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Author Topic: Black Dog Bridge Review in 2021  (Read 426 times)

Joshua Jimenez

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Black Dog Bridge Review in 2021
« on: April 09, 2021, 07:05:19 AM »
INTRODUCTION

I purchased an Old Guard neck and Black Dog bridge after seven great years with DiMarzio 36th Anniversaries in my 2009 Les Paul Traditional Pro. The 36th Annivs hit the spot back in 2013 when the stock Ď57 Classic and Burstbucker 3 didnít cut it for me.

Just last year, I put a Mule set into my 2011 SG Special and, just like every new initiate into the Bareknuckle Order, was blown away by the clarity and power. This put my 36th Annivs, as wonderful as they were, into perspective.

I thought I would get the same clarity by replacing the 36th bridge with a Super Distortion. It was a killer rock pickup that got Al di Meola, Boston, and Judas Priest in spades, but was no way as clear, as loud, and as dynamic as I thought. I also dearly missed the single-coil top end and the woody character of the 36th.

After watching all the YouTube videos I could find, I finally got the pickup upgrade that my Les Paul deserved after all these years. I chose the Black Dog bridge as a complement to the Old Guard neck.

SOUND PROFILE

First impression? The Black Dog is complex pickup that takes a lot of fiddling to get YOUR sound. Thatís the beauty of Bare Knuckles: while other pickups take a lot of fiddling to get a few usable sounds, these bad boys sound good wherever you set them.

The Black Dog changes its identity based on its height. Raise it all the way up and you get more of that fuzzy bass bloom. Bring it down and it gets darker, letting the wood be heard even more. Itís as if thereís another mic for the guitar body itself.

 If this is not enough, the pickups are also sensitive to volume and tone knob adjustments as well as picking dynamics. I cannot emphasize this enough and I feel that I have to focus on my attack even more.

The Black Dog has the Bare Knuckle qualities in spades. Notes and chords ring with a three-dimensional as if they were double-tracked. This makes everything you play very clear. Some reviews say that this pickup should eliminate the need for double-tracking and Iím starting to get it.

This pickup is surprisingly open-sounding in my Trad Pro. The reviews sounded way thicker and had more bite. It sounds different to how it feelsóif you get my jive. Itís certainly packs a punch but it still has that P.A.F. softness. It has less output than I expected. Works best for classic rock and harder rock tones. Iím happy to report that this pickup cleans up well, still sweet and gentle but a tad bit thin.

The pickup maintains a nice P.A.F. sizzle in the high end no matter where you set it. Iíve tried this with different amplifier simulations. The sizzle is most apparent in Bassman and JTM45 emulations, but it can still be heard through a JCM 800 with a Tube Screamer cooking it. This perhaps is a divisive element because I canít seem to saturate it enough for the crunch sound in my head. Nonetheless, it stands that with the Black Dog, I can hear the wood of my guitar even more.

COMPARISONS

Coming from a Super Distortion, the low-mid bump isnít very apparent. I expected it to be a P.A.F. version of this medium output pickup that was designed in the 70s as an alternative to stock P.A.F.ís, but the Black Dog was entirely different in nature.

The Black Dog surprisingly gives me deja vu with the 36th Anniv., which has a mid hump. The Bare Knuckle however is clearer, louder, and more dynamic. Am I happy with this? I still have mixed feelings as I kind of expected a pickup of entirely different feel and flavor, but I will report back.

Bare Knuckle itself compares the Black Dog to the Mule as having more girth and a higher output. Compared to the Mule in my 2011 SG Special, this actually sounds brighter and more openóless compressed. The Mule is more defined and actually has more girth to my ears, against Bare Knuckleís own description. Again, it may be the SG against the Les Paul and its maple cap, but these are my observations.

