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Author Topic: Abraxas hot enough?  (Read 693 times)

Alfi27

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Abraxas hot enough?
« on: January 31, 2020, 02:31:32 PM »
Hey guys,

I've got a Music Man Valentine that I really love, it's the first F-style guitar I've really digged almost as much as my Les Pauls but obviously it's quite different. At the moment it has a set of VHIIs, an incredibly versatile set and with the neck split it's got one of the most gorgeous clean sounds I've ever heard, easily rivaling single coil Teles and Strats. However, the bridge pickup by its own is missing a little bit of push and power for rocky stuff, it's almost more noticeable in the feel-department actually as it requires a lot of gain to get that "fluidy" feel that I get with my Les Pauls. The action is low and it plays great, it's mostly a tone thing.

So I've got a few main points/concerns:

- Is the Abraxas going to be a noticeable improvement, or is it very similar to the VHII in perceived output with just a slightly different voicing? Could the Crawler be a better option? I'm not generally a fan of hotter humbuckers, I think the Holydiver is way too compressed and a bit muddy (depending on the guitar) if that is any indication. Might work in this guitar though...

- Because of the guitar originally coming with a HB sized single coil in the bridge, there is no split for the bridge and a royal pain to wire up due to the PCB. The VHII works very well with the neck split due to its singlecoil-ish character, and I think an Abraxas would be able to retain that - not sure if the Crawler would though. This guitar is intended to be a swiss army knife more than nailing a specific sound, if that helps.

But again, if the Abraxas is only slightly different it's not worth it, I'll only spend the money for a new pickup if it will make a significant difference. Any advice at all would be massively appreciated, cheers!
« Last Edit: January 31, 2020, 02:38:53 PM by Alfi27 »
Guitars:
Ernie Ball Music Man Valentine (VHII set)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard LQ MIJ (BD/TB)
Epiphone Les Paul Junior LQ MIJ (Monty's FM P90)

Amps:
Marshall JMP 50w '72
Marshall JCM800 2204 '81

darkandrew

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Re: Abraxas hot enough?
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2020, 04:52:59 PM »
I can't talk for the Abraxas but I can help you with the Crawler. It's quite a loud pickup, output wise, and also quite "thick" sounding, although not as much as the Holy Diver. For tone, it's all about the mids - some bottom, a little top but mostly the mids. I inherited a Crawler set in an ESP Eclipse that I bought and although I tried to like them, in the end I replaced them with a Mule set which I much prefer all round.

callan

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Re: Abraxas hot enough?
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2020, 11:31:37 PM »
I love the Abraxas for rock stuff, but I guess it's going to depend on the rest of your rig a bit. (Mine are in a PRS)

Have you tried raising the existing pickup?
Are you looking to use the same amp settings as your LP?
Is it just output you want to change, or tone in any way?

What pickups are in the LP?

Alfi27

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Re: Abraxas hot enough?
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2020, 02:50:54 AM »
I love the Abraxas for rock stuff, but I guess it's going to depend on the rest of your rig a bit. (Mine are in a PRS)

Have you tried raising the existing pickup?
Are you looking to use the same amp settings as your LP?
Is it just output you want to change, or tone in any way?

What pickups are in the LP?
Right, I use two modified vintage Marshalls and one of them has an extra preamp tube for more gain. They're both single channel so a slight retweak is not problematic, but I'll be the first to admit that if it doesn't work with all EQ at 12 o'clock I tend to think that something is off... EQ is not really the problem though, although it could certainly bear to lose a little bit of high end - which I know the Abraxas would solve as well.

The Les Paul has a Black Dog in the bridge and a Suhr Thornbucker in the neck (basically a Riff Raff neck), it's the sickest sounding guitar I've ever owned so I don't really expect the Valentine to match it entirely. In terms of pickup height, the "pickup rings" on this guitar is a bit of an odd design so the pickup is as close as it gets, around 2mm I reckon, with the last fret pressed down.

