Converting ceramic to alnico!

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by Uncle Fiesta, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. Uncle Fiesta

    Uncle Fiesta Senior Stratmaster

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    In another thread on here, someone remarked that as an alternative to upgrading the pickups on his MIM Standard, he simply converted them! He removed the ceramic magnets, pushed out the steel slugs, and slid in a set of alnico magnets.

    I can get 10 alnico magnets of the right size, ready magnetized and with the north pole marked, for less than £6. And I have 3 sets of spare Squier pups lying around, ready to be experimented on.

    So has anybody else tried this, and what was the result? Worth doing?
     
  2. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh needs you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too. Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I haven't tried it and so can't answer your question directly, but I do think that the ceramics would make a good candidate for an upgrade; the plastic bobbin should provide some protection for the winding, whereas on a regular Alnico pup the windings are applied directly to the magnets.
     
  3. The Strat Dude

    The Strat Dude Posy rules! Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I have not considered that but I had thought about just replacing the ceramic magnets with alnico bar magnets.
     
  4. StratoTerr

    StratoTerr Senior Stratmaster

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    I've replaced the Squires 2 ceramics w 2 AlNiCos from the GFS Neo series. (the p/ups w the actual Neos might be ok, but the AlNiCo versions were an afterthought failure.)Great results, same lower resonance tone, but w AlNiCo harmonics and sweetness.Let us know how it turns out w the rods.
     
  5. StratoTerr

    StratoTerr Senior Stratmaster

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    Note: the GFS are exactly the same size as the ceramics. Firebird magnets are slightly bigger. I've also used 2 from a bad Firebird p/up. They re available from suppliers. I think they might be AlNiCo 2. Or maybe its the overshoot of the field, but they sound a little darker ,mellower, less defined.
     
  6. eok361

    eok361 Strat-Talker

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    been there, done that. it works just fine, as long as you don't cut/damage any wire in the process. it was a marked improvement over the ceramics.
     
  7. Stratoholic

    Stratoholic Senior Stratmaster

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    Not always, the only time the wire touches the magnets is with fiber bobbins (since it's just two pieces of fiberboard). If you have plastic bobbin alnico pickups, the magnets are fully surrounded by plastic, always.
     
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  8. StratoTerr

    StratoTerr Senior Stratmaster

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    Using the rods? What diameter?
     
  9. Uncle Fiesta

    Uncle Fiesta Senior Stratmaster

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    The ones I've found are 0.195" (4.95mm) in diameter, which according to my digital calipers is the same diameter as the steel slugs in a MIM Squier pickup. They're all the same length at 0.67" (17mm), but you can achieve the stagger, if required, by just sliding them into position.
     
  10. StratoTerr

    StratoTerr Senior Stratmaster

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    Cool. I love the Squire p/ups lower tone, but would like to have it w other than the p/90 magnetic topology for some usages. Of course a switch from a pole to a magnet is going to change the sound a lot due to impedance and induction change. Please tell us the result if you do it.
     
  11. stratman in va

    stratman in va Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I took apart a cheap humbucker, used one coil, and dropped in 6 alnico slugs and magnetized them.

    It made a nice sounding pickup.

    I have not had any luck getting a bar magnet off a single coil pickup, but maybe I am being too careful.
     
  12. StratoTerr

    StratoTerr Senior Stratmaster

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    Maybe you are,If its a MIM or Squier, I just used a kitchen paring knife at the glue joint and it popped right off.
     
  13. stratman in va

    stratman in va Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I have only tried it on the pickups with one bar magnet on the back.
    Never tried on an MIM.

    I may have a couple pickups around to experiment with.
     
  14. Uncle Fiesta

    Uncle Fiesta Senior Stratmaster

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    I tentatively removed one of the magnets yesterday. Had no need to worry actually - it came off very easily as it was only held on by the wax potting! I could almost have removed it by hand. From then on it was a really quick job to take off the other two magnets, and ease out all the steel slugs. Now I just have to wait for my new alnico slugs to arrive in the post. I've measured the ones that came out and they're 4.95mm in diameter, which is exactly the same as what I ordered.
     
  15. Uncle Fiesta

    Uncle Fiesta Senior Stratmaster

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    Magnets arrived last week. While waiting for them to arrive I built a pair of gauges to get the stagger just right. I took a piece of credit card (1mm thick) and a piece of lolly stick (2mm thick), punched a 5mm diameter hole in each of them, then cut them into a shape which would enable them to slip over each magnet, while avoiding, if necessary, those on either side. So the 1st, 5th and 6th string magnets end up 1mm proud of the cover, 3rd and 4th 2mm proud, and 2nd flush with the cover.

    They went in easily with just a little persuasion and the gauges worked fine. Bit of glue at the bottom to stop them moving, a little label over it with my name on, and an anxious overnight wait before opening the guitar (CAR Squier MIK Strat I posted a photo of recently; supposed to be sold but the buyer didn't like my setup so it came back) and installing the pups.

    Well they sound really good - a world away from how 'ice-picky' they were before. Obviously they'll never give a set of Custom Shops a run for their money, but it's a very useable Strat sound. I kept the middle pup RWRP by making sure the magnets were the other way up, so 2 and 4 are hum-cancelling, but still sound good. Comparing it to my MIJ '62 with SSL-1's there is a slight lack of depth but a bit of tweaking with tone controls on the amp could narrow the gap slightly.

    So to sum up I'm very pleased with my first set of pickups and will leave them in when I sell the guitar, but I have another couple of sets to modify the same way, so will be ordering more magnets soon.
     
  16. Uncle Fiesta

    Uncle Fiesta Senior Stratmaster

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    This begs the question ... what would be the result if I were to install the alnico slugs whilst leaving the ceramics in place?
     
  17. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Very interesting. So this cost you £6? It sounds like it's worth trying on a set of pickups that wouldn't fetch £1 each if listed on eBay. Do you have a link to your source?
     
  18. fenderkev

    fenderkev Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    According to the guy from Zexcoil, it's the polepiece material that makes the difference and not so much what type of magnet that provides the magnitism. Apparently its the steel pole pieces in the MIM Std pups that contributes most to their sound, rather than the fact they have a ceramic magnets. Hopefully he'll chime in and explain it better.
     
  19. Zexcoil

    Zexcoil Strat-Talker Vendor Member

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    Anything magnetically permeable in the magnetic circuit can and will have an effect, but the stuff that is in the core of the coil will be the most significant.

    For example, the effect of an AlNiCo pole piece (as in a conventional Strat or Tele pickup) is much more significant than the effect of an external AlNiCo magnet (as in a humbucker or P90).

    But yes, the pole piece (as it resides in the core of the coil) is the single most important driver of the shape and position of the resonant peak of the pickup. The magnetic permeability and the influence of eddy currents on the magnetic flux through the core are both important in how the frequency response sets up. The permeability drives the inductance of the pickup pretty directly and the eddy current effect is more complicated.
     
  20. alainvey

    alainvey Senior Stratmaster

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    I'm not sure what the OP's source is, but this place looks good: Buy Guitar Pickup Magnets

    40p per slug, £4.00 for a bar. Axesrus also sell pickup bits, including uncharged rods etc - on the subject, I've been looking at their in house pup range, and it seems pretty interesting: handwound sets for £75, non-standard strat pups etc...