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Thread: US made pickup magnets ?

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    Member GroundskeeperWillie's Avatar
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    US made pickup magnets ?

    I was wondering who makes magnets in the US ,If i remember correctly Arnoldsmagnetics use to make them .
    I'm asking because Rob Chapman's new V2 line of guitars built in Indonesia comes with magnets from an American company ..First thing i thought it may be an american company that gets magnets made in China .
    I notice he does not say made in the USA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubelY4JQwJ4

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    Quote Originally Posted by GroundskeeperWillie View Post
    I was wondering who makes magnets in the US ,If i remember correctly Arnoldsmagnetics use to make them .
    I'm asking because Rob Chapman's new V2 line of guitars built in Indonesia comes with magnets from an American company ..First thing i thought it may be an american company that gets magnets made in China .
    I notice he does not say made in the USA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubelY4JQwJ4
    Unless you are going for an expensive custom made magnet (like reverse engineering a vintage magnet from a PAF), most if not all of the so called "US magnet manufacturers" are importing the run of the mill Alnico grades from China. Otherwise they would state "Made in the USA" on their product you bought and on their site which they never have when I bought from them in the past.

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    Old Timer Possum's Avatar
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    When I had the first rough sand cast alnico recreated back in about 2007, I had Allstar and Magnetic Hold both work with the Chinese to accomplish that and I told them what I wanted. Reverse engineering old alnico doesn't really work, the basic ingredients don't exist in the same form or sources, and the Chinese will lie to you and tell you they followed your recipe. Despite all that, the ones Allstar made I have substituted those in real vintage PAF's and you couldn't hear any difference between old and new. There IS something different about them because the old magnets wouldn't hold much of a charge, while the newer ones can hold nearly double the charge. Magnets weren't much a part of that sound. I bought Arnold magnets in the past, I used them in one of my early attempts to make sense of the PAF puzzle and for a Strat set. Neither of those two pickup sets every sold more than 2 sets in 15 years because they were extremely bland and lifeless, I still have them, and I still have a fair amount of the first rough cast magnets as well. I have a theory that the rough cast magnets are less dense than the ones cut from solid blocks of alnico, but its just a theory. Arnold made Strat magnets for Fender back in the 90's, and there were complaints from so many customers, that they brought some pickup guy in to trouble shoot the problem, don't remember who it was or whether he figured it out. I had one of those Strats and the pickups just made you want to put the guitar away in the closet ;-) I wonder how many here even remember that we all used Korean magnets for years? They made great alnico, Chinese put them out of business by selling for cost. I buy from many sources and test them out, some are good for some things, others for other things. Pays to have a pallet of choices.

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    http://www.SDpickups.com
    Stephens Design Pickups

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    https://www.thomas-skinner.com
    These guys still have a foundry or two in the US. They do a lot of military work so they might not be that interested in twos and threes of guitar magnets.

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    https://www.azind.com/ can make bar magnets.
    However with pricing what it is, usually scares most winders away.
    You can email them attn: Mark, at
    Purchasing Department: info@azind.com
    They sell lots of chinese magnets too, and said they have a lot of customers.
    T
    **I'm partial to Magnet hold magnets, but they are straight from china !

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    Courage is being Scared to Death, but Saddling up anyway! (John Wayne)

    Terry

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    Reverse engineering old alnico doesn't really work, the basic ingredients don't exist in the same form or sources
    Reverse engineering of old alnico is certainly possible (maybe not with Chinese manufacturers). It has been done successfully. The main challenge is not the chemical composition but finding the appropriate (low-tech) heat treatment process, which strongly influences final magnetic properties.

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    Last edited by Helmholtz; 04-05-2019 at 09:42 PM.
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    Senior Member LtKojak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmholtz View Post
    Reverse engineering of old alnico is certainly possible (maybe not with Chinese manufacturers). It has been done successfully. The main challenge is not the chemical composition but finding the appropriate (low-tech) heat treatment process, which strongly influences final magnetic properties.
    There are several hi-tech permanant magnets in China where they have mass spectrometers and computerized annealing process, so they can accurately match the B/H curve of a vintage magnet by adjusting some of the variables, so they can replicate the B/H curve and the charge they can take, so there's no difference at all... and with a relatively affordable price tag, plus they can save your formula, so they can pour your recipe at any time you need; and they'll even made test batches.

    I've made several batches of vintage mags in A2, A3, A4 and UOA5, both long and short, and man, what a result I got! Unfortunately, the bank didn't authorize the loan I asked for so I couldn't go public with it.

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    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
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    Great!

    I personally prefer to work with a traditional European manufacturer where I can be in direct contact with the R&D department and have control over all intermediate results.

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    Last edited by Helmholtz; 04-06-2019 at 12:07 AM.
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    Senior Member LtKojak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmholtz View Post
    Great!

    I personally prefer to work with a traditional European manufacturer where I can be in direct contact with the R&D department and have control over all intermediate results.
    Who have you been in contact with? All the mag vendors in Italy actually re-sell chinese-made mags. Only the magnetic fixtures specifically made for the military and auto industry are made in the foundries located in Italy, the alnico bar mags and rods for p'ups are exclusively made in China. Who in Germany is actually locally pouring batches for bar- and rod mags for p'ups?

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    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
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    There are still traditional cast alnico manufacturers in Europe. My partner in this project invested in tooling and we transferred PU know-how to the supplier. I agreed not to publish the company's name for the time being. So far my experience is with reengineering of PAF bar magnets.

