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Thread: Evaluation of my new Axis

  1. #1

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    Evaluation of my new Axis

    I just bought an Axis yesterday. I have put in about 6 hours on it and feel I have a pretty good feel of what it is and isn't. I guess I should mention I played professionally when I was younger, and although I quit the business to go to university I continued to put in decent hours.

    I have played many different brands, owned dozens of guitars, and gravitated mostly toward Gibson, Fender, Kramer and Ibanez. This is my first EBMM guitar; the owner told me it was a 2016 but I am not sure he knew. OK, that is probably more than enough about me. On to the guitar.

    First I would like to address the build. I really scrutinize guitars after I first buy them looking for the the most nit-picky things. I couldn't find anything on this guitar. The neck is even in the exact center of the pocket. I checked lol. Full marks. Literally perfect. But, but, I like finding and pointing out faults... ;-)

    I was fortunate to find one that was basically new. I was shocked at the condition it was in, it literally looks like I just took it off the wall in a music store. Aesthetically it is a very attractive quilt-top 'burst, with finished headstock. I posted pix in a thread below. But will attach the again if people are interested. They are substandard pictures, so I apologise for the quality.

    I started playing it acoustically sitting on the couch and it was out of tune. I hit a chord and brought the high E up to pitch and while the chord was still ringing I brought the D up to pitch. That is when the magic happened. As the D came closer to pitch the guitar started to resonate more and when it was brought to pitch the guitar came alive. Big, full singing acoustic tone. Really nice and usually a good sign imo.

    I started running through some lead and every few licks I was literally saying out loud Oh my God. Licks which I consider hard to play were much easier to execute and sounded great. The effort required to get the notes to sound is minimal. After playing Gibsons as my main guitars for so long, comfort and ease of playing are somewhat elusive. The notes on the Axis pop out and require a very light touch so I accomplished what I set out to do, which is find a neck conducive to playing with early-stage but advancing osteoarthritis.

    So I went upstairs where my DAW is and fired up Protools to start jamming. I plugged it in and tried the neck pickup first, and without a word of exaggeration it has the smoothest tightest bass tone of any neck pickup I have played. Awesome rich, low, smooth tone. Nice.

    So I went to the bridge pickup, but that is where the joy ended for me. The bridge pickup is noisy, uneven in its response and the tone in the middle and high ranges are generally abrasive to my ears. Taking the volume down a bit helps, but this pickup reminds me of more of a Thrash Metal tone. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not the tone I am looking for. I couldn't help but think it would be nice if this guitar had a tone circuit to take out a bit of the treble.

    You would think that guitars made to the same specs with the same pickups wound to the same specs would sound the same. But the truth is they don't. I don't care what manufacturer you cite there is variance from guitar-to-guitar, and pickup-to-pickup..and sometimes quite a bit. At least in my experience.

    I did some research and found out that setting up the guitar requires shimming the neck. In my opinion that should be addressed at the bridge. However setting up and designing guitars is not my job.

    In summary, this guitar is amazing in every way, but doesn't have a bridge pickup that does it justice. If the bridge pickup was as awesome as the neck, I would say when it comes to playability and tone the guitar is as close to perfect as I could reasonably expect. But manufacturers don't make guitars for me, they make them for the masses, and some people would probably love the tone in this bridge pickup.

    However, my brother has an old Ibanez that he never plays that has an outstanding Dimarzio bridge pickup. That pickup is going into this guitar. Then it will probably be the nicest guitar I own. And that is high praise because I am fortunate to own some pretty nice guitars.

    So in summary, after a post that is probably too long to be interesting, I am smitten by this guitar. I now have boatloads of respect for the guitars EBMM builds, and now I want a John Pettrucci model too. lol No seriously, I do.

    So with all that said I would like to thank the people who responded to my banal questions. I will be back for another unsolicited review when I get another EBMM guitar.

    Thanks guys, I will show myself out.

