DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker

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Offline JR

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DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker
« on: August 11, 2022, 10:51:16 AM »
Again Music Man Axis Pickups ...

based on the post https://darthphineas.com/2016/03/dimarzio-music-man-evh-humbucker-pickups/ I was curious to understand what is going on with the DiMarzio Music Man Axis Humbucker set, especially the Bridge Humbucker. There are many statements made that the coils of this Humbucker are balanced. When measuring my set I found a quite huge offset between the coils (Slug: 8.3K DC, Screw: 9.1K DC). The inductance (measured at 120Hz with Peaktech 2165) of the two coils is quite opposite in difference (Slug: 3.8H, Screw: 3.6H). I would have expected the inductance to be closer, if not greater for the screw coil (based on the higher DCR). This leads me to a few questions:

1. If the coils were balanced, why would I see such a huge difference in resistance and inductance?
2. Other people's measurements are much closer (e.g. Darth Phineas). Why is the difference so huge in my set (It is actually quite high to be explained by manufacturing tolerances in my opinion)?
3. What would be the inductance of each coil in @darthphineas set?
4. Maybe too theoretical: could the offset I see in my humbucker actually make a difference sound wise compared to one that shows more balanced measurements?

Hope this is not too technical ...

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Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2022, 04:07:05 AM »
Hi,

No, it is not too technical.

It seems that your measurements of the screw coil are in line with Darth's but the slug coil and the combined inductance seem to be lower in your pickup. And yes, assuming the coils are wound with the same wire gauge, the inductance should be higher on the screw coil. I agree that the quantity of difference rules manufacturer tolerances out. A possible explanation that comes to my mind is that the slug coil had a defect and was unwound to the point where the defect was, and then the connecting wire was attached to that point so that the coil works again, albeit on a lower turn count and thus lower DC resistance. Another potential explanation is that somebody created a hybrid, using a slug coil from another pickup. As regards a sound difference: normally, offset coils cancel fewer frequencies so the resulting sound should be a bit brighter than without the offset but it is almost impossible to quantify the effect (apart from comparing them in the same guitar and same position but the results would then only be accurate for that particular guitar).

The bottom line is always: does the pickup give me the sound I want? If yes, the "how" is less relevant. If no, then the question is "what do I want the pickup to have more of / less of?" and that is where the "how" comes into the picture as this may help you to pick a pickup based on specs.


Hope that helps,
Stephan 
« Last Edit: August 12, 2022, 04:08:39 AM by darkbluemurder »
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Offline JR

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Re: DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2022, 07:33:47 AM »
Hello,

Stephan, thanks for the detailed response. Actually my questions do not relate to the fact that I'm searching for a specific sound. It rather comes from the mystery that is made around this pickup and understanding the parameters of influencing a pickup's sound. I also wired a few pickups on my own, which made me curious to understand some specific pickup designs. The lately published article from DiMarzio about EVH described the development of this pickup and similarities (and differences) to the Tone Zone. As I do not like the voice of the Tone Zone that much, but like the Axis Pickup, I wanted to understand the technical differences. Interesting side fact: I measured a couple of different pickups, also a JB (which is also mentioned in the DiMarzio article) with a rough cast A5 magnet. The measured values of inductance and capacitance of the A5 RC JB are very, very close to the values of my Axis Bridge humbucker. Anyhow, tone wise it's very near and probably usable to mimic VH sounds, but it still does not have the bass and low mids content of the Axis Bridge humbucker.

Coming back to the offset of my Axis bridge humbucker: I cannot see any sign of a defect, rewind, repair or whatsoever on the pickup. What I did to understand the offset, is taking it apart to the pure coils (remove all conductive material, base plate, magnet, screws, slugs, retainer...) and take some measurements. The DCR offset is still there (which is natural), but inductance and capacitance are equal to the second digit (Slug Coil: 1.814H, Screw Coil: 1.82H). In terms of inductance and capacitance the coils are balanced. The difference only occurs in assembled state, so there might be variation in the conductive components!?

Regards,
Jörg

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Offline DarthPhineas

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Re: DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2022, 09:20:36 AM »
Jörg,

If I could take a look at your post and maybe unpack a few things

"there are many statements made that the coils of this Humbucker are balanced."
are those people saying the pickups sound balanced or have a balanced voice/character/tone?  or are they saying the specs off the meter show a balanced wind from one coil to another? 

