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

P90 Magnets

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by ftbtx, Nov 3, 2017.

  1. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Holic

    755
    Apr 20, 2014
    Ontario
    Actually, such phenomenon have been shown to be on shaky ground. Take for example, the fairly recent Stradavarius challenge. World master violinists could not reliably discern between a Strad and a recently made good copy. If you had asked them beforehand, what do you think the answer would have been?

    Besides, impressive performance in a certain sphere does not automatically imply such performance in other spheres (contexts, situations...).
     

  2. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Holic

    755
    Apr 20, 2014
    Ontario
    Here is a link to an article, if you scroll down a bit, you can find a list of studies that examined the minimum perceptible dB difference. None of them were able to better 0.75 dB, and they are specifically tailored to favour it (by using pink noise, for example). 1dB has become the rule of thumb as a result of such studies. No magnet swap in a humbucker makes any change in excess of that. If we talk about changes that measure on the order of 0.1-0.2dB, I can only assume that what people are hearing is in their head.
    http://www.audioholics.com/room-acoustics/human-hearing-amplitude-sensitivity-part-1

    An increase in the magnetic field will result in more output, so that can be perceptible if it amounts to a few dB. But changing the pickup height (and volume controls) will also do that. You're left looking at tonal differences, and they are demonstrably miniscule.
     

  3. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

    Jun 5, 2015
    Nashville


    That's a moot point, because no one there is TRAINED to hear each exact violin. I can't tell the difference between two random guitars myself without training over and over to perceive if there are differences. No way I could tell a 'burst from a reissue. BUT, it's possible I could if I played each guitar for a few months and sampled recordings testing myself over and over through trial and error...IF I could find a common difference in timbre.


    Ever go to music school? The same kid who hears a wash of notes/harmonies/melodies with no ability to discern what the heck is going on should graduate being able to dictate a short piece on ONE LISTEN.

    It happens every year. That's not "shakey ground" and if you don't understand ear training first hand then that's problem #1.

    Go to a serious small recording studio with a closet of 5 high vox mic's and 5 high end preamps. I was amazed during my internship that the fella who ran the studio I engineered at could pick out what I recorded the un-tampered voice with EVERY time, must have been 30 or tries I saw it happen, which shocked me considering the same guy didn't have much ear training like I did.



    Ear training is a fact, not "shakey ground."


    "Scientists" who can't see the forest beyond the trees is probably the main reason it's a small discipline in and of itself these days to find out why at least half of all published research findings are false.
     
    Zepfan likes this.

  4. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Holic

    755
    Apr 20, 2014
    Ontario
    Yes, I did, although it was a fundamentals course at night school. However, what you are talking about is not a scientific matter. Science does not presume to measure or explain music. It explains sound. So an ability to identify an Abm7b5 or something like that, after gaining a lot of experience with it comes as no surprise. But while you can train the mind to understand and analyze more effectively, there is no way it can overcome the basic limitations of the senses. For example, I could spend years in Art school and it wouldn't help me see the craters on Mars if I see it in the sky.

    In fact this is a wonderful example of the bias and folly of human reliance on perception, that Percival Lowell saw "canals" on Mars and for years everyone else did too.
     
    BorderRadio likes this.

  5. jimbo735

    jimbo735 Tele-Holic

    626
    Sep 19, 2011
    michigan
    After swapping magnets I find myself still reaching for the tone knobs.
    I could hear subtle differences until I get the amp up to cookin level.
     
    ftbtx likes this.

  6. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

    Jun 5, 2015
    Nashville

    Ignoring the real world and real world experiments while relying on simplified models of function is a far larger folly.


    All this "pickup" nonsense exists in the real world but no one wants to analyze it as thus even though the ability/tools are there.


    Okay, it's only a dB difference between magnets, that's it, right?


    The nice thing is we live in the digital age. These are easy tests with guitar pickups, engineers do far more complex testing on transducers for scientific & programming purposes every day.


    Here's an experiment:

    I dunno, take a tiny speaker, or a smartphone, and set up a bench/jig measuring & gauging so you can repeat your distances so they're as near perfect so as to wash out the dB differences mathematically. Have the speaker aimed at the middle (or wherever signal is best) of the pickup. Just go direct from pickup to AD/DA converter at the highest available sample/frequency rates.

