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Thread: Ceramic vs Alnico

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    Member dozer356's Avatar
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    Default Ceramic vs Alnico

    Hello all again, Just a few questions, I have got a Jackson DK2 that I want to replace the bridge pickup and was going to go with a Duncan Custom SH-5, with a ceramic, and it specs are 7/6/9 on the bass/mid/treb, but I was looking further into a Alternative 8 and it has an Alnico VIII Bar, with specs @ 7/8/9 on the bass/mid/treb, what is the best and what kind of sound differences in these pickups are to be expected. Also I replaced the Jackson FR Lic. Trem bridge and put a FR Pro Trem in its place so that may make differences as well, tell me what you guys think about the Pups with my guitar.. Thanks Again
    Last edited by dozer356; 10-18-2009 at 07:21 PM.

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    Toneologist NevermindUs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    just as a heads up, we really cant give that much of an opinon without knowing what amp, pedals, and what kind of music you play. and neither is better, theyre just going to give you different versions of a sound
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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    Some of us don't agree with the EQ's listed for PU's. Maybe it's our guitars, or woods, or gear.

    To my ears, ceramics are very bright & harsh, even with 250K's. Alnicos have more color & a warmer, organic character to their sound. More natural sounding. I play blues & classic rock, and am a big alnico fan.

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    Minion of One Andrew Lamprecht's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    I mostly play with alnicos although I do have a ceramic bridge pup that I like.

    But I agree with Nevermind Us. We need more info bro!
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    Alnicos are more organic. I mostly like using Ceramics in neck pickups to tighten and brighten them up. I don't mind the harshness in the neck where as for the bridge I like an open and natural sort of tone which is where the alnicos come in.

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    Member dozer356's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    Well, guys sorry about the lack of info, my axe consist of HSS, my rig I play through is a MESA Mark IV half stack, I use Digitech RP1000 effects for my chorus and delay, and etc.. I like to play mostly metal, I like the mesa boogie sound like that of Megadeth, I play alot of old Dokken and Ratt, Queensryche, and DreamTheater, mostly old hair band stuff, but with that true MESA sound. I hope this helps, Also I take it that the Alnico is a smoother more rounded sound than that off a ceramic, I have only used ceramic mag Pups, so I was wondering about the Alnicos, Thanks again

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    Mojo's Minions JohnnyGuitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    It's a little hard to compare the Alternative 8 to the Custom by their type of magnet alone because the winding is different.

    There are also a few types of alnicos as you probably know and alnico pickups might also not sound that smooth, I wouldn't describe the classic PAFs as smooth...

    I'm not much of a humbucker user so I'm not the one who should give you this recommendation but the best way to find out the difference between magnets when all other conditions are given is to make a magnet swap in the same pickup. Use the search option - this topic is very popular here lately.

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    Mojo's Minions Petrovsk Mizinski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    Organic, what a horrible buzzword, seriously.
    I'm sure we can find other more descriptive words to describe the difference between ceramic and alnico.
    Both are totally natural and organic sounding, after all it's all pickups in the end, not some digital simulation of them.

    The OP has a DK2, and they have a JB as stock, so seriously, you're not gonna get much better than that in an Alder guitar. I'd go so far to say it's literally the most perfect pickup you can get in that particular guitar.
    I vote just learn to work with it.
    JB complements the guitar ridiculously well, that I can honestly only really imagine the other alternatives are either EMGs or Blackouts.
    I've used a friend's DK2S for tracking some stuff before(same thing as the DK2, but with the Sustainer pickup system) and for a JB equipped guitar, it was **** tight sounding and worked well in a mix.

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    Mojo's Minions JohnnyGuitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    Quote Originally Posted by Petrovsk Mizinski View Post
    Organic, what a horrible buzzword, seriously.
    I'm sure we can find other more descriptive words to describe the difference between ceramic and alnico.
    Both are totally natural and organic sounding, after all it's all pickups in the end, not some digital simulation of them.
    Yep, I thought about it when I wrote my comment and forgot to add it. I really not sure what organic means but it's a word I'd use to describe Steve Morse's tone - and he used ceramic pickups. Can't say that Super Distortions and Tone Zones don't give an organic sound. That is, if I knew what organic meant...



