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View Full Version : Alnico 2 vrs Alnico 4: what are the differences?


echo unit
07-10-2010, 05:39 AM
I am debating whether to have some custom pickups wound with Alnico 2 or Alnico 4 magnets and want to find out what the main differences are.

Tone - brighter or darker

Harmonic Overtones

Response to delicate finger playing

Which are better for clean amp sounds

Which are better for overdriven amp sounds

Which have longer sustain characteristics

Which create more distortion from the pickup itself

Which are better for recording guitar tracks that need to sit in the mix

Which are more polite/boring and which are more complex sounding

Which are more organic and woody

nmiller
07-10-2010, 06:12 AM
Alnico IV makes a stronger magnet than alnico II. Generally, a stronger magnet leads to a more compressed sound with more mid-range and fewer highs and lows. You'd probably want the weaker magnet (alnico II) for clean sounds because it won't drive the amp as hard. Alnico II would also provide more nuanced dynamics for fingerpicking (though many folks, especially country players, prefer a compressed sound for this). A more compressed sound (alnico IV) would give you more sustain.

However, there are so many additional variables in the construction of the pickup and guitar that there are myriad exceptions to these generalizations. The questions about sitting in the mix, polite/boring and organic sounds are so vague as to be meaningless; any generalization I could make would be pointless.

bluesjuke
07-10-2010, 06:46 AM
"Alnico 2 vrs Alnico 4: what are the differences?"


Two, exactly 2 is the difference.


Seriously, I've read descriptions of a 4 as having qualities of both a 2 and a 5 magnet.

echo unit
07-10-2010, 07:10 AM
Any sound examples anywhere on the internet that you can think of?

RockStarNick
07-10-2010, 07:46 AM
This is my understanding in a nutshell:

Alnico 5: Big Bass, Powerful Treble, medium midrange.

Alnico 2: Softer subdied bass, big sweet midrange, sweet top end.

Alnico 4: Very flat EQ characteristics. Often used in bridge buckers that call for A5's, but when people want less of an extreme EQ.

wizard333
07-10-2010, 07:49 AM
Actually the generally agreed upon difference is the exact oposite of whats posted above.

Alnico 2 seems to have less "highs and lows" and more of a midrange quality; Alnico 4 (or 5) has more bite and punch.

I'd refer you to examples of both: See the difference between the Duncan Custom 5 (Alnico 5, will be very close to alnico 4) and the Duncan Custom Custom (Alnico 2). They are the same wind, same construction, same wire, just different magnet. Look at the tone charts and you'll see what I mean.

I don't think you'll find a difference in 'touch sensitivity' etc.; and what you like clean is matter of taste (do you like a more "scooped" sound or a more "buttery" sound?).

The weaker magnet will lead to better sustain because the magnetic field "grabs" the string less and lets it ring. This is a VERY noticeable affect on neck pickups, and I suspect its why Gibson uses Alnico 2 on most of the burstbuckers and the 57 classic.

echo unit
07-10-2010, 08:07 AM
Thanks guys. Many opinions.

I PLAY CLEAN ONLY THROUGH VOX AMPS

My thing is that I have an SG where I love alnico 2 tone in the neck pickup but the bridge pickup in the SG is too thin. I want the bridge pickup to sound thicker and closer to what an ES335 or Les Paul sound like on the bridge pickup.

Some have said that using an Alnico 4 will make the bridge pickup thicker sounding, and more like what I want to hear.

Do you think it's possible to get the same thicker sounding bridge pickup results out of Alnico 2?

Remember that I play clean with no overdrive at all. I am not looking for a thick bridge pickup for playing chunky riffs. Just the opposite. I am doing clean playing and I use the bridge pickup for volume swells with effects. I want the bridge pickup to sound full but also have lots of harmonic overtones and interesting complex sound that is full of character.

Every time I read anything about pickups, it seems that Alnico 2 is the secret ingredient to getting tone that has lots of character. I have been suggested to use Alnico 4 but I am afraid that it does not have as much character and interesting complex tone and harmonic overtones.


Please set me straight on this

otterhound
07-10-2010, 08:21 AM
I realize that you are referring to humbuckers , but I just recently completed a Tele copy with Klein Alnico 4 pups . Very crisp and clean . Almost Jazz-like .

Darth Tater
07-10-2010, 09:02 AM
This is my understanding in a nutshell:

Alnico 5: Big Bass, Powerful Treble, medium midrange.

Alnico 2: Softer subdied bass, big sweet midrange, sweet top end.

Alnico 4: Very flat EQ characteristics. Often used in bridge buckers that call for A5's, but when people want less of an extreme EQ.

This exactly how I heard it after a recent pickup test. I went with Alnico 5 because it had more lows and highs, and just more powerful overall.

RockStarNick
07-10-2010, 09:23 AM
Actually the generally agreed upon difference is the exact oposite of whats posted above.

Alnico 2 seems to have less "highs and lows" and more of a midrange quality; Alnico 4 (or 5) has more bite and punch.

That's pretty much exactly what I posted... not the opposite... :confused:

wizard333
07-10-2010, 10:41 AM
I was referring to nmiller's post, which is backwards.

All things kept the same, going to Alnico 4 will probably be the oposite direction as what you want; its going to be brighter and may strike you as 'more thin'.

I think you'd be better off, no matter what magnet you get, going with a higher wind, not a 'high output' pickup, but a paf type in the 8.5k -9.5k range. Thats going to balance better with the neck pickup and sound more full without sounding like a 'high output' pickup.

echo unit
07-10-2010, 03:27 PM
I was referring to nmiller's post, which is backwards.

