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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Duncan Broadcaster...why not Alnico III

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by GuitarJonz, Dec 21, 2008.

  1. GuitarJonz

    GuitarJonz Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Just curious...didn't early blackguard Broadcasters use Alnico 3 magnets? I believe that the SD Broadcaster uses Alnico 5, why didn't he use A3? Availability, cost??

  2. Darrell

    Darrell Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Houston, Texas
    probably because

    Fender uses Alnico III on their Nocaster/Broadcaster equivalent offering.

    (To be different)

  3. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mr. Duncan DOES use a lot of alnico 2 and alnico 5 doesn't he?

    I don't think it is cost or availability; although I can imagine in the next few months and years with commodity prices having jumped up and down that there may be some switching to whichever slugs can be found cheaper right now, today, especially lower down the chain. For the same reason I'm using regular gas as its price plunges down ahead of the prices of stale premium gas.

    I think it is Personal Preference. Seymour Duncan likes what he likes, and if he's of the belief he can get to a Broadcaster by way of Alnico 5 slugs, I will not naysay.

  4. Don Mare

    Don Mare Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 22, 2003
    The main thing about AlNiCo is just Gauss - the metals / materials used in the different grades will create different "loads" "inductance " - you can add or remove winds and add the same "load" - so it boils down to Gauss = Strengths

    A possible reason Duncan uses II's is because the old A-3 would gauss up to 750
    and todays A-2 hits 750 gauss - while todays A-3 only hits 650 -

    I have learned to Magnetize my A-3's with the Copper coated Steel Base Plate attached to the pickup - only then do I see the gauss near 700 to 750..

    Also a slightly degaussed A-2 would end up like Fully gaussed A-3

  5. Mitch Roberts

    Mitch Roberts Tele-Holic

    Mar 17, 2003
    Good insight, Don. Thanks for that. I, too, have noticed that Duncan doesn't appear to ever use A3. I have concluded (possibly wrongly) that is why I have never really liked any of the MANY Duncans I have tried. I find myself gravitating to pickups that have A3 magnets. I just never "warmed" up to an A5 based pickup for some reason. However, I don't think I have ever heard an A2 based pickup, but would like to, especially based on what Don has told us.

  6. old_picker

    old_picker Tele-Afflicted

    during the definitive blackguard [broadcaster / nocaster/early tele/ esquire] era leo fender used Alnico 5 for bridge and alnico 3 for neck pickups - according to the blackguard book =- also corroborated by duchossoir

  7. Don Mare

    Don Mare Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 22, 2003
    Read that too. but every Blackgaurd from 50 to 54 Bridge sent here for repairs ->so far has been A 3's - an so were the necks too ( A-3).
    also Fred Stuart and Alan Hamel also
    noticed A-3s were on these years too

  8. yegbert

    yegbert Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 28, 2004
    Maryland (US)
    The only info I see in the Duchossoir book about the AlNiCo grade is in the specifications in the tables on page 62, and that reflects AlNiCo V for the bridge and neck single coils.

    I don't have a copy of the Blackguard book, but from the buzz here when that was coming out I thought the recent research had led many to believe that AlNiCo III was used in the early '50s, and in the mid '50s Fender began using AlNiCo V.

  9. Zhangliqun

    Zhangliqun Tele-Meister

    May 14, 2008
    Los Angeles
    Went to the factory on User Group Day a few years back and Seymour said that via charging to different levels he can get whatever he wants out of just A2 and A5. Rarely uses anything else. He put out a Forum special pickup with Alnico 8 a few months back and I think his lipstick Dano pu uses Alnico 6, but other than that, he's totally faithful to A2 and A5.

  10. rhh7

    rhh7 Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 14, 2008
    Calgary, Canada
    Well, I had my J S Moore custom pickups wound to duplicate the Broadcaster, and he used 43 gauge wire, Alnico III magnets, and 7800 wraps. I think they wound up 7.2k ohms neck, and 7.3k ohms bridge.

