We guitarists are an argumentative bunch, and the guitar world is full of opinions and arguments about how to get the best sounds. One controversy that has raged for years is: What exactly IS the difference in sound between ceramic and alnico pickups? Now someone has come up with a Mythbusters-style video doing an A/B test to throw new light on this question…
Ceramic vs. Alnico
You often hear that the sound of a pickup is dominated by the choice of magnet used in its construction. Alnico is nice and warm and great for blues. Whereas Ceramic is used in metal as it sounds tight, loud and cool. So we often hear. Is this all just a rumour launched by pickup manufacturers, or is it objectively provable?
YouTuber Darell Braun Guitars has tried to figure it out and come up with a simple way to compare the two different magnet types. Same guitar, same strings. Different pickups or different magnets.
Now, the real pickup geeks will chirp in and tell us about the different types of Alnico and polepieces used, the wire gauge and type. Then there are the pickup connoisseurs that will start talking about bobbins and spacers. But I find it’s probably best to avoid getting into an argument with these people, as whatever you say, you will be wrong…
A whole ’boutique’ industry has formed in the last 30 years. It revolves around the variances in the design of the humble pickup. Whether you are a single-coil, humbucker or P90 lover, there is something on the market for you these days. There are great pickups available from companies like Seymour Duncan, DiMarzio, Oil City Pickups and Bare Knuckle. Us guitarists are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a new set for our favourite guitar.
This comparison ‘test’ is certainly worth a watch and at the least gives you an idea about what you can expect from the two magnet types.