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Ceramic Pickups

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by nicod98, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. YoGeorge

    YoGeorge Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 16, 2003
    Michigan
    Wilkinson pickups are made in China or Korea. They seem to "overlook" labeling their stuff as to country of origin more than some other brands. Although Chinese and Korean products can be just fine...I am typing this on a Chinese Thinkpad laptop computer and it's as good as laptops get....
     
  2. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    AlNiCo pole piece pickups can cover the tonal area of the ceramic and steel, but the reverse is not true. The steel pole pieces are the real "problem", they push the inductance up, which moved the resonant frequency down, and they eddy currents caused due to their high conductivity dampens the resonant peak. AlNiCo pole pieces exhibit less of both. The trick of it is that there are external ways to accomplish both effects with AlNiCo pickups: move the resonant frequency down with a cap (just like a tone control at zero) , or damped the Q factor with parallel resistance (like a tone control not fully at zero). AlNiCo pole pieces are much stronger than ceramic steel, but this is easy to account for: simply lower the AlNiCo pole pickup away from the strings.

    One mod I like to do is like a veritone for Strat https://www.instructables.com/id/Varitone-mod-on-Stratocaster-clone-guitar/ , but with the inductor and resistors omitted from the scheme, so that you basically just pump up the capacitance and move the peak frequency down into "humbucker" territory. If you take an AlNiCo pickup, and dial in 3pF capacitance or so across the pickup, lower the pickup away from the strings, and roll back on the tone control a few notches, it will then closely resemble a ceramic steel pickup both electrically and physically.
     
    Bruxist and ndcaster like this.
  3. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

    Apr 17, 2007
    Big D
    I don't know what makes a good pick up sound good. I have heard pickups from the same guitars where one pup just sounds better than the other.

    I had a squier strat that I love to play. It was a special run and sounds fabulous with the ceramic pups. But I thought it would sound even better with Alinico pups. I was wrong. The Alinicos sounded OK but lacked something that the ceramics had with that specific guitar.

    It is all plug and play until you find something that speaks the way you want it.
     
    Deneb and hellopike like this.
  4. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    Well it all has to do with your personal preferences.
     
    hellopike likes this.
  5. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

    Apr 17, 2007
    Big D
    I hear ya. I had a friend who was so excited about the new guitar and amp he just purchased. He brings it practice and he sounds horrible. He kept telling us it sounded good and we all later got together and agreed his tone was worse. It took about two months and then he brought the old guitar and a different amp back. He had traded the new amp and guitar. Tone was better but then a month later he was back to his original set up.

    Tone is all subjective and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
     
  6. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    I think you're just SOL in terms of ceramic 'boutique' pickups, and it wouldn't matter if you lived next door to SD, Joe Dimarzio, Mr Tonerider or Fred Flintstone pickups. Benefit or no, global warming catastrophe or no.

    No-one makes quality, ceramics in single coils because there's no call for them. You can get All 2,3,4,5,8 in various pickups and magnetised to different gauss they will give a rainbow of flavours without re-engineered pickups. I think apart from Qtr Pounders there's one Rio pickup and use to be Rhett Rhodes(?) that used steel poles. Just no call for them. No-one will R&D and tool for something that will be poison in the market.

    In PAFs-type hummers, Filter'trons not much better. People associate alnico with high-end and ceramic with low quality because that's where they're used. There's some like JB59s where ceramic is used, high output P90s, some metal pups.
     
  7. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    39
    Oct 3, 2015
    Philadelphia
    Rose pickups makes at least one ceramic pickup, the freedom t-90 is ceramic by design. It is a neck pickup. Otherwise I agree with whoever said you’re out of luck living in Belgium with the high import costs.

    What I’m confused about your quest is you said you want consistency in the pickups, and the ability to buy a specific sound (which leads me to believe you’d like to buy multiples of specific pickups) but then in the next message you say you like each of your guitars to be different. Which is it? My suggestion would be to find pickup wonders that are local, and physically travel to them if you can and stock up.
     
  8. nicod98

    nicod98 Tele-Holic

    956
    Jul 7, 2014
    Belgium
    If a pickup that can be easily described as brand X, model Y is consistent, then if I buy brand X, model Y one year later, it should sound the same.

    So if you like the sound of the pickups in my guitar, I can tell you to buy brand X, model Y, and you'll have basically the same pickup. Same goes the other way around if I like how your pickups sound. It's a bit difficult if there are no brands or model types.

    I do have some guitars where I have different combinations. To go back to the Wilkinsons, just for test purposes I bought a ceramic and an alnico set and put them in two different guitars. I quite liked how the alnicos sounded, but I didn't like the combination of both ceramics. I swapped one pickup, and now have two different Alnico/ceramic hybrid guitars, that bouth sound GREAT (to me). I did end up buying a second (in this case alnico) Wilkinson bridge pickup for another guitar. That was possible, because there was a brand and model available, and it sounded exactly the same.

