Texas Blues - The Malice from Dallas
Our Texas Blues have been on the go for what feels like decades at this point, and, frankly, they've come a long way– originally part of the “cheap and cheerful” range of pickups we designed and had produced in the far east back in the dark old days, they survived, thrived and evolved into their current, hand wound, high spec incarnation you see today, and they’re doing what they do better then ever in my opinion.
Hotter, grittier, capable of being driven harder without becoming too brittle or loose, very much a classic Strat® tone, but with a more muscular feel, a throatiness and capability that really lends itself to that “play it like you stole it” attitude that makes a Strat® a Strat®! Absolutely ideal if you’re going at the harder end of Blues really! Hot Amps, tube screamers, fast, heavy picking, raking strings and breaking hearts, these things will lap it up without ever leaving you feeling under gunned.
Where does the idea come from?
So, on the face of it – the Texas blues just look like another one of those “modernized 1960s” pickups, and, honestly? Yeah – they kind of are – but there are a few little considerations built into that idea that, for me, inches them just outside of that rather broad category of “we’ve put more wire on a 60s!”, and into something a little more unique, so lets get into it.
Straight off the bat, this is a “matched set” of single coils – which means your getting a “specific bridge” pickup, which, as you’d expect, is a wound that little hotter and behaves little more aggressively then the neck and bridge, purely in an attempt to “beef up” the often acerbic pos 1/bridge position that has plagued the Stratocaster® since day one – its certainly not a unique idea to the Texas blues, and has been common place since this “style” of pickups came into being in the 1990s.
And when I say “this style”, and as I mentioned earlier, when we boil it down, what we’re dealing with here, are an evolution on the sixties spec used on single coils from 1964 right up 1983 (exclusively at least, the actual spec survives as “the norm” on most guitar to this very day!)
So, when we say “a modernized 60s pickup” – what we actually mean, is a single coil, wound with 42 AWG Plain enamel wire, on Alnico 5 rod magnet, generally with a little more wire on there to take them past the 5.8K you’d see on a “proper 60s” – not exactly revolutionary thinking really, but it did throw fuel on the fire of “resistance is everything!!” that was everywhere in the 90s and 2000s.
As these hotter 60s specs became a little more refined, we see the idea being fine tuned a little, and leaning heavily on the much maligned Fender® X1 “lets make a hot bridge pickup!” and the bridge pickups just start creeping up in resistance a little more and a little more, until we end up on “the spec” – and its common as muck – you go on any pickup winders page, you’ll find them making a set of single coils, with Alnico 5s, it’ll have a 6.0-6.2K neck and middle, and it’ll have a 6.5-6.7K bridge pickup – it’s a good spec frankly, and I wont call anyone for riding on its coat tails! (I’d maybe gripe that we could all come up with better names then “southern US State” Blues Pickup – but hey, we’re as guilty of that as the next man!) Some get it right, some get it wrong, but on the whole? It’s a nice refinement of the single coil idea, and it’ll cover a hell of a lot of ground! Musically, its more then capable of doing Rock, Blues, anything 60s, 70s, 80s, it’ll do a pretty decent swing at 50s frankly… If I could have one single coil for the rest of time? It’d be a modernized 60s pickup.
However, personally, I don’t think it gives quite enough of a difference to a “normal” 60s pickup to really justify its existence frankly – if you take a pickup from 1965, and shoe horn another 500 winds of 42 AWG on there… sure it’ll be a bit pokier, but its still going to have a that “60s” character!
So, with the Texas Blues, we changed something else – rather then slavishly sticking to the traditional 3/16” poles on the sixties spec, we swapped over to 5mm poles!
Now, this means the pickup has a higher inductance in comparison, because it contains more iron within the coil, and with an increase in inductance, not only do we get more “power” but also a much increased “darkening” of the pickup, with the resonant peak coming down, and bringing that characteristic single coil “ice pick” snap down just enough to be perceived as a more rasping, raucous snarl then the traditional “ping” – and I think that’s exactly what your looking for with a pickup like this – not just a 60s pickup “but more”, but a pickup that’s more aggressive, more capable, more composed, without losing that characteristic single coil-ness!
And that, for me, sums up toe Texas blues absolutely perfectly for me. It’s a Strat®, but it drives better!
Yamaha® and Pacific® are registered trademarks of the Yamaha Corporation.
Strat® and Stratocaster® are registered trademarks
of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation and Gibson Musical Instruments Corporation. Axesrus® makes no claims to these marks.
