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Unread 10-15-2007, 12:45 AM   #1
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Pickup Magnet Swapping...

I can't remember if it was here or another forum that had some people wondering how to actually put new magnets in pickups, so I'm going to post this in a few places.

Long story short, I got a bit bored and decided to try my not-quite-new-anymore Alnico 8 out in my Blackjack's bridge JB. I knew it wouldn't be nearly as much of a jump going from Alnico 5 to Alnico 8 as it would be from ceramic, but it's still a fairly substantial difference.




Pardon the blurriness - all I have on hand is a phone. Once you pull the pickup out, there will be something protecting it from the outside world - SD and DiMarzio have messy black tape from hell on theirs, find the end and start pulling it back. You'll then see a much more detailed version of this - the two black rings with the plated wire are the coils, and directly under them (and between the pair of polepiece rows - on a related note, observe that the polepieces are in direct contact with the magnet, and if the polepieces were not in direct contact - for example, if they were replaced by screws that were of similar diameter and length at the top but that were narrower at the end inside the pickup, so that there was an... 'air gap' between the screws and the magnet, the pickups sound would be changed drastically) you can see the magnet. Below the magnet is the pickup's baseplate.

To remove the magnet, hold the coils and baseplate together with one hand, and with the other gently push the magnet out from the side that doesn't look like the one in the pictures (it should have the wires coming around and out on that end, so you don't want to shove the magnet through them) with a small screwdriver. Then, making sure to remember which end of the magnet went in first, put the two magnets next to each other and make sure they don't do this:



If they attract, the magnet will be backwards and we just can't have that, so find the alignment that makes them attract each other and turn it around (around the axis through the narrowest side) and then put it in the same way the old magnet was.

For this particular swap, the 8 made the JB tighter, more defined/articulate, and gave it more of the throaty growl I liked about the JB in the first place. I was goofing around earlier in GDADGBE (with GHS Boomers, 11-14-18-28-38-50-70) and where before the low G was just bland and boring, like any other string that was just tuned down too low or like a really bad stock pickup, now it has as much definition as the same string did in B with the Alnico 5. The cleans are more three-dimensional. If you're familiar with the new Tool, the roar or bark in the intro to Rosetta Stoned jumped right out to me - the harmonics are more up-front, and the thing sounds like it's about to explode when it's tweaked right. I'll put up some straight-to-computer clips for your experimentation shortly.

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Unread 10-15-2007, 12:48 AM   #2
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You have a problem with some of your images not appearing.

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Unread 10-15-2007, 12:59 AM   #3
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There were only the three. The first two didn't show up because I'm a twit and didn't upload them right, then I fixed them.

It's really not as complicated as the average guitarist thinks, but if someone has more questions I'll gladly pop it apart and take more (and better, as soon as I can borrow a decent camera) photos.

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Unread 10-15-2007, 01:06 AM   #4
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This is very easy. I've done it on many occasions (my neck Air Norton 7 has an A5 magnet that I will never remove, and I also have an A5 D Sonic 7 in another guitar).

I recommend marking N on the magnet with a black marker (or whatever point of reference you want, so that the magnets match when you swap).

This is a cool idea, and one I've been curious about, too. I like the JB for the same reasons, but have the same complaints. And using a ceramic magnet just ain't there (as I've tried. Bleah). A8 sounds like a much better fit. Glad to hear it worked out, 'cause I'd like the try it, too.

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Unread 10-15-2007, 11:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBroll View Post
I got a bit bored and decided to try my not-quite-new-anymore Alnico 8 out in my Blackjack's bridge JB.
very cool--nice post. i swapped the A5 into my Duncan Custom by unscrewing the baseplate, but it looks like your way might've been easier. i haven't tried any of my A8s yet--need to get off my ass on that. glad it sounds killer in teh JB for you.

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Unread 10-15-2007, 11:33 AM   #6
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I keep wondering if Alnico VIII isn't an ideal magnet for seven string pickups.
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Unread 10-15-2007, 04:45 PM   #7
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I'd say that for a wind like the JB it's godly. I'd like to try it in a D Sonic... but on another guitar, because I don't want to touch the bridge pickup of this one ever again. Ever.

This is simple, but if anyone's lost anywhere in there I'll be glad to post more pictures or give a more in-depth explanation.

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Unread 10-15-2007, 04:52 PM   #8
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Did you notice an increase in output or bass response? I'd be curious to compare this to the Alnico 5 magnet swap Custom I have. To me, it traded a lot of the Custom grind for JB growl, but it kept the massive bass response and scooped mids.

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Unread 10-15-2007, 04:56 PM   #9
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I'd say that for a wind like the JB it's godly. I'd like to try it in a D Sonic... but on another guitar, because I don't want to touch the bridge pickup of this one ever again. Ever.



Jeff
Alnico seems to like the D Sonic quite a bit. (But, from my experience, my custom DS7 with ceramic is still probably the best bet. It has certain alnico characteristics, but ceramic punch and clarity.)

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Unread 10-15-2007, 05:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Did you notice an increase in output or bass response? I'd be curious to compare this to the Alnico 5 magnet swap Custom I have. To me, it traded a lot of the Custom grind for JB growl, but it kept the massive bass response and scooped mids.
There's a Custom 8 out there, if I'm not mistaken, so (on the off chance that someone actually posted something useful at HC) there might be reviews that give you more detail than I could.

