Differences In Guitar Pickup Magnets

Posted on by Kat King

There are a lot of components that go into shaping the character of a pickup’s sound. Everything from the gauge of the wire, the amount of turns, the pitch of the winding, whether it’s wax potted and one of the most important elements, the magnet. We recently teamed up with Alex Myla to produce these clips showing the same pickup with the same amp settings but with different magnet types to show you how the sound of the pickup changes with a different magnet type.

In these examples, Alex used the Pearly Gates/Custom Hybrid that he ordered from the Custom Shop. The Hybrid combines coils from the Pearly Gates – which is known for that sweet Texas rock blues sound – with the Duncan Custom which has a hot P.A.F. sound with a more distinct mid/high range attack.

All these examples are recorded with the same guitar and same amp settings. Pop on some headphones to get the most out of them as some of the differences are subtle.

Alnico II:

Alnico V:

Alnico VIII:


The difference becomes even more pronounced when playing clean.

Alnico V:


So what can you expect from these magnets?

Alnico II is a lower output magnet that is smooth and usually has just a bit of warmth.

Alnico V has more scooped mids and tighter in the low end. Provides some bite and sparkle.

Alnico VIII is generally between Ceramic and Alnico V, with quite a bit of magnetic pull, punchy with upper mids but a little more warmth than ceramic.

Ceramic is quite strong and gives a very bright tone. It retains articulation and clarity even with heavy distortion which makes it suited for heavy distorted styles.

Which of these magnets do you think sounded best?

Written on June 26, 2013, by Kat King

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