What would be the inductance of each coil in @darthphineas set?
how would someone else know the readings that I took?  lol! I don't post every single spec that I get off every coil for this very reason.  it can/will confuse and/or obsess people with minutiae that can keep them from seeing the forest for the trees. 

Why is the difference so huge in my set (It is actually quite high to be explained by manufacturing tolerances in my opinion)?
But manufacturing tolerances are a fact.  I have 2 sets of these and none of the coils on the respective positions are identical.  In fact, one set has higher inductance on both pickups than the inductance on the other set.  There could be any one of a half-dozen solid reasons for the offset you are seeing in your readings.  Your answers will probably be found with DiMarzio tech support rather than on a forum.

I would have expected the inductance to be closer, if not greater for the screw coil (based on the higher DCR).
There's no rule that the higher the resistance, the higher the inductance.  I have examples of the same model where there's a lower DCR and a higher H.  In fact, in instances where I see that, I prefer the sound of a lower DCR and higher H to the same model with a higher DCR and lower H (in the relative comparison) - but that's me.  Yet it is good to be aware of inductance in the same way it's good to be aware of distributed capacitance, as the notion of DCR being "THE" measurement has fooled too many for too long.  If you haven't already, go poke around Bill Lawrence's website (Wilde pickups) to read his take on Inductance as well as the Q Value.



my questions do not relate to the fact that I'm searching for a specific sound. It rather comes from the mystery that is made around this pickup and understanding the parameters of influencing a pickup's sound.

Here's the part that really matters:

At the end of the day, it could be simple.  One coil was made on one machine by one winder, and the other made on a different machine by a different winder.  Or one was made on Friday afternoon, and the other on Monday AM after a fresh calibration of the winder.  Or maybe a setting shifted and the pitch or tension were tweaked.  Or it was the same winder on the same machine made back-to-back with the same settings, but one coil was the end of a spool of wire and the other coil was from the beginning of another spool.  Or the winder did one coil before lunch, came back to do the second without getting all the sopressata washed off their fingers and it got on the tensioner felt.

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Offline JR

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Re: DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2022, 04:20:28 PM »
Hello Darth,

thanks for your reply.

Quote
"there are many statements made that the coils of this Humbucker are balanced."
are those people saying the pickups sound balanced or have a balanced voice/character/tone?  or are they saying the specs off the meter show a balanced wind from one coil to another?
The statements are usually based on DCR.

Quote
What would be the inductance of each coil in @darthphineas set?
how would someone else know the readings that I took?  lol! I don't post every single spec that I get off every coil for this very reason.  it can/will confuse and/or obsess people with minutiae that can keep them from seeing the forest for the trees. 
I was hoping to be able to address the question to you in this forum. Also thought that the "@" would trigger a notification maybe ... didn't work. But finally you answered. Appreciate that!

Quote
Why is the difference so huge in my set (It is actually quite high to be explained by manufacturing tolerances in my opinion)?
But manufacturing tolerances are a fact.  I have 2 sets of these and none of the coils on the respective positions are identical.  In fact, one set has higher inductance on both pickups than the inductance on the other set.  There could be any one of a half-dozen solid reasons for the offset you are seeing in your readings.  Your answers will probably be found with DiMarzio tech support rather than on a forum.
Based on the statements found in various forums I was expecting to measure each coil at +/- 8.5K. So, it was surprising to me when the measurement was so different.

Quote
At the end of the day, it could be simple.  One coil was made on one machine by one winder, and the other made on a different machine by a different winder.  Or one was made on Friday afternoon, and the other on Monday AM after a fresh calibration of the winder.  Or maybe a setting shifted and the pitch or tension were tweaked.  Or it was the same winder on the same machine made back-to-back with the same settings, but one coil was the end of a spool of wire and the other coil was from the beginning of another spool.  Or the winder did one coil before lunch, came back to do the second without getting all the sopressata washed off their fingers and it got on the tensioner felt.
I would have expected more consistency and repeatability from a series production like DiMarzio. I'm not a professional winder, just wound a few pickups by myself because of curiosity. Using a very simple winding rig and guiding the wire by hand, I have managed to wind coils that are really close to each other (DCR, Inductance and Capacitance). Would be strange to me that in a professional process there is that much variation.

