Alnico ll's vs Alnico 5's

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Ken, Jul 13, 2008.

  1. Ken

    Ken Member

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    What the the tonal differences between these two magnets?

    I'm a pickup newbie and I'm getting some WCR pickups, the Darkburst/Godwood set and I also ordered the Alinco II per Jim's suggestion to compare both.

    Now how do you change the magnets in a pickup? Remeber I'm a pickup newbie so forgive me for asking a basic question.

    Thanks
     
  2. paintguy

    paintguy Long Hair Hippy Freak Silver Supporting Member

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    To me, the Alnico II's are warmer and a little smoother. The 5's are brighter and maybe a tad clearer.

    I pretty much always prefer the II's, but it's all personal.
     
  3. starjag

    starjag Member

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    +1

    Alnico 2 tends to be matched with low outputs pickups, maybe less than 9k. Alnico 5 is quite flexible and is matched with pickups of higher output. Hot pickups, maybe 15k, are better matched with higher Alnico magnets, like Alnico 8.
     
  4. TheGuildedAge

    TheGuildedAge Member

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    I have Vs in my P90s, I was told they are a nice medium between the warmth of II's and the punch of ceramic.
     
  5. Fourth Feline

    Fourth Feline Member

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    The Alnico II will be sweetest sounding in the upper registers, but the bass may be a bit 'saggy' and less defined. Alnico IV or v tightens the bass up - and hardens / brightens the top end a bit.

    I had a set of Alnico II 'Stormy Monday' pickups from Bare Knuckle Pickups here in the U.K. - and the bass was not as articulate as I would have liked in Mahoghany guitars. I asked them to install me an Alnico IV magnet instead - and the result was great, a slight loss of sweetness on the top three strings, but nice clear bass.

    If in doubt as to magnet attributes, look on the 'Bare Knuckle Pickups' site, and under the 'pickups' section, look for the sticky on magnet types/ characteristics. ;)
     
  6. shally

    shally Member

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    agree..

    depends upon the application as well.. V's are (by rep) better to cut through the mix and be heard...
     
  7. elgalad

    elgalad Senior Member

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    The best way I can think to describe it is that II's sing, but V's scream.

    The V's are a lot more focused and edgy in their output compared to the II's which are generally more rounded and loose. II's can be very open sounding as well, especially in a set of unpotted buckers.
     
  8. Ken

    Ken Member

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    Guys,
    Could someone explain how to do this? It is easy??
    Thanks
     
  9. RockStarNick

    RockStarNick Supporting Member

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    Ken, if you go over to the Seymour Duncan forums, there are tons of tutorials on how to swap magnets (with pictures too). That would be your best bet for magnet swapping info.

    But in a nutshell:
    Remove cover if necessary.
    Remove tape from coils
    Loosen screws holding in bobbins
    Heat bottom plate of bucker with hairdryer
    CAREFULLY poke the magnet so that is slides out
    remember what magnetic direction it is facing
    Slide in new magnet (add a slight amount of wax if you want)
    Tighten bobbin screws
    Heat with hardryer
    Put on new tape on bobbins
    youre done.
     
  10. Ken

    Ken Member

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    Thanks Nick
     
  11. Ken

    Ken Member

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    A few more questions...

    Will the fullness be affected switching between the II and V, or is it just in the frequency response?

    In a Live band playing Classic Rock, which of these two would cut through better in the mix with better presence?

    Thanks
     
  12. uOpt

    uOpt Member

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    There are also bright A2 pickups such as the Pearly gates and tamer A5s such as the Jazz.

    A major difference is not in the EQ, it is how they react to play. A5 iss more dynamic and reacts stronger to playing. But it can be over the top (SD's '59 and C5 pickups). Pickups like the C5 and JB compared to the same coils with ceramic lack the compression of ceramic. Then, it all depends on what rig chain you drive afterwards, compression will come from somewhere and it might sound good or bad.

    A2 also tends to stay non-muddy, A5's increased bass can mess things up.

    A2 is overdriven by SD's Custom class coils but comes out fine in JB coils.
     
