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Gauss Chart?


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  • 4 months later...
On 3/4/2023 at 5:00 AM, SomethingNicer said:

Does anybody have a chart or a guide that shows Gauss levels on different pickups? I keep finding conflicting information.

It doesn't matter.
If it seems to you that the magnets are too powerful — just lower the pups.

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@SomethingNicer, let me welcome you to the forum and apologize for the delay in answering your question. Which seems to be an interesting one!

I didn't even know about Gauss until now, having to Google for it. As this article says, hardly anyone has the ability to even measure the Gauss level of their pickups so we're in a very grey area. Not to mention the effect of various factors that may change the level.

@Alex M., agreed, every pickup or pole piece has a spot where the magnetic pull stops bending your strings out of tune and that's the highest one might want their pickups to stand. That's the optimal point for that very pickup, the strongest signal in tune. Going below that will make the tone warmer which also can be desirable for some music/playing styles. So far so good.

But I can't help wondering if a weak pickup sitting closer to the string might catch a different tone compared to a stronger one way down. As shown in the drawing below, there's more magnetic field for the string to vibrate within if the magnets are strong and low. With a small magnetic field the vibrating string will bounce in and out creating a fast tremolo type effect. As the string vibrates in all directions like a skipping rope instead of just sideways, it will also enter the area where the magnetic pull affects tuning which creates somewhat of a vibrato, and snap when the string almost hits the magnet. Again, it is possible to lower the strong magnet to the point where the magnetic field is as narrow as with the weaker one but the tonal range will be broader and there'll be no snap. And I may be totally wrong there...



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4 hours ago, Bizman62 said:


I didn't even know about Gauss until now, having to Google for it. As this article says, hardly anyone has the ability to even measure the Gauss level of their pickups so we're in a very grey area. Not to mention the effect of various factors that may change the level.


Some boutique winders measure gauss, there are inexpensive meters for this.
But this is completely useless in my opinion — take any magnets with the greatest strength that you can find and everything will be ok. Lawrence D Marzio did just that in his time, and he also did not forget to wind as much wire into coils as there was room.  ;-))

To get noticeable negative effects on the strings, pups should be as close to them as possible — about 1.5-2mm for the neck and 0.5-1mm for the bridge. However, some heavy-style musicians tune this close and play without problems.

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Yepp, the article I referred to above is by a boutique winder... But as he mentioned in the comments Gauss is just one of the factors that affect tone. Personal preferences are unchartable territory as every serious player wants to create a unique and identifiable sound.

"Noticeable negative effects" is another grey area. For me a tube screamer is a similar thing: I've tried a couple and the result is some unbearable noise. Yet "most every" guitar player uses one with pleasant results.


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  • 5 months later...

The WT10A meter is the one I use. Gauss is affected by the length of the magnet in addition to the alloy used. A8 - A5 - A4 - A2 - A3, in descending order, from highest strength to lowest strength.

The coil being closer to the strings results in a better signal to noise ratio. I'm not sure how much of a real audible difference there is in regards to lowering a stronger Gauss pickup or using a lower Gauss pickup closer to the strings.

You can demagnetize polepieces with a free polepiece. Magnetize a spare polepiece and hold it with the same pole (south to south for example) right on top of the pickup polepiece. It will demagnetize. You can re-magnetize the free polepiece and repeat on the other polepieces. If you have a steel vise and some neodymium bar mags you can make your own magnetizer, like the Mojotone, which is just a toolmaker's vise with a strong neodymium bar mag on each jaw.

The alnico grades all have different properties aside from Gauss strength. I haven't done a deep enough dive to be able to explain exactly what those are but I have heard the term 'permeability' before, and I do know that A2 and A3 tend to have slightly higher inductance and lower resonant frequencies than A5 or A8 for the same given turn count on a particular pickup.

So de-magnetizing is also an option. I've done this on A5 pickups and did not notice much difference at all. It's subtle. It doesn't mean the difference isn't there.

I have no way of measuring such small details. So it's possible all these things do make an audible difference. I don't write anything off. I measure what I measure and if I'm not aware of how to measure something, then I remain open minded that there may be variables and things that affect tone that I'm not aware of. The real difficulty with your question is the difficulty in actually conducting a test that could prove or disprove a hypothesis regarding what we'd expect to hear from a lower Gauss pickup closer to the strings and a higher Gauss pickup farther away from the strings.

Mixed pickups with A5 / A2 magnets, and anything similar, are sometimes quite popular. I've made some myself. I have a hard time trusting my ear and would really prefer to test these things scientifically, but I currently don't know how to. Doesn't mean there's no difference -- but you'll have to end up experimenting and relying exclusively on your ears, which can be a very tricky business. It would be nice to have access to testing that's more sophisticated than an LCR meter and USB oscilloscope with a signal generator for making bode plots. The interaction between the magnets and the strings and all these other nuances are far more complicated and difficult to measure as far as I can tell.

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