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.