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Thread: Roughcast VS. Polished... How Do They Differ Tonally?

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    X-Files Duckbucker ExplorersRock's Avatar
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    Default Roughcast VS. Polished... How Do They Differ Tonally?

    I apologize if this has been asked before but I am curious and wasn't able to find a a thread successfully via the search. I just got a set of the WLHs and I dig 'em. I know there is more going on between them and the 59s than a roughcast Alnico 5, but given the difference in EQ I was wondering how much of a difference it would make if you just swapped a roughcast mag into say a 59? Or, because I have one and I am DYING to know, a roughcast Alnico 5 in a Custom 5? I'm sure some of you guys have A-to-B compared them and I am dying to know what your findings are.

    Blueman, GuitarDoc, and LT. Kojak... I have a feeling the three of you probably have some great insight here. Any thoughts that you can share?
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    Lord of The Riff darthphineas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roughcast VS. Polished... How Do They Differ Tonally?

    Polished will have a bit more of a brighter quality. Other descriptions might include sharper or crisper....at least, more so than the roughcast which will have a softer vibe than the polished.

    edit to quote blueman on one of the previous magnet threads around here: roughcast mags will "smoothes out the high-end and makes for very nice tones. Best for bridge PU's." that thread can be found here ( http://www.seymourduncan.com/forum/s...-about-magnets ) and is a good primer in general for mag info.
    Last edited by darthphineas; 06-10-2013 at 10:42 AM.

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    Mojo's Minions LtKojak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roughcast VS. Polished... How Do They Differ Tonally?

    Quote Originally Posted by ExplorersRock View Post
    I apologize if this has been asked before but I am curious and wasn't able to find a a thread successfully via the search. I just got a set of the WLHs and I dig 'em. I know there is more going on between them and the 59s than a roughcast Alnico 5, but given the difference in EQ I was wondering how much of a difference it would make if you just swapped a roughcast mag into say a 59? Or, because I have one and I am DYING to know, a roughcast Alnico 5 in a Custom 5? I'm sure some of you guys have A-to-B compared them and I am dying to know what your findings are.

    Blueman, GuitarDoc, and LT. Kojak... I have a feeling the three of you probably have some great insight here. Any thoughts that you can share?
    What it seems a simple question, actually does not have a simple answer.

    Last summer I've started to sell alnico bars to Europeans, so I install a fair amount of them in many different p'ups, mostly Duncans, but also many others, even asian-made.

    Having said that, to answer your question, you can't really tell; as the differences mostly lie in the way the different mags are made, starting with the annealing process, following by the melting process, which have a big influence on the alloys themselves. This actually makes every single batch of magnets slightly different from the other.

    Theorically speaking, polished mags allow a better mechanical coupling with all parts in a hb p'up, which in theory helps to stablish a better foundation for the projected magnetic field through its parts, hence making it "brighter" but, as the alloys for both processes are different, you can't really compare apples to apples.

    And, as all things p'up related, this very reason may not be an asset but a liability.

    Vintage p'ups from the '50s used the cheapest mags they could find, and the polishing process made'em substantially more expensive then, so roughcast were used only as a cost-contaiment solution. The rest is just the romancing of all things vintage.

    For all the reasons stated, *I* stock A2s and A3s polished only. UOA5s, A4s and A8s roughcast only, and I have a bunch of highest-quality, american-made, polished A5s that nobody seems to want, not even as a gift!

    HTH,
    Last edited by LtKojak; 06-09-2013 at 11:40 PM.
    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
    Milano, Italy

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    Ultimate Tone Member jafo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roughcast VS. Polished... How Do They Differ Tonally?

    My experiences, fwiw. (Err, fwtw if you want to be pedantic.) Long story short, UOA5 is just plain better than polished A5 -- more warmth, rounder highs, more character, less sharp... just "vintage," ya know? It's like having all the good parts of A5 and A2.

    OK, to the not-so-epic saga. I have a PRS Santana SE, besically a flat slab of mahogany (nato, actually). I put a CC in its bridge and a Jazz N in the neck, and basically liked the results, but wasn't entirely happy. I ended up switching back and forth between polished A2 and A5 in the Custom bridge, and was never really satisfied. Meanwhile, the A5 in the Jazz N quickly annoyed me; there was something agreeably woody, but just... flabby about it. A4 helped a lot, but seemed too stiff.

    Fast forward a couple of years. I started reading this forum again, and discovered that there were new options. A8 in the bridge was great, but just too hot for what I wanted. A3 gave some really nice sweet tones, but were too weak and pretty for even the Jazz. Then I finally tried UOA5, lowered the pups (more wood than metal in the tone), and finally had an eargasm. For both the Jazz and Custom coils, UOA5 is just right -- rich, warm, but bright tones (I usually have the tone knob down, and with the treble bleed cap removed) that do clean and distorted equally well.

    A5 in the Jazz and Custom were quite good, but they just didn't do clean well. They were too scooped, even in mahogany, and while they had plenty of clarity, they lacked character and warmth. Way too bright. UOA5 might not be a huge difference, but it gave me back the warmth and character I wanted. Cleans were full, distorteds were richer, and life was just better. I still find UOA5 to be a bit bright, but it responds much better to the tone control than polished A5 did.

    Still, it all comes down to the player and his guitar. In a darker guitar, polished A5 would probably be better. In a brighter guitar, A2. I think the best option is to just get a CC or C5, order a bunch of magnets (they're cheap!), and find what works best. But UOA5 is still the best.
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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roughcast VS. Polished... How Do They Differ Tonally?

    Quote Originally Posted by darthphineas View Post
    Polished will have a bit more of a brighter quality. Other descriptions might include sharper or crisper....at least, more so than the roughcast which will have a softer vibe than the polished.

    edit to quote blueman on one of the previous magnet threads around here: roughcast mags will "smoothes out the high-end and makes for very nice tones. Best for bridge PU's." that thread can be found here ( http://www.seymourduncan.com/forum/s...-about-magnets ) and is a good primer in general for mag info.
    Not a huge difference, but roughcasts give a nicer high end in the bridge slot to my ears. Smoother, less harsh. I remember Zhang saying he uses roughcasts in most, or all, or his personal bridge PU's. He's hearing it too.
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