All things kept the same, going to Alnico 4 will probably be the oposite direction as what you want; its going to be brighter and may strike you as 'more thin'.

I think you'd be better off, no matter what magnet you get, going with a higher wind, not a 'high output' pickup, but a paf type in the 8.5k -9.5k range. Thats going to balance better with the neck pickup and sound more full without sounding like a 'high output' pickup.

So are you saying to stick with Alnico 2?

Darth Tater
07-10-2010, 04:00 PM
So are you saying to stick with Alnico 2?

To me alnico 2 is MUCH thinner than alnico 5. Alnico 5 = fat & juicy. In my guitar, anyway.

echo unit
07-11-2010, 07:49 PM
For clean guitar tones, will A2 or A4 provide more tone and harmonic overtones?

echo unit
07-11-2010, 08:43 PM
Well,

just as an example of the direction I need to be going in......I listened to every single audio clip over at the Seymour Duncan website and my favorite sounding pickup both neck and bridge positions of every single pickup in their sound samples was...

The Seth Lover Model




By a country mile too.





They has the most 3D and woody tone where you could hear more of the wood of the guitar and the other pickups all sounded pinched or dampened in some way where the guitar vibration was not translating and therefore the sustain was tapering off each note too quickly whereas the Seth Lover just sings! So based on that,

Which pickups do you think I would like best from the boutique makers?

jcs
07-11-2010, 10:24 PM
MUCH depends on how the magnet is charged as well, trust me i have experimented a lot.

I like degaussed A5 magnets in bridge positions and neck but often mix A2 and A4 in P90s.

A2 definitely softer than A5....A3 is another great magnet for bridge positions.

I think A4 can be a bit too bright and thin for bridge positions but not always.

echo unit
07-12-2010, 06:51 AM
Thanks

echo unit
07-12-2010, 08:42 PM
Any other views on Alnico 4 and how they differ from Alnico 2?

jms6668
07-28-2010, 01:34 AM
Any other views on Alnico 4 and how they differ from Alnico 2?

Tough to answer really. The magnet has to work with the wind of the pickup, along with other variables. For example, it was mentioned before that A4 may be too thin for a bridge pick-up; but one of the fattest vintage voiced humbucker set that I have used is the Fralin 8k9k set. Although it's very, clear (maybe bright to some ears) it is very fat relative to a true PAF wind. As a matter of fact, it has more mids, bass and girth than Lindy's lower output Pure PAF set, which is A2. But that set is the more authentic PAF repro. The wind has to work in conjunction with the magnet to acheive the desired sound.

pbradt
07-28-2010, 03:10 AM
The Lover is one great pickup. That's what I'd use if I had a 'bucker guitar.

aussiemeats
07-28-2010, 09:27 AM
Go Check out Seymour Duncans web site

He's got a tone chart of all his pickups, and sound bytes of them as well.

You should be able to find "The Sound" you're looking for there, and he

gives you the Magnet type and DC Output ratings.

Also consider the SD Antiquity's. I use them and I think without a doubt

IMHO, they are one of the best PUPs made. I went thru alot of pups before

I settled on Antiquity's. They're similar to the Seth Lovers, and the Alnico 2

Mags are degaussed by SD. They provide a beautiful RICH tone, in the

bridge, or neck position. My Bridge Position is 8.57k and my neck is 7.85k

The only potential drawback is, they're unpotted, so they may squeal

depending on how much gain you use. If you don't use a lot of gain

then NO PROB.

Cheers

imguitardan
01-12-2014, 09:51 PM
Not to hijack but which magnet would be the warmest? I'm looking for soft, vintage attack, clarity and warmth. It would be in a low wind PAF style pup.

Dave Wakely
01-13-2014, 02:03 AM
Not to hijack but which magnet would be the warmest? I'm looking for soft, vintage attack, clarity and warmth. It would be in a low wind PAF style pup.

I would say Alnico II of the two options, although you might get more warmth and a slightly softer attack (from my experience) with Alnico III - but harder to find in a PAF format.

gmann
01-13-2014, 02:32 AM
You might try contacting some of the boutique winders. A lot of them will take the time to answer to talk to you and answer your questions. A lot of opinions here, some good, but it might be helpful to go to the source and talk to some of them guys making them.

socalscott
01-13-2014, 03:04 AM
Buy A2,3,4,5UO(un-oriented) degaussed mags from a winder, then do some swapping.

BTW, you know you like the Seth Lover model. So....

jcs
01-13-2014, 03:47 AM
Definitely A2 and A3 for warmer bridge humbuckers as a rule imo.

A4 as a rule is outstanding in neck humbuckers imo.

I often struggle with A5 overall, even degaussed and unoriented except in some bridge humbuckers.

Sometimes an A3 in both bridge and neck are stellar...depends on the guitar.

Just my opinion though!!

mad dog
01-13-2014, 08:56 AM
I don't know as you can predict tone from magnet alone. Depends on the pickup design, output, and maybe most of all the guitar it's in. Biggest low end on P-90s I've heard is from a Duncan Antiquities neck p/u in my Guild SF III. A2 magnet. How much of that is the pickup vs. the guitar? I have no idea.

The only A4 magnet p/u I have is a Tom Short Undercover mini, in the neck of a deluxe type partscaster. Has a unique, very pleasing type of overdrive and compression. Could be the magnet, no way to tell. Had the same p/u in a shorter scale, chambered solidbody and it sounded nothing like that tele.

MD

halcyon
01-13-2014, 10:58 AM
You could listen to some clips of the BKP Mules vs. some of their other low-output humbuckers that use alnico II and V mags. That might give you a rough idea, anyway!