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I like Rush

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Nov 17, 2015
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24
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Northern Ontario, Canada
I have an old Axis Sport that I want to service. Previous owner made a number of mods and I am failing at getting things to the point that I like them. I'm 3 hours north of Toronto but willing to travel to get the guitar into the right hands for one last try at getting results I like before I give up. It's a killer player. Looking mainly for electronic/pickup/tone changes, not structural work. Let me know if anyone has any suggestions. Thanks.
 

beej

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I'm a big fan of Freddy Gabrsek in Niagara on the Lake (Freddy's Frets), I've taken a few of my guitars there for headstock cracks, refrets, etc (he does everything).

How far north are you? I hear good things about The Arts in Newmarket. L&M would be fine for electronics as well, there's bound to be one near you.

What were the mods, and what do you need done?
 

I like Rush

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Joined
Nov 17, 2015
Messages
24
Location
Northern Ontario, Canada
Hello Beej.
Basically, I bought a guitar 2nd hand on Reverb. It came with non-original pickups, wiring mods and a small amount of routing in the rear pickup cavity. Mods were not disclosed prior to purchase so that was "upsetting" and a difficult lesson about how much one can trust 5 star feedback. Anyways, I really love the way the guitar plays but did not like the tone. New pickups were injectors and a Transition. I found the singles weren't singly enough and the bridge lacked character. Tried cleaning up the wiring and doing my own rewiring and pickup placements but could not get it to sound good at all. I used real singles and a lower output humbucker that I love in another HSS guitar and it sounded way too thin regardless of pot values. Fat 50s singles sounded thin also. Could just be the guitar, but it's a bit hard to believe that there isn't something else to the story. Took it to a local guy who I thought would do a good job, but ended up making things worse / not finishing the job. So this would be a last ditch effort to get the guitar into a state that I like the playability and the tone. Hopefully not a waste of money. I looked for one of these guitars for years and was so happy that I finally scored one....

Open to suggestions on pickup/pot selections, in case anyone has had experience replacing electronics in these particular guitars.

Thanks.
 

beej

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Toronto, Canada
I'm going to guess a lot of this is the guitar and not the electronics. The tough part is then finding something you like, not doing the actual work - in which case it's hard to suggest taking it to a shop, since they'll do what you tell them to, and you could just end up back in the same boat, repeatedly.

You're sort of at a crossroads- keep playing with it until you find something you like, or just sell it and look for something else. If you want to play with it, then you're best to do the wiring yourself (assuming you're comfortable with that- and we can certainly help you out).

The question is, what's the guitar missing? Then you can try to find something that best suits it. If you don't like the characteristics of the pickups, is it missing highs or mids? Something is missing to your ears.

Re pickups- personally I like the Transition in the bridge with 500k pots. I have one in an LIII and my Morse. But the stock Axis humbucker is great- the Dimarzio AT-1 is pretty close if you want to go that route.

Singles are tougher- there are so many. Noiseless are great, but always missing something on clean sounds. Not sure what the stock ones were. I quite like the singles in the Albert Lee, and they're Duncan APS-2 (readily available and not expensive), so that's an option to consider.

What saddles are on the guitar- vintage or block? I've always preferred the vintage ones, you get a little more 'zing' out of the guitar.
 

I like Rush

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Joined
Nov 17, 2015
Messages
24
Location
Northern Ontario, Canada
Thanks again for your reply.

Main problem is thin tone. Granted, the injectors sound girthy enough (just not single coily enough for me).
Agree could just be the guitar, I just can't believe the same pickups could have such drastically different results in this guitar vs several other HSS strats I have owned where they always sounded good. For example, Fender Fat 50s singles. I tend to prefer "hot PAF" type humbuckers, as opposed to high output (my current favourite is the Pariah Pasadena White) but anything like that is just way too tinny in this guitar. I had wondered if it could have been an errant wire somewhere.

Maybe I need to go back to a Super Distortion or something similar. I actually do have an old Axis pickup from my other Axis (which I removed because I found it too hot). Any experience with single coils that actually sound like single coils but have the ouput to match a hot bridge pickup? That's another issue.

I can handle straightforward wiring, but had difficulty wrapping my mind around the superswitch in this guitar. Also the wires from the silent circuit to the input jack and ground were snipped by my local guy and now I have to figure out how to salvage that situation. I had considered removing it to see if that helped my "problem".

There is also the issue of the routing. The "depth" of the transition pickup and its feet was, I think, too much to fit in this guitar so the previous owner routed holes underneath the pickup tabs to allow it to sit with the backplate flush to the guitar's body. Somehow need to fill those holes back in and not sure where to go with that.

I kind of wish I didn't love playing the guitar so much otherwise it would be easier to just move on. It sounds awesome when played acoustically. That's why the problems I'm having with thin tone just don't add up to me.

Thanks for any advice you or others can offer on these issues.
 

beej

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11,315
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It could be wiring, but it could really just be the guitar- hard to know without seeing the wiring, or playing with it. Might just be one of those guitars that you're going to have to try different pickups in.

It's going to be hard to get a single coil to have the same output level as a hot humbucker. Also, the hotter the pickup, the more 'middy' it's going to be, which is at odds with having single coils that sound like single coils.
(Whereas you could have singles with output levels that match the split humbucker, for when you combine them.)

I'd start with the humbucker. Once you find something you like, you can go from there. Try the original one and see what you think.

In terms of the Silent Circuit, I wouldn't worry about it for now. If you're swapping pickups, just wire them up in the simplest way you can think of to test them. Heck, use alligator clips for now. You're just seeing what sounds good.

Once you like the sound of it, then wire it up permanently.
 
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