Here is the new ZachAttack pickup master. Doesn't it look mean? I designed it with oversize screws to give it the rail effect but still retain the adjustability of the polepieces. Although I have already built a few guitars with ZachAttack pickups in the past, this will be the finalized version of these pickups.
These pictures are not of the actual pickup. These are pictures of the machined aluminum master that will be used to make a rubber mold into which the magnets and coils will be inserted and epoxy pored over the whole thing making a perfectly sealed and shielded epoxy pickup. I had this master made in the shape of an original Gibson P90 Soapbar pickup. This way I can eliminate the pickup ring and mount the pickup directly into the cavity using some countersunk screws that screw into little brass inserts that are inserted into the body of the guitars inside the pickup cavities.
These will be middle power humbuckers that will be switchable into single coil mode as well. Therefore, on each Zachary Guitar it will be possible as always to have single and double coil sounds. This results in a very versatility guitar.
As of this date Jan. 10, 2001 I have not received my first batch of ZachAttack pickups. As soon as I do I will take pictures of the actual pickups and post them on this page.
Finally here is the first pair of the finalized version of the ZachAttack pickups.
They were installed into 090202
I will attempt to give a brief explanation of what they are like.
In the early summer of 2001 I visited Kent Armstrong at his home and shop hidden away in the woods of Vermont. He was kind enough to put us up for the night (me and my assistant that is). During the visit I had the opportunity to talk pickups and watch him make the various pickups that he handcrafts. My requirement for pickups was in one word "versatility". Regardless of what Zachary guitars may look like, they are all designed to play every kind of music equally well. This is achieved by getting as many sounds out of a Zachary Guitar as possible. I did not want a one trick pony. Zachary guitars are played by a very diverse group of players. I personally dabble in many different styles of music myself, as those who watched my first cheesy home video will remember. I sort of think of myself as being like Steve Howe or Steve Morse. These players are known for playing classical, country, fingerpicking, hard rock, blues and everything in between. I mainly write my own music and consider myself a jack of all trades and master of none. What I am trying to say is that one guitar has to do everything for me.
I specifically designed Zachary Guitars to give humbucking as well as single coil sounds all from the same pickup. I also wanted to take advantage of the interesting interaction between the two pickups. My design had to include and recreate that Strat "quack" sound when using both pickups together in single coil mode. This is achieved by having only the inside coils on both pickups activated at the same time, thus creating some harmonic cancellation when the inside coils of both pickups are used.
I also wanted to improve on the poor pole piece spacing found on some pickups. The new pole piece spread was designed to exactly match the 54mm string spread of the Zachary bridge in conjunction with the wide 45mm neck width at the nut.
The polepieces had to be special as well. They had to be adjustable, large and they had to be smooth so that they did not interfere with picking. I chose extra large screws so they act like a bar yet they are still individually adjustable. I really dislike volume imbalance between the strings, so adjustability is a must..
Zach Attack pickups will come in various formats and will range from lower power vintage specifications with to ultra high gain models. They will come in single coil Strat, Tele, P90 configurations and of course Humbucking formats. Most importantly they will be all made to my specifications and be totally proprietary to Zachary guitars.
ZachAttack pickups will always be matched not only to themselves in a set but also to each particular guitar.
I dislike weak pickups. I want the guitar to jump out and take charge.
Both the Neck and the Bridge pickups have to be different in character and power specifications in order to compliment each other.
The Neck Pickup
Keeping versatility in mind I needed a Neck pickup that was very musical and smooth. Most importantly, it had to be very warm. Jazz players will like it in humbucking mode and bluegrass and blues players will like it in single coil mode. What I mean by this is that I did not want a pickup that makes harsh sounds. I use the neck pickup for all clean sounds so it has to be warm but with a strong voice. I also needed a pickup that was strong and powerful. I want it to overdrive an amp for that warm bluesy feel.
For the warmest possible tone a single Alnico 3 magnet was chosen and the DC resistance is 10.3 K.
The Bridge Pickup
This pickup had to be more powerful than the neck pickup, which is standard practice for a bridge pickup. Like the Neck pickup, it also had to be warm with a strong bass response. In full humbucking mode I wanted a big wall of sound with endless sustain enabling one to perform all the tricks such as pull offs and hammer ons, tapping, long bends, dive bomb harmonics with the tremolo and generally the shameless stunt playing that some of us like to do so much.
I wanted this Bridge pickup as well as the Neck pickup to be full of harmonics. This is a less pure sound, meaning that the fundamental note is quite colored by overtones and harmonics. By definition this type of overtone rich sound defines a musical pickup. I don't like thin, trebly and harsh bridge pickups. I want the bridge pickup to sing as well and to be very full sounding. If a bridge pickup is not like that it becomes unusable except for the most over driven sounds. I wanted a bridge pickup that could be used with a clean amp as well as a heavily distorted amp. This bridge pickup had to be big sounding, round and full, with lots of punch. To achieve this in a bridge pickup one has to over compensate for the bass response. This was achieved with a single Alnico 5 or ceramic magnet and a DC resistance of 16.5 K.
Pickups designations and specifications
As you can see most ZachAttack pickups will be encased in solid epoxy. The main reason for this is to conceal what is inside. I don't want anyone to even think of trying to copy them. Specifications will not be given, except for the magnet type (A for Alnico and C for Ceramic) and the DC Resistance in K Ohms. That is all you need to know.