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Magnets! Alnico 3 Vs Alnico 5 Vs Ceramic

a3 a5 alnico c8 Electric Guitar Pickups magnet

Magnets and Output..

In our blog on Pickup output, we learned that output is more than just resistance.... The strength of the magnet has a lot to do with output. Remember that when the string disturbs the magnetic field, it excites the electrons in the wire and induces an AC voltage. Learn more about how pickups work HERE. The force or how hard the "push" is on the electrons is mainly determined by two things. The strength of the magnetic field, and the position of the coil inside it. IMG_0484If we were to move the coil wire to the very edge of the magnetic field, the electrons will be less excited. If the magnet is not as strong, the effect is the same. This has a major effect on the tone. The over all output of the pickup is still very much affected by the resistance (wind length) of the coil, but the magnet is what starts the whole ball rolling.

What is the difference between A3, A5, C8... etc

We commonly see these letters referring to the strength of the pickup magnet. The A stands for Alnico... an alloy made from primarily aluminum, nickel, and Cobalt. The C stands for Ceramic. These are the two most widely used magnet types. The numbers stand for the overall strength of the magnet. HBfieldThis is mostly a marketing representation of the magnetic potential of the material. Most custom pickup builders will actually gaus (magnetize) the material themselves when building the pickup. They are able to decide just how close to the magnetic potential of the material they want to be. The common selections are A2,A3,A5 and C8, in order from weakest to strongest. A couple of notes about magnets. Heat kills. I know you will never heat your guitar up, but exposure to a soldering iron could demagnetize your pickups. Never try to solder directly to the magnets. Speaking of soldering..... NEVER use a trigger type soldering gun to repair your guitar. They work by means of a single wind secondary transformer that will magnetize.... and demagnetize small parts. Keep these away from your guitar at all costs. Watch the video below for more details and a great visual about how magnets affect your tone . Magnets! Alnico 3 Vs Alnico 5 Vs Ceramic  

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  • Greg on

    Hi Dylan – quick question. If the vibrating string disturbs the magnetic field, excites the electrons to produce an A/C voltage, and the strength of the magnet affects the voltage, then wouldn’t stronger magnets then also cause more of the frequency spectrum to go through for the same reasons (more than a weaker magnet)? I.E. pickups with stronger magnets have more frequency response than weaker ones?

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