Another fun thing that I found: In the DiMarzio article about EVH it is mentioned that the "original" pickup  was a JB with the damaged coil that measured at something around 160K. So, I was just wondering what happens if I put a 150K resistor in series with my A5 Rough cast JB (which then is something like total 166K obviously). Tested it and found that it is even closer to my Axis Bridge Pickup than the JB alone. It reduces Output, Treble and the upper mid Honk of the JB, and emphasizes the low mids and bass response. Replacing the 150K resistor with a linear pot to play around with the resistance got me even closer in a range between 150K and 250K. When rolling the volume down the behaviour of that JB (with A5 rough Cast magnet and the added resistance) is very close to the Axis Bridge Humbucker. It cleans up very similar in terms of Output and retaining treble when rolled down. This, of course, is highly perceptive to what I hear in a direct comparison using my rig. For me it's as close as you can get at the moment. Closer than Tone Zone, Half-Aired Tone Zone, AT-1 or whatever other alternatives you can find in many discussions.


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Offline DarthPhineas

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Re: DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2022, 10:06:34 AM »
Quote
"there are many statements made that the coils of this Humbucker are balanced."
are those people saying the pickups sound balanced or have a balanced voice/character/tone?  or are they saying the specs off the meter show a balanced wind from one coil to another?
The statements are usually based on DCR.

Chasing DCR can be a fool's folly.  Two coils made with the same wire off the same spool can have the same # of turns and have different DCR.  Any one or combination of what was suggested (in the below quote) can apply, as well as any one of countless other oddities that really don't add up to a hill of beans.



Quote
At the end of the day, it could be simple.  One coil was made on one machine by one winder, and the other made on a different machine by a different winder.  Or one was made on Friday afternoon, and the other on Monday AM after a fresh calibration of the winder.  Or maybe a setting shifted and the pitch or tension were tweaked.  Or it was the same winder on the same machine made back-to-back with the same settings, but one coil was the end of a spool of wire and the other coil was from the beginning of another spool.  Or the winder did one coil before lunch, came back to do the second without getting all the sopressata washed off their fingers and it got on the tensioner felt.
I would have expected more consistency and repeatability from a series production like DiMarzio. I'm not a professional winder, just wound a few pickups by myself because of curiosity. Using a very simple winding rig and guiding the wire by hand, I have managed to wind coils that are really close to each other (DCR, Inductance and Capacitance). Would be strange to me that in a professional process there is that much variation.

and yet the late 1950s PAFs from Kalamazoo are some of the most coveted humbuckers out there.

those were made to a timer, not a counter.  a few seconds off could be dozens (or more) of turns on the coil.  they were tossed in a pile and an assembler down the line would just grab whatever off the top and put it in to whatever slot in the guitar.... no "neck" or "bridge" designation.  the materials used was whatever was available that day/week/month... could be alnico 2 on this batch and alnico 4 on that batch and alnico 5 on another.  the facility didn't have climate control as we know it and environmental concerns were like the wild west back then... so you could expect to find a steaming hot big room in the summer with the windows open and no a/c with a bunch of ladies smoking their unfiltered Camel cigarettes while winding with the ash tray (if there even was one) within inches of machinery that was pumping out pickups that some people are paying thousands of dollars for today just to put in a guitar that hangs on a wall in some lawyer's home office and gets the dust wiped off more than it gets played.

I'm not here to defend defend DiMarzio by any means.  but I might suggest than most current big-name pickup makers have consistency, repeatability, and a professional process that we might consider would blow away the conditions currently priceless Gibson humbuckers were made under.  I think Larry is a jackass and he should replace his office staff with ladies that don't have to ride brooms to work.  just as it's my opinion the Carter Duncan Corp (Seymour doesn't own it... and he's retired) is ran by a cabal of buffoons that I wouldn't trust to operate a deck of cards.  and even so, they seem to do well enough to be above the scrutiny of a set that you happen to have that has a spec that you don't understand.

with all encouragement to your efforts..... wind yourself a few hundred pickups (literally) and discover what anomalies you encounter along the way.  I'm guessing by that time that this random coil will make more sense by then.

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Offline JR

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Re: DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2022, 02:27:32 AM »
Hello,

Quote
I'm not here to defend defend DiMarzio by any means.
No need to defend here. There was no intention to offend anybody from my side. I was just curious and surprised. DiMarzio certainly does a great job in producing their specific pickup models with consistent sonic properties.

Quote
with all encouragement to your efforts..... wind yourself a few hundred pickups (literally) and discover what anomalies you encounter along the way.  I'm guessing by that time that this random coil will make more sense by then.
Thanks for the advice ... we'll see ...


