For those of you that don't know (everybody), I ordered a custom wound pickup for christmas last year, and was very ambitious with what I wanted it to do. I asked for a 59/Custom wind with a few modifications. Because I wanted it to balance well with both of the single coils in my guitar, I asked that the slug coil be wound to 59 specs with 42 gauge, and maxed out with 43 gauge. That way, I could run that coil full bore to balance with the singles more easily, and run it tapped for the humbucker output. I like A2 in the bridge, but I wanted even frequency response with a tighter low end, so I asked for a degaussed A4 magnet. Well, I got the pickup and installed it to find out that it sounded way too shrill to my ears. Turns out that the 59 coil was wound with only 43 gauge wire, so I had a 3+k mismatch with the same gauge wire in the pickup. Much to my good fortune, the guy who winds them has a 30-day return policy, so I sent it back to get it rewound. Anyway, while it was being rewound, I got a chance to try out the Dimarzio VHPAF w/ A2 in the bridge of my strat, and ended up liking it so much that I had the guy wind the pickup to VHPAF specs with a few modifications (heavy scatter, slight mismatch, no potting, double screw coils to approximate the airbuckering technology that dimarzio uses, etc.) Anyway, the rewound pickup arrived at my house a few weeks ago, and I hadn't been able to get a hold of it until this thanksgiving. With finals up and coming, I didn't get to installing it about two days ago, and now I have to flip the magnet to get it to work with my wiring scheme. But, fortunately for me, position 1 on the 5-way superswitch is the bridge by itself (humbucking), so I was at least able to hear how it sounds in my strat. So far in that strat, I've had a hot rails bridge, the VHPAF w/ A2, a Custom Custom, and a Custom 8, so I'll be comparing it to those pickups.
To start off, if you don't know, the VHPAF is a low output (9.1k w/ 42 gauge wire) paf-style humbucker. I haven't been able to measure the pickup in my guitar, but it's slighly hotter than the VHPAF was, with a much more even frequency response. Clean, it sounds slighly nasal, but is the best sounding bridge humbucker I've heard in a strat to date when it's clean. It's best under light gain - in the area where an amp just begins to break up, it becomes very alive and open sounding, and I can get great vintage rock sounds out of it. Anything from ZZ top to Cream to led Zeppelin is do-able with this pickup. Under heavy gain, it's a bit difficult to control, much more so than the custom custom or the custom 8, but it sounds better than either. Compared to the hot rails that I originally had in there, this pickup is much lower output, and balances with the surfers extremely well. It has the singing upper register of the custom custom, but is a bit more articulate and less compressed to my ears. The double screw coils make it fairly loose on the low end, but when I pull it out to flip the magnet, I'm probably going to cut the screws flush with the baseplate on the bass strings.
One thing about the custom 8 - I didn't like it as much as I like the 59/custom with A8. For some reason, (to my ears at least) the custom wind makes the bottom end of the A8 magnet sound fizzy - kind of like if you were to engage a bad fuzz pedal. Also, the mids were a bit much for me - and this is coming from a guy who loved the custom custom.
Overall, I think this pickup is a real winner, and now I can't decide if I want to make it into a hybrid with the Custom Custom. I already have an A2 59/Custom in my les paul that sounds fantastic, but the custom pickup I have in my strat is much hotter than a '59. Plus I don't know if I really want any more output from it. So, I was wondering if any of you guys have tried a EVH/Custom? I know backtorock made a Blues/Custom Hybrid, but the Parallel axis design has a pretty dramatic effect on the sound, so I don't know if I can compare it with the custom job that's in my guitar now. Thanks for hearing me out, and keep in mind that this is more of a sigh of relief from me for finally getting this guitar together. But I still am curious about a EVH/Custom Hybrid