Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 8:41 pm
As you can hear in my recent video review of the Vox SSC33, the Vox CoAxe pickups sound amazing. They’re dynamic, noiseless in all modes, and most importantly offer up a wide range of incredible sounds.
With the two blades sandwiching the pole pieces, you can see right away that these aren’t your typical humbucker, single-coil or P90…
Curious for more details on these mysterious creations, I got in touch with the man behind the magic- the inventor of the CoAxe pickup: Eric Kirkland, Chief Designer at Vox Guitar Development (G-Rok), in Novato, California. Read on…
Why the name CoAxe?
Eric: The name “CoAxe”, of course, refers to the orientation of the coils. Stacked humbuckers (the so-called “stacked single coil” pickups) are also coaxial, but our pickups are co-planar as well. Maybe “Concentric” would have been a more descriptive name, but it just didn’t sound cool enough.
Tell us about those blades, poles and coils!
Eric: The arrangement of the coils is significant, as is the position of the blades between the coils. The inner sensing coil, with its load of six poles, works like any single coil. Since the load of the outer noise canceling coil consists of both the six poles and the two blades, less wire is required to produce a noise signal equivalent to the noise in the inner coil. Less wire means less impedance, so the Clean and Crunch modes can be both noise-free and sparkly. (Exposed to typical ambient EMI, our pickups have less noise than a covered Gibson PAF type humbucker – and more output.)
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Sunday, May 15th, 2011 at 12:20 am
I recently had a chance to play the new Vox SSC33, and it’s a thing of beauty. This is the mid-priced 33 series guitar, in the single cutaway, teaburst finish, with an ash top, mahogany body and neck, and rosewood fretboard. It’s an incredible value when you consider it shares the same MaxConnect aluminum bridge, CoAxe pickups, and super-smooth tuners as Vox’s higher end 55, 77 and Virage guitars. And it comes with a really nice padded gig bag.
The neck is very comfortable and playable, with a 12” radius and 25 1/8” scale length. I’ve updated my Neck and Neck chart with all the measurements and details.
As you can hear in the video, you can get an incredibly versatile range of sounds out of the pair of CoAxe pickups, with the Clean and Lead modes. The volume pot is an Alpha 500k audio taper, with no treble bleed- but you can hear in my volume examples that it maintains brightness pretty well when turning down. It has a really uncommon 4PDT switch in there for the pickup mode selector. The tone cap is a .015uF poly film, which provides a nice useful tone range.
Total quality workmanship, perfect setup, excellent sound. It’s a winner.
Update May 18, 2011: For more about the CoAxe pickup system, see my interview with Vox R&D’s Eric Kirkland.
Photo gallery continues after the break:
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Thursday, May 5th, 2011 at 11:30 pm
What’s in an amp cabinet? As it turns out, quite a lot. In this video I do an experiment with the same two AC15 amps as in my last video- the AC15C1 Custom, and the AC15HW1 hand-wired.
Both amps use the same Celestion Greenback G12M speaker, and these two here have each been played about the same amount, so they should be “broken in” evenly. Now, by disconnecting the wires from the two speakers, and routing them through an AB box to the external speaker output of one the amps, I can isolate a single amplifier circuit, and hear it through both cabinets in turn. In this way, we can first listen to the AC15C1 amp circuit through its own cabinet, and then listen to that same AC15C1 amp circuit through the AC15HW1 cabinet. Switching back and forth really highlights the different sound character provided by the two cabinets.
Why so different? The AC15HW1 cabinet is obviously larger, which provides a bigger resonant cavity. It’s also built with birch plywood which is lighter weight and perhaps more resonant than the denser MDF used in the Custom. Another important difference is the high frequency diffuser used in the AC15HW1 which really softens the high-end. In the video, I also experiment taping a makeshift little diffuser over the AC15C1 cabinet to see what happens.