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Thread: Differences between Alnico 2 and Demagnetized Alnico 5

  1. #1
    OFM
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    Differences between Alnico 2 and Demagnetized Alnico 5

    Hi guys,

    Last year i've bought some Alnico 5 magnets from Stewmac. Since I live in Chile, this was one of the few options I had to buy Alnico magnets.

    They were shipped together in a plastic bag, so they obviously got partially demagnetized during the trip.

    I told one of my customers about my demagnetized Alnicos, so we agreed to modify a Demarzio pickup with one of those magnets (unfortunatelly, the most popular aftermarket pickup brand in Chile).

    The results were very good, we obtained a great vintage tone, with clarity, plenty of dynamics, similar to Alnico 2 pickups. My customer (and very good friend too) was very happy with the results.

    I have the following question:

    How close is a Demag-Alnico 5 to an Alnico 2?

    If we read the same Gauss in both magnets, will they sound the same?

    What about demag ceramics? One of the worst pickups i've tried and destroyed in my "Pickup-man" carreer were the "Ibanez PSND", which had a tiny ceramic mag which sounded terrible.

    Greetings!
    Ben

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by OFM View Post
    If we read the same Gauss in both magnets, will they sound the same?

    Ben
    The answer is no. I can't tell you exactly why though, but something to do with the the magnets material properties.

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    Old Timer Possum's Avatar
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    differences...

    This is where an LCR meter is useful. Alnico 5 has more cobalt and less nickel than alnico 2. The difference in metals effects differences in eddy currents in the magnet itself. Alnico 2 has more eddy currents and you can see this on the Extech or any LCR meter that works right with pickups. So yes you can demagnetize an alnico 5 and get a similar thing happening to alnico 2 since A2 has slightly less gauss but the A2 will always be darker sounding, smoother highs.
    Here's a link to something I saved showing the contents of the different alnicos:
    http://ur.pair.com/shrapnel/alnico%2...in%20brief.pdf
    http://www.SDpickups.com
    Stephens Design Pickups

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    OFM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    This is where an LCR meter is useful. Alnico 5 has more cobalt and less nickel than alnico 2. The difference in metals effects differences in eddy currents in the magnet itself. Alnico 2 has more eddy currents and you can see this on the Extech or any LCR meter that works right with pickups. So yes you can demagnetize an alnico 5 and get a similar thing happening to alnico 2 since A2 has slightly less gauss but the A2 will always be darker sounding, smoother highs.
    Here's a link to something I saved showing the contents of the different alnicos:
    http://ur.pair.com/shrapnel/alnico%2...in%20brief.pdf
    Thanks a lot!

    Everything is clearer right now, now I understand a couple of things about the sound of my pickups. Unfortulately I only can get Alnico 5 magnets to make experiments, but there's a possibility to travel to the States in the following weeks and surely i'll bring lots of magnets and pickup parts to Chile.

    Maybe I can even visit someone if i'm travelling around, hehehe...

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    Senior Member NightWinder's Avatar
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    Yo, Hit me up, I'll make sure you go back with a feloney or 2. Felony is american lingo for a gold madalion......You'll have a good time!!! I promise

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    I've been in an ongoing argument about this for a while. I can hear the difference between A2's and degaussed A5's in strat style pickups. There are a few custom shop guys and independent luthiers that I have had the misfortune of meeting that tell me it’s impossible to hear a difference. It’s good to know that there are still people out there that are on my side of this one.

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    the IMmoderator DrStrangelove's Avatar
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    credit where due, cash in fist

    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    Here's a link to something I saved showing the contents of the different alnicos:
    http://ur.pair.com/shrapnel/alnico%2...in%20brief.pdf
    Here's a link to the original that I created showing the contents of the different alnicos:
    http://www.salvarsan.org/content/alnico.html

    It even has a nice link to a local copy of Standard Specifications for Permanent Magnetic Materials (MMPA-0100-00)

    http://www.salvarsan.org/download/0100-00.pdf

    -drh

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OFM View Post
    What about demag ceramics?
    You can't easily demagnetize ceramic magnets.
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. — Albert Einstein

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    the IMmoderator DrStrangelove's Avatar
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    Hci

    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    You can't easily demagnetize ceramic magnets.
    Yup. It takes some coercing.

