THE “IMPROVED” 50S HUMBUCKER
The Alnico II Classic is a superb set for guitars that need more warmth, fullness and sustain. The earliest Gibson Patent-Applied-For (or “PAF”) pickups used a range of magnets, but PAFs made with Alnico II have always held a special place in many a guitarist’s heart.
If you have ever heard someone describe a PAF as “flute-like” or “more like a single coil than a humbucker” – that’s the Alnico II working its magic.
At higher gain settings, the Alnico II Classic really nails the fluid distortion sound of players like Slash, who use the smooth attack and longer sustain of the neck to great effect during solos, and the tighter, fizzier tones available from the bridge for rock rhythm work.
The Alnico II Classic began life as a custom OEM order for a high-end UK guitar company, and we worked with their techs to get the wind just right. Cries of “more scatter!” were heard over and over again, until we got down to less than 30 turns per layer for the neck and bridge pickups – about half the number of turns per layer on vintage PAFs, but much more in line with the current best in class handwound PAFs clones.
We made a few of these pickups back in 2007 – they quickly became favorites – and launched them into our standard range in 2008, The Alnico II Classic set in Nickel is currently our bestselling humbucker.
OPTIONS & SPACING
Colors & Covers: Available in black or zebra open coils, or with highly-polished gold or nickel-plated covers.
Wiring: All AC2’s come with four conductor wiring as standard for maximum flexibility.
Spacing: 99% of AC2’s we’ve made have a 50mm spacing (as measured from the center of the low E polepiece to the center of the high E polepiece). This 50mm spacing suits Les Paul and SG guitars well.
We are also now making AC2’s in F-spacing (52.4mm) for guitars with wider Fender trems or Floyd Rose units.
Baseplate: All AC2s are built with medium-length 9mm baseplate legs for easy installation in a wide variety of instruments. Baseplates are all Nickel-Silver with the Tonerider logo stamp.
Regular-Spaced Covered Humbucker (Metric)
Regular-Spaced Uncovered Humbucker (Metric)
F-Spaced Uncovered Humbucker (Metric)
Regular-Spaced Covered Humbucker (Imperial)
Regular-Spaced Uncovered Humbucker (Imperial)
F-Spaced Uncovered Humbucker (Imperial)
2 Humbuckers / 1 Vol / 1 Tone / 3-Way Toggle
2 Humbuckers / 1 Vol / 1 Tone / 3-Way Toggle / Push-Pull Coil Split (Vol)
2 Humbuckers / 1 Vol / 1 Tone / 3-Way Toggle / Push-Pull Coil Split (Tone)
2 Humbuckers / 2 Vol / 2 Tone / 3-Way Toggle
2 Humbuckers / 2 Vol / 2 Tone / 3-Way Toggle / Push-Pull Coil Split
Fitted into a HSS Strat mod I was doing to a SSS Squier Affinity and it fits perfectly. Paired with a 22nF tone cap, and 500k pots, it really shines. I have it wired with it’s own tone control and a push/pull for coil splitting, and it sounds perfect. Split to the slug coil, it’s almost like having a regular single coil in the bridge, and it can get pretty bright when you need it to, and in full humbucking it sounds nice and fat, but not over the top. It fits in well with the single coils in the mid and neck, and there isn’t a huge volume leap which is really helpful since you can swap to it quickly without having to worry about cutting some of the output.
It drives well but it lives up to the “Classic” name. It’s not going to do metal, but for anything else it’s a great investment. Comes with a quick instruction guide for installation into a 4 control, 2 pickup guitar like an SG or Les Paul, and a quick coil split guide which shows some alternative wiring, like split series/parallel, splitting to the screw coil (only really for neck pickups) or splitting to the slug coil.
For the money it’s going to be pretty much unbeatable.
Great sounding pickup!
I used this in a Strat type guitar. The pickup cleans up when the volume is turned back as you would expect. I have used Tonerider pickups in a Telecaster type before and I have always been happy with the quality and tone of these fine British pickups.
No need to pay the price for DiMarzio or Seymour Duncan.
The Tonerider hype is all true! I have put these in two LP style guitars now and they are top-class – I can now get Paul Kossof sounds. I used 500k Linear on the volume and 500k Log/47nF on the tone. For me the 500k Linear (yes! Linear, not Log) on the volume is just great with a cranked up valve amp!
Rory Mcleish –
This is a great pickup, particularly for the price. I recently installed one of these in the bridge position of an MIM Player Strat which was a little too bright for the single coil in there and it sounds excellent. I also installed a coil-tap switch per the wiring instructions that came with the pickup (I went Old School and tapped the slug coil with a mini-toggle switch between the volume and first tone knobs). An added plus is that because the other two pickups are Tonerider City Limits single coils, there are no phase issues when switching to middle-bridge position This is now one of my favourite guitars, punchy and articulate tone and increased overall versatility. Highly recommended, and amazing value for money.
