Alnico vs ceramic. Need new pickups

Fordman65

Active member
Looking to replace the Thornbuckers in my Suhr modern. I just cant jive with the high end they produce. I'm wondering if this is an alnico vs ceramic thing, vs. a crappy vs good pickup thing. Every review of the PT I've read is very positive and that they're a great alnico, PAF type pickup.

I have ceramics in my Andersons and really enjoy them. I'm looking for something medium output, with a nice low mid grind, without a piercing high end.
 

braintheory

Well-known member
I personally like both Ceramic and Alnico. Which one I prefer depends on the exact pickup. Some work a lot better with Alnico and vice versa. Hard to predict. Gotta experiment. I find Suhr pickups (including the Thornbucker) to be on the sterile side. The Jim Wagner Darkburst is very good and does a lot of what you’re asking except it’s a bit lower output. The Motor City Angel Dust or Arcane 13 (used to be called Mr Scary) May also work very well for you. I like the latter a little more, but they’re both in a similar ballpark

There’s a Tone Specific pickup coming out later that I think would be perfect and a notch above all those others, but not out yet and will be pretty expensive with a wait time

I’d also just add that from my experience trying plenty of real PAF loaded guitars that the Thornbucker sounds nothing like any PAF I’ve heard nor do most current “PAF” style pickups
 

Fordman65

Active member
I personally like both Ceramic and Alnico. Which one I prefer depends on the exact pickup. Some work a lot better with Alnico and vice versa. Hard to predict. Gotta experiment. I find Suhr pickups (including the Thornbucker) to be on the sterile side. The Jim Wagner Darkburst is very good and does a lot of what you’re asking except it’s a bit lower output. The Motor City Angel Dust or Arcane 13 (used to be called Mr Scary) May also work very well for you. I like the latter a little more, but they’re both in a similar ballpark

There’s a Tone Specific pickup coming out later that I think would be perfect and a notch above all those others, but not out yet and will be pretty expensive with a wait time

I’d also just add that from my experience trying plenty of real PAF loaded guitars that the Thornbucker sounds nothing like any PAF I’ve heard nor do most current “PAF” style pickups

I've never played an actual PAF, so I'm just going by how Suhr describes it on their site and from PT himself. Money isn't an issue, so I'll check out Tone Specific. Never heard of them.


I did watch the alnico vs ceramic vid, which has also reinforced my thoughts that ceramic may just be my thing
 

braintheory

Well-known member
I've never played an actual PAF, so I'm just going by how Suhr describes it on their site and from PT himself. Money isn't an issue, so I'll check out Tone Specific. Never heard of them.


I did watch the alnico vs ceramic vid, which has also reinforced my thoughts that ceramic may just be my thing
For higher output pickups I usually like Ceramic more and generally prefer Alnico when they’re lower output, but there are some exceptions here and there

The rabbit holes I’ve been deepest into are pickups and speakers. The only pickups I currently use are real vintage ones, Tone Specific and just 2 guitars with Fishman Fluence for a more specific modern vibe. Everything else has become obsolete for me. Tone Specific only makes lower output vintage pickups right now that are very authentic sounding and feeling, but will have a few highoutput ones in the future

I have an early version (not finalized) Tone Specific highoutput Metal humbucker Set and it’s the best highoutput Set I’ve tried, especially the neck. It’s the only highoutput Set I’ve tried that has the clarity and tonal nuance you get in a good paf, while also being the tightest passive pickup I’ve had (actives will still be tighter). It’s a bit unforgiving though (no sag at all) and doesn’t agree in all guitars, but the finalized version may be different in those regards
 

Emg77

Active member
I belive the Thornbucker has an A4 magnet. There a really clear pickups. I certainly wouldn't compare the A4 to A5. I dig both ceramic and A5's. Pend the guitar. The ceramic tends to be a bit tighter in the lowend. I just loaded my Anderson with an Aldrich set and love it. Also, have a SSV + in my Suhr Standard and I really like it. I wasn't jiving with the Thornbuckers either. They're good for cleans and mid gain, not so much for higher gain stuff.
 

scottosan

Well-known member
Looking to replace the Thornbuckers in my Suhr modern. I just cant jive with the high end they produce. I'm wondering if this is an alnico vs ceramic thing, vs. a crappy vs good pickup thing. Every review of the PT I've read is very positive and that they're a great alnico, PAF type pickup.