    Cheers,
    REvaluation of my new Axis-jpgEvaluation of my new Axis-headstock-jpgEvaluation of my new Axis-top-jpg

  2. #2

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    Enjoy! They are great guitars. I would be interested in hearing a clip after you change the pickup.

    2018 Axis Super Sport BFR - Buckeye Burl
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    2016 Chapman ML-3 Signature - Cherry

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    Line 6 L2t FRFR

  3. #3

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    Different ears like different things. I think the EVH bridge is my favorite pickup ever. Love it. Ain’t for everyone I guess.


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  4. #4

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    I'd research a bit more on the 'need' to shim the next on a basic setup. That's generally reserved for a bit more of a problem child IMHO. My 2016 ASS was incredibly easy to get better than I needed. Frets were perfect and a quick relief check and bridge adjustment and I've done nothing more and it's simply the best player I may have ever had. Funny, I happen to love the bridge pickup for the diverse cover band material work we do.
    2016 Axis Super Sport Trans Gold w/ Maple Neck
    1997 Axis Sport HSS Kandy Lime w/ Maple Neck

  5. #5

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    I wasn't going to post again until I had another EBMM guitar and could claim a bit more ownership cred, but I had to come back to rave about the playability of this guitar. I don't want to gush but this is just an absolute dream to play. I can't put it down. Amazing note articulation, really.

    This guitar is so easy to play, it is almost cathartic. I can not overstate what a load it is off my mind to know I am still going to be able to play without being in pain 1/2 the time and I won't have to give it up any time soon. I am nearly in tears...sentimental old fool lol.

    Thank you so much to the people who make these guitars happen.

    EBMM-1 vs Arthritis-0.

    @Vic...Sure, when I change it out I will do a before and after.

    @Radrock/Nervous. Not all bridge pickups are created equal ime. I have an Ibo AH-10 and and an AH-20 and my brother has an AH-10 as well. Supposedly the pickups are all wound to Allan Holdsworth's meticulous specs. Yet if I plug them into my interface with the exact same settings in AT they all sound different. They all sound great, but not the same. Easily distinguishable as well. Same with virtually every make and model of pickup I have done a side x side with.

    However, since playing the Axis more I found a sweet spot for lead between approx 9.5 and 9.7 lol. It is really tight, but there is an area that is workable for now, but not long-term. I like to have guitars that have enough variance that they really clean up around 4-5, have good lead tone around 9-9.5 and really push when it is cranked. Perhaps(probably) I am just fussy.

    @Nervous. The need to shim the Axis when setting it up is information I obtained within the EBMM site in their FAQ section regarding the Axis. Please see below:

    ***********************************
    How do I set up my Axis with double locking tremolo?

    "Because the bridge is limited in its adjustability via the pivot screws, the string height is primarily adjusted by adding or removing shims from the neck pocket. If you are not comfortable with removing the neck from your guitar, do not attempt to re-shim the neck. Instead, take your guitar to a qualified tech or contact "

    *********************************
    FAQ | Ernie Ball Music Man

    If you still feel my research is incomplete I would be grateful if you could steer me in the right direction. Thx.

    At any rate as much as I enjoy talking about my new acquisition I like playing her more. Gotta go do it.

    Thanks for responding gents, I appreciate the input and interest.

  6. #6

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    Ahh yes. My bad. Apologies. I see you have FR and I have a vintage trem. That's teh difference and I forgot about that. Makes me happy I didn't have to fuss with that.

    One thing that I did that smoothed out the volume taper was add a generic treble bleed circuit to the volume pot. I always do that with every guitar and I learned something about a positive (for me) side impact I never realized existed.

