Theory on A5 vs A3 tele bridge pickups

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by fender4life, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. Bristlehound

    Bristlehound Friend of Leo's

    Jan 4, 2017
    True... but I missed it first (and second) time round and it's a really interesting thread. Hope it picks up again with any new knowledge and input.
  2. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    NJ via TX
    there is no tone or sound in passive pickup magnets. their job is to magnetize the strings, in order for the coil to induce a signal. the slightly weaker gauss rate of the a3 rod magnets (as compared to the slightly strong a5 rod magnets) combined with 43awg coil wire is a formula that uncle leo found (most likely through actual build and playing trial and error) to offer the kind of signal that pleased the country boys back in the day. however, a5's were used for neck pickups. that lasted about a year and half when bean counter mentality realized that "uniforming" the inventory made more sense than nit picking over magnet gauss rates and therefore standardized all rod magnets - for both bridge and neck - to a5's. this created an inventory of a5's and not a5's and a3's. bidness first and foremost. in the long run, the overall difference 'tween a3 and a5 rod magnets won't mean squat. you literally can not tell the audible difference to save yer life. yep, true dat.

    there are essentially three families of magnets used for passive pickups - alnicu/alnico (the weakest), ceramic (typically offering lots stronger gauss rates), and neodymium (humongous off-the-charts gauss rates). without getting into mumbo jumbo electrical engineering speak, most guitarists prefer what weak magnets offer for passive pickups. building passive pickups with neo mags is something i could never do well enuf, and prolly ditto's for the rest of the winders out there in passive pickup land ... but bill lawrence, the true "L'empereur de Impedance", HE could - and amazing well.

    there are two overlooked factors that are rarely if ever mentioned when talk comes up about building passive pickups, particularly the single coil types we all love. we all hear talk about DCR values and almost no talk about coil wire turn count, or coil wire winding tension. DCR values are ballpark at best, we all know that, right? it's really ALL about coil wire turn counts (mostly overlooked) AND coil wire winding tension (totally overlooked) these two combined are the real culprits for creating different passive pickup tones and outputs, not any amorphous DCR value.

    there is one other factor - rod magnet length and the resulting passive pickup bobbin height. the taller the pickup, the skinnier the resulting bobbin. since it's the TOP of a passive pickups coil that sucks in RF noise, thin/tall passive pickups will be somewhat quieter than fat/wide pickups. as an example, which passive pickup type will typically be most noisy, a strat or a p90? :)
    RYAN1987M and jwp333 like this.
  3. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    Everything I've read about the mentality of the time is that Fender and Gibson made magnet purchase decisions based on wholesales costs, and at that time had little concern about how one magnet strength sounded compared to another. This sort of cork sniffery didn't come along until aftermarket pickup makers started selling guitarists on the idea that the A2 and A3 magnets are more vintage-ish than A5 that Fender and Gibson were using at the present.
  4. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Oct 27, 2006
    Upper Peninsula of Michigan

    You need to get a better alarm clock :lol:

    Happy pickin'
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