It's also worth mentioning that it has a built in preamp/buffer with a switchable boost, and I do have a slight suspicion that this circuitry might affect something (although it's intended to do the opposite). I have no intention of pulling it though, as I really like the boost and it's nice to have a built in buffer.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2020, 02:58:55 AM by Alfi27 »
Guitars:
Ernie Ball Music Man Valentine (VHII set)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard LQ MIJ (BD/TB)
Epiphone Les Paul Junior LQ MIJ (Monty's FM P90)

Amps:
Marshall JMP 50w '72
Marshall JCM800 2204 '81

Telerocker

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Re: Abraxas hot enough?
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2020, 05:50:19 AM »
The Abraxas is a hotrodded Mule, the Crawler has it's own vibe going. I would say a uber PAF, thick and chewy with a lot of mids, but not bland on the high strings. Due to the AV magnet the Crawler still cuts. In a leaner sounding non-mahagony guitar this pickup might do the trick. It has medium output and there is still some vintage vibe. The Crawler splits well to a tele-esque sound. I use it quite a lot. Mind you, it's not metal pickup, more suitable for jazz, pop, rock and hardrock and maybe some early metal. Mine is in a swampash strat with a maple neck and ebony fingerboard. Playing my mainaxe for years now and it can cover many styles. The cleans of the Crawler are happening too.

I have also a VHII in a strat and Mules in Les Paul/tele hybrid. Of course the Mules are more open and less compressed, but don't have a push like the Crawler.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Alfi27

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Re: Abraxas hot enough?
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2020, 06:19:24 PM »
The Abraxas is a hotrodded Mule, the Crawler has it's own vibe going. I would say a uber PAF, thick and chewy with a lot of mids, but not bland on the high strings. Due to the AV magnet the Crawler still cuts. In a leaner sounding non-mahagony guitar this pickup might do the trick. It has medium output and there is still some vintage vibe. The Crawler splits well to a tele-esque sound. I use it quite a lot. Mind you, it's not metal pickup, more suitable for jazz, pop, rock and hardrock and maybe some early metal. Mine is in a swampash strat with a maple neck and ebony fingerboard. Playing my mainaxe for years now and it can cover many styles. The cleans of the Crawler are happening too.

I have also a VHII in a strat and Mules in Les Paul/tele hybrid. Of course the Mules are more open and less compressed, but don't have a push like the Crawler.

I talked to Ben about that actually, and asked if he would agree that the Abraxas is like a hot rodded Mule and the VHII a hot rodded Riff Raff. He agreed on the former but not the latter, which is interesting considering that the VHII and RR use the same wire but the AB and Mule do not. Apparently coil offset is a very powerful factor, which does make sense.

Regarding the Crawler, I had one in a Suhr Rasmus S100 a few years ago, and I remember thinking it was too sludgy and loose in the bass. At the time I was playing much heavier music than I am now though, and I have actually come to apprecciate a slight bit of sag in the low end (just so it's not surgically tight). That experience is also less relevant because I have a totally different rig now, at the time I had the original Axe FX and now I have two vintage modified Marshalls like I mentioned.

The weird thing is, when I'm in the UK without any amps I really love the Valentine, it's a totally sick guitar to play and I rarely used the aforementioned sick sounding Les Paul here when I had them both here. When I'm in Norway and have access to my amps it's exactly the opposite, the Les Paul just has *that* sound and feel which again makes it more inspiring to play. Honestly I doubt that the Valentine could ever match the LP regardless of pickup, but that is to be expected and of course I do value variety as well.

To summarise, I think I'll go with the Abraxas when I have the cash - it's not exactly a time sensitive matter, the VHII sounds really good and literally tons better than the stock bridge pickup. Maybe I should buy it from BKP regardless of if I can find a used one, so I can return it if it turns out to not make much difference. Anyway, thanks a lot for your responses and I'll let you know what I think when I get it!

Edit 19/02: Literally right after I posted this I started looking at the Crawler again, and I do think the classic rock clip sounds really really good. The high end clarity and snarl sounds closer to lower output humbuckers than for example the Holydiver, to me. I feel quite confident that it would accomplish what I want on the distortion side, but I'm not sure if it will do cleans as well as the VHII. With coil split it definitely would, but because of the wiring in this guitar that would be a pain to wire up, and I wasn't really planning on diving into that. So back to square one, I'll have a word with the BKP team again I think...
« Last Edit: February 19, 2020, 12:40:04 AM by Alfi27 »
Guitars:
Ernie Ball Music Man Valentine (VHII set)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard LQ MIJ (BD/TB)
Epiphone Les Paul Junior LQ MIJ (Monty's FM P90)

Amps:
Marshall JMP 50w '72
Marshall JCM800 2204 '81