far the most commonly used Alnico magnet in pickups. The strongest out of the graded Alnico magnets they are used most commonly to get that classic fender tone. Airy and open top end gives you a familiar chime. Incredible mix of balanced lows, mids, and highs. Commonly found in single coil pickups and high output humbuckers.
Ceramic is the cheapest commonly used magnet. Ceramic pickups are often associated with metal voiced pickups due to their clarity when introduced to high Gain. These magnets have a hotter output compared to all of the graded Alnico magnets. With a very bright output these are not best suited for clean tones as they can often be shrill and ice picking.
When you are in the pursuit of finding your tone, all information will make the journey easier. We are certain that this information will guide you in the right direction.