Ceramic vs Alnico

Discussion in 'Squier Telecasters' started by elfnub, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. elfnub

    elfnub Squier Talker

    Oct 15, 2019
    Do you have a preference? I always thought Alnico was better, due to internet talk and being more expensive. But, to be honest, when I hear blind tests on youtube, I like the sound of ceramic better. Do you have a preference?

    <- as an example
  2. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Squier

    Sep 27, 2014
    North Pole
    I listened to about 4 minutes in - and I like alnico WAYYYYY better than Ceramic - ceramic to me sound too compressed/in your face and too much bass....
    Caddy, Kenneth Mountain and dbrian66 like this.
  3. squierTony

    squierTony Dr. Squier

    Jul 4, 2012
    MAUD Oklahoma
    Ceramic pickups are definitely less trebley sounding.
    Kenneth Mountain and dbrian66 like this.
  4. CVSteve

    CVSteve Squier-Nut

    Dec 28, 2017
    Listen to the difference in person. You can’t tell any difference over the internet.
  5. wildelectric

    wildelectric Squier-Nut

    Sep 23, 2016
    Western Illinois
    What type of music you're playing can make some difference in choice, too, IMHO.

    If I'm playing an old Metallica tune, its hard to beat the tone of ceramic.

    Playing Nirvana, I'll need the smoother and more trebly Alnico.
  6. dbrian66

    dbrian66 Squier-holic

    Jul 14, 2017
    Maryland, USA
    I used to think Alnico’s were always better. Like @elfnub said, the internet told me so! LOL.

    I have a parts caster that I put together in late 80’s. Really didn’t know much about guitars when I did it. The bridge pickup is a Seymour Duncan Distortion. I have always loved that pickup. Just assumed it was an Alnico. Found out just recently that it is a ceramic pickup. I still lean towards Alnico’s, but I now realize that a quality ceramic can be a darn good pickup.
  7. gearobsessed

    gearobsessed Squier-holic

    Aug 21, 2013
    new zealand
    Ceramic gets a bad rep a lot of the time due to most people's experiences with them come from cheap stock ceramic pickups in low and mid range guitars.
    Plus taste is subjective so neither one is better than the other, just more preferred.
  8. waynes world

    waynes world Squier-Nut

    Jan 27, 2019
    I prefer the warmth of the ceramics but like both!
  9. cool gouhl

    cool gouhl Squier-Nut

    Dec 4, 2014
    For the most part I perfer alnico but I have a few ceramics I like too. For me it's more about the windings. I think the reason a lot of people dump on ceramics is most crap pickups use ceramic magnets and less windings. If those same magnets were on properly wound pickups they would sound great.
  10. Eddie

    Eddie Squier-Axpert

    Nov 5, 2016
    New York
    There are good ceramics, and bad ceramics. There are good alnicos, and bad alnicos.

    The previous rendition of the MIM had really good ceramics. I loved the tone.

    The Squier Standard has a decent set of alnicos, but tend to be a bit ice picky.

    To each their own. There are goods and bads from both. :)
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  11. fattboyzz

    fattboyzz Squier-holic

    Nov 29, 2017
    Newnan ,Ga.
    A Mesa Boogie Blue Angel amp makes anything sound good ;)

    I do however lean toward Alnico pups mostly :)
  12. -r3-

    -r3- Squier-holic

    Jan 28, 2016
    NC Piedmont
    Does anybody know the blurry line which once crossed yields a superior ceramic. Because I hear the "cheap ceramic" label all the time, and I also know that there are desirable ceramic pickups. So- what gives?
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  13. I generally go with AlNiCo 3's or 5's, but I got a set of ceramics thru Mike Riley and they kicked the keister. I'm tempted to try another set in a build.
    Cheers, Barrie.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
  14. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Squier-holic

    The difference between the sounds of those pickups can be brought to near zero with some small adjustments of the amplifier's bass and treble controls and its gain control.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
    Inkman66, FhPudd, drewcp and 7 others like this.
  15. Shaytan

    Shaytan Squier-Nut

    Apr 10, 2018
    Lisbon, Portugal
    This is one of those subjects that you read as a fact all the time so you quite interiorize it. Poly finishes are cheap and crappy, whereas Nitrocellulose finishes let the wood breathe and resonate, PIO tone caps provide the best vintage tone out of all, mahogany provides a darker, mellower tone to your electric, single coils can't sing with heavy distortion...

    Cheap guitars come with ceramic pickups, and indeed sound bad more often than not - but let's tell for instance to Mr. Brian May that his tone could be better if it wasn't for the Burns Tri-Sonic pickups on his Red Special, which are ceramic pickups. This to say, I suppose it's cheaper to make crappy ceramic pickups than crappy Alnico pickups, but it's these abundance of crappy ceramic pups that give them a bad reputation. Plenty of good pickups are ceramic, certainly this reflects on its tonal nuances, but it's by far not a matter of better/worse quality overall - in fact, my own Squier build rocks a set of Japanese Silver Series ceramic pups and they sing, certainly a bit more punchy than Alnico's, but they're not noticeably hot or anything.

    Just like that, I have trouble understanding how a properly applied poly finish, being easier to apply, more durable and not prone to discoloration, microcracking or rubbing off would be inferior to nitrocellulose, but since cheap guitars tend to come with thick poly finishes to give them that plastic-y shine, hence the myth... Vintage Strats came with ceramic dime caps, sometimes referred as the worst type of caps; my PRS with all mahogany body is quite bright tonally; and at least my SSS Strat does great with higher gain, and so does many more people with the rise of popularity of vintage guitars these days. Who knows who's right or wrong in such subjective questions, after all...
  16. Bob the builder

    Bob the builder Squier-Meister

    Feb 25, 2017
    Rhode Island USA
    Cuz the interweb sezz...
    Screw dat
    What sounds good to you IS WHAT MATTERS.
  17. That vid singles out Mex vs USA pickups. He should sound test a set of cheap wound Asian ceramics against quality ceramics.
    Cheers, Barrie.
    Kenneth Mountain and dbrian66 like this.
  18. brodg68

    brodg68 Squier-Meister

    Jun 11, 2017
    I'm just gonna chime in and share that I changed the stock ceramics from a bullet to some guitar madness alnico IIs. I think they are warmer, a little more balanced from low to high, and have a nice sparkle on top. Pretty sure someone has told me along the way that fender never put Alnico 2s in strats...dunno. I like them for 20 ish that I paid for them. Not hard to change one way or the other in my opinion. Maybe someday will try the mix of alnico 5 and 2.
    Anyhoo - take care
  19. dbrian66

    dbrian66 Squier-holic

    Jul 14, 2017
    Maryland, USA
    Kenneth Mountain likes this.
  20. MrYeats

    MrYeats Squier-holic

    Dec 28, 2017
    South Texas Coast
    Just in case you are on a budget, watch this video and see how to change your ceramics for Alnico. I use Alnico III in this video, but you can get any kind.

    elfnub and dbrian66 like this.
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