  11. DMace

    DMace Friend of Leo's

    Jul 30, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    7800, you sure have to be a patient person to wind pickups. I'd go nuts.

  12. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 21, 2003
    Near BWI Int'l
    That says it all right there - Duncan can achieve the same thing with different magnets. If Jerry Donahue, Brent Mason, and countless others find the II and V acceptable at a bare minimum, SD must have figured this one out.

    One also tends to forget that Leo used whatever was plentiful and cheap - as long as III met those criteria, it was used. It's obvious that Duncan didn't want to chase a specter that was based on economical principles and not tonal ones.

    I'd be willing to bet that if you optimized the gauss that DM suggested, as well as other critical design factors, that you'd never be able to tell the difference in a double blind. So why do others use III? Probably to make the most accurate replicas possible, even if there's no audible advantage. Even DM has admitted that with modern III you have to futz with the magnet processing to make it match the early stuff, so there's still a physical difference even with (new) III.

    The best part is that if the Duncan V or II only thing doesn't float your boat, you can run with any of the III's that are currently offered by others.

  13. mellecaster

    mellecaster Former Member

    I sure wish I had "Dog Ears" like some of you Guys...well as I rethink it, Maybe not......;)

  14. sapi

    sapi Tele-Meister

    Aug 10, 2008
    So what we are saying is basically that an A2 and an A5 at 750 gauss would sound the same in the same pu. Or am i getting it wrong?

  15. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 21, 2003
    Near BWI Int'l
    I actually am intrigued by Scott at Harmonic Design's viewpoint of AII:

    What do Alnico II magnets do to the guitar's sound?

    If you want to 'compress' your sound, Alnico II magnets are the natural way to go. The output will be quite low, but very flat and smooth, and sustain longer. Players either love or hate this sound, depending on how much they like the 'spank', 'pop' or 'dynamic range' of single coil pickups to begin with.
    You will find the compression effect so strong that they don't get much louder, no matter how hard you play, even if you really sock them strings.
    While I've designed and built Alnico II pickups in the past, I think it's more of an 'Anti-Fender' tone, and I've used them mostly on active, pre-amped guitars where there are several electronic benefits from the compressed, lower-output tone. They were used by Fender for these reasons on their 'active' Strats and Teles during the 80's, but keep in mind the active electronics in these guitars restored the dynamic range.

    It kinda makes me wonder where AIII fits into the whole scenario. I have my own thoughts, but feel that they're kinda subjective, so I won't subject anyone else to them (no pun intended).

  16. teleftcaster

    teleftcaster Tele-Meister

    Jun 23, 2007
    I love the tone of my SD Broadcaster. Whatever reasons for the choices he made, I think Mr. Duncan made a great, vintage sounding pickup.

  17. champtone

    champtone TDPRI Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    Saratoga Springs
    Interesting stuff regarding Alnico magnets guys! Can anyone else comment on the sound of the SD Broadcaster pickup?

    I have a '04 Mex Esquire that I'm trying to sweeten up (by replacing the PU amongst other things) and the SD Broadcaster was one PU I'm considering. Going for a period correct vibe with this guitar.


  18. mellecaster

    mellecaster Former Member

    You could do a lot worst...the SD Broadcaster and Fender's Original Vintage 52 are two of my favs, for capturing the Traditional Early Vibe....YMMV

  19. drail

    drail Tele-Meister

    I tried three lead pick-ups in my fender 62 reissue, stock,alnico 2,before trying SD Broadcaster ,which is great for this guitar, the SD alnico 2 where to mellow for me,but the Broadcaster has that twang..

  20. champtone

    champtone TDPRI Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    Saratoga Springs
    Thanks for the response...

    I am also the proud owner of a '52RI which I love......everything is stock and I'm leaving it that way. I'm assuming the stock PUs are the Fender PUs you mention above......they sound great.

    My Esquire has a brighter tone than the '52RI, even when played acoustically so I'm thinking that the SD Broadcaster might even 'er out a bit.

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