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1 x Bar Magnet - 81x12x3MM
Humbucker Bar Magnets


 
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When people talk "vintage voicing", you can bet your bottom dollar that they're looking in the Alnico 2 range. Not as common as they once were, these are a 50s dream magnet - and actually turned up on the very early humbuckers, and as music changed, dropped out of favour slightly, but they're still in very high demand in vintage re-issues and historically inspired setups.

Oddly, they only rarely crop up on single coils, perhaps their inherent EQ just isn't as well suited to that classic "Snap, Twang and Quack" sound, but it's worth considering if you're looking to really shape your tone to that personal level that a magnet swaps or DIY pickups allow.

Tonally, the sound is much flatter, with a slightly weaker bass response, much more mid range, and a fairly soft top end - the result is a much "spongier" feel, with a lot less definition between notes. Whilst on paper, this sounds like a negative, in reality, it's a beautiful effect for rhythm players who want a chord to be voiced as a solid wall of sound, rather than as a tightly arpeggiated stack of single notes.

But Alnico IIs aren't just the preserve of the rhythm section; they also offer a valuable tool to the lead player. Single notes come through responsive and carry natural warmth thanks to that full EQ. Don't get us wrong, if you're into your saturation, your sweep pickup, your chugging bottom end, Alnico 2 isn't for you - just lacks that definition you're looking for, but if its that blistering vintage overdrive tone, crunching and biting lead lines, then they're great foundations for your pickup build.

Alnico 2s (or IIs), for us, are the sleazier cousins of the Vs! They're a much weaker magnet, so you're instantly getting much better natural sustain from your guitar, no need to cheat here, the strings will vibrate longer, harder and with less "pull" from the pickup. Your tone instantly seems more natural, and when you get down and dirty, you certainly know about it!

Chemically, Alnico IIs are made up of roughly 10% Aluminium, 19% Nickel, 13% Cobalt and 3% Copper, with 0% Titanium.

For us, the key points to note are.

-Low definition

-Slightly muted bottom

-Full middle

-Warm, full top

-Vintage voicing

-Spongy overall tone


Alnico 3s (or IIIs) are incredibly rare in production pickups, and never really turned up "mass market" on humbuckers or single coils, but they did appear on the very first Telecaster® pickups, as well as most early P90s, but only briefly before being replaced with Alnico Vs

We have learnt a little more about the tone over recent years, having worked with alnico 3s pretty extensively, and we treat them as a nice half way house between Alnico 2s and Alnico 5s - but the main aspect to their tone, which really makes this magnet one of our favourites, is the boost in the lower mid-range. The result is a throaty growl, paired with a nice scoop across the rest of the mids.

At higher winds, this produces a beautifully aggressiveness that really lends itself to metal and rock, and at lower winds, it lends a soulful crunch to your vintage style pickups, with a little more body then an alnico V, and a little more definition then a II.

Chemically, Alnico IIs are made up of roughly 12% Aluminium, 25% Nickel, 0% Cobalt and 3% Copper, with 0% Titanium - conversely, making them actually "Alni" magnets, because of the absence of Cobalt.

For us, the key points to note are.

-Medium definition

-Decent Mid Scoop, but with a little more in the Lower mids

-Crisp, slightly brittle top

-Brilliant Sustain


Alnico 4 magnets are a bone of contention with most pickup manufacturers the world over – officially, according to the MMPA – there is no such construction of Alnico, and whilst people call magnets Alnico 4, they are normally referring to a ”flawed” Alnico 5.

Without getting too deep into the logic behind it – this is exactly right. If you remove 1% of the aluminium from Alnico 5, you have, what most people to consider, Alnico 4.

The problem is, that (as with most things) magnets are built within certain tolerances, so its very difficult to say that be removing 1% you justify giving it a new classification.

Now, obviously this is the stance of the MMPA, who consider the Alnico 4 simply another version of the V, but as guitar builders and players – we’ve got the luxury of being a little more blinkered in how we view these things.

Tonally, Alnico 4s offering up a slightly weaker version of the Alnico 5 (as you’d probably have guessed!) – the decrease in strength means that you open up a little more of your mid-range, and bring in a little more of the vintage character you’d get from an Alnico 2, but without sacrificing as much of the definition.

