Mexican Fender AlNiCo plastic pickup analysis

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by Antigua, Feb 17, 2019.

  1. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    4,345
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2014
    Location:
    in between
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    I recently removed a set of stock AlNiCo single coils out of a Mexican Strat, which along with another set from a 2012 Mexican Fender Strat I got back in 2014, gives me two complete sets to compare.

    Lower cost import Strats most often have pickups with a plastic bobbin, steel pole pieces and a ceramic bar (or two) on the underside of the pickup. Some of the higher end Mexican Strats feature AlNiCo pole pieces in place of the steel pole pieces and the ceramic magnet, but otherwise feature the same plastic bobbin, and that is what these pickups are.

    There is no question that AlNiCo pickups differ from those with steel pole pieces and ceramic, because the steel features a much higher permeability and conductivity than AlNiCo, the inductance will be higher, and the eddy current damping is greater, meaning they tend to be louder and deliver less treble content than the same pickup with AlNiCo pole pieces. But there's another question to be asked, do these AlNiCo pickups in plastic bobbins differ much from vintage style AlNiCo pickups that feature fiberboard tops and bottoms, such as a Fender 57/62, or a Fat 50?

    I have one set of Mexican Fender AlNiCo pickups from 2012, and another from 2018. They have the same plastic bobbins, with some numbers written on them with a white paint marker, as seen in the picture. Both sets have DC resistances that round between 5.7k and 5.9k, and the inductances are all between 2.2 henries and 2.2H, which are spec points often described as "underwound". Sets such as the Fat 50's or Seymour Duncan SSL-1 have DC resistances in the mid 6k range, and inductances closer to 2.6H.

    As for the quality of pickups, compared to most of the vintage style AlNiCo pickups with fiber flat work I've looked at, a couple things are noteworthy. The first is that both pickups have a high intrinsic capacitance, all are somewhere between 174pF and 206pF. Some vintage style pickups have measured this high as well, but the majority of them usually measure between 80pF and 120pF. The added capacitance causes a pickup to be a little darker than the inductance would indicate. A typical guitar cable adds about 40pF per foot, so for the pickup to already have an excess of 80pF to 120pF capacitance impacts the tone similar to two or three feet worth of added guitar cable. Two possible causes for this is 1) a thin insulation build on the magnet wire, or 2) very neatly wound coils with minimal space in between the turns of wire.

    The second issue is that the 2018 pickups had pole pieces that were undercharged, somewhat randomly. About half of the pole pieces measured half the expected flux density for AlNiCo 5. At first I though it might have been something about the AlNiCo itself, such as a mix and match of AlNiCo 5 with AlNiCo 2 and 3, but I re-saturated the pole pieces with a neodymium magnet, and they measured full strength thereafter.

    In conclusion, these pickups can be enjoyable to use, but there is possible cause for someone with discriminating ears to find fault with them. If the set you happen to get has a bunch of weak magnets, the pickup will sound weak and possibly imbalanced, not just in terms of volume, but texture. If the pickup has a high capacitance, which it looks to me like it probably would, it might seem too low in output, relative to how dark it sounds. Also, they are apparently very low inductance pickups in general, and some people like that, they're similar to CS 69's, but if you've come to expect a higher turn count, such as SSL-1's or Fat 50's, these will fall short of that. Even though these are a "step up" from the steel and ceramic pickups that usually come stock in an important Strat, I still think there is a good case for replacing them.

    As a side note, I understand that Squier Classic Vibe Strats come stock with Tonerider OEM pickups. I've looked at several of those sets and did not find any of these sorts of problems with them. They appear to be very well made.


    Fender Mexico AlNiCo in Plastic pickups, 2012, from an Antigua Strat

    Bridge
    - DC Resistance: 5.940K ohms
    - Measured L: 2.092H
    - Calculated C: 198pF
    - Gauss: 1050G (AlNiCo 5)

    Middle
    - DC Resistance: 5.823K ohms
    - Measured L: 2.124H
    - Calculated C: 206pF
    - Gauss: 1050G (AlNiCo 5)

    Neck
    - DC Resistance: 5.740K ohms
    - Measured L: 2.113H
    - Calculated C: 188pF
    - Gauss: 1050G (AlNiCo 5)

