The difference between ceramic and alnico magnets


While going through some boxes in my attic, I found a bunch of vintage guitar parts that I'm trying to organize and identify. I came across a set of pickup magnets (one cracked in half) that I think are ceramic, but how can I tell for sure (see picture)?


I figured that they must be ceramic because they look totally different than this HiLoTron magnet.


Anybody? I couldn't really find any info online as far as how to tell the difference, look-wise. I was sure that someone here would know.


I have a Super Tron on my 61 gent that I took off a 64 double cut. TV Jones sold me what he said was an alnico magnet to swap out.

The leftover magnet is a lot darker than your primary example and actually looks more like the Hi-Lo example, Doesn't have that smooth look.

Edge on it looks like the top example except, as I said, my leftover is much darker than either example.

Send TV Jones an e.mail or call him.



The smooth texture of the magnets in your upper example, as well as the fact that one of them is broken, would seem to indicate they are ceramic. If you have a picture of the broken ends, which would have a distinctive granular structure, it might help.

Sorry I couldn't be of more assistance.


Thanks for the info guys - that was actually VERY helpful! I thought that these were ceramic, but I just needed to verify it. I remembered that a while back, I had a set of reissue FilterTrons where I switched out the ceramic magnets with vintage Alnico magnets that I got from Duke Kramer. I assumed that my guitar tech guy still had them, but these must be them - mystery solved!

As far as the HiLoTron magnet, I'm assuming that it's Alnico. Was the original SuperTron magnet ceramic?

Here is a picture of a cross-section of the broken magnet.


I saw this on another forum...

"Ceramic Magnets look shinny and silvery

Alnico Magnets have more of a grayish look to them"

Curt said: I saw this on another forum... "Ceramic Magnets look shinny and silvery Alnico Magnets have more of a grayish look to them"

I think they got that backwards. Ceramic magnets can be black as well as grey.


Well, these look grayish and shiny, but the white porous look on the side would make me think they're ceramic.


All I know about it is I was unhappy with the tone on the Super Tron I had. It wasn't as mellow as I expected it to be.

Sent an e.mail to TV, he sold me a magnet and I swapped it out and was happy with the result.

I didn't undo my gent for this posting and was just referring to the magnet I had left over....


i thought alnico's are solid pieces milled from the earth,while ceramic's are compessed power?(hints-the gray look) i could be wrong,wouldn't be the first time........:nice:

yay norm! more supertron love what's not to like?:grin:


The broken one is definitely ceramic, the finer grain pattern is distinctive.

AlNiCo (for Aluminum, Nickel and Cobalt) alloy magnets can have a smooth finish, similar to the upper example, but more commonly have a coarse finish similar to the Hilo in the second example.

AlNiCo magnets are far less brittle than the ceramics but, when viewed in cross-section, have a much more coarse appearance to the grain pattern.


So, are they useless if they're broken?


I'm afraid so, unless you need to hold something on your refrigerator. :nice:

Imagine the magnetic field around the unbroken one, which would look similar to this. Now imagine the field with the disturbance that would be caused by the break in the body of the magnet. That would probably make for a very poor pickup, I'm afraid. :whatthe:

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