    -drh

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    Old Timer Spence's Avatar
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    Does A5 degaussed to A3 levels sound like A3? No.
    Each grade of AlNiCo has a different composition of nickel, cobalt, copper,aluminium, iron etc...

    A5 can never sound like A2. Not ever.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by corduroyew View Post
    I've been in an ongoing argument about this for a while. I can hear the difference between A2's and degaussed A5's in strat style pickups.
    You aren't alone.

    Jason Lollar said the same thing:

    Alnico 5 is stronger than Alnico 2, but a lot of people overlook the fact that the difference in the composition of magnetic material also has an effect on “inductance.” If the level of magnetism were the same between the Alnico 2 and 5, by partially discharging the 5 to make it the same strength as the Alnico 2 you would still hear a difference between the coils due to the makeup of the materials.
    It's a good interview. You can find it on his site here (PDF)
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. — Albert Einstein

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    OFM
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    You can't easily demagnetize ceramic magnets.
    I agree... is not easy...

    I spent a few minutes with a couple of Neo magnets and sucesfully demagnetized a Ceramic magnet. But it wasn't wasy to hold the magnet...

    ...the problem was I couldn't remagnetize it again... hehehehe...

    (I have plenty of cheap ceramic magnets, anyway)

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    OFM
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    Thank a lot for the answers, now everything's clearer...

    I found the demag A5 pickups a bit brighter than the others A2 pickups I had, but the pickups themselves were very different. One had more turns and a nickel cover and the other not, so making a comparision would be a complete nonsense.

    One of the local luthiers here in Chile (he's Argentinian, but lives in Chile) made a great Test guitar, which allows to compare 2 pickups with the same height and position (he used a rail system). If I buy some Alnico 2 mags, i'll borrow his guitar and make the test with 2 humbuckers.

    Thanks a lot guys,

    Greetings,
    Ben

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    Quote Originally Posted by OFM View Post
    I found the demag A5 pickups a bit brighter than the others A2 pickups I had, but the pickups themselves were very different.
    That sounds about right in my experience. A lot also depends on how much you degauss the 5, but to me "PDA5" sounds like A2 with a bit more upper-mid grind and bass. It never quite sounds as flat and even on the EQ curve as A2.

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    Senior Member NightWinder's Avatar
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    Hell no, in fact, I just released a high ohmer 17.8k, using an A3. In fact, the original prototype was with A3. The Lowend was'nt as tight as I hoped, so I switched to A5 degaussed, and fully charged w/ a degauss bump. They are similar in tone, but the A5 totally restricted the Harmonic structure, and was quite different in that area. The A3 just screamed harmonics everywhere, and had that nasty snarling lowmid thump and just grinded your fact apart with ease. The A5 tightended everything up, but was'nt the same. I since reworked the Offset, A3 and now it blasphemous!! Perfect tight lows, and the harmonic structure was there again. Its cool that you can push the amp harder too, as It is not as loud either.
    I know it may be a little off topic, with the A2 descusion. Spence you were right in the similaritys.......

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    I agree -- A3 is a surprisingly good magnet for higher output pu's.

  17. #17
    Senior Member NightWinder's Avatar
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    Ah dude, Now you ROCK. You know what I'm talking about!!! Its the harmonics, and snarly nasty grind man!! Hell YEah!!! LOL

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    The only downside with A3 is that, at least according to Fralin, it doesn't always hold a charge all that well and I've noticed a touch of drop-off with some A3 pu's I've made, though it wasn't too bad.

    But yeah, A3 has some sparkle and grind on top that makes it an overlooked magnet for your pre-amp pushing pu's.

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    Senior Member NightWinder's Avatar
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    Hum, your on target. Im almost finished with some oldschool designede humbucker, and this has been the focus of the design. Under 8k....Seems that offset kills me, to much, to sharp, to little not tight enough on the lowend

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OFM View Post
    I agree... is not easy...

    I spent a few minutes with a couple of Neo magnets and sucesfully demagnetized a Ceramic magnet. But it wasn't wasy to hold the magnet...

    ...the problem was I couldn't remagnetize it again... hehehehe...

    (I have plenty of cheap ceramic magnets, anyway)

    Yeah, the magnetizing force needed for Alnico is 640 oersted, and for ceramic it's 3,200!

