Home > Pickup Parts >

1 x Bar Magnet - 58x12.5x3.2
Humbucker Bar Magnet - 58mm

Prices From: £3.00 Inc VAT

Magnet Type*:

Description Technical Specs

Main Description

Bar magnets for humbuckers
These magnets are commonly used in Humbuckers and P90s to charge the steel poles; however, whilst they do turn up in other applications, I’ll speak pretty much entirely about Humbuckers in this, because, frankly, that’s the common use of the things.

They’re orientated, polished magnets, supplied precharged to their maximum gauss (strength) and they are the 58mm long magnets, which were used after 1960 (prior to that, is was the 62mm long version - but be aware, at this point in history, you got what was on the shelves. 62mm magnets do turn on on pickups made after 1961)

Available in Alnico 2, 3, 4, and 5, and compatible with most 6 string humbuckers.

Sound Clips

Coming Soon

Strength vs. Tone!

Now, we’ve been putting a lot of work into magnet testing over the years, and, honestly? There’s a lot of fuss made about Alnico grade, the supposed inferiority of ceramic magnets, the merits of orientated vs. unorientated, the benefits of sand cast vs. rough. Vs polished… so, we figured we’d be as open and honest about it as we can be – so, here goes!

Tonally, and specifically, I’m speaking about “how the guitar sounds” – honestly? Magnets don’t actually do a great deal believe it or not – when presented with the “full spectrum” of a guitars signal, the minor variations that are evident when comparing one magnet to the next, are just too subtle to for our ears to be able to pick out. If you listen to a recording of an Alnico 3 and compare it to the same piece on an Alnico 8, you’ll struggle to be able to hear any difference what so ever.
However - there actually are tonal difference! It’s just that, in terms of “what we hear” – they’re a little buried under all the information we’re being bombarded with when we listen to audio.

As a general rule of thumb, the weaker the magnet, the more “bass” its producing – and that’s about it – which gives some real credibility to the old wives tale of “weaker magnets sound warmer” – BUT – a magnet is only one variable within the construction of a humbuckers.

I can definitely say that its true for a vintage humbuckers (tested here with an 8.2K Bourbon City, 42 AWG coils, 12 screw coils) – however – when we take the same test, and apply it to a “high output” humbuckers (in this case a 16K Ethereal, 12 screw, 44 AWG coils) – we see that all of the magnets behave pretty much identically with the exception of Alnico 8 and Ceramic (which are often described as “scooping mids”… and that’s actually what they’re doing – they show a volume drop below the resonant peak, but retain the same volume above it!... so again, some truth to the myth!)

So, electrically -we definitely CAN see that the magnets are changing the signal of the pickup – but we’ve got to take this with a pinch of salt, because the coils are actually changing how the magnets are behaving – and that leave us in a strange position where the “hard and fast rules” quickly fall down dependant on a second (or third!) variable! (Which honestly, gets a little beyond the scope of this article) – But remember – when you’re listening to a pickup as a recording, you really won’t be able to tell the difference. I can’t stress that enough! The differences are there, but our ears aren’t good enough to isolate them. It’s that simple.

It’s all in the feel!

HOWEVER – as guitarists, we’re not really interested in how the guitar sounds “on record” (that’s for the studio engineer right?!) – We care about it as a “live thing”, which we respond to, and feel, and generally treat as a very unscientific thing right? (Dare I say, a musical instrument?!) And that’s where things get interesting.

Whilst we might not be able to actually hear a difference between one magnet and the next in retrospect, we certainly can feel it when playing! In the moment, as pick hits string and the amp roars into life, the differences are much more noticeable! And what the graphs show, actually comes through more in the “feel” of a pickup then it does in the recordings. (So, that Alnico 3 Bourbon City felt “muddy”, and that Alnico 8 Ethereal did feel very defined and cutting) I honestly, can’t say I know why, but in blind tests, we were able to highlight differences between magnets – we had combinations we liked, and we had combinations we didn’t.

This brings us to the crux of the matter really – magnets within a humbuckers have very little to do with “tone”, but they really do define the “feel” of the pickup – and, sadly, there’s no right or wrong answers at that point, because we’re speaking about perception – and that’s going to differ for every single person, with every single humbuckers.

Me, for example – I heard the following in the blind tests with the Bourbon City. (Please, excuse the romantic language – these are exactly how the notes were written)
Alnico 3 – Very glassy in the highs, very bloomy in the lows, quite mushy and unpleasant.
Alnico 2 – Huge amount of top end “ping”, bass neat and tidy, plenty of “spank”, a little weird but not unpleasant! (Slightly damning considering the Bourbon comes with an A2 as standard!)
Alnico 4 – Toppy, really soft and forgiving in the bass, mids are rich and interesting. Nice sound.
Alnico 5 – Strong bass, but quite neat and tidy, not an awful lot of mids, and quite chimy. A lot of rattle and definition.
Alnico 6 – tight in the bass, quite crunchy, not overly hot. Nice note separation.

Ceramic – more compressed, better balances, distance between tops and bass is pleasing, slightly lacking in top. Bass very well behaved. Raunchy and fun!

You get the idea – I had “opinions” when playing! Unscientific they may be, but it’s what I “felt” and what is telling, is that my opinions? The “feel” I got from each magnet? They don’t really correspond with the signal we know the pickup is producing!

Alnico 3 does, that increase in bass is definitely coming through as mud and the ceramics certainly show that decrease in bass… but I’m “feeling” things in the pickup that just aren’t in the graphs right?

Well… no – what I’m feeling, comes down to perception – and this is where things start to become a little bit confusing, but basically, we don’t need to hear a change in a specific frequency to actually perceive a change in that frequency. (So, a pickup can feel bassier if the high frequencies are reduced – the bass doesn’t change, but our ears “shift” to become more focused) – And seemingly, even minor shifts in certain frequencies can completely colour our perception of frequencies that haven’t even changed.

Conclusion? Sort of?!

At this point, me sitting here and saying “Alnico 2 does thing, and Alnico 3 does that!” is nonsense, because I’m describing “how it made me feel” more than “how it actually sounded”, and how you feel with a particular magnet (or combination of Magnet and Coil!) will be completely different.

But if theres anything to take away from this, it’s the following “rules”
1.Go into Humbucker magnets knowing that your unlikely to be able to “hear” a difference between any of them, but you’ll definitely be able to feel it!
2. “Vintage” humbuckers (anything wound with 42 AWG) is going to show bigger difference then “high output” winds (43 and 44 AWG)
3. No one is going to agree on how a specific magnet sounds – if a minor change in frequency resulting from a magnet change can alter our perception, then a big change in frequency from a coil change is going to alter it too, and you’ve got to take that into account. Combined with the fact that we’re dealing in perception? In opinion and taste? You’ve got more hope in settling the Gibson® vs. Fender® argument!

4. Whilst there are no “hard and fast” rules – treating some of the old wives tales with a bit of credibility, won’t see you go far wrong. Hotter pickups generally want to be more defined, so benefit from strong magnets, more traditional offerings generally benefit from a little added warmth, so weaker Alnico s are a safe bet – but please, go in knowing that its very much a matter of personal taste.

Share your knowledge of this product. Be the first to write a review »