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Monday, June 11, 2012

Zexcoil®, Hum Cancelling Single Coil Sized Humbucker Pickups, ... (Review)

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer 
Street Price:
Zexcoil® Throaty Bucker with "Silent Split"
$99.00 USD + tax &  shipping 
Zexcoil® Fat Single™
$99.00 USD + tax &  shipping 
Zexcoil® Juicy Bucker with Silent Split™
$99.00 USD + tax &  shipping 
Zexcoil® Signature Set™ + Controls Kit (3 pickups, (2) 500 k push/pull pots, 1 blend pot, not wired) as reviewed.
 $300.00 USD + tax & shipping

Lawing Musical Products, LLC is the Manufacturer of Zexcoil® guitar pickups. 

Dr. A. Scott Lawing is the inventor of Zexcoil® pickup technology and the technical driving force behind LMP. Scott has been a guitar player for over 30 years. He is also an engineer with a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and numerous technical papers, patents and presentations to his credit. Recently, Scott has started applying his technical and creative energies to the business of musical instrument.

This review was conducted using a 2004 Fender Mexican Stratocaster, wired using the Zexcoil® signature set with no load blend pot and 50's wiring/Fess Parka mod.

I took my time as I always do and from start to finish it was 3.5 hours with coil split switches. Please note that you should have a luthier from your local music store put pickups in for you unless you really know what you are doing. It is normally a 2 - 3 hour charge + bench fee to have 3 pickups installed with coil split switches. The total investment will be well worth it.

Pickup one - Zexcoil® Throaty Bucker™
with "Silent Split" 500kΩ push/pull pot 
Manufacturers Suggested Application: Neck

Manufacturer Description:
A basic humbucking response, but removed a little of the fat. They work quite well in the bridge position, especially if you want to kick it up a notch from the Fat Single. Think of these guys as 75% humbucker/25% Strat®. The Throaty Bucker is available in a medium wind only. The Throaty Bucker is highly recommended for the neck and middle positions especially when coupled with a Juicy Bucker in the Bridge

Pickup two - Zexcoil® Fat Single™
Manufacturer Suggested Application: Middle

Manufacturer Description:

This pickup is designed to provide that fat “no icepick” tone that many players have always craved but never been able to quite achieve. Back off on the gain, and it is very Stratty. Push it to the limits and it thickens up nicely, almost into humbucker territory. The Fat Single was designed to partner with higher output pickups such as the Buckers in the Signature Set."

Pickup Three -Zexcoil® Juicy Bucker
with "Silent Split" 500kΩ push/pull pot 
Manufacturer Suggested Application: Bridge

Manufacturer Description:

The Juicy Bucker delivers a P.A.F. punch in a Strat® sized package. Strat sized pickup that gets close to a true humbucker tone, but again maintaining that articulation and clarity that is a hallmark of Zexcoil pickups. These babies will bang out the big chords with warmth, balls, presence and clarity. In the bridge they deliver that classic rock and roll drive. In the neck they give you a fat, singing tone with no mud. This is the humbucker you’ve always wanted.

Amp used:
Vox Pathfinder 15r

Cables used:

Just Neck Single Coil:
Bright, clear and full very 70's Strat

Neck and Middle Single Coil:
A bright thin well balanced mix of the neck and middle

Just Middle Single Coil:
Lots of spank very country and Kentucky blues

Middle and Bridge Single Coil:
Bright with lots of spank and a noticeable increase in harmonics

Just Bridge Single Coil:
Meant for leads with lots of bright harmonics

Neck Humbucker:
A well balanced Jazz/Blues tone with warmth, almost like a vintage or under wound PAF

Bridge Humbucker:
Full 1970's rock & roll

By using the coil switching feature on these pickups; the fender now has a total of 10 different sound combinations. It is a super Strat.

Reliability & Durability:
The are well constructed and should last the life of the guitar.

I had the chance to visit the Zexcoil room at the NY amp show and sampled the many different combination of pickups they offer. I tried 2 Strats, a Tele, and a Les Paul. It was cool that the single coil sized pickup was giving off such a huge sound. As I am more of a dirty PAF kind guy I was shocked that the Strat sounded like the Les Paul with a flip of a switch, without any body modification. Anyone can take a PAF and slam it into the shell of guitar but these pickups didn't take away from the streamlined beauty of the Strat. I needed to install a set and compare the pickup to real 59 PAF's to see how that held up. A few days after the show I had a set of 3 Zexcoil pickups ready to install in a 2004 Fender Mexican Strat.

I normally have a standard way I like to wire humbuckers with push pull pots, but I was given a wiring schematic to follow by the manufacturer for optimum results. I would normally toss it and do it my way, but these pickups are so unique I wanted to hear them the way they where meant to be heard. Three and half hours of install time later I was ready jam. I compared them first to my real 59 PAF's and I was shocked;  hearing them side by side I could hear a difference, but it wasn't that much. I next compared them to a stock Ibanez AS73 and an LP-style guitar with aftermarket PAF style pickups and they sounded better than both, very dark and warm but not aged. 

These pickup really shocked me, I thought once I got them installed and had a side by side comparison with the pickups they where designed to emulate, I would be let down. That was not case. These pickups performed better than I expected and gave the guitar a variety of different tones that I would normally only be able to get from installing humbuckers and destroying the body of the guitar.

The best part was there was zero hum from the pickups. Even if you destroyed your guitar and routed the body, killing your tone and sustain, you would still have hum with other Strat pickups.    

My advice:
If you have a Strat, Tele or any factory single coil pickup setup and want a 4 conductor hubucker that will fit with your stock configuration this is it. My advice is: buy them. 

Lawing Musical Products, LLC
P.O. Box 9924
Newark, DE 19714
(P) 302-533-7548

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Posted 6/2012
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