    Depending on your design, ceramics can sound great... So far I don't use any alnico mags in my bass pickups.
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. — Albert Einstein

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  21. #21
    Old Timer Possum's Avatar
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    degaussing...

    degaussing ceramics is very easy, go to ebay and search on degaussing or degausser, there are jeweler's tables that are small rectangular units that will degauss anything, they are about $30 if I remember. Recharging ceramics is harder than degaussing if you just use a neo. I have a magnet charger and it usually will put back the charge in a ceramic mag.
    http://www.SDpickups.com
    Stephens Design Pickups

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    Quote Originally Posted by OFM View Post
    Hi guys,

    Last year i've bought some Alnico 5 magnets from Stewmac. Since I live in Chile, this was one of the few options I had to buy Alnico magnets.

    They were shipped together in a plastic bag, so they obviously got partially demagnetized during the trip.

    I told one of my customers about my demagnetized Alnicos, so we agreed to modify a Demarzio pickup with one of those magnets (unfortunatelly, the most popular aftermarket pickup brand in Chile).

    The results were very good, we obtained a great vintage tone, with clarity, plenty of dynamics, similar to Alnico 2 pickups. My customer (and very good friend too) was very happy with the results.

    I have the following question:

    How close is a Demag-Alnico 5 to an Alnico 2?

    If we read the same Gauss in both magnets, will they sound the same?

    What about demag ceramics? One of the worst pickups i've tried and destroyed in my "Pickup-man" carreer were the "Ibanez PSND", which had a tiny ceramic mag which sounded terrible.

    Greetings!
    Ben
    Old thread but a useful question. So I will give my best answer.
    the difference in alnico 2 and 5 is as stated below, metallic composition is different, so density etc changes the tonal qualities of the pickup, your loss of magnetism is similar to running an amp on very low volume. you lose all the brightness so you may as well shut it off.. your tones are flattening out but you are actually doing the pickup a dis service leaving it that way and shortening its life. All magnets lose some magnetism initially. so in the first year or so your new guitar tends to go through alot of changes, the wood dries more, the lacquers cure more, the magnets mellow. I would use the 5 on the bridge for more aggressive leads, and 2's on the neck for the mellower rhythm can use the 5 on the neck also. the 57's were both the same grade, and very popular now. and hotter 500s and dirtyfingers are also used on both. it really comes down to taste of the player and what else you do to the pickup design., handwinding vs machine. potting technique, the type and guage of wire, how tight and consistent your winds are. clockwise, counter clockwise. the list goes on. take 2 magnets and set the pick up between them and re magnetize it and let it fall off naturally. then it will be good for maybe 100 years. at some point if its left weak, it will stop outputting and thats gonna suck.

  23. #23
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    Alnico V magnets are brighter tone then Alnico 2 unless they are wound to vintage standards with 42 awg enamel coated ..Scatter Wound ..Then we get back to vintage tone without the brittleness.
    Check out .. Custom Scatter Wound Single Coil Alnico 5 Poles Strat Pickup Set Free Caps | eBay
    Thanks,
    Streamz1

  24. #24
    Woodgrinder/Pickupwinder copperheadroads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by streamz1 View Post
    Alnico V magnets are brighter tone then Alnico 2 unless they are wound to vintage standards with 42 awg enamel coated ..Scatter Wound ..Then we get back to vintage tone without the brittleness.
    Check out .. Custom Scatter Wound Single Coil Alnico 5 Poles Strat Pickup Set Free Caps | eBay
    Looks like cheap Alnico import pickups to me ,& there a product of yours ?
    Or maybe you ditched the ceramic magnet & slugs & added a alnico rods .......................
    "Pushback" wire is ,Wire with a foreskin.

  25. #25
    Supporting Member SonnyW's Avatar
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    I can tell the difference in a humbucker between Alnico 5 fully charged, and Unoriented Alcico 5 degaussed to vintage specs. My customers seem to be able to hear it too. The difference is slight but not un-detectable. The difference between Alnico 2 HB mags and any form of Alnico 5 is easily heard IMO. I have tried this using the same already wound bobbins and just swapping out magnets. Me and my customers both hear differences. Fully charged A5 is brighter, and degaussed A5U is more rounded, even, and more "musical". I prefer the A2 for necks and the A5U for bridges. I like the "vintage" styles.
    www.sonnywalton.com
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