I stumbled into Fender copycat electric guitar strings in ebay. (They had Fender packing and print)The price was 1€ per set.Great! I found the most peculiar reason in my life for that price. Three strings 1.,2.,3. i.e E, B, and G did not produce any sound. Absolutely quiet in strat. I changed proper Thomastic string in place and then I got sound immediately. Then I thought maybe these cheap metal strings have no magnetic properties. Sure enough when I took strong speaker magnet those Thomastic strings jump from table and click to magnet but those 1€ ebay strings had no effect at all even when touched with magnet. My question is: does anyone know what is gone wrong in production phase with those 1€ strings? I ask this to make clear for someone who encounters in similar situation that it really is possible that from factory comes a string that has no magnetic response i.e it cannot disturb pickup's magnetic field to induce signal into pickup's coil.
Here is the link(2021) to those strings of which of some are made of non magnetic material if you want to try this wonder:https://www.ebay.com/itm/143776666884

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    they're 1€. of course they're going to be lousy Jun 13, 2021 at 1:34
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    It’s made from the wrong metal or alloy. Many metals don’t respond to magnetic fields. So the metal or mix of metals used does not have enough of a magnetic metal (most commonly iron) included. Jun 13, 2021 at 3:39
  • I had the same problem with the magnetic pickup on my A/E mandolin until I found a set of on JustStrings. Jun 13, 2021 at 4:07
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    Get them vaccinated! (Please know that I'm kidding. But I couldn't resist.)
    – Richard
    Jun 13, 2021 at 6:20
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    @ToddWilcox that sounds like an answer.
    – phoog
    Jun 13, 2021 at 14:12

3 Answers 3


Your experiment with the speaker magnet was measuring ferromagnetism, which is important for the magnets inside the pickups, but not the critical property for the strings.

What's important for strings used with magnetic guitar pickups is magnetic permeability. The €1 eBay strings were made from a metal with a low permeability. Possibly, they were Austenitic stainless steel, which also happens to be non-ferromagnetic. This would be a good material for preventing corrosion due to contact with perspiration. I have seen strings for fiddles made of stainless (where the magnetic properties are not so important), so it is not necessarily poor quality material, but improper application.

By the way, it is possible to have a material that is highly ferromagnetic, but with a low permeability. Some of the metals used for the magnets themselves are examples.

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    This seems to be the most accurate answer, why the downvote? If there is anything incorrect here, can you comment? Jun 14, 2021 at 15:20
  • @user1079505 I presume the initial downvotes were because this is music.se, not physics.se or electronics.se. Looking at it from a pragmatic/empirical standpoint, the vast majority of high-permeability materials that could be made into guitar strings will also be ferromagnetic and will respond to the "speaker magnet test" described, giving guitarists an easy "litmus test". Also, I have a relatively low reputation on music.se because I am mostly a reader on this stack.
    – Theodore
    Jun 18, 2021 at 14:23

The most direct answer, is that those strings are most likely made of an alloy with very low, or no Tin (Sn) and Iron (Fe) content.

Electric Guitar strings are usually made of Tin-plated steel, both of which are capable of exciting the magnetic field of the pickup. So my guess would be a combination of poor quality steel alloy, and/or lack of tin plating.


Materials can be classed as ferromagnetic, which are strongly attracted to magnetic fields, paramagetic, which are not attracted to magnetic fields, or diamagnetic, which are repelled by a magnetic field.

Most plain metal guitar strings, and the cores of most wound metal guitar strings, are made of an alloy called Swedish steel, which has very few impurities and is strongly ferromagnetic.

Ferromagnetic metals include iron, nickel, cobalt, some rare earth metals, and most steel. The exception in steel is a specific category of stainless steel called austenitic steel.

The really bizarre thing is that the non-ferrous white metals (silver, austenitic steel and aluminum) are all more expensive than ferrous steels. My guess is that the string manufacturer got a great deal on either aluminum or austenitic stainless, either because somebody was dumping inventory or because the metal was stolen.

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    Ferromagnetism isn't what allows the strings vibrations to be sensed by the pickup. It is the strings' permeability. It does happen that most ferromagnetic materials also have relatively high permeability.
    – Theodore
    Jun 14, 2021 at 17:07
  • @Theodore I'm not aware of any ferromagnetic materials that do not have a high permeability
    – Tom Serb
    Jun 16, 2021 at 1:27
  • Some of the hard permanent magnet materials (like Neodymium-Iron-Boron) are ferromagnetic, but have a low permeability. This is why they are hard to demagnetize. Reference.
    – Theodore
    Jun 16, 2021 at 13:31
  • My knowledge used to be that a electric guitar pickup magnets establish constant magnetic field which the moving string will disturb and that disturbance of the field like throwing stone in to pond creates the signal. Signal means the inductance. Is this OK? If it is or not, then how the permeablity or ferromagnetism solves my knowledge to higher level? I cannot be sure quite yet which one is the correct of both.
    – Tonecops
    Jun 16, 2021 at 22:39
  • The important point in this answer is the stainless steel. I missed it and started to write my own. Why not put the words "stainless steel" as a first line?
    – fraxinus
    Jun 17, 2021 at 0:36

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