    Quote Originally Posted by Petrovsk Mizinski View Post
    The OP has a DK2, and they have a JB as stock, so seriously, you're not gonna get much better than that in an Alder guitar. I'd go so far to say it's literally the most perfect pickup you can get in that particular guitar.
    I vote just learn to work with it.
    JB complements the guitar ridiculously well, that I can honestly only really imagine the other alternatives are either EMGs or Blackouts.
    I've used a friend's DK2S for tracking some stuff before(same thing as the DK2, but with the Sustainer pickup system) and for a JB equipped guitar, it was **** tight sounding and worked well in a mix.
    And the JB is an alnico 5 pickup.

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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyGuitar View Post
    Yep, I thought about it when I wrote my comment and forgot to add it. I really not sure what organic means but it's a word I'd use to describe Steve Morse's tone - and he used ceramic pickups. Can't say that Super Distortions and Tone Zones don't give an organic sound. That is, if I knew what organic meant...



    And the JB is an alnico 5 pickup.
    And a **** good alnico 5 pickup at that

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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    Quote Originally Posted by Petrovsk Mizinski View Post
    Organic, what a horrible buzzword, seriously.
    I'm sure we can find other more descriptive words to describe the difference between ceramic and alnico.
    Both are totally natural and organic sounding, after all it's all pickups in the end, not some digital simulation of them.
    Please make some 'approved' suggestions yourself. If you don't, we'll keep using the terms we have been.

  12. #12
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    Quote Originally Posted by blueman335 View Post
    Some of us don't agree with the EQ's listed for PU's. Maybe it's our guitars, or woods, or gear.

    To my ears, ceramics are very bright & harsh, even with 250K's. Alnicos have more color & a warmer, organic character to their sound. More natural sounding. I play blues & classic rock, and am a big alnico fan.
    To my ears ceramic is not overly bright or harsh at all - even with 500K pots. But that said, I do prefer alnico magnet pickups because (in Blueman335's own words) the tone is more "organic". I really like that description he came up with, even though I disagree with his constant suggestion to go with 250K pots! To me 250K pots with a humbucker makes for a very dull lifeless tone. The exception would be the Duncan JB which many find to be a bit to aggressive in the treble - 250K pots calm that pickup down in a good way.

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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    JB and Alder = just about right high end content.
    It gives the sound a good air.

    The OP wants to play some Dream Theater (he does mention other bands, but I'm not really familiar with them, well a degree I know Queensryche but well enough to cast serious judgement).
    No question about it, most of the Dream Theater tone, well John Petrucci tone, from album to album, comes from a Mark IV head, a Mark IIC+ head, Dual Rectifier head, or Road King heads.
    He has pretty much always relied on basswood body guitars, whether it was Ibanez, or his current EBMM JP models.
    So guitar wise you're not quite there.

    I think you might want to jump ship to Dimarzio and a put a D-Sonic in there if you want something tighter than the JB for the Dream Theater tones.

    However, Michael Wilton does in fact use a JB in an alder body, so tonally you're there guitar wise, but not really amp wise (he uses Hughes and Kettner right now).

    So ultimately it's up to you.
    I would say you can do no wrong just learning to work with your JB ad understanding it, and the next best is a D-Sonic.

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    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    One more thing. Words are not the thing itself. Words are like a finger pointing at the moon - not the moon.

    When the word "quack" was first used to describe the tone of a Strat when the neck & middle pickups or middle & bridge pickups were combined was used to describe that setting I thought it was cool but not really a word that I would use to describe what I heard. Now that word is used to describe single coils and I'm not even sure many of those who use that description know what quality the description was originally describing.

    Same with "bright", "warm", "crunch", "sizzle", "harsh", and many others.

    People read a description, misunderstand the quality that the author of that description is describing, and then apply that misunderstanding to their bank of "knowledge".

    The only way to "know" something is to experience that something for yourself.

    Experience and knowledge cannot be transmitted any other way, IMO.

    Religions are founded by people who have a spiritual experience that is beyond words. But they put it into words anyway. Then people who have not had that experience worship those words and that's what fundamentalism is: it's worship and reverence of the finger instead of what the finger is pointing at.