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    Last edited by Helmholtz; 04-07-2019 at 06:07 PM.
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    The UK had foundries in Sheffield. Not sure if the foundries of the UK still exist though.

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    These guys cast in Sheffield UK https://www.cermagmagnets.co.uk/
    For small orders, they'll grind down larger magnets, but expect to be paying around £5 (US$7)ish for this kinda thing.
    If you want stuff casting to size, you gotta order 200, but then the price gets pretty good at around £1 (US$1.30) Per magnet

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    Do cermag really cast their own alnico or are they a chinese product reseller ? Is anything not made in China anymore?
    Cheers
    Andrew

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the great waldo View Post
    Is anything not made in China anymore?
    Fortune cookies.

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    Enjoy. Every. Sandwich.

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    I spoke to Cermag a few months ago about getting some magnets custom cast and they said they cast their own stuff. Whether they mix their own alnico alloys or import them from china, I've no idea.

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    Member jack briggs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    Fortune cookies.

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    Supporting Member JGundry's Avatar
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    Arnold and Thomas and Skinner are the only two magnet makers I know if that formulate and cast magnets in the USA. Permanent magnet used to also but they are out of business. AZ grinds in the USA but with Chinese material the last time I checked. I asked AZ for a quote years ago for cast and formulated int he USA and after a few weeks they sent me a quote that was significantly more than either Arnold or T&S.

    The reason USA made is different amounts to history of making magnets for guitar pickups over many decades. That matters because both formulation and heat treating processes affect the tone of the finished magnET and both Arnold and T&S have records as they relate to guitar pickups that go back much further than what you will find overseas.

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    They don't make them like they used to... We do.
    www.throbak.com
    Vintage PAF Pickups Website

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    both Arnold and T&S have records as they relate to guitar pickups that go back much further than what you will find overseas.
    That makes sense, but the question is: Are they actually making (or willing to make) the magnets as they used to over 60 years ago?

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LtKojak View Post
    Who have you been in contact with? All the mag vendors in Italy actually re-sell chinese-made mags. Only the magnetic fixtures specifically made for the military and auto industry are made in the foundries located in Italy, the alnico bar mags and rods for p'ups are exclusively made in China. Who in Germany is actually locally pouring batches for bar- and rod mags for p'ups?
    Same here.
    There´s only 2 magnet factories left, one specializing in cheap ceramics (think fridge magnets and such), the other in Alnico.

    They have tons of highest quality Alnico, because their customer is Argentine Navy.

    They reverse engineered (a.k.a. "copied") German made wire guided torpedoes from the late 70´s which we are forbidden to buy since 1982 so the design was "frozen" there ... and that German torpedo used Alnico in all its electromechanical devices so the clones do the same.

    Ridiculously expensive?

    Maybe, but when has cost been a problem for the Military?

    I guess the Iranians are doing something similar with their cloning of 1970´s Hawk missiles and Northrop F5 light fighters.

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    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    Senior Member LtKojak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmholtz View Post
    That makes sense, but the question is: Are they actually making (or willing to make) the magnets as they used to over 60 years ago?
    Unless they actually inherited the necessary molds, to "gear up" the newest foundries is simply too expensive for producing permanent bar and rod Mags, so I don't think any foundry would do anything different than order the mags from the Chinese foundries, which in most cases are ISO 9000 certified, have all the necessary molds and computer-controlled annealing processes, so accurately reproducing the B/H curves of old mags's been possible for some time now. I've been testing foundries for several years with big success; unfortunately, no bank would grant me the necessary capital to start a business.

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    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
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    If the originals are sand cast then there's not much need for a mold, just a plug, usually wood, that the sand gets packed around. The plug is then removed and the mixture is poured into the cavity in the sand. Once it cools the sand is busted up leaving a rough-looking magnet that can then be ground to final dimensions. Typically you would line up several or many plugs in the same sand mold and pour all of them at once.

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    I've been getting my Alnico rods from Cullen-Legois Manufacturing in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. They are a small manufacturer that specializes in magnetic tools for the machine shop. They also stock Alnico rod and bar magnets of many sizes. They buy their raw castings from China, but they cut and grind them in house. They are a little more expensive than other sources, but I like them because their magnets are very accurately sized and consistent quality.

    I believe they will cut & grind magnets to custom sizes, with a quantity order.

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    Member jack briggs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JGundry View Post
    I asked AZ for a quote years ago for cast and formulated int he USA and after a few weeks they sent me a quote that was significantly more than either Arnold or T&S.
    And Arnold's pricing has gotten really out of hand!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    Fortune cookies.
    That is pretty funny!

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    Supporting Member JGundry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LtKojak View Post
    Unless they actually inherited the necessary molds, to "gear up" the newest foundries is simply too expensive for producing permanent bar and rod Mags, so I don't think any foundry would do anything different than order the mags from the Chinese foundries, which in most cases are ISO 9000 certified, have all the necessary molds and computer-controlled annealing processes, so accurately reproducing the B/H curves of old mags's been possible for some time now. I've been testing foundries for several years with big success; unfortunately, no bank would grant me the necessary capital to start a business.
    The sand molds are destroyed every time the magnets are cast. The original counter molds last forever and they still have the molds. Watch this video that shows how Alnico is made. The video was shot at the now out of business Permanent Magnet Company.


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    They don't make them like they used to... We do.
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