    Start simple and play sin, square, sawtooth, frequency sweeps played at the same volume/distance etc. Then get funky with white/pink noise, a sample of keys rattling.

    Use the best methods current to window/analyze all the date in the time AND frequency domains. (FFT, MQ?, I've been out of the game for a while as you can tell)

    Compare different magnets, or pickups, etc, rinse and repeat.

    Then analyze the treasure trove of data you should have.

    Then, you'll be able to show for fact that the ONLY difference in magnets is a mathematical dB increase which you could have just calculated into all those frequency windows. Or, you won't???? But you'll be stuck with real world data versus using basic models of function to predict a strong bias that's already held.
     

  7. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Holic

    755
    Apr 20, 2014
    Ontario
    What experiments would those be?

    Good experiments try to isolate effects so they are not attributed to the wrong causes. If I construct laboratory equipment that demonstrates the cause of perceived sound to be due to compression waves in air, do I have to defend myself against someone who has a theory about say, giraffe laughter, and insists that my results are not valid because I did not test the special case of giraffes?
     

  8. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    Such experiment have been done by myself and rigatele and other people. The results of my testing are mostly posted on this forum http://guitarnuts2.proboards.com/board/30/pickup-testing-modelling

    What's been found, over and over, is that the test results conform to principles of physics. No magic has been detected to date. What principles of physics and test results show are one and the same. The magnets alter the inductance a little bit, and the difference in magnetic pull alters the output level due to the increase of decrease of corresponding flux change (varied magnetic reluctance) between the moving guitar string and the pickup's coils, as well as increasing or decreasing the asymmetry of the magnetic pull upon the strings (which, when strong enough, causes a chorus-like effect, increase the pull even more and you get "wolf tones").

    When swapping magnets and trying to discern a difference, it's SUPER important to make sure you mount the pickup to the precise height you had it before, because small differences in the pickup height settings make big differences in both magnetic pull and overall output. Most people don't take such care, but they opine about the results anyway. So what informs their evaluation? Some of it's legitimate observation, but some unknown portion comes from bias, what they have seen other people say about what they should be hearing when they swap the magnets. The first time you read someone's impressions about a particular magnet swap, you're spoiled, and no longer a truly impartial observer. You're prompted to expect things you would not have expected otherwise.
     
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  9. Zepfan

    Zepfan Friend of Leo's

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    I've heard it said that different magnets don't have any impact or the impact is only minimal before.
    After many pickups swaps and listening to many pickups, I have to disagree.

    Alnico's in a WRHB can sound good and close to the original CUNIFE pickups, but not exactly like them.
    Alnico 2's-3's-4's-5's have different levels of strength, so why doesn't that make a difference? Minimal you say? sometimes a little bit of difference can make all the difference in the world.

    In the past, I used a cheap set of ceramic magnet pickups that was lackluster in one guitar(Aspen body) and put them in a Oak body guitar that I made and was pleasantly surprised to find that they sounded awesome in that guitar. So I questioned myself about whether wood made a difference in how a pickup will sound. So I tried some other swaps. Alnico 2 singles in a Oak body(neck was muddy bridge was too bright). A5 HB's in the Aspen body was fantastic. Ceramic mini-bucker in my hollow body MIJ guitar was dull - A5 mini-bucker is great.

    Member Deneb has done some great experimentation with magnets(ceramic-alnico-neodymium) with bodies of different types of wood. Nice info found there and you can hear the difference of the pickups used.

    Variables can come into play with wood, recording, pickup adjustment and picking of course, but what I've done on my own tells me what I like and I'll keep doing that no-matter what. Seeing info on a chart isn't the same as hearing with my own ears and how my brain perceives what i'm hearing.

    Do you really think manufacturers would make so many different types and strengths if they didn't make a noticeable difference?
     
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  10. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    It should be a huge red flag when people start saying "as good as" or "worse than". It's like you're claiming objectivity while also making it explicitly clear that you hold expectations.

    Different magnets have lots of different properties, but the question we have to ask is, is the difference frequency dependent, or does it effect something else that is frequency dependent?
     

  11. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

    Jun 5, 2015
    Nashville

    No, I'm not seeing an serious spectral analysis of real word complex audio in any of those papers you linked.