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Offline DarthPhineas

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Re: DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2022, 07:31:08 AM »
if you haven't already, go poke around http://www.billlawrence.com/

it's a must for any one that is genuinely curious about pickups.

he clarifies concepts such as DCR is not Output.  if magnets "age".  eddy currents.  mV output.  inductance.  and more.

there's a snippet in that site about how tolerances of the nature you're asking about can happen.  I've already laid it out, but maybe reading it from someone else might help clarify it better/more.
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Offline headcrash

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Re: DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2022, 08:57:40 AM »

Another fun thing that I found: In the DiMarzio article about EVH it is mentioned that the "original" pickup  was a JB with the damaged coil that measured at something around 160K. So, I was just wondering what happens if I put a 150K resistor in series with my A5 Rough cast JB (which then is something like total 166K obviously). Tested it and found that it is even closer to my Axis Bridge Pickup than the JB alone. It reduces Output, Treble and the upper mid Honk of the JB, and emphasizes the low mids and bass response. Replacing the 150K resistor with a linear pot to play around with the resistance got me even closer in a range between 150K and 250K. When rolling the volume down the behaviour of that JB (with A5 rough Cast magnet and the added resistance) is very close to the Axis Bridge Humbucker. It cleans up very similar in terms of Output and retaining treble when rolled down. This, of course, is highly perceptive to what I hear in a direct comparison using my rig. For me it's as close as you can get at the moment. Closer than Tone Zone, Half-Aired Tone Zone, AT-1 or whatever other alternatives you can find in many discussions.

Hey Jörg,

very intersting what you found with experimenting with that series resistance to one coil.  When reading that story about the defective JB coil, I first thought this was a typo or something. Later I thought this was a hoax  :o :D

I consider the the behaviour when rolling back the volume, that it becomes quite a bit glassier sounding, quite unique with a pickup of that high source impedance. I do happen to like this behaviour a lot.

In fact your findings might help Dimarzio EvH Customs tone chasers a LOT. Gotta find a cheap used JB to experiment with this myself  ;D
Which coil did you put that resistance in series to? Is your JB an older one? I'm not familiar with all the JB history, but kinda recall having read, that there are several versions throughout the years.
Obviously Dimarzio managed to make a "normal" pickup, that comes close enough to the master's ear. Also only that way the in beetwen pickup positions wouldn't be possible on the Axis (Super) Sport models.

In case this might be of any interest.
I have three Axis (Super) Sports (1997 AS HSS, 2001 ASS HH, 2002 AS HH), and all their bridge humbuckers sound a little different from each other. With the Sport from 2002 being the most off from the three.
The 2001 seems to be a little more tight in the bass department, maybe thus appears a little more meaty in the mids. Also it plays a little more "spritzig", how we would call it in German slightly jokingly (maybe "lively" would be a similar meaning in English).
The 1997 is very close, but a little more balanced.
The 2002 is just a little more bland than the others, so does the neck humbucker and all pickup positions.
The bridge pickup's coils measure red 8,86k, green 8,75k (forgot which one is which). I don't have an LCR bridge to measure inductance.

Of course we're talking nuances here, very subtle nuances.
Btw., I have solid saddles on all bridges (they're all hardtails), tone controls disconnected.

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Offline JR

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Re: DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2022, 05:59:45 AM »
Hello Headcrash,

Which coil did you put that resistance in series to?
Actually, I tried the resistor at different places.

1. If put it in "front" of the two coils (black wire or green wire doesn't really make a big difference) it is basically affecting the series connection of both coils. In that position it actually does, what I described before.

2. If connected between the two coils (between red and white) you can kind of "unbalance" the two coils. If you have connected the JB with Black (Slug Coil) being hot, the resistor will influence the Screw Coil. This ends up with a kind of "cocked wah" think like the Tone Zone does. I didn't try the other way round.

Is your JB an older one? I'm not familiar with all the JB history, but kinda recall having read, that there are several versions throughout the years.
My JB was bought in June 2020 at Thomann. So it is a rather new one. Did several tests with different magnets. The reason for choosing the RC A5 for the comparison with the Axis Bridge HB was that I was reading a bit about the Antiquitiy and the 35th Anniversary JB, both using rough cast magnets. Considering when the Axis Bridge was developped and when EVH might be using the JB, I found it quite possible that the original one was an A5 rough cast. Also, the LCR measurements I made with the RC A5 JB in comparison with the Axis Bridge HB supported that assumption.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2022, 07:20:50 AM by JR »

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Offline headcrash

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Re: DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2023, 12:04:14 PM »
Hey JR,

Did I get you right, that you wired that 150K resistor in series to the lead to the series-wired pickup? This would be just like a roughly 1:3 voltage divider, together with the (500k) pot, when full up, Tone disconnected, and resistor in the "hot" (black) lead.
I'd assume, that it matters where the resistor is placed: between pot an hot lead, or between ground and green wire. And of course between red and white.
Hmmm.... have to think about it.


