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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 10:27 pm 
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MMK45's are also known as Magnaflux II's, and they're superb. Yours looks to be an 80 or 81, those are the only years with the maple necks and that hardtail bridge which to my eye makes it an 80, so it's one of the first Electra Phoenixes!

If you think of another axe, think of another Electra Phoenix or Westone Spectrum, they share the same superb neck and electronics- and the ones with H-S-H pickups have truly innovative tonal range. If you want an alternate body style, try a Dynasty or Dimension IV, or a Futura.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2005 5:50 am 
I guess I probably ought to make a few distinctions when it comes to MMK pickups in general.

Most "Magnaflux" were a little different than the Aria Pro II "Protomatic" MMK series pickups. MMK more likely is the manufacturer's mark (presumed to be made by Matsumoku according to one article in a UK magazine) rather than a series or type indicator. Some of the Protomatics were obviously based on DiMarzio designs. Even though a pickups's designation was Protomatic "X", there were sometimes over the course of time at least two if not more versions of it. One based more on the Gibson humbuckers of the period, the other more closely resembling a DiMarzio of the period.

It's rumored that Shiro Arai consulted with Paul DiMarzio in the design of some of the pickups for the Aria Pro II line, and in fact USA DiMarzio pickups (stamped as such on the back) were an option on some models, and came stock on others. Nobuaki Hayashi and Tom Presley drew a number of parallels in regards to woods and body design, but Tom took SLM in an entirely different direction where pickups are concerned.

Some if not all of the Phoenixes and their successors, the Westone Spectrums, incorporated what was called UBC (UnBalanced Coil) system designed by Tom Presley. The difference with UBC was one coil was a little hotter than the other using different materials for pole pieces and and different number of windings for each bobbin. The prototypes he showed me were in the same case as the prototype Spectrum body and neck that went back and forth to Japan with Tom.

It's not just the pickups in the Phoenix/Spectrum that was given a great deal of thought, but the woods used and the actual shape of the body. The Phoenix/Spectrum bodies were designed to be more resonant at certain frequencies sympathetic to the scale.

Compared side by side, the UBC pickups were far more articulate, flexible, and more responsive clean or with slight crunch. The Protomatics on the other hand seem to be geared a little more towards high gain such as classic power-rock and earlier metal. Some, such as the ones in the PE-R60 are quite fat yet crisp even at high gain but sound more like traditional humbuckers clean, lacking that sharp attack and glossy sound the UBCs are capable of. At least this is what I have noticed in the several hundred Matsumoku made guitars I have owned, and the others I have serviced, and is just my opinion from experience.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2005 10:52 am 
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Fascinating! Wonderful details.

Just to be sure I understand this- when did they start using the name 'Magnaflux'- when they started making UBC pups? or are earlier non-UBC pickups as in the MPC guitars also called Magnaflux? Who made the earlier pickups that aren't stamped MMK?

I'm also curious about is whether any two MMK 45's will be identical, or if there were changes over the years, or different versions. I really need to pull the pickups out of the FX, because its humbuckers were listed in the catalog as Magnaflux VI's rather than the Mgnaflux II's the LX had. Are they MMK 45's? they're certainly like the II's, but with much more headroom and sensitivity.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2005 4:46 am 
I have no idea when SLM began using the name Magnaflux, but at quick glance the name was used in catalogs beginning sometime around 1977 or 78. Tom was unsure when the UBCs became a STOCK reality. He admitted he was not very good about exact dates and I got the impression he did not want to be pressured into speculating. The "prototype case" that contained the original Phoenix/Spectrum body, neck, trem, pickups, and other items gave no indication of date. I do know they were production quality prototypes and not hand fashioned (in other words, better than kitchen table quality).

It's fairly safe to assume that the UBC system was implemented on the Westone Spectrums, but I suspect they were also loaded in some of the Phoenixes as they were essentially the same guitars and with Tom always evolving. Again, Tom was unsure exactly when certain changes and events took place.

I don't know about the MMK 45 thing. For the Aria Pro II they were most commonly Protomatics (at least this has always been the case with me). I have seen pickups (most all in Aria Pro II) marked MMK 45, 53 (in the skylark also IIRC), 61, and 75.

As far as which Magnaflux are which goes, I could not say. At the time I did most of my exploration with the Phoenix/Spectrum series there was NO documentation available, and this site was years in the coming. There was little interest in garage sale Japanese guitars then.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2005 7:51 am 
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i wonder how you could test whether a particular pickup is UBC. I'll try resistance checking. [/list]


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2005 7:42 am 
Probably the best bet would be testing each bobbin outside of the circuit which might give some indication one coil is hotter than the other. I would think the DC resistance would be a little different between the two bobbins.

A gaussmeter might give some indication as to whether there are differences in the magnetic field, but don't ask me how it is done. I could never afford one.

Tom had hinted that different materials for pole pieces were tried. As a matter of fact, he brought a guitar along with him that had "unusual" cores for the pole pieces (but I'm not saying what). The guitar sounded quite nice, which surprised me.

Voltage output for each bobbin may also give a clue. Don't ask me how to test this. :-? Never done it, but I know pickup gurus consider it a mandatory parameter.


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