High Output Humbuckers Alnico V vs Ceramic?


I've been playing around with the idea of using a cheap single cut as a modding platform which took me into the realm of budget high output pickups. First let me say this NOT another thread about which brand is best yadda yadda. I pretty much know which direction I am going and that is with one of a couple different brands that distribute Asian Alnico V HB's. What brings me here is an inquiry I made with an unnamed company. Here is their response when I asked if they carried a high output Alnico V HB:

"High output and Alnico don’t make a good mix. The ‘softer’ mag field of A5 tends to sound muddy and dull when used with overwound coils."

I really wanted to engage but decided it best I didn't. So instead I thought I would submit this comment and see anyone agreed or disagreed with the quote.

Stig Ø

What I’m about to say should be double checked with those in the know, but from what I’ve gathered, the point of high output ceramic pups is that they have stronger magnetic fields, which can give the same output signal with less turns. The more turns, the more high end is attenuated, so ceramics can induce the same amount of voltage, i.e., signal with less high end roll off. An example will known to me is the BK Cold Sweat, which is ceramic, high output, and bright.

Now its time for those who actually know to correct me.
...High output and Alnico don’t make a good mix...
Well it's a question of taste. I personally don't agree, but you might.

Amongst other effects, putting a big lump of ferromagnetic alloy (AlNiCo magnet) next to a coil raises the inductance, moving the resonant frequency of the pickup down. The conductive alloy also provides a medium for eddy currents, damping higher frequencies.

I like warmer pickups with less high end because I use a modest amount of gain. Too much high end at the beginning of the chain sounds awful to me after distortion. (But if I play clean, then I want more of those high frequencies, so I might use half neck humbucker plus middle single coil.)

Examples of high output humbuckers with various types:

Similar coil different magnet
  • Duncan JB - A5 magnet ~16kΩ of 44AWG
  • Duncan Distortion - ceramic magnet ~16kΩ of 44AWG (similar coil to JB)

Identical coil different magnet
  • Duncan Custom - ceramic magnet ~14kΩ of 43AWG
  • Duncan Custom Custom - A2 magnet (identical coil to Custom)
  • Duncan Custom 5 - A5 magnet (identical coil to Custom)

Ibanez V8 - A5 magnet ~16kΩ of 44AWG

Dimarzio Tone Zone - A5 magnet ~17kΩ - different windings each coil

If EVH's tones are of interest, rumour (LET'S SPREAD RUMOURS) has it he tried Custom Custom around Fair Warning, and Tone Zone has some relation to what eventually became the EBMM EVH bridge pickup. I suppose all I take from that is AlNiCo has some high gain pedigree.
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When I've been able to compare Ceramic vs. AlNiCo, I've always enjoyed the crispiness of Ceramic more, although many will comment that AlNiCo is more Musical.

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