    Bridge unloaded: dV: 17.0dB f: 7.81kHz (black)
    Bridge loaded (200k & 470pF): dV: 8.0dB f: 4.12kHz (blue)
    Middle unloaded: dV: 17.0dB f: 7.81kHz (red)
    Middle loaded (200k & 470pF): dV: 8.0dB f: 4.12kHz (green)
    Neck unloaded: dV: 17.0dB f: 7.81kHz (pink)
    Neck loaded (200k & 470pF): dV: 8.0dB f: 4.12kHz (gray)

    [​IMG]




    Fender Mexico AlNiCo in Plastic pickups, 2018 from an Hendrix Monterrey Strat

    Bridge
    - DC Resistance: 5.820K ohms
    - Measured L: 2.201H
    - Calculated C: 174pF
    - Gauss: 700 - 1050G (AlNiCo 5, some not saturated)

    Middle
    - DC Resistance: 5.729K ohms
    - Measured L: 2.183H
    - Calculated C: 175pF
    - Gauss: 700 - 1050G (AlNiCo 5, some not saturated)

    Neck
    - DC Resistance: 5.689K ohms
    - Measured L: 2.193H
    - Calculated C: 184pF
    - Gauss: 700 - 1050G (AlNiCo 5, some not saturated)

    Bridge unloaded: dV: 16.9dB f: 8.17kHz (black)
    Bridge loaded (200k & 470pF): dV: 8.0dB f: 4.12kHz (blue)
    Middle unloaded: dV: 16.9dB f: 7.81kHz (red)
    Middle loaded (200k & 470pF): dV: 8.0dB f: 4.12kHz (green)
    Neck unloaded: dV: 16.9dB f: 7.63kHz (pink)
    Neck loaded (200k & 470pF): dV: 8.0dB f: 4.12kHz (gray)


    [​IMG]






    Here is a peak amplitude comparison between several plastic bobbin and vintage style fiber Strat pickups, all with AlNiCo 5. What I was looking to find out is whether the plastic bobbin might add enough "air" to the coil core to increase the Q factor, and the resonant amplitude, whole also having a 200k load across the pickup, and it looks like it possibly does increase the Q factor slightly, pushing the resonant amplitude by a bit less that 1dB, but there was one plastic bobbin pickup pickup that shows a Q factor being the same as the vintage style pickups. In any case, the overall difference is small enough to not be of consequence .


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
  2. sjtalon

    sjtalon Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

    Messages:
    4,846
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Location:
    Upper Peninsula-Michigan
    I'm assuming those are 50-60's Classic series.

    And that CV's have Toneriders is interweb rumor mill, that goes on and on and on and on.

    Somewhere along the line (Tele or Strat folks) someone ASS U ME'D that, and posted it, and the sheeple took it as gospel. So per usual, it ends up outweighing the truth, and seems 9 out of 10 times when Tonerider pups, or CV geetars come up in conversation, someone regurgitates that part of who is what.

    :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
    fenderkev and chicago slim like this.
  3. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

    Messages:
    7,369
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2018
    Location:
    North Central North Carolina
    Thank you for the very informative write-up.
     
  4. Skinny Nitro

    Skinny Nitro Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,982
    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2013
    Location:
    Merseyside UK
    Fender use the same wound bobbins for Classic Series 50s, 60s, 70s, Hendrix Monterey etc.
    The handwritten numbers correspond to the service diagram part number.
    Classic 50s and 60s are 54172 (aged white covers) Classic 70s and the Hendrix Monterey are 54594 (white covers) which both Antigua's sets appear to be.
     
    chicago slim likes this.
  5. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    4,345
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2014
    Location:
    in between
    I have little reason to suspect the Toneriders and Classic Vibe sets are made by separate OEMs, given that both are manufactured in or around Shenzhen, and have similar manufacturing markings. Here's a link to some pics I gathered https://imgur.com/a/vbTXacZ

    The important point is that the Classic Vibe pickups are not the plastic variety seen here. In fact, I don't know of any Fender from China, Japan or Indonesia that has ever used these plastic mold pickups with the six digit number on the underside, but both Mexican and American made Fenders have featured them for many years. Fender's vintage correct models, such as the Pure Vintage like, are more vintage correct than the Classic Vibe or Tonerider pickups, but both are much more vintage correct than the plastic sort analyzed here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
  6. sadmoodyfrazier

    sadmoodyfrazier Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    35
    Messages:
    1,373
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Location:
    Italy
    Every single time I took off that pickups from a guitar she started to sound really good.
     