    BTW, my Axis playing experienced was much like yours. Initial playing reaction was as strong and positive and first time plugged in with the band was the clincher. It was an effortless player that just sang. I found that the .009 EMBB strings contributed to that as well. I swapped out to my standby D'Addario XL .010 and I always played 10s. But, it was just was not the same.Felt crappy by comparison and something was really lost. Put a set of slinky 9 hybrids on and that magic was back.
    Last edited by nervous; 09-03-2018 at 03:13 PM.
    2016 Axis Super Sport Trans Gold w/ Maple Neck
    1997 Axis Sport HSS Kandy Lime w/ Maple Neck

  7. #7

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    With a Floyd rose that is "decked" on the top of the body, the only way to really change the action is by shimming the neck joint, or possibly shimming the saddles themselves. Bolt-on guitars have been using shims and/or micro-tilt adjustments for decades. Wood is somewhat unpredictable, and sometimes the neck joint compresses more than other times.

    Even with the "vintage" tremolos, more are mounted to studs screwed directly into the body, which are not readily adjustable. The neck angle and saddle height is used to fine tune the action.

    With a floating Floyd Rose style tremolo, things are a bit different, as they use threaded brass bushings that are sunk into the guitar body, so the bridge can be moved up and down. The problem you might run into there is that direct mounted pickups are often not height adjustable.
    2007 Stingray 5 HS Cherry Burst / Maple FB / 3 Band EQ / Ceramic Pickups
    2012 Stingray 5 H Pearl Blue / Rosewood FB / 3 Band EQ/ AlNiCo Pickup
    2012 Steve Morse Morse Blueburst / Rosewood FB
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  8. #8

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    Congrats on discovering this fantastic model. These are truly special guitars!
    2011 Axis Trans Orange

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by nervous View Post
    Ahh yes. My bad. Apologies. I see you have FR and I have a vintage trem. That's teh difference and I forgot about that. Makes me happy I didn't have to fuss with that.
    No apology necessary, you were just trying to be thorough.

    One thing that I did that smoothed out the volume taper was add a generic treble bleed circuit to the volume pot. I always do that with every guitar and I learned something about a positive (for me) side impact I never realized existed.
    Interesting thx. I will check into it.

    BTW, my Axis playing experienced was much like yours. Initial playing reaction was as strong and positive and first time plugged in with the band was the clincher. It was an effortless player that just sang.
    It was a big deal and surprise for me. If I had known how much these guitars rocked, I would have bought one years ago. Finding a guitar with this level of playability is a game-changer in my little world.

    I am going to sell off some guitars and try to find another model I like. I have too many Gibsons and Ibos anyway. There is a 2008 JP6 on CL for $1500 CAD(about $1150.00 USD). Has an interesting finish and a piezo-electric pickup. If it is still there after the liquidation I am going to check it out.

    Guitar Lesson: Ten Years Gone (Led Zeppelin) - YouTube

    I found that the .009 EMBB strings contributed to that as well. I swapped out to my standby D'Addario XL .010 and I always played 10s. But, it was just was not the same.Felt crappy by comparison and something was really lost. Put a set of slinky 9 hybrids on and that magic was back.
    Hmmmmm...could be significant. The guitar is strung with .10s. I have used EB Super Slinkys since I was a kid. They sound the best and last the longest. It has been forever thus. lol I used to use straight .09s but a few years ago I switched to hybrids and prefer them. So I have some here. On it ;-)

    Thanks for your thoughts and all the useful information. Much appreciated

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbonesullivan View Post
    With a Floyd rose that is "decked" on the top of the body, the only way to really change the action is by shimming the neck joint, or possibly shimming the saddles themselves. Bolt-on guitars have been using shims and/or micro-tilt adjustments for decades. Wood is somewhat unpredictable, and sometimes the neck joint compresses more than other times.Even with the "vintage" tremolos, more are mounted to studs screwed directly into the body, which are not readily adjustable. The neck angle and saddle height is used to fine tune the action.
    I am not at all familiar with setup techniques but having to take the neck off and shim it to change the action seems archaic. But it is what it is. I have only owned one guitar that was 'decked'. I added a Washburn Wonderbar to a LP Studio back in the 80s...I was young...what can I say? ;-)

    With a floating Floyd Rose style tremolo, things are a bit different, as they use threaded brass bushings that are sunk into the guitar body, so the bridge can be moved up and down.
    That is something I am familiar with. I have owned a lot of guitars with floating Floyds. I still own two.