Should be just below!
What is an Assembly?
This is something I’ve been a little lax with over the years, because the photos were a little self explanatory, but because we’re putting out more and more information on the products nowadays, it’s a nice opportunity to actually explain what an Assembly is.
In short, its all of the electronics, all wired up and working, mounted onto a pickguard, and ready to drop into a guitar. It’s a VERY easy way to completely overhaul your guitar, without having to do an awful lot of soldering, or, frankly, really understanding what’s going on.
And that’s about it really – the pickups are complete pickups, they’re wired to the switch, which is then wired into the volume and tone pots, all the had works been done, and its just a case of dropping it into a guitar, getting some strings over it, and getting back to playing!
Now, with our assemblies, we cut no corners. Its CTS pots throughout, Cornell Dubilier caps, 22 AWG cloth covered wire and a Switchcraft mono socket. Theres some variation in the switch we use, purely because certain switches don’t fit certain guitars, but we always use the best switch available to us for any given job (so, with Strat assemblies, its always an Oak Grigsby, and with guitars designed to take a shallower switch, its always a Pat Pending PBC switch)
We don’t connect the mono socket to the assemblies, but this is because on 99% of guitars, you’d only have to remove it to thread the wires through a hole into the sockets cavity, and, we obviously cant connect the ground wire to your bridge/trem claw to earth the strings.
so, whilst no completely solder free, what soldering you do need to do, is pretty minimal (and we’ll even throw in a little solder and heat shrink to do the job – purely to save you any extra expense)
You will need a soldering iron I’m afraid, that’s unavoidable, because of the way most guitars are designed, but beyond that? It’s a dream job installing assemblies frankly. Very little to go wrong, very little to actually learn, and it opens the door to making a huge modification to your instrument.
Warranty & Returns
In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have to write this section up, and, I really wish I didn’t have to, but, if I’m being honest and transparent about how pickups work, for better or worse, it’s probably worth being honest and open your rights as a consumer too, and maybe give a little insight into how we actually build pickups.
How we do it
Pickups, at our end of things – are “Custom made” – I cannot stress this enough. When you click the “Add To Cart” button, there is no pickup on the shelf, no bucket of pre-terminated bobbins or half complete pickups. It is made, entirely, from scratch using the parts we have available.
This means, if you order a Bourbon city, or a Hot Iron, or a Texas Blue, it is wound FOR YOU. It is being built to the specifications you have stipulated in the drop-down menus, even the most “normal” design, is still, essentially, built to order.
That entails our pickers collecting the parts from stores, delivering them to the winders, who then get the copper on there, and then the wound coils going to the techs to solder, terminate, test, polish, wax pot, clean, retest… you get the idea.
This is all done “in house” and, obviously, there is a queue, which is first in first out, so pickups will NEVER be shipped same day. Realistically, it takes about 2 weeks, but we do get busier at the beginning/end and middle of the month, so that can have a knock on effect.
And this is all being done, by hand, on a VERY small scale. At maximum, we can produce about 6 pickups a day.
It works wonderfully frankly, because we can make, pretty much, anything you can dream up, and keeping it small scale, means we have an exceptionally high attention to detail with each pickup sold.
So we have an item, when all is said and done, that didn’t exist until you purchased it, that has cost a lot of man hours to actually manufacture, and has been manufactured to your exact specifications.
As such, pickups come under the remit of “custom work” as laid out under the our terms and conditions, and as outlined in the UK governments distance selling regulations.
This means, in short, pickups are none returnable, and none refundable.
I understand, in this day and age, that may seem quite the hard-nosed approach, but, sadly, there’s no wiggle room in this. Once a pickup is wound, there’s no going back. It belongs to you. There is no “I’ll test it to see if I like it” or “I’ll return it if I don’t like the colour!”.
All Axesrus pickups come with a “relaxed lifetime” warranty as far as I’m concerned. I’m never going to ask you to register the purchase, stop offering support 12 months after purchase or limit support to the initial customer in the case of second-hand stuff. We are incredibly proud of the pickups we produce, and I’ll help out wherever I can.
However, its worth laying out what I’d consider “realistic” expectations as to what we will cover as part of a warranty.
Repairs and replacements
Whilst we will not accept pickups as return for refund under any circumstances, we reserve the right to repair or replace any pickup that develops a manufacturing fault within a reasonable time frame.