CONCLUSION

The Black Dog is multi-faceted and versatile pickup that Iím clearly still getting to know. If after a week or two and I donít jive with it. Iím thinking of putting a nickel cover to add some sweetness or even swapping the magnets for A2s or A4s. I may outright swap this with the Mule in my SG or with an Old Guard bridge to pair with the neck. Any thoughts?
2009 Les Paul Traditional Pro - Old Guard/Black Dog
2011 SG Special - Mule Set
1983 Yamaha Super Axe - Stock
1987 MIJ Strat - Stock
2011 SX Telecaster - DMZ Twang King / True Velvet

Telerocker

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Re: Black Dog Bridge Review in 2021
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2021, 09:02:35 AM »
That's quite a story! Pickups and guitars are a sort of alchemy. Some work in a particular guitar, some don't. Personally I never have been that fond of the Black Dog in mahogany guitars. Maybe it's the barking mids. I like balanced pickups like the Mule more. However, I've been playing a midstrong Crawler for years in a swampashstrat. That is just a great match.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Joshua Jimenez

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Re: Black Dog Bridge Review in 2021
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2021, 03:07:05 PM »
That's quite a story! Pickups and guitars are a sort of alchemy. Some work in a particular guitar, some don't. Personally I never have been that fond of the Black Dog in mahogany guitars. Maybe it's the barking mids. I like balanced pickups like the Mule more. However, I've been playing a midstrong Crawler for years in a swampashstrat. That is just a great match.

Indeed. Which is why I was surprised! Sounded nothing like the demos. The alchemy part is spot on!

How do you think the Crawler would sound in my Les Paul? A friend has one up for sale and I could offer to trade with him. I've been checking YouTube demos but I can't seem to find one in a Les Paul.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2021, 05:22:35 PM by Joshua Jimenez »
2009 Les Paul Traditional Pro - Old Guard/Black Dog
2011 SG Special - Mule Set
1983 Yamaha Super Axe - Stock
1987 MIJ Strat - Stock
2011 SX Telecaster - DMZ Twang King / True Velvet

Telerocker

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Re: Black Dog Bridge Review in 2021
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2021, 02:29:41 AM »
I always hesitate to recommend the Crawler for a LP. In 24 fret PRS's it does most of the time a good job, but in general a LP seems  to have chunkier low mids that require a brighter and less middy pickup than a Crawler. In SG's the Crawler is less of a gamble.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Alfi27

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Re: Black Dog Bridge Review in 2021
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2021, 12:16:16 PM »
The Black Dog bridge is quite possibly my favourite pickup of all time, especially in a Les Paul. I can't stand higher output pickups in Les Pauls, when I sent my BD in for wax potting at BKP I put a Holydiver in it temporarily, and it sounded like a horrible muddy mess... The BD retains everything I love about PAF style pickups while jacking things up a notch or two, I think the EQ graph on the product site is a little inaccurate to be honest. Sure it's got more mids than for example the Riff Raff, but it still sounds very balanced and not much darker in the top end, if at all, than a Riff Raff.
BKs: Black Dog (b), Riff Raff (b), HSP90 Nantucket (b).

Joshua Jimenez

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Re: Black Dog Bridge Review in 2021
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2021, 10:52:58 AM »
The Black Dog bridge is quite possibly my favourite pickup of all time, especially in a Les Paul. I can't stand higher output pickups in Les Pauls, when I sent my BD in for wax potting at BKP I put a Holydiver in it temporarily, and it sounded like a horrible muddy mess... The BD retains everything I love about PAF style pickups while jacking things up a notch or two, I think the EQ graph on the product site is a little inaccurate to be honest. Sure it's got more mids than for example the Riff Raff, but it still sounds very balanced and not much darker in the top end, if at all, than a Riff Raff.

Glad to hear! Indeed; it's got a solid, biting top end that reminds me of Zep's "How the West Was Won." A very firm tone. Not the sweetest but that's the point.

What was the result of the wax-potting, if I may ask? I want to install a nickel cover for aesthetic reasons, but also because I think it will smoothen and round out the sound--thereby making it closer to the OG in the neck.
2009 Les Paul Traditional Pro - Old Guard/Black Dog
2011 SG Special - Mule Set
1983 Yamaha Super Axe - Stock
1987 MIJ Strat - Stock
2011 SX Telecaster - DMZ Twang King / True Velvet