I have Alnico and Ceramic MIM pickup sets. Which ones to use?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by cowbellster, May 30, 2017.

  1. cowbellster

    cowbellster TDPRI Member

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    My Tele project is finally coming together. I happen to have these two sets of pickups.

    Set #1 is alnico. I get a bit lower resistance readings from these. The bridge pickup has staggered polepieces.

    Set #2 one is ceramic. These are wound hotter. Especially the bridge pickup.

    Are there any good tones to be had from any of these? I was thinking of using the ceramic neck pickup for some jazzy tones and the alnico bridge pickup with a baseplate for some generic teleness.

    Or am I better off with some offerings from Larry DiMarzio?



    Alnico bridge, staggered polepieces. The lowest reading of all these:
    [​IMG]

    Ceramic bridge. On the hot side it seems:
    [​IMG]

    Alnico neck:
    [​IMG]

    Ceramic neck:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Beachbum

    Beachbum Friend of Leo's

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    For Jazzy Tele tone I'd go with Duncan Alnico II pros. For vintage Tele twang at a reasonable price I'd recommend Fender Original Vintage Alnico III's. For best all around compromise I would say the Fender American Standard Alnico V's.
     
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  3. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    I like the ceramic stock Fender pickups. They have attitude and hit the amp screaming.
     
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  4. Controller

    Controller Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I would also lean toward the ceramics, but so much depends on your taste, playing style, those specific pickups. I think you will just have to try them and see what you think.
     
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  5. crossroader

    crossroader Tele-Afflicted

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    In a word, yes.

    I have a 2014 MIM Standard that came with the stock ceramics (I bought it used).

    I then acquired a set of the alnico pickups that the older MIM Standards came with and I installed them.

    I prefer the alnico's myself.
    It's more of a 60's era "vintage Tele" sound, which makes sense, given the lower output of these pickups.

    I thought the stock ceramics were fine, too. They are a bit hotter, but that's not always a bad thing.
    It really is a matter of taste/personal preference.

    Your idea of mixing the alnico bridge with the ceramic neck sounds interesting.
    Though if you're looking for "jazzy tones" in the neck pickup, I'm finding the alnico in the neck has a very warm, "round" tone. It's almost too dark for my taste, but I do like the middle switch position a lot with these pickups.

    I have been thinking out removing the cover on my neck pickup, just to see if that would brighten it up a bit.
     
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  6. 41144

    41144 Tele-Afflicted

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    cowbellster ... Hi ...

    For me ceramic pickups always sound shrill/harsh rather than necessarily loud, no matter how they're adjusted height wise or how the amp is eq'd. Also, regarding a pickup for playing jazz ... what style ... Fusion, Gypsy, Big Band ... ?
    Assuming/presuming nothing too avant garde there, I'd definitiely stick with the AlNiCo neck pickup for Jazz tones. I'd then also stick with AlNiCo in the bridge as well to get a decent middle switch position tone as, again without adjusting it way down low, in the middle position that bridge ceramic pu will utterly overpower the neck AlNiCo one.
    But, of course, if middle-position's not important to you and (again according to the type of music you'll play off the bridge) if you want a completely different tone then perhaps a ceramic there would be OK?

    Sorry, but I can't comment DiMarzio pups but, picking up on Beachbum's comment ... also take a look at Bareknuckle Yardbirds ... Good luck.
     
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  7. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    +1 Yup, I have the same experience. I was very content with the stock ceramics in my MIM tele, but changing over to Alnico mags added more musicality to my ears and I would assume jazz players would desire that.
     
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  8. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    too easy - try them both and let yer ears tell you what stays and what goes.
     
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  9. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you like to play distorted a lot then you might prefer the ceramics. Otherwise you'll likely prefer the alnicos. But as Rob suggests the best thing to do is give them a try.

    If you do go the aftermarket route there are lots of great Tele pickups out there.
     
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  10. Bruxist

    Bruxist Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Have had 2 sets of the MIM Alnicos and I think they are great. On one set, the neck pup had a loose cover, so I removed it and it sounded even better (not sure if it was brass or nickel silver, but it really brightened).

    I have not tried the ceramics.
     
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  11. mckeeiain

    mckeeiain Tele-Meister

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    My first tele was a MIM with alnicos and I just couldn't find a tone I liked...Tried various amps: Cube, Mustang, Mini-Brute and Hot Rod Deluxe. My current tele is the FSR Deluxe with ceramics and I find they give the tele something special and I never get sick of it's tone
     
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  12. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    The Fender MIM ceramic pickups do drive a distorted amp nicely, with lots of clarity.
     
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  13. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    The underlying difference between the ceramic and AlNiCo in this case is not the magnet - it's the AlNiCo pole piece versus steel pole pieces. The ceramic bar is essentially inert, it's the steel pole pieces that define the difference.

    Since the steel pole pieces have a higher permeability than AlNiCo, they cause two things to happen 1) higher coil inductance, meaning voltage output, less high end response, the same as if you were to overwind an AlNiCo coil, essentially. The magnetic pull is also less, similar to if you were to set an AlNiCo lower to the body. 2) The higher conductivity of the steel causes eddy currents, which reduces the resonant Q factor, so they have a more dull high end. AlNiCo, with the higher Q factor, has a more characteristic nasal / piercing tone associated with vintage Fender tone, but the down side is it lends itself to "ice pick", but you can remedy that by just working the tone knob.

    All in all, I recommend the AlNiCo for a more traditional Tele sound. You can get the benefits of the steel / ceramic by working the tone knob and your amp's gain.
     
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  14. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thank you again, Antigua, for the schooling! Much appreciated.
     
  15. cowbellster

    cowbellster TDPRI Member

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    Thank you guys! Some great info here! It's a shame that it came a bit late for me. I was asking this on May and now it's October.

    What happened was that I got a great deal on a set with a Fender Broadcaster bridge pickup and a DiMarzio Twang King neck. Great sounds on all positions. The tone knob is nice too. I have a 0.033uF Orange Drop there.

    I sold both sets of MIM pickups without really comparing them. It would have been an interesting test now after hearing all your comments about them. But I'm all good now anyway!

    My idea of a jazz tone is Charlie Christian with a bit more brightness to it. I'm in the ballpark with the Twang King and a little tone knob adjustment. I think I can resist the temptation of buying a period correct jazz box!
     
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  16. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think the pickups you have installed are likely better (more pleasing to the ears) than the ones you suggested. Those are a great combo used by many and as you say, just adjust tone knob and EQ as needed.
     
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