I really do love these AC2s! Mounted on RG370 with ash body, maple neck and fretboard. Superb dynamics and sweet harmonics. Bridge PU also works very well in an SA360 with mahagony/maple/rosewood combination.
They didn’t match in a S621 with the same wood but different construction, sounded somehow weak, there I turned to something hotter with Alnico 5.
The pack contains helpful information on wiring options. On the homepage there are a lot more plans on the wiring and cable colours of other brands, that helped me A LOT to solve different problems with the phase in other guitars.
Toneriders are for shure worth the try. To me the best vintage pickups, also the AC4s. Even the high gain versions show a good vintage tone.
Murray Rowley –
I replaced some stock humbuckers on my Ibanez AF55 semi-acoustic jazzbox with these pickups. A great improvement in clarity and warmth, as the Ibanez pickups were a little too heavy in character for that style of guitar and my taste. The price and performance are very very good.
Sergio Q. (verified owner) –
Estas cápsulas son increibles para lo que cuestan. Las puse yo mismo en una Tokai ls196 y son notoriamente mejores que las stock, que tampoco estaban nada mal. Las compré con envío a Chile y el empaque es buenísimo, llegaron sin problemas.
Opinión sonora: Buena dinámica, claridad en cada nota al tocar un acorde, sonido balanceado, la guitarra destaca ahora ese timbre que caracteriza a las Les Paul con algo de overdrive.
roger.venton (verified owner) –
Just fitted a pair of these humbuckers to a 2004 Ibanez AR 250 . Fantastic result! Very well balanced – nice clean sounds in all 3 positions plus easy to push in to tasty distortion. Great value and as good sounding as some that cost more than twice as much. Highly recommended
These were installed in a HB les paul copy along with 550k cts pots , PIO caps and 50’s LP wiring and In my opinion the TR alnico 2 classics are a more convincing clone of the original P.A.F pickups than the gibson 57′ classics i have in another guitar , They have amazing pick sensitivity and have a true vintage P.A.F voice , don’t let the price fool you into thinking these are “cheap” pickups because they are not in anyway shape ot form.
Sam (verified owner) –
These were my first Tonerider pickups. They will not be my last.
I fitted these in my 1979 pre-lawsuit Ibanez Deluxe 59’er Les Paul copy. The original pups were a bit hot and muddy for my taste and playing. These alnico II Toneriders have brightened and sweetened my guitar tone perfectly but still giving fantastic sustain. The clarity and responsiveness is superb.
TBH I didn’t buy Toneriders before because I thought they were maybe too cheap so not up to much. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Fantastic value for money.
Bill (verified owner) –
I installed TR AC2’s in 2 Firefly guitars. A Pegasus, full hollow-body and a PRS semi hollow copy.
Along with 50’s wiring, CTS pots and Orange drop .22 caps these pickups are great! They have great dynamics and note separation. Clean, they sound sweet and clear and not trebly but smooth. Dirty, they sing and sustain well.
As another review stated ( Geraint) “The TR alnico 2 classics are a more convincing clone of the original P.A.F pickups than the Gibson 57′ classics I have in” my 2016 Les Paul. These pickups are well worth the price. They will change the way your guitar sounds and responds for the better!
Robin (verified owner) –
Very pleased with these as an upgrade for my 1998 Les Paul Standard. Together with a 50’s rewire these brighter, lighter sounding pickups have helped lift the tone out of the muddy water; much better for my preference of 70s era rock playing. Uncapped with Zebra bobbins they look the biz too!
Larry Biggs –
I had these awesome humbuckers installed in my red racing stripe firefly 335. Great upgrade! Not only do these bring out the vintage tone but at high gain my semi hollow body guitar rocks. Lost of depth, clarity, and sustain. I highly recommend these pickups.
Ben (verified owner) –
Installed these into a good quality semi hollow electric after trying JB/Jazz and Phat Cats that didn’t work for me for different reasons. These Toneriders are great pickups – perfect blend of clear, warm, defined and detailed. Search is over. Thanks.
dB (verified owner) –
Recently, I ordered the bridge position version of the Alnico II Classic pickup (nickel cover) for my Stratocaster, and I have to say, I’m very impressed. This is a quality, well-built pickup, and for the first time, I actually enjoy putting my Strat pickup selector switch to the bridge position!
This is not some awful sounding soulless hot humbucker, but rather a proper PAF type pickup that is sonically balanced and harmonically rich, with tonal complexity, clarity and warmth/thickness. You can’t get a bad tone from this pickup. It sounds excellent clean to overdriven, balances well with my other Bill Lawrence L-280 pickups, and when split (to the slug coil), sounds surprisingly good as well (I haven’t tried parallel mode yet, so I can’t critique it), where I’ve even managed to produce a nice Hank Marvin tone from it with my 1966 AB165/AA864 hybrid amp, a spring reverb pedal + a lightly set slight analog echo.
