Differences between Alnico 2 and Alnico 4 magnets in PAF type pickups

duhziner

Member
Messages
517
I'm debating on purchasing OX4 pickups, and not sure which alnico magnet option to choose. It's for my LP R8, and I would like a very classic late 50's type sound. I generally prefer to play "clean" for the most part, but want to have a vintage character. Help! (lol....luxury problem for sure)
 

Jarick

Silver Supporting Member
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10,211
I've done some magnet swaps in similar pickups and found A2 to have more prominent mids and less low end while A4 has a flatter sound that with more low end. Most people tend to like A4 for late 50s PAF sound.

I just revisited my original post on these pickups and I had found the A2 to be a little darker than A4 as well. This is a common opinion with these magnets.

I'm about to swap some magnets this weekend so I can report back. I have rough A5 in the bridges and polished A2 in the necks of my guitars. Planning to put A4 in both positions of one and either A2 or A5 in the other.
 
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lemonman

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,144
A4 has a little more top end and is stiffer/tighter feeling than A2. Makes a great neck magnet, but I usually prefer A2 or A5 in the bridge; YMMV.
 

Tim Plains

Member
Messages
6,140
Are you buying them new? Ask Mark to include a couple A2 magnets so you can swap them. I generally prefer A2s but have a set of OX4s w/A4s and they sound really good.
 

jojogun1957

Member
Messages
711
I have tried a A5,A2,and a A4 in the Sheptone bridge pickup of my PRS SE245.
I thought the A5 was a little to bright.

The A2 was thinner and softer sounding with less bass and treble,but had a nice chime on the clean tones.

The A4 is almost perfect with more bass and a little less treble than the A5.It does have a tighter bass then the A5 or A2.

I do miss the punch of the A5 and may try a Throbak short magnet A5 next.
 

Laurence

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
10,425
I've done some magnet swaps in similar pickups and found A2 to have more prominent mids and less low end while A4 has a flatter sound that with more low end. Most people tend to like A4 for late 50s PAF sound.

I just revisited my original post on these pickups and I had found the A2 to be a little darker than A4 as well. This is a common opinion with these magnets.

I'm about to swap some magnets this weekend so I can report back. I have rough A5 in the bridges and polished A2 in the necks of my guitars. Planning to put A4 in both positions of one and either A2 or A5 in the other.

I'm not quite 100% in agreement with this, but I'm pretty close. I generally use A4 and A5 in my LPs, but I'm going for a clearer, lower gain, LP tone (not clean like Les himself but overdriven in a Tweed, Brown, Blonde type of way). If I were using a cranked Marshall (ala Slash?) A2s would work well.
 

sws1

Member
Messages
13,109
I also associate A2 with a softer vintage sound. A4 with a stiffer, more rocking sound.
 

Lewguitar

Senior Member
Messages
5,663
You cant judge them in different pickups. To really know, you have to swap magnets in the same pickup, in the same guitar.

And its not just the difference in sound and output. I feel different emotionally when I'm playing a "PAF" with A2, A3, A4 or A5.

Plus there's a difference in the sound of a roughcast vs. polished magnet. The polished will seem brighter and more crisp or sharp.

I prefer roughcast A5 to anything else. And find A4 to sound a little to clear and stringy. More note separation than I'm completely comfortable with.

I like A4, but if I had only one guitar I'd choose RCA5.

A4 will make a pickup seem louder and have more prescence than A2. For me, a little too present. Makes me feel like I'm standing out too much.

RCA5 sounds rounder than either.

My fave would be a polished A2 in the neck (like the magnet in a Duncan Seth Lover or Pearly Gates) and a roughcast A2 in the bridge....or a roughcast A5 (like the magnet Gibson used in the late 50's and early 60's) in both.

I have four PRS guitars: two USA Custom 22's and two SE Singlecuts.

I have RCA5 59's in my two CU22's and a Custom Shop Pearly Gates set in each of my two SE's.

RCA4 is in one set of the CSPG's, and the stock RCA2 the pickups came with is in the other set of CSPG's.
 
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duhziner

Member
Messages
517
Wow, you guys have amazing analytics. Thanks. I think for my playing, I'm leaning towards an A2, but will also get a set of A4 magnets just in case...
 

Zeppe

Member
Messages
387
IME, A2 can get a bit muddy in the neck. I have yet to try an A2 neck humbucker that I really liked. A clearer, more articulate version of A2 is A3. A4 is great, it tightens up the bass and feels very balanced across the board.

A5 for that Page-esque, very articulate sound. Yet, can somehow get boomy in the neck position.
 

scorched

Member
Messages
275
As an incorrigible mag swapper I have to throw in another possibility. An unoriented A5. A2's can get a bit mushy in the neck position and A5's have been too bright for me in the bridge.

UOA5 fixes all that. Seems to be about halfway between an A2 and an A5. A2's, A3's and A4's are also un-oriented. Typical A5's are oriented which makes them a stronger PU. Also pushes the bass and treble up, often too much on some guitars.

I've got a UOA5 in a Seymour Duncan '59/Custom hybrid in an LP and it's the best LP bridge PU I've ever used. It rolls off the highs and lows just enough.
 

cugel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,847
I have ox4s with alnico 4 and I can say: do it. They are in a Monty Bluesmaster and sound just perfect for me. With a Belle Epoch delay/preamp, I can find live Page tones pretty easily ie "thank you" from BBC sessions. Those replaced Lollar Imperials, which in that guitar, were too damn hot.
 

Jarick

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,211
After swapping magnets last night from a polished A2 in the neck and rough A5 in the bridge to polished A5 in both, I can definitely say they are a little hotter and have a lot more low end and sharper high end now. The neck is fairly scooped sounding and the bridge is quite aggressive. I'll probably go back to A2 at least in the neck because I don't like as much low end in this position and I like the kind of smooth velvety mids of the A2.

I'm STILL waiting on my treble bleed parts after a week so my other guitar won't get A4 magnets for a few days, unless I get really bored.

Swapping magnets is cheap and gives different variations on what you have. If you like your current pickups its worth trying out a few bucks of magnets. Just make sure to have extra strings on hand as they break when loosened and tightened over and over again. But I don't think different magnets will save a bad pickup.
 

Jarick

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,211
Naturally, I got bored and did the swap.

The A4 pickups are quite bright, but not as "hard" sounding as the A5 ones. They literally sound right down the middle between the A2 and A5. The bass is rolled off rather than up front like A5, the mids are fairly neutral, the high end is fairly bright and present but not quite harsh or edgy.

I really like both the A2 and A4 magnet sounds. I may even try a pair of A4 magnets in the detuned guitar to see how that sounds, otherwise I could see swapping some A2 magnets in. Maybe A2 neck and A4 bridge.
 

Jarick

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,211
Playing them again now, the midrange is just a little bit "stuffy" sounding on the A4 PAF's. It sounds fine on the bridge but the neck sounds like there's a little low mid hump.
 




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