    I have guitars that have the same neck pickup combined with different bridge pickups (like one with a single coil bridge, and the other with humbucker). I did that on purpose, because I liked how they sounded. In the end both guitars sound pretty different.

    So I don't see why wanting consistency would not be possible in combination with wanting different sounds from different guitars.

    It's like buying a car. If you really like your car because it is great, and hardly get to drive it, you might want to buy the same car for your wife. Of course, she might want another color, and other options, but It would be pretty stupid if the second one you got (same brand, reseller, basically the same model & specs, ....) really sucked, couldn't drive more than 50 kph or mph, had no breaks, ...).
     
  9. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    39
    Oct 3, 2015
    Philadelphia
    Fair enough, I can see where you’re coming from. My next question though is why the prejudice against gfs or dragon fire; you call them “no name Far East” pickups but they’re quality made, to a spec consistently and sell pretty well. I think that’s about the best you’re going to get with ceramics. Good luck on your hunt.
     
  10. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    There is nothing wrong with the quality of modern ceramic Strat and Tele pickups. They are well made and wax potted. The issue with these pickups is not quality, but the extent to which they are able to sound like vintage AlNiCo pickups, and they never will, because physics.
     
    CFFF likes this.
  11. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    Ceramic is used in Bill Lawrence's L280/L290, which is about as versatile as a pickup can get.
     
    Golem and Deneb like this.
  12. Platefire

    Platefire Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    71
    Nov 3, 2003
    North Louisiana around Many
    I'm finally giving ceramics a chance before pulling them out. I'm finding some I really like or either my hearing gone bad:>/
     
  13. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Friend of Leo's

    Apr 3, 2015
    Winchester, VA
    If nobody mentioned getting a set of Fender ceramics (the ones that you'll find all over eBay because they were originals in MIM guitars), then I am mentioning it now.
     
    stnmtthw likes this.
  14. Rockbreaker

    Rockbreaker Tele-Meister

    499
    Mar 19, 2011
    Long Island
    Geezz guys! it's not like buying a condo...
     
    PeterUK likes this.
  15. stnmtthw

    stnmtthw Friend of Leo's

    Apr 2, 2012
    New Mexico
    This. Lots of people pulled the ceramic pickups out of their MIMs to "upgrade" them. I see them all the time on Reverb.

    I left the ones in my MIM because I like them. They are pretty dang good, to my ears.
     
    3-Chord-Genius likes this.
  16. Controller

    Controller Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jun 11, 2010
    Montana
    I have had some similar thoughts as the OP. I really like some of the ceramic pickups and others not so much. I don't go by the magnet but what they sound like to me. My taste in pickups is a bit out of the mainstream it seems. I have GFS Retrotron Nashvilles and GFS Goldfoil Ferrites, both ceramic and they are great in my hollowbody and semi-hollow respectively. Guitarists are very conservative and do not change their thinking easily. Ceramics are perceived as cheap so many rip them out without a second thought. Each pickup has its own sound and characteristics so it is hard to make a rule about what I am going to like. It makes shopping for pickups a bit maddening. I am probably going to get a set of Tele ceramics from the discontinued Standards because I also like them. I am not so concerned about the boutique pickups, either ceramic or alnico.
     
  17. nicod98

    nicod98 Tele-Holic

    956
    Jul 7, 2014
    Belgium
    In my original post and the one you responded on I actually explained why I don't want no brands.... (but since I have no other choice...)

    My "prejudice" is that I have no guarantee of that consistency, as far as I have seen, all lack - at least visual - quality, and I cannot import them, unless I'm willing to pay as much as let's say Seymour Duncans or DiMarzios.

    I would be willing to pay as much, if the service (like factory warranty) and the quality (like the explained persistence, like nicely finished bobbins, like so many little things) were equal.
    And those things just are NOT true for any of the cheapo pickups I've bought so far, even though are pretty good. The only brand so far that is consistent and recognizable (so easily re-orderable) is Wilkinson. But the finish (look and feel of the bobbins, even the logo) on the ceramics is horrible compared to the alnico versions.

    In fact, except for like the ones in my Fender MIM Standard, so far, for all the ceramic single coils I have, the plastic parts just yell "cheap pickup" at you (the sound of some is great, as I explained).

    This thread has actually learned me, that what I want does not really exist. Thank you all for the input.
     
  18. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ

    I mentioned Bill Lawrence's L280/L290, which is in no way a cheaply made budget pickup.
     
  19. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Friend of Leo's

    Apr 3, 2015
    Winchester, VA
    It's so funny, because these pickups have tons of grit, attitude, and nastiness... basically, everything you want in a stratocaster - but people dump them because they're ceramic.
     
    stnmtthw likes this.
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