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Alnico vs Ceramic - Which one?

S1Player

Member
Messages
3,448
I am considering what is perhaps a foolish pickup upgrade to my 7 string Tele. I love the way the Tele plays but the 2 pickups lack some kick. I am considering neck and bridge custom shop Seymour Duncan 7 string Hot Rails. I would have them wired for Single Coil split, Parallel Humbucker, and Series Humbucker.

The custom shop order form asks for Alnico V or Ceramic Magnet construction.

Question: How do I figure out which magnet I would want - Alnico V or Ceramic?

The reason I am looking at these is that they are the only 7 string, single coil size humbuckers. AND, I really like the Cool Rail I have in the middle of a strat. Also, standard hot and coll rail construction is Ceramic - so I am inclined to go with the option I have heard in the similar Cool Rail.

Feel free to provide any other feedback on this pick up swap - but feedback on the magnet would be most appreciated.
 

cherrick

Member
Messages
2,584
if you like it when the guitar sounds like a radio trying to pull in a far-away station and you can hardly make out the content through all the humming and buzzing, then go ceramic.

If you like complex, dynamic, clear tones that get hot when you dial up the volume to 11, then go AlNiCo.
 

Delayed Delay

Member
Messages
2,645
My favorite pickups in the world...

G&L MFD pickups.

Ceramic magnet, and soooooo much bite. Also a lot quieter than regular single coils. :)

Not that that helps, just my preference.
 

S1Player

Member
Messages
3,448
My favorite pickups in the world...

G&L MFD pickups.

Ceramic magnet, and soooooo much bite. Also a lot quieter than regular single coils. :)

Not that that helps, just my preference.
Good point. Love the MFD bridge pickup in the Bluesboy ASAT.
 
Messages
250
There are many grades of Alnico, so it's hard to generalize. Alnico 5 are supposed to be more powerful and bright, while Alnico 2 and 3 are said to be softer and rounder sounding. Tradition says that for vintage tone go for Alnico, while ceramics are used to higher output pickups (and to save cost). I'm also a fan of the G&L MFD pickups, which are ceramic magnets. The best thing to do is experiment, and if you try something you don't like, you can usually sell it on eBay or Reverb in a matter of days.
 

StratoCraig

Member
Messages
3,216
The only ceramic pickups I've used are the bar-magnet SC's that come in MIM Standard Strats. I don't like them. They're too hot for Strat pickups and their sound is rather harsh and spiky. I've replaced two sets of those recently with Fender CS Fat '50s and Fender CS '69s and I am much happier with those guitars now.
 

DivineTones

Member
Messages
1,421
I've always used ceramic in the bridge and alnico in the neck. Ceramic has a nice bite for bridge humbuckers.
 

JamesT

Senior Member
Messages
6,231
vote for alnico- you can always add a pedal for kick, but you can't add a pedal to remove kick.
 

kev324

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,214
Another vote for Alnico.

Those MFD pups are quite nice. An ASAT special was my main guitar for a few years, forgot how noisy single coils are compared to them.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
34,471
The Bill Lawrence philosophy was to choose a magnet and then build a pup around that to sound however you wanted.
 

Deathmonkey

Member
Messages
2,429
if you like it when the guitar sounds like a radio trying to pull in a far-away station and you can hardly make out the content through all the humming and buzzing, then go ceramic.

If you like complex, dynamic, clear tones that get hot when you dial up the volume to 11, then go AlNiCo.
Did a ceramic pickup run over your dog as a child? Yikes.

I like ceramics for 7 strings in the bridge, as they stay clear with a tight low end. A5 for the neck will smooth out the sound. True, cheap ceramics can be harsh, but custom builds with designs made for them can really shine. I have a good number of boutique ceramics, and they sound fantastic.
 






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