Meanwhile I was able to get a used set of 2011(?) Reflex pickups for a reasonable price. They have chrome covers, which are soldered to the base plates. The base plates are not black, btw. But they measure as expected (DC resistance of 17,60 kOhms for the bridge).
I put them in my 2002 "problem Axis Sport", and they sounded - really bad. Dull, undynamic, waaaayyyy worse than the originals in my problem guitar.
In fact, they sounded like I remember when I put really cheap, magnetically effective covers on pickups, back in my youth, and then wondering, why they sounded shitty.
Either someone put shitty covers on them, or the pickups are fake, or broken. Could also be the reason why the original owner sold them.
Unfortunately I couldn't get those covers off the pickups with my 60W soldering station...
Out they went, of course, and back in are the originals in. Still sounds like a really good guitar, but not as good as my others ...

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Offline JR

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Re: DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2023, 04:08:58 PM »
Did I get you right, that you wired that 150K resistor in series to the lead to the series-wired pickup?
Exactly! Resistor between lead (black) wire of the JB connected to the Switch (or directly to the Pot), JB wired in Series.

I'd assume, that it matters where the resistor is placed: between pot an hot lead, or between ground and green wire.
Actually I tested both and didn't get too much of a difference sound wise.

And of course between red and white.
This makes a difference sound wise. By choosing which coil is "first" in the series connection you can influence which coil to be "reduced" by the resistor (the second coil). Actually, I found something very interesting when trying this with a Tone Zone (yes, the other contendor always compared with the Axis Bridge). When connecting the Tone Zone with the Screw Coil (white wire) to the Output, a resistor between green and red, black connected to ground, the Slug coil is influenced by the resistor. By using a 60K resistor (approximately, was adjusted with a Pot) in this way, I got a result which is again very similar to the Axis Bridge, both in sound and measurement of LC (R of course being much higher due to the resistor). I find this very interesting because the Tone Zone is always said to be similar to the Axis Bridge with one coil (Slug) being hotter than the other one. By "reducing" the output of the Slug coil you can even the two coils, so that it comes very, very close to the Axis Bridge. If you use a Pot as a variable resistor, you can even play with the sound changes.

Before all of that testing with the resistors, I had also already created a Pickup with two Tone Zone Screw Coils with very similar results. This one is virtually identical with the Axis Bridge sound wise.

If I'd need to rank the different mods based on which one comes closest to the Axis Bridge I'd go for this order:
1. Screw Zone (Two Tone Zone Screw Coils)
2. JB w/ A5 RC + 150K series resistor connected between black wire and Output
3. Tone Zone + 60K resistor between Screw Coil and Slug Coil (wired in Series from Screw Coil, then resistor, then Slug Coil).


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Offline headcrash

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Re: DiMarzio EBMM Music Man Axis Bridge Humbucker
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2023, 04:43:12 AM »
Hi JR,

this is another helpful and interesting "disclosure" of your findings, thank you.

About the "screw zone" I've already heard either here or somewhere else (can't remember).
No, to make this perfect, I'd just have to find a creme TZ and a black or a zebra TZ (F-spaced), and some matching slugs (I meant: perfect in a sense of perfect).
Would also be interesting, what the pickup made of the two coils left may sound like... ;D

Problem is: I don't NEED one. I just have that trauma of having bought three EBMM Axis (Super) Sports throughout the years without the orignal pickups (though knowingly). I have been lucky so far to get originals for a decent price.
Lately one zebra bridge Cutsom was sold over Germen ebay  Kleinanzeigen, for 150 EUR, which is quite ok, considering its scarcety. But I didn't jump on it, since I had just bought these Reflex pickups, I also didn't NEED. Now I could kick myself, because I also have a zebra neck Custom lying around since a few years...
The specimen sold shortly was said to be made in 2022 and was ordered by German distribution. I also heard from someone different, that it is possible to get these, but it takes some time (like half a year or so...). I might check with German distribution about the possibilities here.