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Thread: Mixing magnets?

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    Senior Member Chris Turner's Avatar
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    Mixing magnets?

    Just wondering if anyone has tried using a "mix" of magnets in their pickups?

    For example, sticking a small neo magnet on the bottom of an unmagnetized (or magnetized for that matter) alnico rod.


    If so, how did it work out (yeah, I could try it... but hey, why not ask first)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Turner View Post
    Just wondering if anyone has tried using a "mix" of magnets in their pickups?

    For example, sticking a small neo magnet on the bottom of an unmagnetized (or magnetized for that matter) alnico rod.


    If so, how did it work out (yeah, I could try it... but hey, why not ask first)?
    Very interesting idea. I have not tried it. Since you would be driving the alnico rod to some level of permeability as a function of position along the rod and holding it there, you might be able to achieve results different from the usual method which lets the magnet relax to where it wants to go after the magnetization impulse. Certainly something to try.

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    Senior Member Jim Darr's Avatar
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    I've tired different mixes of Alnico on the same pickup...with interestingly good results. But, never tried mixing type of magnets like Alnico with Neos or Alnico with Ceramics, etc. I think the response might be uneven if the mixes are uniquely used per string, not sure what the results would be if "stacking" types per pole or string. It would be a good experiment to try.

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    Jim

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    I have an AlNiCo 5 rod, it reads 1,150 gauss at center top, as is. I have neodymium buttons that are about 1.5mm thick with a 5mm diameter and they read 2200G at center. If I put a neodymium button on the bottom side of the rod, the strength climbs to 1,300G at center top of the AlNiCo 5 rod. Adding a second button brings it up to 1,340G. Adding a third button brings it up to 1,360, so there are diminishing returns with each added button.

    Now with an AlNiCo 2 rod, it reads 630G at center top. Adding one neo button on the bottom brings it up to 690G, then a second button brings it to 740G, and a third to 775G.

    These values aren't too different from the remanence values you get right after you freshly charge AlNiCo pole pieces, before it stabalizes at a permanent remanence value, several minutes later.

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    Senior Member LtKojak's Avatar
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    There are several makers doing this already, mostly asian.

    The most interesting is the concept applied by Zexcoils. Go to its blog; it's very well explained and surprisingly detailed. Pretty interesting read.

    Have fun!

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    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
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    I have a customer with an older Godin LGXT and he's stuck 1.5mmx5mm neo magnets on top of the polepieces and dropped the pickups. My instant thought on this is that it wouldn't work out well but he's tried and tested this setup on numerous gigs and it works out fine.

    There's an unusual by-product in that the sound of the magnetic pickups in uncannily close to the piezo-only sound. I had to continually keep checking which was which when I had the guitar in again for some work last week.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    I have a customer with an older Godin LGXT and he's stuck 1.5mmx5mm neo magnets on top of the polepieces and dropped the pickups. My instant thought on this is that it wouldn't work out well but he's tried and tested this setup on numerous gigs and it works out fine.

    There's an unusual by-product in that the sound of the magnetic pickups in uncannily close to the piezo-only sound. I had to continually keep checking which was which when I had the guitar in again for some work last week.
    Lowering the pickups changes the sound; since neo has very low permeability, its major effect is to increase the string magnetization, restoring some of the lost volume, and so probably altering the sound in a different way. Lowering the pickup reduces the percentage of low order harmonic generation, making a "cleaner" sound. Increasing the field strength can make a harsher sound.

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    I had Wolfe make me a Strat pickup years ago with alnico 2 for 3 strings and alnico 5 for the other 3 strings. I forget right now which one was for the high strings and which were for the low strings, but it works well and sounds good. I'm sure you could reverse the order or use other alnico types, neo, or ceramic arrangements and come up with something that would sound good also.

    Greg

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    Senior Member LtKojak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundmasterg View Post
    I had Wolfe make me a Strat pickup years ago with alnico 2 for 3 strings and alnico 5 for the other 3 strings. I forget right now which one was for the high strings and which were for the low strings, but it works well and sounds good. I'm sure you could reverse the order or use other alnico types, neo, or ceramic arrangements and come up with something that would sound good also.

