#1
So commonly used in stacked humbuckers? Is there a specific reason for it? I know there are some alnico stacked HB out there, but there are a lot more ceramics as far as I know. Would there be any problem with replacing the ceramic magnet with an alnico 5 magnet in an Air Norton S, like becoming too warm?
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#2
It's the same reason why cheaper single coil pickups have a ceramic bar magnet instead of alnico pole pieces. A thin ceramic bar produces a bright, snappy tone similar to alnico pole pieces and it's a lot cheaper to produce and use. Of course the tone becomes slightly more compressed and not as detailed, but in cheaper pickups and stacked singles this doesn't matter so much because in the former you don't expect great response because of the price and in the latter you can't expect such clarity because of the humbucker nature of the stacked coils. So that's it, it's just cost and ease really. There are stacked humbuckers in a single coil size case that use separate alnico pole pieces but they end up sounding about the same as if they had a single ceramic bar magnet and they cost a lot more, so there's not much point worrying.
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#3
Umm...the Air Norton has an alnico 5 magnet. It mainly has to do with tone and output. Ceramic pickups are hotter than alnico pickups and alnico pickups have more dynamic response. Alnico 2s tend to be bright and Alnico 5s tend to be warm. The reason you see so many ceramic pickups is because most aftermarket pickups are designed to add more output. That's how the aftermarket pickup industry started.
#4
Quote by JELIFISH19
Ceramic pickups are hotter than alnico pickups
The alnico VII and VIII would like a word with you.

and alnico pickups have more dynamic response.
Not true. Do not confusing colouring the tone as being more responsive, it's quite the opposite.

Alnico 2s tend to be bright and Alnico 5s tend to be warm.
Other way around.
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#5
Quote by JELIFISH19
Umm...the Air Norton has an alnico 5 magnet.


I'm talking about the Air Norton S - a.k.a the stacked Air Norton - which uses a Ceramic magnet.

And Flibble, you confused me by comparing Alnico pole pieces (like a Stag Mag right?) with a ceramic bar (like the Air Norton S, right?). What about an alnico bar vs a ceramic bar. Sorry if I misunderstood you; I'm a little confused about pickups in general.
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#6
An alnico bar, assuming we're talking about a regular alnico II or V bar, would give a more rounded tone than the ceramic with more emphasis on the mid-range and less defined string separation. This is quite different to how alnico pole pieces sound. Most stacked humbuckers are trying to emulate the normal single coil tone, which you wouldn't get if you used an alnico bar magnet. This is also why P-90s and split humbuckers don't sound like a Fender-style single coil pickup, an alnico bar magnet has a very different, smoother tone than separate pole pieces.

Hence ceramic bar magnets in stacked humbuckers. Their brighter tone is closer to the sound of alnico pole pieces than an alnico bar is. If you made a stacked humbucker in a single coil size with an alnico bar magnet, it would sound more like a P-90.
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#7
So does that mean that an alnico magnet would be best for the in-between-single-coil-and-humbucker-but-leaning-towards-humbucker sound?
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#8
It's because ceramic magnets can produce a stronger magnetic field, so you can use less winds on each coil to get the desired output. Less winds mean your stacked pickup will not be too high and fit into regular size cavities.

A magnet itself has no tone, a well skilled pickup winder can design a good pickup with the same tone around any magnet. And before certain flamers chime in, that comes from Bill Lawrence: http://www.billlawrence.com/Pages/Pickupology/magnets.htm

Quote by Bill Lawrence
Ceramics vs Alnico

When I read that ceramic magnets sound harsh and alnico magnets sound sweet, I ask myself, " Who the hell preaches such nonsense?" There are harsh-sounding pickups with alnico magnets and sweet-sounding pickups with ceramic magnets and vice-versa! A magnet by itself has no sound, and as a part of a pickup, the magnet is simply the source to provide the magnetic field for the strings. The important factor is the design of a magnetic circuit which establishes what magnet to use.

Though ceramic magnets cost less than alnico magnets of equal size, a well-designed magnetic circuit using ceramic magnets costs much more than the six Alnico 5 magnets of a traditional single coil pickup!
#9
Eh, debatable. Personally I don't think there is quite as much of a tonal difference between specific types of magnet as some people would have you believe, but there definitely is some and even if two pickups with different magents sounded the same, they would still respond differently.

For example, get a typical alnico II pickup and stick a ceramic bar in there - you'll easily tell the difference right away. Much brighter, much clearer bass, more compressed response. If you replaced that alnico II bar with an alnico III one though then yeah, I personally wouldn't expect to tell such a difference, if any. I think this is why the most popular magnets used in pickups are alnico II, V and ceramics - they're actually spread far enough apart from each other that you can tell a difference. If every single pickup used alnico IV or V magnets only, I doubt anyone would know which was which.


Quote by bingeandletgo
So does that mean that an alnico magnet would be best for the in-between-single-coil-and-humbucker-but-leaning-towards-humbucker sound?
Yes. Stacked humbuckers in a single coil size with an alnico bar magnet tend to sound very similar to P-90s or Firebird pickups, which are both between Fender-style single coils and Gibson-style humbuckers in terms of tone.
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