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Author Topic: VHII set in Music Man Axis - Fail. Suggest alternative?  (Read 691 times)

YYZ

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VHII set in Music Man Axis - Fail. Suggest alternative?
« on: May 31, 2019, 06:36:11 PM »
I am unhappy with the stock pickups in my EBMM Axis (basswood body, maple top, maple neck/board), which I find to be muddy.  I am looking for a set that retains note definition when distorted (blues to hard rock, amp is Friedman Marsha), cuts without being harsh and sounds tight/punchy without being boomy.  For reference, I am pretty happy with the tones I get from my SSH strat with Thornbucker as well as the Burstbucker in the bridge of my R7. 

I liked what I heard online with the VHII set, and spoke about it with customer service at BK, who agreed (also mentioning Rebel Yells as a higher output alternative).  After installing them, I am quite disappointed with the tone.  The note definition is there, but the distorted tone is sterile/thin/flat, there is inadequate punch and pinch harmonics are quite difficult.  The clean tones are quite excellent, but that's not what I use this guitar for.

Pickup height in this guitar is not adjustable as pickups are screwed into the wood.

I have confirmed proper installation.

I have gravitated away from high output pickups in my old age, but perhaps I should be looking at some of those instead?  Any suggestions for an exchange on this VHII set?  Thanks.

Telerocker

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Re: VHII set in Music Man Axis - Fail. Suggest alternative?
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2019, 08:54:19 PM »
Pickup height is so important with scatterwound pickups. Each mm counts. I have a VHII in ash strat and fiddled to find the sweet spot. I don't find them sterile, but they are quite clear and in my guitar punchy and noncompressed. I had to add a little more gain on my amp to get the right tones (compared to the Crawler in my swampashstrat, which is a different beast.).

Did you mail the BKP-team about the disappointing results?
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

ericsabbath

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Re: VHII set in Music Man Axis - Fail. Suggest alternative?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2019, 01:38:52 AM »
Big distance from strings usually translates in thin and scooped tones with bare knuckle bridge humbuckers
The sweet spot for most models is really close to strings (the alnico nailbomb and vhII being the exceptions in my experience, but still pretty close)

Higher string action also helps with thickness, sustain and output perception
Riff Raff, Mules, Black Dog, VHII's, Cold Sweat

darkandrew

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Re: VHII set in Music Man Axis - Fail. Suggest alternative?
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2019, 08:19:23 AM »
I tried VHIIs in my basswood superstrat and didn't find what I was looking for either. The problem that I had was that the guitar was just sucking out all the high frequencies and note definition. In my case, the answer came in the form of a Cold Sweat set which despite being a contemporary pickup, are not all that hot and despite being a ceramic pickup are not fizzy either, but what they do have is an extremely well defined and percussive attack which is just what my guitar needed to counter the typical basswood softness. Just a quick thought about adjusting pickup height - can you shim the pickups by placing a metal washer between the foot of the pickup and the body of the guitar?
« Last Edit: June 03, 2019, 01:22:31 AM by darkandrew »

Dave Sloven

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Re: VHII set in Music Man Axis - Fail. Suggest alternative?
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2019, 03:29:13 PM »
The Cold Sweat is one of the tighter pickups in the range but also one of the more forgiving in terms of the guitar you put it in, as long as the guitar doesn't suffer from too many highs (which doesn't seem to be the problem here).  It has a nice tight and chunky low end.
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ericsabbath

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Re: VHII set in Music Man Axis - Fail. Suggest alternative?
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2019, 02:26:16 AM »
Maybe something with fatter low and center mids and compression like the Crawler would make up for the distance from strings
Riff Raff, Mules, Black Dog, VHII's, Cold Sweat

Telerocker

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Re: VHII set in Music Man Axis - Fail. Suggest alternative?
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2019, 12:36:30 PM »
Maybe something with fatter low and center mids and compression like the Crawler would make up for the distance from strings

I have mine set quite low. Still the Crawler is fat and chunky.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

YYZ

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Re: VHII set in Music Man Axis - Fail. Suggest alternative?
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2019, 01:54:24 PM »
I tried VHIIs in my basswood superstrat and didn't find what I was looking for either. The problem that I had was that the guitar was just sucking out all the high frequencies and note definition.... Just a quick thought about adjusting pickup height - can you shim the pickups by placing a metal washer between the foot of the pickup and the body of the guitar?

I'm not experiencing any lack of top end.  I wouldn't want any more, in fact.  I'm just not getting the attack, depth or overtones I had been expecting. Looking for more "body" and warmth to the tone, more punch and gain (although I don't typically go for hot pickups).  Also, I actually did try shimming the pickup to bring up the height.  This warmed up the sound, but the low end got fizzly/farty.  Overall it was an improvement, but not that great overall considering the cost of the pickups. 

ericsabbath

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Re: VHII set in Music Man Axis - Fail. Suggest alternative?
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2019, 06:47:43 PM »
Well, the VHII isn't really warm or gainy
It delivers a pretty dry, bassy and a bit midscooped tone
You probably want something with more mids, warmer top end and higher DCR
I'd try the crawler, maybe the true grit or holy diver
Riff Raff, Mules, Black Dog, VHII's, Cold Sweat

darkbluemurder

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Re: VHII set in Music Man Axis - Fail. Suggest alternative?
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2019, 10:51:48 AM »
I see the Axis has only one volume control, probably a 500k audio pot. This can make the bridge pickup, especially one like the already bright VHII too bright. I would not recommend going to a 250k audio pot as that will most likely the neck pickup too dark, and the VHII neck is on the strong side already. Before changing the pickups I would solder a resistor from the switch tap where the bridge pickup is connected to ground. Resistors are cheap so get a few values to experiment (e.g. 470k, 560k, 680k, 820k, 1 meg, 1.5 meg, 2.2 meg). I have found that some pickups I found too bright with a 500k volume pot warmed up considerably when I added a 1 meg resistor (making the pickup "see" a load of about 330k) or 1.5 meg (making the pickup "see" a load of about 375k). This should get the bridge pickup to sound more pleasing.

Not sure what to recommend with the neck pickup - thin and flat would not be what I would describe a VHII neck to be but I am special in that to me most neck humbuckers are too bassy in the first place, and I prefer other pickup types for the neck position.

Cheers Stephan