Lastly, if you are worried about clarity with the nickel cover being on it – don’t. The pickup still sounds beautifully clear with it, and looks fantastic….and you won’t collect dust inside.
Really, this pickup isn’t just great for the price, it’s outstanding in any price bracket. Kudos to those at Tonerider, for the excellent work done on this pickup.
I placed it as neck pu for a pacifica 311h. The change was without any problem. I was more than surprised about the new sound. Warm and more heavy like the Yamaha’s
Why is tonerider not known by great sellers like T..m. I bought my pu in Polland (I’m an Austrian).
Put a set of these alnico 2 humbuckers in my 2005 worn cherry Gibson Les Paul Studio. I never was happy with the alnico 5 Burstbucker Pro’s that came in the guitar. I initialy put in Seymore Duncan 59 and JB combo. It sounded great but was not giving me that vintage type PAF tone that I was Looking for. The Alnico 2 set are just wonderful in this guitar. It now sounds more like those old 50s and 60s Les Pauls that require the family home to be mortgaged just to buy one if you can find one. I have now removed the nickel covers and it has brightened the guitar up a little more. Makes the tone circuit a little more usable. These are great pickups at any price. Thank you Tonerider for the R&D you done here.
Purchased for a 2022 Gibson SG Tribute (mahogany body, set maple neck), installation was a breeze. The manufacturing seems top quality with no unexpected noise or oddities. As for the sound, they are very clean, respond well to picking dynamics, and tend to be fairly brightly voiced (not harsh). With 500k audio taper pots and 22nf caps, the tone sweep is fully useable and never gets muddy. These pickups work well for me clean and overdriven, and I get the exact tones I’m looking for with a chrome slide, fingerpicking and open E tuning.
Like any good pickups, it took me some time to properly set them up for the best and most balanced sound, adjusting pickup and polepiece heights to find the sweet spots, and these pickups have a good range of adjustability. On my SG, the neck pickup is set pretty low and the bridge fairly high to balance volume when switching between pickups, but this is not unusual for dual humbuckers.
I have them wired up as straight humbuckers, but look forward to throwing in some push-pulls and trying them with the coils in parallel.
I can recommend these pickups for any style of music that looks for bright, dynamic and clear sound – they are good both fingerstyle and with a pick, though they may not be my first choice for drop C nu-metal rhythm chugging.
Steve (verified owner) –
I bought a set of these to install in a kit 335 style guitar I was making, instead of the supplied pickups. I am so pleased I did this since they are just so sweet sounding and beautifully made.
Bernie Jochum (verified owner) –
Excellent sound, and great value for money. Beefed my Tokai SG with Alnico 2 and it rocks just like some original. I will never pay $200 or more for so known top brands. The tone rider philosophy is great. And they even print on the packaging exactly where parts are manufactured. Honesty rules.
Chris Kettlewell (verified owner) –
I have an old Tokai “Love Rock” Les Paul clone and found I didn’t use it all that much as I think I liked the bridge tone through a cranked amp and not much else. After having a play of a Slash signature Gibson Les Paul at a guitar shop and loving it, I wondered if I could get something closer to that set up. But going for either Gibson Burstbuckers or Seymour Duncan Slash set is a lot of money. Then I came across these for about 1/4 of the price. The Slash guitars pickups use Alnico 2 magnets, so I decided the Alnico 2 classics had to be worth a shot. For that price, and given all the reviews, what was there to lose. So I got a set, and also completely rewired with new pots using the “50’s” wiring method, but then also got push/pull pots and wired them up not to split the pickups but switch from series to parallel, which gets a similar effect, close to single coil sound, but still hum cancelling.
The pickups sound really good. With the series switch, especially on the neck (while I did it on both pickups, it’s probably less useful on the bridge than the neck) actually sounds really good and is a really usable sound. I expect I’ll use it lots, which can’t be said of a lot of such switching options. All three pickup positions sound really good. Probably not identical to playing an actual Gibson Slash Les Paul, but for a fraction of the price it’s got me very close. Really nice.
Really happy with these pickups and definitely recommend them. I can see myself coming back for many more Tonerider sets in the years to come.
Shaun (verified owner) –
Been waiting for these to come back in stock for weeks. Just fit to my 60s LP and what a difference. They are off the chart amazing. We’ll done Tonerider for a great product.
Ahmed (verified owner) –
Swapped out stock bridge hb on my g&l tribute fallout and wow! **This thing is the real deal!!** Incredibly versatile, goes from almost pristine, sparkling cleans to snarling distortion, twang to beautiful, complex overdriven tones, with the guitar volume control. I love humbuckers that aren’t “mids-ville,” like many affordable hb’s can be and the tonerider avoids this common issue. Idk what the original PAFs it’s based on sound like, never having played them, but this pickup blows away the (already very good) stock pup of the fallout.