Neodymium pickups?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by edvard, Apr 6, 2020.

  1. edvard

    edvard Tele-Afflicted

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    I've finally decided I don't like the pickups in my Squier Strat. They are ceramic and I've tried everything from lowering, raising, wiring them as a humbucker (there's only two; long story) in a custom-cut pickguard, but they just sound, I dunno... wheezy for lack of a better term. They sound er... OK for cleans, but put them on a little distortion or a lot and out come the razors and shallow breathing. I'd really like to put some single-coil-sized humbuckers in it, but I don't have the budget for that right now, but I was looking around my room and found some little 'SuperMagnets' I forgot I had; six of them, to be exact, right around the size of my pickup poles... hmmm...

    I was planning on prying off the ceramics and putting the button magnets on the pole bottoms, but I don't want to go through all that just to find out it sounds even more like crap, so now I'm asking you good folks;
    I know that Neodymium magnets are stronger than ceramic, and ceramic's magnetic strength is supposedly what makes them sound shriller than AlNiCo magnets in a pickup, but does anyone of you have any experience with Neos on the pickup poles?
     
  2. tubelectron

    tubelectron Tele-Afflicted

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    Well, are you sure that your Squier Strat are ceramic ? Well, OK, it may depend on the serie... The Standard serie have AlNiCo for years.

    A friend of mine made NEO Strat pickups, using iron polepieces plus button NEO magnet at the back and the result is very good : think about a FAT50 set tone.

    -tbln
     
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  3. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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  4. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Afflicted

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    I would think neodymium pole pieces would kill the sustain because they would be too powerful. A neo bar magnet underneath could work better.
     
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  5. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Neo magnets tend to be much stronger.

    Rather than take a chance, you can buy alnico magnetised slugs and upgrade them yourself.



    Also found this one.

     
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  6. edvard

    edvard Tele-Afflicted

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    Yep, steel slug poles with ceramic magnets glued on either side of the bottoms. This is an Affinity made in Indonesia that I got in pieces in a shoebox at the local Goodwill for $2.99. I dated it once, mid-'90s I believe. Because I got it in pieces, I can't guarantee those are the original pickups and one is missing either way.
     
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  7. edvard

    edvard Tele-Afflicted

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    Yep, I'm not getting my hopes up that these little magnets will be the secret recipe for magical tone, and I'm sure that if Neo magnets were intended from the beginning the whole assembly would match better. I'm only just hoping they'll sound better than the ceramics...
     
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  8. edvard

    edvard Tele-Afflicted

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    The poles are steel slugs, and I plan on putting the button magnets on the bottoms so they won't be so close to the strings. Maybe keeping them low to avoid too strong a pull may improve the tone, I don't know. I don't want to give up on them just yet.
     
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  9. edvard

    edvard Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes, I had considered that too, but I don't have budget for that either, and the Neo magnets were right here...

    Hey, I didn't think of looking up YouTube, hmmm... Thanks!
     
  10. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Can't hurt to try.

    1 could be better.
    2 could be worse
    3 could be a wash.

    If your prise the original off carefully, you can always reattach them. You will do no lasting damage.

    I bought 16 of the alnico slugs then never got a chance to use them as I moved the guitar on.
     
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  11. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Afflicted

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    It seems like a good plan. Keep us posted!
     
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  12. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Be somewhat cautious ... many of the import pickups have half the internal capacitance of the commonly swapped brands which give you clarity and note definition not a muddy mess of fizz of some popular aftermarket brands.
    To get the best tone, lower the pickups to the pickguard, raise the bridge until volume parity with the neck pickup when switching from one to the other. You say you tried that, ok. So the next step is not a pickup swap...

    Check that the bridge pickup is wired to the second tone pot. Often it's wired to bypass any tone knob. Change that and you can dial the tone knob back to "7" or so and have a nice output.

    Add a metal plate to the bottom of the pickup(s). Try the bridge first. 1/8th inch steel. This will increase the magnetic output on a Strat just like a Tele pickup. That may get you more what you want. I have cut pieces out of house electrical octagon box covers before ($1 from the hardware) using a hacksaw and grinder/files. 1/8th inch or thicker steel is needed. While the rear panel punchout from a tower desktop PC looks the right size to slap under a pickup, they are too thin.

    If none of that works for you then swap the pots and caps. Pots have a 20% tolerance range. If your volume pot is at the top of it's tolerance it will make the guitar brighter/ice pick. Go to the low end. Putting a fixed resistor across the outer lugs of the volume pot can knock it lower, you might want 150k effective to get the tone you like. Replace the 1/2inch diameter volume pot with a full size CTS or Bourns pot when you do this. Those small pots wear out fast anyway, maybe already worn out. A new premium pot is $5. A bigger tone cap can tweak the output even when the tone knob is dimed.

    So try all of that before you tear apart the pickups. Those kinds of magnet swaps can end up with people breaking the bobbin coil windings on the outside of the bobbin or where the bobbin wire solders to the lead wires -- slip of the screwdriver/pliers and you're done. Mod only one pickup at a time.

    .
     
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  13. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    Most of the character in that type of construction derives from the steel poles. Changing the magnets won't make much of a difference. Especially in this case, because the permeability of ceramic magnets and neo magnets are both extremely low (translation - the magnets don't influence the inductance very much at all).
     
  14. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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  15. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I want to try the microcoils. Bill understood the science behind pickup design better than most.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  16. edvard

    edvard Tele-Afflicted

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    Good point. These pickups sound like I'm strumming a cast-iron pan. In the rain. On TV.

    This guitar was in pieces in a box when I got it, so the wiring I did myself. One Tone, One Volume, and a 3-way switch, as Leo intended. Winding the tone back helps a little, but it's the weird "wheeziness" I'm trying to get rid of. Maybe that can't be cured with magnets, I don't know.

    Not sure I have anything like that, but I'll look in my shed and see. Good suggestion.

    Already done. Like I said, I did the wiring myself following a basic "modern" wiring scheme for two pickups. I had some full-size 250k Alpha pots that replaced the 1/2" 500ks that were in the box. If I recall correctly, they measured out to about ±1k or so, not bad for 20% tolerance pots.

    I've been victim of the accidental slip too many times already. I'll keep a steady hand and a clear head.
     
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  17. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Friend of Leo's

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    :lol:
     
  18. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    You can get single coils sized humbuckers for next to nothing on Amazon , these sorts https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07V1LK44X/?tag=tdpri-20 or this knock off everything axe set https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083CNR9SN/?tag=tdpri-20

    As rigatele says, the use of neodymium in place of ceramic is a trivial distinction. The steel pole pieces and the coil's electrical properties are what defines the response curve of the pickup. An AlNiCo single coil actually produces a stronger magnetic field than steel poled pickup with a ceramic bar underneath. I've never measured the magnetic strength at the top of a pickup with a neo magnetic underneath, but I'd be very surprised if it matched or exceeded an AlNiCo pole piece. This is why AlNiCo 5 Strat pickups are known to cause audible warbling, any stronger and the problem only gets worse.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2020
  19. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes perhaps you remember the first MusicMan Guitar pickups with two rows of almost an inch tall and 1/4" wide A5 magnet poles. If set close to the strings, the guitar became literally unplayable as the strings were pulled on to the fretboard.
    With steel poled pickups I never notice any significant string pull, no matter what magnet.
     
  20. Gris

    Gris TDPRI Member

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    Neo can be good, if done right. Think the Taylor HD mini bucker in bridge of my Goldtop is neo. And it is a goooood one.
     
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