I have ceramics in my Andersons and really enjoy them. I'm looking for something medium output, with a nice low mid grind, without a piercing high end.
Alnico 4 magnets in the Thornbuckers are weak and have a flat frequency curve. I didn’t like either. Ceramic is generally brighter than Alnico
 

the4thlast1

Well-known member
There are generalizing descriptions that people say about Ceramic vs Alnico ... keep in mind you need to also factor in output, wire type and magnet type Alnico VIII ,V, VI , II , Ceramic

Higher the output the more dark and compressed but even thats a generalization. I do find that with most ceramic the higher strings usually are not as thick sounding in comparison to Alnico but still not always the case.

I think it comes down to finding a pickup that compliments the natural sound of the guitar you have.
 

braintheory

Well-known member
I think it comes down to finding a pickup that compliments the natural sound of the guitar you have.
This is the most important part and why I spend a lot of time playing my guitars unplugged to get a sense of their inherent tone. In anything super tight I often will use a Fishman Fluence of some sort to play that quality up and in something like a warmth, growly resonant Mahogany guitar like a good Les Paul I’ll use often a PAF-style pickup like a Bloombucker to further bring out those qualities
 

Fordman65

Active member
There are generalizing descriptions that people say about Ceramic vs Alnico ... keep in mind you need to also factor in output, wire type and magnet type Alnico VIII ,V, VI , II , Ceramic

Higher the output the more dark and compressed but even thats a generalization. I do find that with most ceramic the higher strings usually are not as thick sounding in comparison to Alnico but still not always the case.

I think it comes down to finding a pickup that compliments the natural sound of the guitar you have.

To a certain extent, I think I was trying to turn the Suhr modern into something it isn't. I might just go all in and stick some modern high gainers in it.
 

the4thlast1

Well-known member
Having owned several Suhrs and tried half a dozen other Suhrs at a local dealer I can say I didnt like the tone of any of them. You mentioned owning Andersons , Ive had 4 Andersons , still have two. They all sound incredible. Any Suhr I had I sold within a few weeks of owning.

I know this is a pickup thread but maybe its the guitar you dont like ? I mean sure it might be worth trying other pickups if you like everything else about it. Im not saying to give up on it.

Also worth mentioning is that Anderson pickups are very thick and warm sounding in general even there ceramics. So if you are use to that sound and really like it , you could put Anderson pickups in the suhr.
 

Fordman65

Active member
Having owned several Suhrs and tried half a dozen other Suhrs at a local dealer I can say I didnt like the tone of any of them. You mentioned owning Andersons , Ive had 4 Andersons , still have two. They all sound incredible. Any Suhr I had I sold within a few weeks of owning.

I know this is a pickup thread but maybe its the guitar you dont like ? I mean sure it might be worth trying other pickups if you like everything else about it. Im not saying to give up on it.

Also worth mentioning is that Anderson pickups are very thick and warm sounding in general even there ceramics. So if you are use to that sound and really like it , you could put Anderson pickups in the suhr.

The guitar plays flawlessly and it was a gift from my wife, so it's a keeper for sure. While I do really like the Anderson pickups, I already have two guitars with them, so I'm really interested in diversifying.

I'm all over the map on this. Maybe I'll investigate Fishman's. Never played them.
 

rstites

Active member
I think it comes down to finding a pickup that compliments the natural sound of the guitar you have.

And the amplifier you're running it into. I've swapped pickups around in my main guitars when I've changed guitars before. I think having a standard preference for magnets is silly. There are way too many variables to standardize that.

I use classic Duncans, Dimarzios, EMGs, Andersons, Bardens, etc. across various guitars based on what I wanted most from that particular instrument.
 
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