    Spectral Processing programs which provide FFT/TFFT/etc over time/frequency which allow you to visualize windows of spectral content at a specific moment in time are what normally get used in the world of audio engineering, especially whatever the new (since I haven't dug deep in a while) thing that those in the world of digital modeling use. For the most part, digital modeling of real world behaviors/audio is far more complex than it looks according to "the physics" or paper theory. Kind of like how every drug is going to change the world, until you test it!
     

  12. Staypuft1652

    Staypuft1652 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    36
    227
    Mar 7, 2017
    ND, USA
    What Deneb does is awesome.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
    Deneb and Zepfan like this.

  13. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    I didn't link to papers, I linked to a forum, and there are FFT analysis of magnetic pulling effects in several threads.
     

  14. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

    Jun 5, 2015
    Nashville

    That's not real world audio data, though.


    All interesting stuff nonetheless. I might get back into some technical research for fun one day if time decides to become more available.
     

  15. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    Yes it is "real world" audio data. Why would you say it isn't?
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017

  16. Zepfan

    Zepfan Friend of Leo's

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    What about the 5-2 and 5-3 Hybrid pickups some companies have made? Is all that just manufacturer's hype? Or is it based on tonal differences? If the later is true, then we have to admit that those "subtle" differences really make a real world difference.

    Some people seem to want pickups that are made to vintage specs, wound like vintage pickups were wound and higher levels of microphonics because they sound the best for a particular style of music. Others want machine wound, hotter output, less microphonics for other types of music. Some want articulate pickups, some want twang. How the pickups are made and the materials used all contribute to how a pickup will perform.
    Why do some pickups seem better for this or that and in this guitar or that guitar?

    Do pickup makers use hype? Sure they do, but they're only adding to what is already there. IMO
     
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  17. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    Yes and no. Yes, the magnetic reluctance is lower over the AlNiCo 2/3/4 than it is over the AlNiCo 5, so the AlNiCo 2/3/4 string should be louder, but then they have a weaker magnetic field, so the output is brought back down again, with a net result being as though the half the pickup were lowered, the other half raised, with all string sounding even.

    There's merit to that, but then again, we're not assured that the coil specs of the Seymour Duncan Five-Two Strat match that of any regular all AlNiCo 5, or all AlNiCo 2 pickups, so nobody ever truly compares apples to apples. Do you like the magnet pattern, or the 6.6k DC R coil spec? You can't tell which of these two factors produces the outcome you like.

    Then there's the psychoacoustic aspect, where you liked what you read about the pickup, and so you liked what you heard because you expected that you would like it, and you modified your tastes to suit your expectations, to induce satisfaction and stave off disappointment.

    When you use words like "seem", and "sounds best" you answer your own question. It's not necessarily the pickup that's any different, it could be the observer expectations.
     
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  18. Zepfan

    Zepfan Friend of Leo's

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    I see what your saying about the psychological aspects and that may be a reality for some. But I will place a pickup in a guitar and listen to it. Some have been good, some okay and some terrible. I really go by ear. I expected the GFS mini's to sound good in my avatar guitar after hearing so many glowing comments. One the A5 fat mini bridge was great. The ceramic minibird that I expected to work great for the neck, did not. So, I'm not one to let my expectations rule over the results. That ceramic mag pickup may have been better sounding to me in a solid body guitar, but I'll never find out since I decided to convert it to original Firebird specs as far as magnet and steel reflector plate are concerned. If that doesn't work out it'll be yanked out and replaced with a P90.;)

    DCR coil spec vs magnet strength is a good question? When it comes to vintage DCR spec, I tend to like the A3's/A2's the most in bridge and middle positions, A5's for neck. I've liked the SD 5-2's in their videos and sound samples, but I would like to hear them in someone else's guitar in person before going to fan status.;)
    I have a hot set of HB's with A5's that I love in neck and bridge positions.

    Really liked hearing the differences in the ceramic mag pickups that Deneb used in his strats and changed the magnets to neodymium. The bridge pickup was a little too bright till he slightly degaussed the magnet. So I think that could be a case for magnet strength regardless of the DCR. At least for neodymium anyway.
     
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  19. ftbtx

    ftbtx Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Thanks for all this great information, I really learned a lot!!!
     

  20. Tommyd55

    Tommyd55 Tele-Meister

    237
    Sep 25, 2013
    Southern Missouri
    ftbtx likes this.

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