CoAxe Pickups: Interview with Vox R&D

CoAxe pickup on SSC33TBCoAxe Pickup Internals

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.

CoAxe Bobbin AssemblyTell 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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Vox SSC33TB Guitar

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:

2011-03-26 Vox SSC33 0152011-03-26 Vox SSC33 016


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Neck and Neck

I’ve been asked about the thickness of the Epi Riviera P93 neck, in comparison with other Epi guitars.  I’ve also measured the Epi Sharaton II, Dot Studio and Casino, and their necks are all very similar to the Riviera P93, within 1/32” for each measurement (thickness at 12th, width at nut, width at 12th).  And they’re all the same 24 3/4” scale and 12” radius.   The Epi Les Paul’s and SG’s have a slightly thinner neck (about 13/16” at the 12th fret), but the same width and scale.

Here’s some pictures and exact measurements (in inches) of the Epiphone Riviera P93 compared to my G&L ASAT III, Taylor 714CE acoustic, and a very thin necked old Ibanez 540SBC.   Update 5/14/2011: added Vox SSC33.

All measurements in inches:

Guitar Thickness at 12th fret* Width at nut Width at 12th fret Fretboard radius Scale
(nut to bridge)
Epi Riviera P93 31/32 (.97) 1 11/16 (1.68) 2 3/32 (2.09) 12 24 3/4
G&L ASAT III 31/32 (.97) 1 5/8 (1.62) 2 1/32 (2.03) 7 1/4 25 1/2
Taylor 714CE 39/32 (.90) * 1 3/4 (1.75) 2 5/32 (2.15) 12 25 1/2
Ibanez 540SBC 13/16 (.82) 1 11/16 (1.68) 2 1/16 (2.05) 16 25 1/2
Vox SSC33 7/8 (.88) 1 11/16 (1.69) 2 1/16 (2.05) 12 25 1/8

* Taylor 714CE thickness measured at 9th fret since neck joint to body begins at 12th

Here’s the Epiphone Riviera P93:



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