Ernie Ball Music Man Axis

If you don't know the history, this was originally the Eddie Van Halen signature model.  I don't know just how much of a hand he had in designing the guitar itself, but I know he was pissed when he left the company and couldn't take the pickup designs with him.  (They were made by DiMarzio specifically for this guitar; I don't know if they even have a model name.)  I noticed when he left Peavey, he took all the designs with him and started making exact copies of the Wolfgang under his own (waaaay over-priced!) brand name.  The main post-EVH change was that the pickup selector switch was moved from the lower bout to just below the volume knob.  That and they wiped Eddie's name off the headstock and started calling it the Axis.


Series/Parallel Switch (more here)
Control: Under the volume knob.

Function: The humbuckers are great for blasting out heavy solos, but the problem I had was how to get clean tones that didn't sound like a jazz guitar.  I think coil taps are overrated for what little they do, but parallel connected coils sing like a Strat.  The addition of a series/parallel switch broadens a HH guitar's capabilities considerably.

The push-pull came with it when I bought it used on eBay.  It was originally set up for coil taps, and I'm pretty sure this was stock considering the PCB that was attached to the switch (see pic at bottom of page).  I haven't seen where this was a standard feature on the Axis or not, but I know EBMM does have a lot of electronic mods included on their instruments (including their basses), things like piezos, dummy coils, series/parallel switching, etc., you can find a lot of different options beyond the standard volume, tone, and three-way pickup selectors.


Non-electronic modifications
D-Tuna.  It wasn't stock, but a lot of EVH-influenced players put these on their guitars, and it was put on this guitar by the guy I bought it from.  I don't play in drop-D a lot, but this guitar kind of asks you to.  It's easy enough to switch it down to D and go back again.  You don't have to play a whole gig in drop-D or stop playing long enough to retune.  It's fine if you want to experiment for a minute.

I'm not a Floyd Rose fan either, but this is a flush-mount trem, so it's a different animal entirely.  It doesn't have the recessed cavity to do pull-ups, just dive bombs.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I don't like fixed-bridge guitars either, but at least a conventional Floyd gives you freedom in both directions.  On the other hand, this configuration is a little more stable for string changes and that sort of thing.

I do need to adjust the spring tension at some point though because right now it's so high that I have to really fight it to drop the pitch, whereas I normally do gradually glides (i.e., not "dive-bombs") that take fine motor control.

The paucity of controls is the biggest drawback, although it certainly doesn't hurt the looks.  I have wanted a green Axis for years.  This is apparently a rare color and isn't offered on this model at all at the moment.  I don't not why since it's obviously a gorgeous color on this instrument.

The main problem I have is the absence of a tone control.  I've been tempted to swap the function of the pot from being a volume knob to tone control, but I haven't made that commitment the way I have with the ???Career Axis copy.


The pickup selector switch was really interesting.  I've honestly never seen anything like this stock in a basic (non-active) electric guitar.  It's a DPDT on/on/on switch mounted to a PCB.

The top six holes connect to the DPDT.  The other three contacts are one for each of the pickups and the middle is out to the volume pot.

The six holes on the bottom collect all the ground wires and run them out together.  (I've started using a wire nut to accomplish the same thing.  My way is faster and saves solder.)

The two holes, one on each side are for the coil taps.  The black and white wires are the series connection between the coils of each DiMarzio-made humbucker while the red wires go to the push-pull pot to connect them to the ground.



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