1. Alnico Magnets are Nearly 100 Years Old
In the early 1930s, Japanese inventor Tokushichi Mishima discovered that a magnet composed of aluminum, nickel, and iron had a coercivity that was double that of the best performing magnet steels that were otherwise available at that time. Later, Mishima discovered that adding cobalt improved the alloy’s magnetic characteristics even more, in addition to improving the material’s tenacity, ductility, and ease of mechanical working. In 1933, he officially filed his patent application, and it was granted to him in January of 1936.
2. They Were Affected by World War II
By 1939, alnico magnets had entered the scene. However, the use of these magnets did not truly take off until after 1945. The development of alnico magnets was not the biggest event of 1939—rather, it was Nazi Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland that dominated the headlines. World War II would take over every aspect of daily life for the next six years, and there was no time to make magnets when metals like iron and aluminum were instead supplying the needs of military operations. It was not until the end of the war in 1945 that companies could focus on using alnico magnets in peacetime products such as speakers and microphones.
3. Alnico Magnets Are Responsible for Signature Sounds
Following World War II, one of the most common places to find these magnets was in electric guitars. Big name guitar brands like Fender started using alnicos in electric guitar pickups shortly after the war ended, and the use of different alloys of alnico magnets is responsible for the different sounds electric guitars can make. Even on the same guitar, switching out different alnico alloys can result in drastically different musical tones. The use of certain alnico pickups is responsible for the signature sounds associated with 50s and 60s rock and roll, blues, and jazz music.