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Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by squierjosh, Oct 18, 2019.
Tex Mex pickups are alnico, but they are warm and can get aggressive. I like those too.
Many players 1st auto swap ceramic to alnico because they heard in a magazine article or the Internet that ceramics are as bad Plywood bodies or as not having a MIA logo on the headstock. 2nd set of players swap out ceramic for alnico because they slavishly set pickup heights to some 'factory setup sheet' that says to put the pickups two nickels down from the strings and of course the pickups sound different since the ceramic are hotter than alnico.
I find ceramic MIM Standard (dual bar) pickup tones can change dramatically the last 1/8th to 1/4inch above the pickguard if trying to get the sounds people chase from vintage alnico pickups. However, if you are chasing more modern rock and heavy blues the ceramic can be adjusted higher for a harder hitting output than alnico could ever do.
Keep watch of the Squier Indonesian-made single block ceramic pickups. They are using lower windings and hotter ceramic to cut noise yet give the old bell chime classic Strat tones. Even the MIC Squier I have has the best sounding neck pickup of the MIM/MIA alnicos, surprising some pros that have played it. Part of it is the control electronics (values) as the wrong controls can mess it up, it has half the internal capacitance (like boutique hand-wound pickups) of other branded pickups. If Fender would just get add chunky neck options (and clearly identify) to the Squier bullet and affinity models that would expand their sales.
Doesn't Guthrie Trapp use MIM ceramic pickups in his light green custom build? Not sure he still plays this one but worth mentioning.
Me, too! I have a lower-output, more traditional sounding Tele, too, but I like my MIMs. The pictured guitar is Saturday night, my 2007 American is Sunday morning.
the Toneriders were definitely warmer than the ceramics I took out. They were exactly the sound I was looking for at the time. But if I were playing really twangy country on the bridge, the stock pups were probably better.
The fact of the matter, with stock ceramic single coils, is that the manufacturers don't really care about the finer details of what sets their stock pickups apart from the vintage AlNiCo pickups, because they are in the business of making cheap guitars, and those pickups work well enough. They ways in which they differ to us doesn't seem to matter much to them.
More specifically, they give ceramic stock pickups the same number of wire turns as a AlNiCo pickup, between 7,000 and 8,000 turns of wire, but the catch is that the ceramic stock pickup have steel pole pieces which increase the inductance and the output dramatically. That's why stock ceramics are hotter, darker with more voltage output. It actually has nothing to do with the ceramic magnet, and the standing magnetic field of a ceramic stock pickup is actually weaker than a vintage AlNiCo. That's why you never have "stratitus" with stock ceramic pickups, the magnet pull is very weak.
Those stock pickup work great for high gain because, as they have steel pole pieces, they more closely resemble a Gibson style humbucker, or P-90, which also have steel poles and a magnet underneath. The steel poles cause eddy currents which roll off the high end, yielding a smoother overdrive sound that is less raspy and shrill.
I used to be a snob against stock ceramic pickups because the fact that they were the cheap stock pickups got the better of me, but lately I've been using them and appreciating the qualities I mentioned above. The notch positions in particular, still sound very "stratty".
They're not bad really. In the end I don't like them, especially in a band mix, they seem to get muddy and not cut through. SPAM: I have a set of Tele ones here, $25 shipped if anyone wants them.
I have a few guitars with cheap ceramic mag pickups that sound great.
Most people assume they don't sound good and change them out for the most popular brand of the day or they raise them as close to the strings as possible for more volume and find the tone to be undesirable as many pickups will be.
Of my 6 strats 5 have Alnico V pickups. The ceramic one is a 1998 Affinity Strat. It's a full size body and small headstock. It has the two bar magnets ceramics. One thing that surprised me is the stock pots are 250K where most other Squires I've seen were 500K. It did have a treble bleed cap I didn't like, so I snipped the leads and pulled it out. Once I did that the thing sounds fine and I have no plans to change anything. The pickups seem pretty hot but only measure 3.2K ohms resistance and I would say they would be equivalent in output to a 6.2K Alnico. Well Whatever, if it works it works. Platefire
Can't say I "prefer" MIM stock pickups but I certainly don't believe the "need" top be replaced. Perfectly usable pickups.
I was about to start a new thread on this very topic. I recently acquired, almost by accident, a completely stock 07 MIM strat. I was very happy with how it sounded, but since - you know - you gotta upgrade everything, and I DID HAVE a boutique A5 6.0k strat pickup sitting in a drawer, I stuck it in neck position, strung up, and did some a/bing. Only been one rehearsal so far with the mix of stock-and-fancy, but I gotta say one is not "better" than the other. A lesson I've had to re-learn a few times.
The A5 in the neck spot is for sure more scooped and produces a prettier clean sound, but with even a little bit of gain, the more bitey, midrangey ceramic MIM pickups seem to work better in a way. I could see myself preferring them overall, or in some positions. I'm going to do some open minded pickup swapping (buying "quality used", easy to resell) over the next couple of months, but it could be that all the fancy ones end up getting re-bayed or re-verbed.
Ironically, when I first started selling my used gear ; I sold a strat set of ceramic stock MIM 1996 pickups on Reverb for a fair price ... evidently somebody wanted them ... they really did not sound that bad at all but I replaced them with Dawgtown alnico V with a 3 position vintage switch ...