PHOTOS: Spearfish™ Cephalopod in scratch black with cerulean glimpses. Custom Bare Knuckle pickups wound by Tim Mills.
When I built Blur 8-string extended range guitar for Tosin Abasi, the Bare Knuckle Alnico Nailbomb installed in the bridge position brought a raw organic tone the instrument. A sound that has now been heard on countless live shows throughout the world during subsequent Animals As Leaders tours.
This past summer, Misha Mansoor invited me to his home and recording studio. Conversation flowed over many hours, and it was great to meet his wonderful girlfriend and musically talented brother. We did a lot of guitar testing and A/B analysis, playing his extensive collection of rare and prototype guitars through a simple Yamaha tabletop amp as well as his full (Fractal) guitar rig and mixing console in his sound treated studio.
Misha's signature Juggernaut Bare Knuckle has a tone designed for his all-wood signature guitars and detuned (dGentlemanly) style of play. Listening through Misha's ears, I began thinking how to adapt the tones from Blur and the Juggernauts into my own guitars. Because of the (many) factors which create the distinctive clarity heard throughout my builds, something special and new was needed.
Misha was kind enough to introduce me to Tim Mills:
Tim ~ I continue to love the sound character of the Alnico Nailbomb pickup used in Blur. You describe it as "woody" and it does have a beautiful tonality.
Recently I've been testing Misha's Juggernaut in a guitar I built for him to evaluate while on tour. I do like the clarity of his Juggernauts. They have a high end sparkle that is pleasing.
Wanted to see if you could develop a set of pickups? Ideally...the organic tonality and "woody" character of the Alnico Nailbomb but with more of the openness of the Juggernaut...a bit more "air" at the top end.
I’m sure I can come up with something for you no problem. I design all my humbuckers as bridge and neck pairs and it’s not a problem.
Alnico always inherently sweeter/more musical to the ear than ceramic.
I only ever scatter wind. Honestly, it produces the most dynamic tone from a coil along with superior clarity and frequency response.
The result of this collaboration is a voice unique within my coterie. An instrument voiced for liquid progressive leads or especially set within overdriven orchestral dark metal.
PHOTOS: Element™ single billet machined aircraft aluminum neck. Within the swamp ash body, a solid curly eastern maple block supports the anodized aluminum Intonation Cantilever™ bridges, for the perfect mix of biting clarity and warmth.
PHOTOS: Carbon fiber pickguard hosts the high performance Sanwa OBSF-24 kill switch direct from Japan. This switch is the same type used in the top Japanese arcade games, including the legendary VCI-100. Instantly responsive and lasts for tens of thousands of cycles. 5-way switching combined with 11-position studio grade ToneStyler EQ, for 55 repeatable tone settings.
Good Lord. I just saw the new build. WOOOOOOOOOWWHA! I LOVE IT. The accents are amazing and I can't wait to punch that kill switch. (Chris Buono)
VIDEO: I've been exploring my new Axe-FX II XL+ and decided to write a short composition. Two presets were used, with no compression or EQ on any of the three tracks. This is just the raw sound of the guitar recorded direct to GarageBand via USB: neck, bridge, and #4 position.