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Adding a magnet to a pickup

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by InternetAlias, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    I know this has been discussed before, but I have a special case here, as it's not a humbucker. Basically jazz single coils I'd like to fatten a bit and give them more output. Is this possible by adding more magnets somewhere, if so, where? I've heard people put more magnets in humbuckers but there's no space for such approach on a jazz bass, only below the pickup, would this accomplish anything good?
  2. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Stick one on the bottom of the pickup on the magnets. The way it wants to stick to the existing magnets is the way you want it, as far as the polarity.

    Try it out first, and if you like the tone you will probably want to glue it on. If it vibrates it will cause feedback.
  3. i wouldn't do that... If i want more output i would get hotter pups. If i want more magnetic strengh i would get pups with neodymium magnets (i already have it). But I would never experiment with adding a magnet to a pickup just by contact at the bottom.
    Pups are builded to work like they are, with the magnets they have inside...if you dont like it, my humble advice is "change them"...
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I suppose trying it couldn't hurt, but I tend to agree with this guy. Why go to all that trouble when there are so many hot pickup options out there?
  5. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    It's perfectly valid thing to do, and in fact Alembic used to sell "pickup hotrod" kits that featured a ceramic magnet that you would stick to the bottom of Fender pickups.

    It wont hurt anything, and if he doesn't like it, he can remove it.

    Another thing to try is sticking a steel plate on the bottom of the magnets. This is commonly called a "reflector plate" and is found on the bottom of Fender Telecaster bridge pickups. It boosts the inductance a bit, and gives a fuller tone with a little more output.
  6. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    So adding a magnet (assuming it a pickup that'll work with this mod) will increase the output of the pickup?

    I realize that this mod is very unpredictable, so guessing the outcome is almost impossible, but more magnetic pull=more gain, correct?
  7. MPU


    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    If everybody (including pickup makers) would just do things like they are done forever no new pickup designs would be made. Especially when this mod is totally reversible there's no reason not to try. You lose nothing but can find some new, inspiring sounds out of the pickups.
    Trial and error (sometimes success) works fine when it comes to pickups.
    james condino likes this.
  8. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    Good, that's what I was about to do :D

    I am 50/50 with you here. I agree that builders probably did a good job already, so changing the design could alter the tone for worse. However, it's a nice experiment to see just how adding more magnet strength can affect the tone. I'd add neodymiums, but in Serbia you can't get them in the right size and the ones you can get are too strong for a guitar pickup (they have an OBVIOUS pull on strings UNFRETTED, it's really amazing how strog they are).

    The thing is, I like the tone of this one, I just want to see if I could change the vibe a bit by doing this, it's mostly an experiment to see what changes are like. Also, at the end of the experiment I will post before and after clips so other TBers have some sound examples :D

    This is interesting, I will look into it!

    Yes, it's simple physics. However, as you said, it's very unpredictable, since most pickups are created to be voiced the best they can with given materials. Adding more magnetic flux into the play can seriously change the way pickups sound, but will it be for the better or for worse? We'll se and hear :D

    Yes, that's the kind of encouragement that applies here! :D
  9. BassLife77


    Nov 13, 2009
    San Diego
    Its the type of thing where you have to try it and hear for yourself. some pickups were a dramatic improvement and others it made them sound harsh. Those neo magnets are very powerful so you don't have to stack a bunch under the pickups
  10. gunlak


    Nov 24, 2009
    I added an extra bar of ceramic magnet on my SX J's bridge pickup. it indeed increased the volume of the stock pickup.
  11. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Right, plus the pickups on the bass are probably like every other pickup (I'll assume they are Js).
  12. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I put neo magnets under my SX 6er pickups to increase the output and I REALLY like what it did. First off it much increased the output without increasing the hum in these single coil pickups. Note that many pickups increase output by overwinding which also increases hum (more turns) and changes the tone (Increased inductance). Adding magnets does neither of these things.

    My big worry was the story that stronger magentics will attract the strings and kill sustain. Well, I noticed no string attraction and furthermore, it seemed to me that the sustain was actually MORE than it was before, though I can't explain that! Perhaps it was that the stronger magnets just allowed you to keep the pickups farther from the strings.

    Which is the final point it seemed the tone improved too! sx pickups tend to have a distortion if you really dig in, but by moving them away with the stronger magents that effect was minimized and the tone seems to have more clarity.

    So needless to say I'm totally tickled with my hotrodded pickups. I'm sure you can buy really nice hot pickups from a variety of people, but given how cheap a few magnets are and how much aftermarket pickups can cost, I really don't see any reason NOT to try the magnet thing. If they don't work work for you, then that's life and you can go buy your $200 pickups. But for me magnets were not only worth the try, but worked out great.
  13. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    This is very interesting, how big were those magnets you put under and can you post some samples? I'm really torn between ceramic, samarium-cobalt and neodymium, so how large pieces of neodymium magnet did you put?
  14. Five String

    Five String Supporting Member

    I was really interested in this, among other things, to change the sound of my pickups, but eventually got some humbuckers instead.

    Does the OP want to try it and post a thread on how he did it? I was a little fuzzy on exactly how to get the maghnets under the pickups, since they would obviously raise the height of the pickups, etc.
  15. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    Well, I think neodymium magnets used can be rather thin (like 3-5mm) so they could fit in. You should be able to change height of pickups enough that they no longer stick out of body. If that's true, you can just measure how high they are, that's how thick the added magnet can be. The only thing that could be problematic is that the pull gets too great and you have to put the pickup further down due to it, but you can't because it'd be obstructed by a magnet. I am interested in hearing how bassbenj solved all these issues and what grade/size neo magnet he used :D
  16. gary m

    gary m

    Jan 17, 2011
    Mid -Atlantic
    Aha...exactly what I need. Where did you get your bar magnets?
  17. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    I've gotten all sizes and shapes of magnets from this place:
    for different projects.
    Just read the descriptions for polarity (and check first to see what you need)- you can add a little or more. Also, you can use 2 smaller ones end-to-end- same as a longer one.
  18. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Here is the original thread on the mod. It shows the magnets stuck to bottom and lists magnets.


    Note however, that these pickups have ceramic magnets on the bottom. Pickups with rod alnico magnets do no seem to improve as much with the stuck-on magnets.

    So the advice about "try it" first is good. That's why I ordered neo magnets of two different sizes to see which worked best.
  19. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    Ordered some neo bars from that place. But them on my P-ish bass with alnico rods and I can't tell the difference. ~$5 not well spent. But it was only ~$5 so I'm ok w/ that.

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