    Greg
    Well, I've only seen two mag combos in single-colis, 5/2 and 5/3, where the 5 are for the lower strings and the 2 or 3 for the upper ones.

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    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
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    Quote Originally Posted by LtKojak View Post
    Well, I've only seen two mag combos in single-colis, 5/2 and 5/3, where the 5 are for the lower strings and the 2 or 3 for the upper ones.
    Yeah the usual is the 2 or 3 for the upper ones, but I had to check the pickup again last night to see, because I sort of remembered having Wolfe make them the opposite of the usual convention, with 2 for the bass strings and 5 for the upper strings, and I was right in that I had him make it that way. I think it sounds fine that way too.

    Greg

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    Most of you already know but Duncan pioneered this (at least no-one was before him as far as I know) with his Five-Two, that he either patented or trademarked. I have made both 5/2's and and 5/3's for Strat bridge pickups and it is a great idea. The best way I can describe it is that for the first time it sounds like all 6 strings are from the same guitar. If that sounds bizarre to you, try such a pickup and you'll immediately get it. Have tried it on middle and neck and don't care for the results there nearly as much (with the possible exception of uber-low (sub-6k) winds) -- plain strings lose some of their crispness which the bridge by nature already has a surplus of that needs taming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    ...he's stuck 1.5mmx5mm neo magnets on top of the polepieces and dropped the pickups. My instant thought on this is that it wouldn't work out well but...it works out fine.

    There's an unusual by-product in that the sound of the magnetic pickups in uncannily close to the piezo-only sound....
    Wait, that's a good thing?

    -rb

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    DON'T FEED THE TROLLS!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    I have a customer with an older Godin LGXT and he's stuck 1.5mmx5mm neo magnets on top of the polepieces and dropped the pickups.
    I'm confused; if you put neo buttons side by side in a parallel formation like this, their natural tendency is to form a +/- -/+ +/- -/+ +/- -/+ array. In order to get them to have all their poles facing in a common direction, you'd have to glue the neo buttons to the pole pieces with an adhesive strong enough to hold then in place. If you just leave it as a +/- -/+ array, I suppose it will work regardless, but you get magnetic nulls in between the pole pieces, and the volume drops off when you perform string bends.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    There's an unusual by-product in that the sound of the magnetic pickups in uncannily close to the piezo-only sound.
    I think the piezo sound is closer to the "default" sound of en electric guitar, and that they sound every associated with an electric guitar arises from a relatively hard knee at an audible resonant cut off. So if the resonant peak is beyond the audible range, it sounds more piezo. If the resonant cut off is audible, but has a soft knee, it sounds more piezo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Antigua View Post
    I'm confused; if you put neo buttons side by side in a parallel formation like this, their natural tendency is to form a +/- -/+ +/- -/+ +/- -/+ array. In order to get them to have all their poles facing in a common direction, you'd have to glue the neo buttons to the pole pieces with an adhesive strong enough to hold then in place. If you just leave it as a +/- -/+ array, I suppose it will work regardless, but you get magnetic nulls in between the pole pieces, and the volume drops off when you perform string bends.
    I think the neo discs in question are oriented through their thickness (though there are discs oriented across their diameter).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Rodgers View Post
    I think the neo discs in question are oriented through their thickness (though there are discs oriented across their diameter).
    I think Antigua's point is that the magnets' "natural tendency" is to flip over because opposites attract.
    They repel each other if you line them up with all poles facing in a common direction- so typically have to be held in place with a strong adhesive.

    -rb

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    Junior Member Tone Cam's Avatar
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    New to the site and hoping there is still some interest in this thread.

    I have spent several years working on composite pole pieces (mixing magnets in single pole pieces) and am not a big fan of NdFeB magnets. Their major contribution to tone comes from eddy current losses in the coatings (nickel with copper undercoat) that are applied to their surfaces to prevent oxidation. This 'dulls out' the tone of an alnico pole piece without adding additional harmonics.
    I made a couple of short recordings of a pickup with and without 1/32 thick NdFeB bottom pole caps and can send them to you if you want to contact me by email.

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