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For Those Who Build Their Own Pickups...


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11827 Globe Road

Livonia, MI 48150

(734) 591-2200


Their sales guy brought me some brochures, and two little sample magnets. These guys were only 1/2" diameter and 1/2" long, and strong enough to pinch my finger and make me bleed! Holding it 2 feet away, it made my monitor flicker! These things are scary strong. It takes both hands to pull one off my filing cabinet.

Go bug them about getting some magnets custom-made for your pickups.

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Holding it 2 feet away, it made my monitor flicker!

Those kind of magnets are much too strong for guitar pickups. They would affect the sustain and give any guitar that so called "Strat-itis" effect... :D

Edited by Paul Marossy
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There is more to consider than magnet strength. But first and most the magnet cannot be too strong. It will pull so much on the strings that they will more or less choke them. If you reduce the diameter, the magnet strength wil of cause drop. Most producers make single coil sized humbucker. Either stacked or with double blade poles. And they usually use either neodynium or samarium-cobalt magnets (rare earth).

Forget about getting custom made magnets. Usually the minimum order is some 10000 magnet and thats good for some 1700 pickups. That is Semour Duncan quantitys...

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But if you made the magnet poles very small in diameter, could you build very thin pickups, like humbuckers in single-coil spaces, and still get good signal strength? Perhaps?

Possibly. I'm not a pickup designer...

I know that guitar pickups use several different kinds of magnets - Alnico V, Alnico II, ceramic, etc. I wonder what this company offers.

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I had a hell of a time trying to find a company to make ceramic magnets when I was looking to have a small run completed for super distortion type pickups. Most places will start at s run of 1000 for a custom cut size. The magnets you are talking about are likely rare earth and it seems the jury is still out on their usability in a pickup. For the cost and frequency that I need them buying them at market prices work.

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Zyonsdream, I have a source here in Sweden for non-vintage-correct ceramic (meaning non DiMarzio sized) magnets that fit on the outside of the slugs/screws, it that’s what you need. They are half the length needed, but two magnets placed together form one solid magnetic field in the same shape as the field from one single magnet. Combine that with a more traditional ceramic magnet from Guitarjones or allparts or whatever and you will have a monster of a pickup. I might be able to send you some if you need just a few. PM me if you would like me to send you a few. If you need more than that I'll connect you to my vendor.

Rare earth magnets, or samarium cobalt as they are also called, are the biggest hype in vintage sounding, hum cancelling Strat pickups. Bill Lawrence has designed a set for Fender that gets raving reviews all over the net. Thou raving reviews tend to turn into a complete nothing 6 months later...

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The A5 rods are not right if you are going for "vintage correct" Strat and Tele pickups. However the ¼ is perfect if you are doing Duncan style quarter ponder pickups. I have been looing for them. And the 5/8” length is also “close enough” to be useful. Greta link, thanks madawgony. But “Minimum order quantities apply” makes me a bit worried. I will contact them and see how much I have to order…

For other magnets sources:


A2-3-4-5 SC magnets, A5 and ceramic HB magnets, lot of other pickup winding stuff like flatworks, HB kits etc


Kits and parts, you now…


Some items availibel that is not listed


My swedeish source for magnets. Don’t thynik they ship overseas, but PM me if you need a smaller amount


A2-3-4-5-8 and Ceramic HB magnets, have not tried them out yet…


Have some standards stuff, and some not so standard stuff. Is generally a pin in the b… to work with. Will delay smaller orders forever.


the standard Allparts stuff


same as above

There are some others like Montroxe (wrong spelling, cant find him right now) in Japan, but I think this covers most of them

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All pickup designs have a lot of "mojo" about them and a lot of what people want and compare a design to are the original fender and lover designs. A lot of constraint is placed on the traditional sizes and mounting as a primary market is in replacing old units in existing guitars, not making radical new designs.

No more mojo surrounds a design than the magnetic qualities. I have put a lot of thought into the uses of "rare earth" neodymium magnets in both pickup designs, or more the reverse, sustainer driver designs. Everyone should get a hold os some to play with as they are amazing things with seemingly amazing properties and you can learn a lot. (I taped one to my 5 y.o. sons hot wheels car to teach him about it, he used another to push it away or drive it closer or even move it around a table from below with great delight!!!)

They should come with a more prominent WARNING though, these things can be very dangerous, do not ever try and squeeze or cut these things (or any magnet really) as they will break and each sharp shard becomes it's own magnet and instantly repels from the others with devastating potential. If you need smaller ones, buy them, they are cheaper! Similarly, don't leave them around small children unsupervised, as they should not be swallowed obviously.

One of the things about these really powerful but compact magnets to consider is that while powerful, they are strongly attracted to their own opposite poles. Their strength becomes very localized then.

Neodymium strategies appeal to our innate more powerful is better and the mojo factor of their amazing qualities. On the other end of the spectrum, I think Lace (or at least someone out there) has patents on pickup designs that use flexible magnets similar to those used in magnetic business cards (though beware, most of these materials have bands of polarity on the same side and would be difficult to use effectively).

I have started to believe that perhaps the better approach would be low impedance electronically boosted low magnetic strength active pickups. You could for instance make a very compact low impedance pickup with onboard preamping (as EMG have done) but run from very small batteries that could last at least a year and maybe recharge for instance. A pickup like the alumitones is effectively a single turn coil but remains passive with the aid of a step up transformer.

If you aim to use new materials, really the rewards would come from radical designs like these. Simply replacing the magnet in a traditional design with "rare earth" will not really work to what most would want to achieve.

You could use them to augment traditional designs however, with some success...

Bill Lawrence has designed a set for Fender that gets raving reviews all over the net. Thou raving reviews tend to turn into a complete nothing 6 months later...

I may be biased, because I have some of these and taken them apart plus studied the patents and the concepts. To me the use of these magnets by bill Laurence in these stacked pickups is sound. The SCN is successful IMHO. The idea of these magnets in these designs is to control the magnetic field and isolate magnetically the lower "dummy" coil from the string sensing function. This is to address the problem of the stacked design where previously the lower coil on a shared magnet did sense the string and located in the same location created undesirable cancellations (unlike a side by side HB which creates desirable cancellation effects and so the "gibson sound" vs the "fender sound"). Kinman pickups seek to create the same effect with a full metal magnetic shield around the lower coil and low magnetism in the lower coil to great effect also.

So I disagree, but the aim is to make a noiseless "fender" pickup rather than anything that sounds particularly "radical" by using these materials. To that end, they are successful though.

Still more radical is the strategy of Line 6 with the variax, as modelling becomes more common and more powerful, perhaps the magnetic pickup will one day be replaced with piezo elements and digital programming of the qualities of the pickup and entire instrument, even the "tuning" or synthesis and we can see products that hint at this future from both fender and gibson of late.

When you consider how digital recording has become much more the norm and digital effects becoming more and more common, why derive the signal from traditional sources (wire and magnets) only to have them turned into digital signals anyway.

Sacrilege I know, but this may well be the longer term future of the instrument...

2cents worth (plus interest) but I do think experimenting with magnets and wire is a very cool thing to do anyway, no matter the application. If people are interested in such things, the program FEMM is widely used and free and the basics are very easy to get to grips with (although it only works in 2D)...FEMM Link

pete :D

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