The Five-Two single coil pickups are all about the name. Five. Two. That’s indicative of the Alnico 5 and Alnico 2 rod magnets.
Magnet hybrid designs aren’t terribly new. One example is Gibson’s Tony Iommi humbucker with Ceramic and Alnico 2 magnets. Mojotone has multiple hybrid magnet offers. The Black Magic humbucker with Ceramic and Alnico 5. The DW Tomahawk humbucker with Ceramic and an unnamed Alnico . And the Two-Face Strat with Ceramic and Alnico 5.
There is some debate about putting two types of magnets in close proximity. Some theorize the potential for degaussing. Sure, there can be a shift. But one is not going to totally drain the magnetic field from another in a setup like this. They both become part of the magnetic circuit, playing a part in maintaining the magnetism.
In the case of the Five-Two specifically, another detail comes to mind. The marketing of the magnet placement. The feature is that warm sounding Alnico 2 magnets are under the high strings. And the low strings benefit from the tighter Alnico 5. That’s all fine and dandy, as long as we remember that the specific magnetic field of each rod is not strictly compartmentalized.
A part of this is that a magnet has a magnetic field. No, I’m not kidding. LOL! And that field does span a little more than just out of the one end that’s closest to the string. And then we have the aspect that is a little more in play: the inductance and how that plays into the resonant peak.
When we look at similar models with the same wind, such as the Custom, the Custom Custom, the Custom Five. I’m not putting the Full Shred in to this, as it has different pole pieces. Introducing the different magnets in to the scenario alters the tone, which is Pickups 101. The metallurgical properties of the magnet affects the inductance, be it a little or even less than a little. And the resonant peak moves to it’s new home.
That’s sort of a primer in to how the magnet works with the coil. Putting different magnets in the same coil at the same time is the whole point of that exposition. It’s not as simple as this half is strictly and Alnico Five tone and that half is only Alnico Two. Or rather, this half does not just possess the inductance and resonant people of one magnet type. That wire goes around the entire coil and makes a little magnetic stew. You get a global inductance shift across the entire pickup.
A deep dive is that the Five-Two single coil set started life as the Nashville Studio set as a form of collaboration with iconic Nashville-based luthier Joe Glaser. Not sure what was up with the name change, but it wouldn’t be the first time an invested party was shut out of a payday by a re-branding. Just sayin’.
Now, the Five-Two single coil set is getting some attention of late. Duncan leadership is still pushing the “GRRL! Power” thing. And that’s groovy because it’s giving us Yvette Young and Brazil’s own Lari Basilio.
Listening to the Lari Basilio demo and considering the original Nashville Studio designation, you have an excellent idea of how this set sounds.
For installation, the Five-Two set goes in a 1990 American Standard Stratocaster with a maple neck and board. I am using the Mojotone Solderless Strat Blender Harness, so install is a snap. This harness lets me blend in some neck to positions 1 and 2, and some bridge into positions 4 and 5.
The Five-Two single coil set is good for clean and edgy tones. No doubt about it. Nice bloom, good note separation, and dynamic chords. Excellent for subtle nuance and harmonic overtones.
This single coil set is good for Pop, Funk, Blues, Jazz, Surf, and of course Country.
On a dirty amp setting, the Five-Two single coils can fall apart a little. And that’s a little bit of a surprise to me. I have familiarity with Duncan’s SSL and Quarter Pound single coil options, which are Alnico 5. And also with the APS, Antiquity Texas Hot, and the Psychedelic sets, which are Alnico 2.
The “dirty setting” character would probably be fitting in a Garage or Punk style. Otherwise, the cleaner amp settings are where it’s at for the Five-Two set. Is that bad? Nope. Not what I’m saying at all. If you are a session player or if you play a lot of the jazzier or more country style, you’re golden.
Let’s look at some specs:
Five-Two Strat Bridge
Resistance – 6.53 K
Inductance – 2.725 H
Magnet – Alnico 5 & 2
Five-Two Strat Middle
Resistance – 6.354 K
Inductance – 2.736 H
Magnet – Alnico 5 & 2
Five-Two Strat Neck
Resistance – 6.437 K
Inductance – 2.811 H
Magnet – Alnico 5 & 2
How about another quick demo of the Five-Two set by Lari Basilio:
If your playing style falls into what you’re hearing, the Five-Two set is worth your time. Players with several guitars that sometimes need a dedicated jazzy/country vibe, here you go. My own experience is the Five-Two excels in those genres more than in harder-edged styles.
For reference, this Seymour Duncan Five-Two Strat pickup set evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller. Real cabs in use are Marshall 1960B, Mojotone British, and Peavey 6505 cabs loaded with Celestion Classic Series Vintage 30s, Classic Series G12M Greenbacks, and Heritage Series G12-65s.
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