Chemically, Alnico IVs are made up of roughly 7% Aluminium, 14% Nickel, 24% Cobalt and 3% Copper, with 0% Titanium.

For us, the key points to note are.

· Great definition

· Strong bottom

· Slightly fuller middle

· Bright top

· Vintage voicing

· Great half way house between II and V

Alnico 5 magnets really are the “go to guy” for most of us when it comes to our first real pickups, and turn up incredibly often, on 90% of pickups out there. Tonally, they give a nicely defined voicing, often scooping the middle fairly heavily which really “cleans” the final product, giving great definition and bite in the top end – normally what people are looking for after dealing with the woolly, muddy tones on entry level pickups.

Here at Axesrus, we like to use Alnico 5s (or Vs) for pickups intended for a lot of lead work, especially with Humbuckers, so you’ll often see them matched up with a higher output coil and coil tap options. They really do lend themselves to a modern style, and cope especially well with effects, with the scooped mids allowing the notes to cut through all but the very heaviest distortion.

The one place that Alnico magnets fall slightly short of expectations is when their sustain is compared to other Alnico variants. They are, by their very nature, a strong magnet, which will limit string movement – the less movement, the shorter the note will ring out. Thankfully the curved nature of its natural EQ means you can cheat slightly by increasing output to rinse that little bit extra without muddying the final tone once the pickup is finished.

Chemically, Alnico Vs are made up of roughly 8% Aluminium, 14% Nickel, 24% Cobalt and 3% Copper, with 0% Titanium.

For us, the key points to note are.

•Great definition

•Strong bottom

•Scooped middle

•Sharp, bright top

•Modern voicing

•Great note separation

•Average Sustain

Alnico 8 magnets are a relatively new arrival when it comes to pickups, and offer up a great alternative to ceramic magnets.

Most of the time, you’ll see them in hot pickups, and almost exclusively in the bridge, where the higher magnetic pull and naturally aggressive tone results in a heat that really defines lead lines.

To say that they’re very similar to an Alnico 5, but with much more attitude is perhaps over simplifying it, but as a glance, it’s a great way to picture a humbucker built around 8s.

One this to watch out for is the bottom end, the extra strength you’re getting with Alnico 8s means that they can adversely effect the sustain if set up incorrectly. If you’re willing to put in the leg work, it’s possible to make a powerful distortion humbucker and retain a lot of that vintage Alnico tone.

This characteristic voicing is one of the reasons why these magnets are becoming more popular with heavier humbuckers, whilst you retain the heat and aggression, you bring back in a little more mid then you do would with Alnico Vs or Ceramics, so tonally,

Chemically, Alnico VIIIs are made up of roughly 7% Aluminium, 15% Nickel, 35% Cobalt and 4% Copper, with 5% Titanium.

For us, the key points to note are.

· Medium definition

· Big bottom

· Relatively full middle

· Razor Sharp top end

· Aggressive and high output

· Modern voicing with a vintage edge

In reality, Ceramic magnets (in this case, Ceramic 8s) are just as usable as any Alnico magnet – the trick is to know when to us them, and straight off the bat, if you’re looking for a clean tone, Ceramics will NOT be for you.

Hugely powerful to begin with, Ceramic magnets suck out tons of the top end and sustain in most setups, so in some of the cheaper pickups on the market, you’ll see them in ludicrously low windings to try to balance them out (also saves a fair bit of copper) – doesn’t really work too well either.

The trick with Ceramic 8s, the strongest composition, is to truly embrace that power house ethos and go for a higher than average winding – where Alnico Vs are modern and defined, IIs are raunchy and vintage, Ceramics have to potential to be snarling, chugging, grumbling monsters, and some of the best heavy metal pickups will use ceramics as a foundation. By accepting that you’re going to get tons of bottom end, a big scoop in the mids and a little bit of top end naturally, the higher you wind them, the more aggressive and rowdy they’re going to get.

Using them in a comparable winding to an Alnico magnet is a recipe for disappointment, but if you push these hard, they’ll push back harder!

For us, the key points to note are.

·Hugely definition at higher winds

·Hugely powerful bottom

·Completely scooped middle

·Sharp top

·Overly aggressive

·Dark, moody tone

·Ideal for palm muting and high output work


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