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    Mojo's Minions Petrovsk Mizinski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    I've never been able to tie "Quack" and single coils together either.
    It honestly just seems best to describe pickups by their literal low end, low mid, upper mid and high end content, because these aren't really entirely subjective and far less open to miss interpretation.

    When someone tells me high end content, I know that doesn't mean 200 Hz, for example.

    The term organic, on the other hand, I never understood, because who is to say, with absolute concrete fact that a ceramic is "less organic" than an alnico?
    Ultimately a guitar pickup is just that, a guitar pickup, so even if they have tonal differences (ceramic vs alnico) neither is inherently more or less organic.
    And mind you, I have an Alnico II pro in one guitar, and a ceramic mag Blackout (active pickup to boot) bridge in another guitar.
    Sounds vastly different and can be explained by frequency content, yes.
    Is either any more or less organic than the other? I would say no.

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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewguitar View Post
    I do prefer alnico magnet pickups because (in Blueman335's own words) the tone is more "organic". I really like that description he came up with.
    I can't take credit for the term "organic." I've seen it many times here as a description for alnicos. I like the term. Maybe alnicos are more 'analog' or 'complex' sounding. I don't know what terms will please everybody. Popular terms here, like quack and sparkle, aren't really accurate either, but we use them. Someone can gripe about almost any any descriptive term we use.

    We're trying to describe complicated tones, and there really aren't many common words that do that very well. For some people these words conjur up an appropriate mental image, for others they don't. Well leave it to the complainers to come up with better terms; we evidently don't have the necessary imagination. In the meantime, we'll stumble along with what's been used here for years.

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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    Quote Originally Posted by dozer356 View Post
    Well, guys sorry about the lack of info, my axe consist of HSS, my rig I play through is a MESA Mark IV half stack, I use Digitech RP1000 effects for my chorus and delay, and etc.. I like to play mostly metal, I like the mesa boogie sound like that of Megadeth, I play alot of old Dokken and Ratt, Queensryche, and DreamTheater, mostly old hair band stuff, but with that true MESA sound. I hope this helps, Also I take it that the Alnico is a smoother more rounded sound than that off a ceramic, I have only used ceramic mag Pups, so I was wondering about the Alnicos, Thanks again
    Megadeth = JB
    Ratt = JB
    Old Dokken = Duncan Distortion (or JB)
    Queensryche = 59 / PAF
    DreamTheater = ?

    All = MARSHALL!

    In other words, I'd say your amp is going to be a way bigger issue trying to get the sounds you want compared to a pickup. If you plan on sticking with the Mesa, go with what works with a Mesa - EMG's.

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    Member dozer356's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    Well Guys I really appreciate all the sugggestions you all have given to me, but I really like the the JB, I could learn to deal with it, but I really feel that on the high end (treble) it has a little to much for my taste, and on the low end (bass) I feel it lacks on that, for the mids I do like. I was just looking to calm the highs just a little and boost the lows a little more as well, I was looking at EQ settings on those other Pups and thats what made me think of switching out Pups.

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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    Quote Originally Posted by Petrovsk Mizinski View Post
    I've never been able to tie "Quack" and single coils together either.
    I always thought quack came from the in between 2 and 4 positions on a strat. Never heard it used any other way.

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    Default Re: Ceramic vs Alnico

    Quote Originally Posted by blueman335 View Post
    Some of us don't agree with the EQ's listed for PU's. Maybe it's our guitars, or woods, or gear.

    To my ears, ceramics are very bright & harsh, even with 250K's. Alnicos have more color & a warmer, organic character to their sound. More natural sounding. I play blues & classic rock, and am a big alnico fan.
    +100
    Alnico 2 is the best magnet ever invented! A perfect blend of Aluminum, Nickel and Cobalt with a bit of love.
    I do like my Alnico2 Pro very much. It's better to me than any lady friend. AND it doesn't make me get it presents either! Or go see chick-flicks!

    I would describe it as "open" and "full-sounding".
    Last edited by El CHupacabra; 10-19-2009 at 04:22 PM.
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