Swap Alnico 2 for PAF, or leave it alone?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Hastings, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. Hastings

    Hastings Tele-Meister

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    I have a Godin SDxt, a 25 1/2 inch scale guitar, with maple neck, maple fretboard, maple center block body, with some poplar in the body wings to keep the weight below 50 pounds. It has lots of maple, and it's bright, which is OK because I have other guitars if I want unbrightness, and there is always the tone control knob.

    I only use the neck pickup on my guitars. The original pickup was not swift, so I replaced it with a SD Alnico 2. Why 'that pickup,' I'm not sure, I think because it was in stock locally and the price was not outrageous.
    Now that my guitar inventory has evolved a bit, I am still without a PAF in a guitar, and I have long wondered about having one, the original type.

    For all I know, a SD Alnico 2 may be identical in construction and performance to an Alnico 2 PAF. Research tells me that PAFs have been made, and are made, with Alnico 2, 3, 4, and 5. My question is: is there a reasonable chance that a Gibson of Fralin or Lollar or Mojotone or other PAF, with 'vintage' specs, will sound noticeably different than the SD A2 Pro I have in there; or is the exercize probably a wash and a waste of resources?

    Thanks for any feedback.
     
  2. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Meister

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    I’ve never tried the SD alnico 2, but if your guitar is very bright, a vintage PAF clone is maybe not the best option? I would look at « hot » PAF options I think.
     
  3. Matthias

    Matthias Tele-Afflicted

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    Alnico 4s have a very nice flavour to them. I had some Toneriders and they were very different to the Alnico 2-equipped pickups I’ve had. Mellow but not muddy.
     
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  4. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    The Duncan A2 Pro is definitely well within the range of possible "P.A.F." specs. Many in their regular production catalog are: Jazz, '59, Seth Lover, A2P, Pearly Gates, Slash, WLH neck, etc. They each have differences in wind (but not radical differences), and differences in magnetism (which can be quite radical between A2 and A5). Generally speaking, you would see more difference by switching to one of the A5 models than to another A2 model. You would have quite a bit more power with one of the A5 models. The other A2 models would give you slight differences in e.q. peak and output, but not anything you couldn't achieve with a good e.q. unit.

    Personally, I think the A2 Pro is Duncan's undersung hero of a P.A.F. style pickup. It's standard price, but with good setup and use of minor e.q. and gain tweaks, it can cop anything the more expensive A2 models like the Seth and PG do. If I already had one, the only reason I would change it would be for something more dramatic than a swap to another P.A.F. style pickup.
     
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  5. Chris4189

    Chris4189 TDPRI Member

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    A2 and A5’s were/are the two most common mags found in original PAFs with 3 and 4 sprinkled in here and there.

    Each magnet gives you a little something different. More lows more mids or more highs. A4’s typically have the flattest EQ and are good a fit for any guitar really. A2’s are mellow, A3’s can get muddy and A5’s are healthy in the mids and can get hot.

    I’ve been through a bunch, SD, Wizz, Sheptone, Wolfetone, Throbak and the list goes on and really there isn’t that big of a difference between any of them as they all share the same basic tone just different flavors and winds. It really just comes down to your guitar, amp, playing style and tunes you play.

    SD, Wizz, Sheptone, Wolfetone, Throbak and mojotone are all very solid choices with Wizz, Throbak, Wolfetone and mojotone being my personal favorites. I didn’t really care for the Lollar’s or Fralins.



    I play an R8 exclusively plugged straight in to 50 and 100 watt super leads and find that A2’s work best for best followed by A4’s. When using an SG into the same amps A5’s are the way to fly.
     
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  6. BCblues55

    BCblues55 TDPRI Member Gold Supporter

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    Magnets do indeed make a difference. From lots of magnet swaps (not hard to do), I’ve found that A2 magnets have the most warmth (maybe too much), A3 is less powerful but adds a unique sparkle to the tone. In my experience, an A5 magnet has more power, with pronounced lows and highs, with a scooped midrange, but YMMV.

    My personal favorite is an A3 in a neck humbucker and an Unoriented A5 in the bridge, but there are many other great combinations that are fun to try out and play with. Addiction FX on the’bay Is a greatsourceof magnets and there are videos on uTube on how to swap magnets. In my opinion it’s a great way to swap sounds inexpensively. Have fun!
     
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  7. Mincer

    Mincer Tele-Holic

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    This all depends on what you are hoping for. Is the EQ of your pickup driving you crazy? Does the guitar have a tonal problem you have to correct? Or are you just hoping for 'better'? Hoping for something better usually results in a sideways step- another good sound, but not significantly better, just different.
     
