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Axesrus "The Purist"
Axesrus - The Purist Humbucker

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Description Technical Specs Wiring / Instructions / Customisation

Main Description

Francis Gill has worked closely with us for a number of years now as our resident guitarist and product development consultant. He is the man you’ll hear on the vast majority of our sound recordings, so it only seemed fitting to actually make him an Axesrus® Humbucker that exactly matched his wants and needs – and here we are - “The Purist”!

When sitting down to design this humbucker, we had versatility in the front of our minds. We’ve said it before that sometimes the most musically diverse pick-ups can also be the most diluted and bland. The last thing Francis wanted was to settle on something that would merely ‘do a job’ in a wide a range of settings. This humbucker needed to seriously perform no matter what he threw at it, whilst retaining its own distinctive voice!

One of the most important (and toughest to tackle) issues when designing more versatile pick-ups is the ‘heat factor’. We’re looking at a pickup thats not so cool that the bottom end starts to misbehave under extreme levels of distortion, but not so blisteringly hot that it refuses to clean up, so wound at 9.8k, the Purist is perfectly balanced to achieve this.

The alnico IV magnet is a nice little twist on the design for us – usually the preserve of the “vintage elite”, we’re utilising it in a more modern setting here, so its helping to deliver that all important high frequency range between 4-6 khz – its retain clarity and presence, whilst helping to round off the sharp edges that can often come as an undesired bi-product of modern rectified high gain.

All in all, the result is an organic attenuation of the extreme top end that tracks with neither evasion, nor artifice. This gives the Purist a really sweet and liquid smooth tone!

Run it totally clean and you’ll get warmth, with a full bodied mid range. If you turn up the gain dial slightly those mid-range frequencies will get dirtier and provide a fatter bluesy punch. Run it hot and the harmonics spring to life! The ‘business end’ of the mid-range becomes more aggressive, and natural compression increases to balance dynamic transients and boost sustain, all the while the bottom end remains boldly intact, tracking fast and true.

Something we really wanted to nail on for Francis is to keep the pickup quiet on stage – once upon a time he was a devout “high output” player – so there’s a raft of 15 – 20K Humbuckers lurking in his guitar stand – and every single just kicks up a fuss as soon as you stop playing – sending him running to your tuner to mute the signal path as soon as he rattles out that lost note – simply put – he lives in fear of deafening the audience with mega feedback.

So we kept these just under 10K, they’re as traditional as it comes – we’ve used 42 AWG Formvar, exactly like you’d see on a vintage humbucker, but its wound to its very limits (normally, you’d see a 10K pickup wound with 43 AWG – its thinner, it leaves more space on the bobbin – and the signal degrades faster on it, and as such, its noisier!) – We’re wax potted in our Paraffin/Bees wax blend, and as with most of our pickups now – completely customisable.

How (& why) we do it

Way back when, Axesrus used to really just carry cheap and cheerful pickups from OEM producers in the far east - like so many of the "house brand" pickups you'll see out there. And, honestly - they're OK - they're OK when other folks do them, and they were OK when we did them - but - sadly, they're not without their draw backs from our point of view, and somewhere between the quantities the factories required, the lack of customisation available and the "hit and miss" approach they took towards following our specifications - we decided to bring pickup winding in house (having done it for a few years previously as part of the prototyping process)

So thats where we are nowadays - pickups wound, in house, by hand at Axes towers here in East Yorkshire - and, honestly? Its brilliant!

It allows for next level degrees of customisation, and we can make things however you want it. "Gold Cover? No problem, we've got 6 styles! 7 string? easy! On a surface mount base? Yep!" - it really is a case of "if you can dream it up, we can make it"

So... fancy seeing how we do it?

Humbucker Coil not terminated

Yes - We hand wind!

Now, i'm not going to sit here and try and sell you a big bucket of freshly squeezed snake oil and tell you "hand wound pickups sound better" or "the imperfections in the coil are what make it sound better!" - its salesmanship, and its not true. A hand wound pickup will sound no different to a machine wound pickup (built to the same specs). What i will tell you, is that winding a coil of wire onto a bobbin is a heck of alot faster if you dont have to set up a tensioning arm and feed mechanism - and thats why we do it.

Humbucker terminations not secure


One thing we really like to do when winding humbuckers, is to make the connections directly to the coil - its actually not the easiest way to do it, but it gives you so much more space "inside" the humbucker, that it means you can make variations that you couldn't if you where using "external" connections - stuff like extra spacers (be they maple or magnetic!) and its generally a little safer in the long run (Heatshrink, needed on external connections, really doesn't like being wax potted - and can fail at that point)

Humbucker internal terminations

Making safe

Once the coil is terminated, the hookup wires are brought into the coil and made safe, secured in place using acetate tape, and the entire coil is wrapped in acetate tape. Weirdly, you dont have to protect the terminations against shorting, because the copper on the coils is insulated (whats what "Formvar" and "Plain Enamel" refers to - simply a coating on the coil wire which stops it shorting.

Humbucker construction

Another one?!

Once the first coil is finished, its time for the next one. We always start with the North coil (atleast we do when its a traditional build like this) simply because it saves having the juggle the screw pole spacer. Once thats done, we fit the magnet, the spacers, and carry out the above process on the south coil.

Close detail of finished humbucker winding

Coils Done!

And there we have it - all bar putting in the pole screws, the slugs, tightening the mounting screws, and giving the thing a wax bath. Notice how neat and tidy the internal hookups are when you're finished? Great if you're using a pickguard or ring thats designed to be form fitting.

Humbucker Cover Soldered in place

Everything Covered

OK - so not exactly done and dusted - if you're having a cover fitted, then that goes on prior to wax potting. Nothing overly serious though - its literally a case of grinding down a little of the plating at the point of contact, and soldering those points to the base.

Sound Clips

Average Rating: 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 2 Write a review »

  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
The Purist - amazing humucker! January 19, 2018
Reviewer: Sim On from London, Lonson England  
Got this in my Fat strat - and this pickup does an amzing job at being a single coil - giving true strato in between sound together with middle single. At the same time it really shines on it's own in bridge position. It sounds good clean, gets very nice definition with a bit of dirt and screams with high gain. It is truly difficult to find a humbucker that versatile and good sounding.

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  3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
WOW September 28, 2015
Reviewer: Nick from United Kingdom  
Thanks so much for getting the pick up to me so quickly. I just got it wired and done some brief testing and have to say WOW! This is the sound I was looking for and even matches the other pickups perfectly.
Thanks again for answering my dozens of questions and helping me get That Sound.  Your patience is very much appreciated!

The Gill does a GREAT job of the clean/dirty balance. It has a good amount of punch, nice musical mids, and enough highs to cut through without cutting glass. No icepicks here! I like to think of music in colours, and this, to me, is a dark red. Not too dark, you don’t want it to get lost, but rich, musical and fitting in with whatever else is going on.  Saturated tones are exactly what you need - enough chug to fatten things up, and enough highs to solo with veracity!I don’t usually like bridge humbuckers clean, although that could be the couple of Seymour’s I’ve played, but this one is fantastic! Crisp, clear and still lots of mids to make it sound JUST right. Split, it is what you would expect a decent strat bridge pickup to sound like, almost Tele-like, but again, not an icepick. I LOVE the in-between sound on a Tele, and this does that just  right. It’s a beautiful rhythm thing.
Oh, and it blends really well with my neck double-single coil thing. All the tones on the guitar are nice and warm, with some in-between (think Strat on two and four) split sounds for good measure.

One super happy customer!!

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