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Author Topic: More Les Paul Pickup reviews - Holy Diver and Painkiller  (Read 3243 times)

Jimmy E Moorby

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More Les Paul Pickup reviews - Holy Diver and Painkiller
« on: May 19, 2017, 01:20:27 PM »
I've done a few reviews already for pickups in my les paul custom and I'm going to do a couple more.  I'll be brief and compare to other pickups I've reviewed before too but here goes!

EDIT 07/09/2019 Settled on Rebel Yells for several years as per this thread

So I've already done a review of the cold sweat.  I only own one les paul which explains all the messing abouts with pickup swaps but I had the urge to try a Holy Diver in it.  This is because tone wise all my favourite guitarists use a JB in a les paul and of course the holy diver is often considered as a better JB.

These guitarists are Jerry Cantrell, Adam Jones, Alex Sklonick and Billy Howerdell (The former has a JBish pickup from another brand).  I also know Bill Kelliher of Mastodon had an actual Holy Diver in one of his Les Pauls.
Let me just say that the holy diver in a les paul will nail all of these mens tone and i'll leave it at that.  The Holy Diver in a Les Paul also has very satisfying clean tones and can give you Opeth style clean lead tones.  It takes on the perfect 'Fat PAF' vibe in a Les Paul.

So if I could get the tones of some of my favourite guitarists why would I swap?  My main playing influence always comes back to Hetfield style rhythm playing.  In this regard the Holy Diver was a bit all over the place because it was tight enough for fast thrash riffs and sometimes it cut through well with an added satisfying girth that most thrash riffs don't have but then in short sometimes it just didn't cut through the mix.   You can't have everything though and the weight and magic of a Les Paul and Holy Diver just couldn't stretch to thrash 100% of the time.

I'll be brief.  The Holy Diver can do SO much in a Les Paul SO SO much and I'd go for it again if I had the money for another Les Paul but I needed more tightness and presence for my thrash influences.

So I return the painkiller I may or may not have reviewed this before.  Combines elements of the cold sweat and Holy diver I really like and turns it up to 11. 
It has the bass of the cold sweat it's there but tight.  Big but 'springy/bouncy'.  The Painkiller had the centre mids, girth and power of the holy diver on top of an already beasty les paul tone but with the added grind and cut of the famed painkiller hi mids.
It then has the hi end of the cold swear in a roundabout way.
The painkiller in a les paul is just aggression.  It has serious weight and power and maximum cut in a live environment.  It isn't subtle but your tone WILL be noticed.
As an unsigned/amateur heavy metal guitarist I find it very satisfying to complimented on my tone night after night and as a straight up metal guitarist playing classic riffs and leads I still have a more aggressive tone than more extreme bands because my tone has way more weight and cut.
The painkiller is a Les Paul is's for metal and that's it.

This is staying for good and whilst I've said/thought that before I've played many more gigs and practises with this. It's stayed in the longest of any of my pups.  It can't be beaten for what it does and if I wanted something else I'd have to buy another Les Paul and stick a Holy Diver in it for a more 'thick juicy rock/metal' rather than the raw aggressive power of the painkiller.

Had this in very briefly.  Perfect lead guitar tone but in e flat tuning and as a metal player I find it's complete lack of low end unusable.  Can see why it's tight enough for drop tuned players but not for me.

Cold Sweat I've already reviewed.  I'd suggest this is a starting point for any rock/metal player with a Les Paul.  It's just a no brainer and works perfectly.  IF you need to tweak then you can but this is the reference point and really still the most versatile for distorted rock/metal applications.

Alnico Black Hawk I've already reviewed.  This is as aggressive as the painkiller but in a different way.  It has powerful mids of the painkiller and holy diver but doesn't have the grinding high mids of the painkiller and has more 'cut' than the holy diver.   It has great low mids and bass which just make a Les Paul sound ENCORMOUS but also very tight.  A black hawk and les paul is just gigantic in terms of tone and it's tight for any one unless of course you want 'silly tight' but then you wouldn't be playing a Les Paul would you??
For the ultimate Bottom end CHUG a A-HAWK and Les Paul is just a dream.  You can get all the tones you'd think out of it too a la Zakk Wylde, Hetfield etc.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2019, 11:35:05 PM by JimmyMoorby »


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Re: More Les Paul Pickup reviews - Holy Diver and Painkiller
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2017, 07:23:55 PM »
Interesting writeup. Cheers! It is in the sticky too.
BKPs in use: 10th set / RY set / Holy Diver b, Emerald n / Crawler bridge, Slowhand mid MQ neck/ Manhattan n
On the sidelines: Stockholm b / Suppermassive n, Mule n, AM set, IT mid