One of my favorite anecdotes to come out of the Duncan company has to do with the Alnico II Pro. And Slash.
For whatever reason, Slash was considering a signature pickup. I believe a common rationale put out there was that the newer Gibson Les Paul models didn’t sound the same as his preferred ones. So why not come up with a pickup to bridge the gap? Anyway…
At one point, a few of the people involved figured they could give Slash what he was looking for by putting an Alnico 5 magnet in the Alnico II Pro. To which MJ reminded them that they just described the recipe for the Jazz Model. Oh, SNAP!
However funny that can be (which is very!), it did more than just remind us all of how many coil winds the Duncan company has re-purposed for different models. It gave me a starting point for how the Alnico II Pro would sound. I’ve had a few Jazz Model neck pickups over the years. The lion’s share have been the “newer” style. Refer to the article on the 59 Model and the series on the JB Model for what I mean by that. The “current” Jazz Model obviously makes it happen for some players, but I generally tap out.
Sure enough, I hear from someone a while back that has an old 80s Alnico II Pro available. Alright, I’m game! Wouldn’t you know, they have the “J” on the stamp, indicating they were made by Maricela Juarez (MJ). Off they go into the trusty 2-hum test guitar and we’re off to the races. The bridge has 4-con lead wire and is connected to a switch for series/split/parallel. The neck has vintage style braided lead wire.
Out of the gate, the Alnico II Pro in the bridge can be a little raucous and slightly rude when pushed. Highs are a little sweet and lows are spongey but not flabby. “Warm” seems to get a lot of overuse when describing pickups, so I tend to avoid that descriptor. But “warm” does apply here in the ways that you’d want. Yet there is still snarl and bite. This is a good option for a brown sound.
When considering the Alnico II Pro neck, I think “full” would encapsulate the overall vibe. For my preferences, I’d consider it a bit of a 12th-fret-up humbucker. Going down low might get a little too loose for some players, depending on their goals. If you’re wanting thick and rich blues leads, the Alnico II Pro neck might be worth your consideration.
Wanna watch a video of the Alnico II Pro at work? I thought so…
How about some specs:
Series – 8.112 K
Inductance – 4.668 H
Resonant Peak – 6.7 KHz (advertised)
North – 3.946 K
South – 4.161 K
Parallel – 2.023 k
Magnet – Alnico 2
Series – 7.13 K
Inductance – 3.147 H
Resonant Peak – 7.1 KHz (advertised)
Magnet – Alnico 2
Uses for this set would obviously be blues and rock. The voice of the Alnico II Pro will get you from Guns N Roses (obviously) all the way to the full range of 70s-era Grandpa Rock. I’d not take it as far as Angus or Jimmy levels, but you’d be good for Desert Rock and Southern Rock. If you have a really bright guitar or seem to have a habit of choosing pickups with too much ice-pick high end, the Alnico II Pro could be a consideration.
For reference, this Alnico II Pro humbucker set evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses. Real cabs used are a Peavey 6505 cab loaded Celestion A-Type and Celestion V-Type in an X config and a Marshall 1960B cab loaded with Celestion G12-65s.
Darth Phineas is a long time music industry insider who provides his readers with unbiased reviews on musical instrument and guitar gear. You can read more of his reviews and check out industry news on his Facebook community Darth Phineas, Twitter or his website is darthphineas.com