  13. Ascension

    Ascension Member

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    There are a number of us over on the Seymore Duncan Board that are into mag swaps.
    I have had A-5, Ceramic,A-2 and A-8 all in the same pickup in the same guitar so I can give you a little heads up on the tonal differences.
    This is what I saw in a 14.5K Custom Trembucker in my 1995 Washburn USA Custom MG 122.
    A-5 big open tones fairly tight bottom strong bright high end some what of a scoop in the mids. Big organic woody tones but the lack of mids prevented my solos from cutting through well. This is the Custom -5
    Ceramic- HOT HOT HOT super tight bottom and very articulate but didn't clean up well with the volume control. The high end was harsher a little lifeless. This is the Custom.
    A-2 More of a singing sweet tone softer bottom than the A-5 more mids and a buttery smooth high end. Really a pleasing tone in this pickup but a little soft in the bottom and lower in output than I was looking for. This is the Custom Custom.
    A-8 This is one of my all time favorite bridge buckers. Tight articulate bottom like the Ceramic but more alive but not overpowering and boomie like the A-5 can be, smooth singing highs like the A-2 but tighter and more articulate, the buttery smooth singing mids of the A-2 and allmost as much output as the Ceramic. Cleans up well with the volume and sounds GREAT tapped with a single.
    The A-8 has a unique voice and is quite clean and articulate having a solid ballance while still producing a LOT of output.
    One tip on the A-8 watch the distance to the strings as that can make a big difference due to the high magnetic pull. Too close to the strings and it can kill the overtones and sustain.
    On the mag swaps I will try to find a particular thread on the swaps over at the Duncan site and post it here if I can.
    It's not difficult just pull the pickup out turn it over and carefully loosten the small screws that hold the bobbin to the baseplate. I then will carefully push up on the screws themself AFTER I have loostened them all to slightly lift the bobbins away from the baseplate. Then carefully lift the tape at the bottom of the bobbin and the mag is in the center between the bobbins. I use a small screwdriver to CAREFULLY slide the mag out the end where the wiring pulls off the baseplate. be carefull because if you snag the windings or break the connecting wires to the coils the pickup is toast! Watch the magnetic polarity and make sure that the mag that goes in is facing the same way the origional mag came out polarity wise or you will find the pickup is out of phase with the others in the guitar when you re-assemble it.
    Slide the new mag in tighten up the screws reinstall the pickup and you are done.
    Of course this is on a bucker with no cover so if you have a cover then it must be removed before swapping the mag.
     
  14. Ken

    Ken Member

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    Thanks for all the help and feedback...I installed the WCR pickups with the Alnico V's and then after playing awhile, I did the magnet swap to II's.

    The II's really muddied up the CU24 quite a bit and the tone even got a bit brighter, which I didn't like at all. I guess different guitars will sound different as it's case by case and ear by ear...

    When I get home tonight I'm putting the V's back in.

    It has been educational to go through all this...I never installed new pickups before.
     
  15. demiruyar

    demiruyar Member

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    Well A2 tends to sustain more hence the weaker magnetic field.
    I also believe that a2 pickups couses especially on single coiled guitars to resonate more freely hence the less string pull which is a big issue on strats.
     
  16. Grimace

    Grimace Supporting Member

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    I kept the a5 in the neck and used a2 in the bridge. American Steele set, so goodwood in the bridge and crossroad in the neck. The tightness of the a5 helps the neck stay articulate, the sweetness of the a2 tames the bridge, the goodwood is more windings so the output matches fine with the neck.
     
  17. uOpt

    uOpt Member

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    A2 does not have a weaker magnetic field assuming same size magnet and same quality. I measured a whole bunch of magnets.

    String pull isn't much of a factor either, but if you move a pickup very close to the strings the pickup sees a distorted field that leads to nonlinear distortions in the pickup's output. Also, since treble increases it gives you the illusion of shorter sustain (since high frequencies decay faster).
     
  18. socalscott

    socalscott Member

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    V's and 90's did not exist back in the day. To help my set I actually mixed in A2 bars to each pup. Not as harsh, especially the B pup. Ideally, I'd like to acquire 3's and 4's to tinker.

    The worst case scenario for a 90 bridge is 500k vol. pot and A5's. Ice pick in the ears.:NUTS
     
  19. jamison162

    jamison162 Supporting Member

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    Every A2 Pickups I've tried has been brighter and thiner sounding than with A5. I don't get how some say they are warmer and have more mides, I don't hear it. They are, however, softer and have more compression and the highs do sing.
     
  20. playon

    playon Supporting Member

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    If you play clean a lot, I think the A2s are more pleasing... but overdriven they can me muddy... however you can also compensate for this with your choice of amps.
     

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