Career (EVH/Axis copy)
This is a Korean made copy of the Ernie Ball/Music Man Axis (formerly known as the Eddie Van Halen signature model).

One nice feature is that the fingerboard, while not highly figured birds-eye maple like the original, is at least coated with a glossy finish.  Eddie likes the feel of bare wood.  That's nice and all, but it eventually leads to a grimy look.  Personally I prefer the slick feel because it makes it easier to bend (who wants an uneven surface and more resistance than is already provided by the strings?).

I have loved the look of this guitar since I first saw it in the pages of Guitar World.  The strat-from-other-planet headstock with 4x2 tuners with pearloid keys, the completely flat top (no upper arm curvature) with a translucent finish, the zebra pickups.  This is an incredible looking instrument.

I would imagine the rationale was to design a guitar that would fuse the best of a Les Paul and a Strat then bring them out of the '50s and into the present.  I consider it a success.



Modification: pickup selector
Nothing dramatic.  I swapped out the standard Les Paul type pickup selector switch for one I found at Radio Shack that more resembled the style in the higher end Ernie Ball/Music Man models.  The original switch was the standard Les Paul type.  Of course, other than mini-toggles (see example on the components page), it's almost impossible to find a 3-way "on-on-on" switch, so the new switch only selects one pickup at a time.  However, --and you just knew I would do this-- I swapped the volume pot out for a push-pull that lets me turn on the bridge pickup so that, when the neck is selected with the switch, I now have both pickups.

Modification: pickup add in switch
Control: Push-pull pot

Function: Since the toggle switch I bought to replace the original only allowed one pickup to be selected at a time, I needed to add in the other when one was selected.  This switch adds in the bridge pickup when the neck is selected.


(future) Modification: New pickups
I would have preferred to use the push-pull pot mentioned above for coil taps, but the cheap pickups this guitar  came with only have two leads.  It's possible to modify pickups, but I plan to replace them outright at some point in the future.  Any suggestions?  I'm thinking of Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates at the moment.

(future) Modification: Rotary switch
With new pickups I would like have the options of one pickup, the other, both, series, parallel, coil taps, etc.  On a guitar with one, just one knob and one switch, that will be kind of difficult.  However, a rotary switch will allow many of these combinations.  This will take the place of the volume knob, but will also free up the pickup selector switch for a dead switch or some other purpose.  It's only a SPDT (not a DPDT), so I can't use it for a lot of things like ser/par or phase switching.

Alternatively, I recently found a true three-way switch at Guitar Electronics that fits the style I always wanted.  If I install that, I could have the volume knob perform its original function with a push-pull for simultaneous coil taps on both pickups.

However, one thing I have thought of doing is using the rotary as the pickup selector, then adding a standard 3-way switch with one position as the bypass, another as a stand-by switch, and the third position as a tone switch.  No, I haven't figured out how to wire this, however.  I suspect that the "off" position is impossibe to achieve in combination with the other options using only one switch.  If I'm wrong, email me and tell me a better way.

Update: Actually, I finally did get around to doing this.  Check out the Career V.2 page.


Non-electronic modifications:
#1) Schaller locking tuners with pearloid keys.  I also replaced the original standard metal tuners with Schaller locking tuners from Warmoth (best price!) and replaced the heads of the tuners with pearloid plastic ones from Stewart-MacDonald (over-priced!).  Incidentally, that's the only place that carries the pearloids that I could find, and they only work on Schaller brand tuners.

#2) New Floyd Rose. The original Floyd Rose was unique in that you could slip the strings through the back of the tremolo rather than top loading.  This saves you from having to cut the balls off the ends of the strings or run them backwards (head to bridge).  The disadvantage is that you can't install a D-Tuna.  So I swapped the Floyd for another one originally on the Frankenstrat.

#3) D-Tuna.  I added a D-Tuna to the new Floyd.  For those unfamiliar with this device, it is a little plug you pull that drops the pitch from E to D on the bottom string, giving you drop-D tuning (hence the name).  This allows you to drop D on the fly rather than unscrewing the string clamp and retuning each time.

#4) Screwed-up Tremolo.  This is not a euphemism, I really did put screws in it to hold it up.  Let me explain.  The major difference between this copy and the original is that the tremolo is recess routed.  I was simply not willing to pay $1300 for a guitar that limited you to dive-bombs and no pull-backs.  I swapped the trem out for a real Floyd from another guitar after I bought a D-Tuna, and found that it didn't really work all that well with a recessed Floyd... soooo, I put a couple screws in the bottom of the recess to have it behave as though flush mounted.



The schematic
This is undoubtedly the simplest guitar (electronically speaking) in my arsenal, but here's the schematic to do the switching mod.
Components pictured:
  • 2 humbucking pickups
  • 1 push-pull pot (500k Ohms)
  • 2-way toggle switch
  • Output jack

About the schematic
This configuration consists of only a volume knob with a two-way switch (one pickup at a time) with the push-pull switch adding in the bridge pickup when the neck is selected (i.e., now you get them both).

Different pickups will have different color codes for the wires.  In this diagram, the gray wires go to ground.  Other colors were chosen arbitrarily.

Wherever you see a ground symbol next to a potentiometer, the wire should be grounded to the metal on the back of the pot.  After that, all of the grounds should all go to one point to avoid ground loops.  See the "All About Grounding" page to learn more.

Note: The image above is larger than displayed.  In the unlikely event you will have have any desire to print it, save it and resize as desired to take advantage of the actual resolution.



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