  8. Hastings

    Hastings Tele-Meister

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    That's interesting. What was not appealing about the Lollars or Fralins?
     
  9. Ian T

    Ian T Tele-Holic

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    Since you asked...I'll say to quit worrying about pickup minutia and to refocus on making better tones with your hands, heart and soul. That A2 pickup is a great pickup and will do what you need it to do. Just keep playing with your amp settings, and most importantly, turn it up.

    This from somebody who has wasted thousands on pickups.
     
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  10. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

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    Alnico 2 is my fav...i like how it lets me decide how hard to hit the amp by attack
     
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  11. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

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    i would check out what the other pick up will do..and there is a ton of mojo in the blend
     
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  12. Hastings

    Hastings Tele-Meister

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    Thank you, but it's a technical question, not one about my overall musical skills or output. After all, it IS the "Just Pickups" forum.
     
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  13. DavidP

    DavidP Friend of Leo's

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    Depending on your DIY tech expertise, you could consider swapping the bar magnets.
    In addition to A2, A5 etc., you can also get unoriented as well as roughcast versions.
    FWIW, an unoriented A5 is kinda like a cross between an A2 and A5 -- I happen to like it, especially in the bridge position but also useful in the neck.
     
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  14. Hastings

    Hastings Tele-Meister

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    Thanks. That's a new direction to explore.
     
  15. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Tele-Afflicted

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    Yep. A4 is even and vintagey with tighter lows, nice crisp highs, and a much firmer character overall than A2.
    A5 will likely be louder the A4 and brighter still, but with strong lows also.

    FWIW, the Duncan Jazz model uses the same coils as the A2 Pro - the only difference is the magnet. So putting in an A5 magnet in your A2 neck would make it the same as a Duncan Jazz Neck model. The Jazz is a great neck pickup for a more well-defined and modern tone.

    The A2P coils are wound with poly wire, a bit different from the enamel wire used in original PAFs and others that adhere to the vintage formula. I like the A2Ps myself. I also have a Slash set, which is a slightly overwound version of the same pickup.

    Humbucker magnets are only a couple of dollars each; IMO it's definitely worth trying a few mag swaps.

    PS: I love UA5 too but I've had the best results from it in bridge pickups. However, the old Gibson Shaw humnbuckers used UA5 mags with underwound coils and they sound fantastic.
     
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  16. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

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    Funny I thought it was just me who has developed a dislike for both Fralin and Lollar pickups... I’ve gotten a few guitars where Lollars came stock and have removed and replaced them all and been much happier now. I bought a set of Fralins for a Mustang and was quite disappointed so ai gave the guitar to one of my son’s friends who was learning the guitar just so I didn’t have to listen to them anymore.

    Sorry to change the subject.

    In terms of suggestions I’d probably go with something with an A4 on that guitar in hopes of taming the brightness but that’s just my two cents not knowing much about that guitar. There are guys like Sunday Handwound who can put in different magnets at different positions if you want to get fancy... like you want a punchier bass you could put some A5s in the D,A,E and A4s the e, B, and G.
     
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  17. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

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    I think you could get a new puppy and not care about the pickups as much.
     
  18. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    Agreed.
     
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  19. Chris4189

    Chris4189 TDPRI Member

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    Lollars were and maybe still are all the rage for Firebirds. I removed the way over wound stock Gibson pups, installed a set of Lollars and found them to be not much better then the Gibson’s. Promptly removed them, installed a pair of Novak’s wound to ‘63 specs and never looked back. Tried a set of Lollar Imperials in an R9 and I found them to be too thin and bright sounding Removed them, installed a set of Wizz premium PAF’s and haven’t looked back.

    Fralins were too bright and chirpy to my ear.

    This is all subjective of course but again I have found Wizz, Throbak, Wolfetone, Mojotone, Sheptone and Holmes to be better sounding pups vs Lollar and Fralin.
     
  20. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've made several Oak body and Oak neck guitars and they have all been Bright toned. I've tried several types of pickups in them(A2 mag/A5 mag/ceramic mag). The Alnico mag pickups were mostly muddy in the neck and too bright in the bridge. Vintage wind ceramic mag pickups(the ones that come in cheap guitars and everyone pulls out) were fantastic in each position.

    I now avoid Alnico types for bright guitars. I'm going to start with the Neodymium mag pickups that Vladimir(TDPRI Member Deneb of Deneb-Tone Pickups) has made for Strats. He has also made some good humbuckers that allow for adjusting magnet strength.
     
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