I'll be able to give more detail when I've had the pickup a bit longer, and when I've finished tweaking the thing - I literally just got it to a 'normal' height, checked the wiring, strung it up, and started tuning up, and when I got to the fine-tuning part (where I crank the gain to hear the beat frequency better) I was blown away at how amazing it sounded when it was easily 5.5 - 6mm away from the strings with no polepiece adjustment at all. After that I started tweaking it more, but I was having serious trouble finding things to not like so I just gave up and started playing again.

I'd say there's less bass (as in the fundamentals of lower notes) but more of the thick lower mids - so the sound is tighter but without appearing to lose low end. I can easily get a 'normal' sound out of a .070 in G, where before I wouldn't let one of those below A because I felt like I lost detail and the 'bark' turned into a 'moo', because the low end is tightened enough, but I haven't reached for any knobs because it still seems to have the same 'size' in the bottom.

Output... it appears to have more because of the overall more aggressive sound, but I'll match its height to the 'old' JB's height and pull out a multimeter to check if you'd like. It seems more present and more distorted, but I don't know if that'll show up in any measurements I could do with a multimeter. There's also a more apparent attack and with a little work it seems to have the 'chug' of an 81 in the picking. It's hard to describe it very well, but there's also this different sound in the upper mids and highs like it's about to bloom into feedback when it's hit the right way. I should probably just give up and say it's a JB cranked to 20.

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Unread 10-15-2007, 09:28 PM   #11
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Excellent, I was wondering how those AlNiCo VIII's worked out.

I may try some Samarium Cobalt magnets to see how shrill of a sound I can get. I've been really tempted to try SaCoFe magnets with a Tone Zone 7 or possibly with my Swineshead Warthog to get a pickup with a huge output without all of the muffly bass of an overwound ceramic. If I ever do this, which won't be soon, I'll post the results.

How strong are the AlNiCo VIII's? Does there seem to be a decrease in sustain from the extra pull?

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Unread 10-15-2007, 09:53 PM   #12
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I don't tend to have the pickups that close. These are still a good 5mm away from the strings, and the pickup just has that perfect 'hot' feel to it, so I doubt I'm going to be cranking it any closer - the gain knob is there for a reason, and it's balanced and hot right now. They're strong ....ing magnets - just doing the usual 'put screws next to it, see what happens' test seemed to show that this magnet was stronger than the 5 that was in there before - I just didn't need any more output, so the strings aren't pulled that much.

Plus, with about 22 pounds of tension a string, it takes a bit of work to yank them around. I'm sure that with a set of 10s and a neck pickup at fretboard height there would be problems, but .... me running if that ever seems like a good idea.

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Unread 12-03-2007, 12:06 AM   #13
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Where's the clips of these?

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Unread 12-03-2007, 01:00 AM   #14
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seriously
hey dwolf you gonna try an a8 in your custom dsonic?

what are the advantages/disadvantages to doing it through the side as opposed to removing the bassplate?

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Unread 12-03-2007, 01:23 AM   #15
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I'm going to consider getting a 6-string A8 and putting it in my D Activator, myself.

With the baseplate you have to unscrew a whole lot of shit. It might also be more likely to make repotting necessary. If you remove the baseplate you have to take out four screws and every polepiece, if I'm not mistaken for other pickups.

If you go through the side you have to be careful with wires but there's really no other disadvantage that I know of.

EDIT: Missed this...

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Where's the clips of these?
I actually can't believe I forgot this. I'll put up some tracks, a clean and a distorted (maybe a lead, if I feel wankerish enough... then again I don't do too many leads with the neck pickup), and the unprocessed tracks shortly.

ANOTHER EDIT: Somehow I broke a 52 in E, first time in months... it'll have to be tomorrow or Tuesday but they'll come.

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Unread 12-03-2007, 02:41 AM   #16
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You rule. Coolness.


Max - Jeff said it all. As for my Custom D Sonic 7, A) Steve made it for me... I guess 'cause I'm cool. He offered, I accepted. It had something to do with me being the first person to point out the DS7's buzzing issue. Nobody had ever mentioned it, so he made me one that doesn't buzz. B) hell yes I'm putting an A8 in it. I can't wait, because, while my DA7 with an A5 is really, really cool, my CDS7 is about the best sounding bridge pickup I've ever played.

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Unread 12-04-2007, 12:19 AM   #17
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I guess 'cause I'm cool. It had something to do with me being the first person to point out the DS7's buzzing issue
that is what i've been looking for lol

so, dwolfy, dont you personally like to go through the backplate? why is that? i didnt really here j give any pros lol

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Unread 12-04-2007, 12:27 AM   #18
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I guess he likes unscrewing things...

Honestly, I have never heard one pro, so I'd like to know too.

I've built a few pickups here and there so I know a lot of the major designs well enough, and I haven't heard a lot of people say that the pickup could be pushed out through the side, so it just may not be as well-known a method among people who haven't completely dismantled and rebuilt them... or, in other words, 99% of guitarists (including the entirety of the subset that has a life) and a good number of techs.

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Unread 01-18-2008, 06:34 PM   #19
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Good thread. Where would I go about getting an A8 magnet?
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Unread 01-18-2008, 09:52 PM   #20
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check ebay. we got a bunch on special that were a bit bigger for 7 string pickups, but a 6 string magnet will work fine, it will just lower the output a bit

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Unread 01-19-2008, 08:33 PM   #21
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Cool, thanks for the tip. Awesome tutorial... I'm gonna have to pull apart an old junk pickup and see how it looks in there, then possibly try this in my DD JB with an A8.
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Unread 05-01-2009, 09:23 PM   #22
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I would just like to point out that if you use a compass to tell which side of the magnet is north instead of laying them together you wont risk demagnetization

Edit: but keep the compass far enough away you won't remagnetize it, which will throw off the reading

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