I won’t put a scale on that time frame, but I will say, its at our discretion. If you’re lucky enough to have some of the VERY early hand wound stuff we made, and we (stupidly) thought we could do it at £20 a pickup, and the coil wires snapped after 10 years? I’m probably not in a position to repair or replace it free of charge, you know? You’ve had your fun; you’ve got your money’s worth!
On the flip side of that – if you’ve bought a £200 humbucker 2 years ago, and it’s developed a fault? You’d better believe Axes is bending over backwards to get it repaired and get you up and running again.
I’ll say this too, we won’t hang you out to dry – if that £20 pickup can be repaired, even if we’re not doing it as part of the warranty, we will offer to repair it at a reasonable price.
Damage vs. Fault
Pickups are delicate creatures I’m afraid. Nature of the beast I suppose, they were never designed, all those years ago, to be “presented” outside of a guitar, so go in knowing this, pickups can be damaged. Either in transit, whilst in storage, or during install.
It is VERY difficult to know how a pickup has developed a fault, so most of the time, we will go into all warranty claims with the mindset that “it’s a manufacturing fault”, frankly, because it keeps everyone happy, avoids any awkward conversations as to “who’s done what” and, normally, repairing damage done during install is the same work as repairing a manufacturing fault either way. Worst case, we might have a delicate email exchange about who’s covering the postage, but that’s about as bad as it gets.
However, we will take this approach only when a pickup, which is showing damage, is only showing minimal damage. I appreciate everyone makes mistakes.
Pickups that have been heavily damaged, have seen heavy wear and tear, or have been intentionally broken in an effort to raise a warranty claim, will see not be repaired, or replaced. Neither free of charge or “for a fee”
Lead times and cancellations
We do publish the lead times on all of our custom build work, and there is very little we can do to decrease the time it takes to actually manufacture this stuff I’m afraid, short of jumping you to the front of the queue (which is never fair, and we won’t do it)
Be aware that once an order is placed, work beings on your build, and as such, you’ve entered into the contract, and there is no backing out. Coils can often be wound within the hour or the order being placed, but they will sit in the work queue due to a back log at terminating/testing/cleaning.
There are, occasionally, situations where someone buys a pickup or a wiring loom, installs it, plays it for a while, and then might want something a little different down the line. Maybe a different magnet, or a cover fitting, or a new hookup wire fitting.
I am happy to carry out this work, and, normally, regardless of the “time since purchase”, this will be done simply for the cost of parts and postage.
However, the “depth” of these modifications, and if we’re willing/capable of carrying them out, is at the discretion of Axesrus. We’re happy to discuss this on a case-to-case basis, but go in eyes open, that its unlikely to be part of the warranty.
“Warranty with initial purchase”
I’m not a stickler when it comes to this stuff, but I will say, we do have to draw the line somewhere, so, strictly speaking, this “relaxed warranty” is, officially, limited to the original purchaser of the product.
That said, I’m not a robot, nor am I a fool. I’m aware that sometimes, a pickup is moved on relatively quickly, or is bought by a 3rd party for someone else, so, in these cases, lets just be sensible about it. I’ll carry forward a “true” warranty on a pickup for 12 months after the initial purchase, regardless of who is contacting me in regards to any issue.
However, I will need to know who the initial customer was. Even if it’s just their name and a rough date of purchase.
This goes for technical support too – I’ve no problems offering support on Axesrus products, regardless of “time since purchase”, but I will ask for some proof that they are in fact, Axesrus products.
Modifications to second hand parts, will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis too.
Changes in specification/tolerances
Over the years, we’ve had a few “interesting” conversations regarding pickup specifications, especially when it comes to returns and warranty.
The published specs of our pickups, are published with a “within tolerance” subtext, based off of the readings from our testing equipment.
There will, always, be variation between one pickup and the next, and whilst we endeavor to keep those readings within the tolerances stated, they do occasionally wander outside of the 10% we stipulate as “acceptable” – this is usually due to temperature fluctuation, or specification changes outside of our control (wire diameter, alloy composition etc.) – any resulting change in readings based on these factors, will result in an updated technical spec on the website, but, as you can imagine, the first we know about an unforeseen spec change, is when the pickups come off the winder.
We do not consider these “out of spec” accidents to be cause for a warranty claim I’m afraid, and we endeavor to keep on top of them so the information we’re giving you at point of purchase, is as accurate as possible.
Repairs or replacement postage cost, outside of an initial 14 day period, is at your cost. I appreciate, in some situations, that this is prohibitive (especially when shipping outside of the UK).