  7. sjtalon

    sjtalon Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

    Messages:
    4,846
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Location:
    Upper Peninsula-Michigan
    Right.

    The similar markings are what have caused some to speculate their manufacture, and for some reason, some can't exept the truth, even being there's a 50/50 chance of choosing the right side :)

    The Squire CV factory, has it's OWN pup dept, and MAKES pups for others as well............................one that boxes them up and markets them as Tonerider.
     
    Namelyguitar likes this.
  8. sonny wolf

    sonny wolf Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    49
    Messages:
    5,108
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    Location:
    austin texas
    I always liked the sound of the stock pickups in the Mexican classic series guitars and similarly the Tex Mex pickups.They deliver very workable sounds that sound like a proper Strat or Tele should.I did end up installing Fender 57/62s I had laying around in my 60s Mexican reissue but the stock ones sounded really nice from the get go.If you are chasing a more specific flavour then maybe installing other pickups might do the trick but the stock Mexican ones are fine by me.
     
    chicago slim and kris ford like this.
  9. Namelyguitar

    Namelyguitar Most Honored Senior Member Silver Member

    Messages:
    8,826
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2009
    Location:
    Mobile Bay, Alabama
    Has anyone identified what the OP's two sets of pickups are, yet?
     
  10. sjtalon

    sjtalon Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

    Messages:
    4,846
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Location:
    Upper Peninsula-Michigan
    I had a chance to check numbers on pix I had and verify what Skinny posted, the ones on the left are Classic Series 70's.

    I have numbers for Classic Series 50's & 60's
    as 54172 as well.

    Those on the right are 59402, 401, 400 ?
     
  11. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    4,345
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2014
    Location:
    in between
    What reference source are you using to match the numbers to a model name?
     
  12. sjtalon

    sjtalon Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

    Messages:
    4,846
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Location:
    Upper Peninsula-Michigan
    I have pictures of the 50-60's and 70's pups, pickguards.

    also parts diagrams:
    50-60's : Fender #0054172000

    70's: 0054594000
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
  13. kurher

    kurher Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    493
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2017
    Location:
    3rd Stone from the Sun
    Mpup.jpg

    MIM classic 70's pup (1999). I think they're fine.
     
    BlurgyWurgyWibble likes this.
  14. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    4,345
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2014
    Location:
    in between
    So you're saying the pickups happened to come stock in those guitars, not that the pickups are identified by Fender as such? I know what guitars the pickups came from, but I don't presume the pickups were specific to the model of guitar, as they tend not to be.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
  15. sjtalon

    sjtalon Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

    Messages:
    4,846
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Location:
    Upper Peninsula-Michigan
    Sorry, not understanding the question.
     
  16. Skinny Nitro

    Skinny Nitro Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,982
    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2013
    Location:
    Merseyside UK
    The numbers are shortened versions of part numbers shown on the Fender service diagrams eg 0054594000 from the Classic 70s diagram parts list.

    The 594.00, 594.01 and 594.02 I guess is a more shortened version of 0054594000 with 00, 01, 02 added.
    The Hendrix Monterey Strat service diagram shows the pickups separately as 54594000, 54594001 and 54594002.
     
  17. sjtalon

    sjtalon Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

    Messages:
    4,846
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Location:
    Upper Peninsula-Michigan
    Right on Skinny, what threw me was I had never seen them 0-1-2 or anything like that............the 50-60's as well............all three are the same pup anyway.

    I have a pic of 3 and like the ones above have the stickers, FWIW.

    Classic Series 70's and pre 2006 Highway One, US Special Highway One 2002
     
  18. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    4,345
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2014
    Location:
    in between
    Oh that makes, so I guess the Antigua model must be a Classic 70s with a special color scheme.
     
  19. boxikus

    boxikus New Member!

    Age:
    60
    Messages:
    3
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2020
    Location:
    serbia
    I recently got a used pup like TM, but somehow I'm not sure they're real.
    Can anyone confirm to me that in this picture there is a real Tex Mex pup.

    I tried them and they sound just right, they have the 0671.. series ..
     

    Attached Files:

  20. sjtalon

    sjtalon Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

    Messages:
    4,846
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Location:
    Upper Peninsula-Michigan
    Looks as it could be but Am Standards middle also had a red and black lead.

    Can you measure the resistance. A TM middle should be about 6.4KΩ and the American 5.9K