    The problem you might run into there is that direct mounted pickups are often not height adjustable.
    I am really glad you brought this up. I have never owed a guitar with direct mounted pickups. I was looking at the setup wondering if tightening/loosening the screws would raise.lower the pickup. It kind of doesn't look like it.

    But there is a more pressing need-to-know for me. I love the sound of a couple of versions of BKP pickups so I decided to put one in this guitar. I was 'building' one on their online store and it asked for 'leg length' I thought 'short', but not being familiar with this mounting style I balked and thought I had better figure it out.

    Would you happen to know?

    Thx. for the input. Much appreciated.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by phillybri View Post
    Congrats on discovering this fantastic model. These are truly special guitars!
    Thanks, I agree. Been a long time coming, but better late than never. ;-)

    Edit: I guess my other replies are being moderated.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roz View Post
    I am not at all familiar with setup techniques but having to take the neck off and shim it to change the action seems archaic. But it is what it is. I have only owned one guitar that was 'decked'. I added a Washburn Wonderbar to a LP Studio back in the 80s...I was young...what can I say? ;-)

    I am really glad you brought this up. I have never owed a guitar with direct mounted pickups. I was looking at the setup wondering if tightening/loosening the screws would raise.lower the pickup. It kind of doesn't look like it.

    But there is a more pressing need-to-know for me. I love the sound of a couple of versions of BKP pickups so I decided to put one in this guitar. I was 'building' one on their online store and it asked for 'leg length' I thought 'short', but not being familiar with this mounting style I balked and thought I had better figure it out.

    Would you happen to know?

    Thx. for the input. Much appreciated.
    It is archaic, yes, as most floyd setups these days are floating, so the action is adjusted easily. However some players such as EVH prefer the "down only" tremolo, and have always had it that way. There are many people with strats who always keep it decked as well. At least the days of having to take the neck off for truss rod adjustments are gone, except for those that HAVE to have a Vintage Correct Fender.

    As for leg length, I would assume they have short legs, which most modern pickups have. The only "long legged" pickups you usually see are PAF reissues. The only way to really be sure is to measure the legs. You should be able to get something like a pen or pencil down in the screw cavity, which you can use to measure the leg length hopefully. Otherwise you can just pull the pickup to see.

    Some direct mounted pickups have springs under then, which allows height adjustment. Others, like on the Luke III, are screwed tight to the body of the guitar. Some companies, like Hamer, actually used threaded brass bushings for their direct mount pickups.
    2007 Stingray 5 HS Cherry Burst / Maple FB / 3 Band EQ / Ceramic Pickups
    2012 Stingray 5 H Pearl Blue / Rosewood FB / 3 Band EQ/ AlNiCo Pickup
    2012 Steve Morse Morse Blueburst / Rosewood FB
    2012 Luke III SSH Vintage Sunburst / Rosewood Neck

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbonesullivan View Post
    It is archaic, yes, as most floyd setups these days are floating, so the action is adjusted easily. However some players such as EVH prefer the "down only" tremolo, and have always had it that way. There are many people with strats who always keep it decked as well. At least the days of having to take the neck off for truss rod adjustments are gone, except for those that HAVE to have a Vintage Correct Fender.
    Yeah, good call. I hated the Strat trems to be honest, so against the advice of many I had mine routed and put a Floyd on it. Didn't seem to change the tone at all, gave the guitar a bit more depth acoustically. No regrets.

    As for leg length, I would assume they have short legs, which most modern pickups have. The only "long legged" pickups you usually see are PAF reissues. The only way to really be sure is to measure the legs. You should be able to get something like a pen or pencil down in the screw cavity, which you can use to measure the leg length hopefully. Otherwise you can just pull the pickup to see.

    Some direct mounted pickups have springs under then, which allows height adjustment. Others, like on the Luke III, are screwed tight to the body of the guitar. Some companies, like Hamer, actually used threaded brass bushings for their direct mount pickups.
    Great info, thanks for helping me out. ;-)

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