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Author Topic: Review: Blue Note HSP90 Set  (Read 3347 times)

JCN1218

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Review: Blue Note HSP90 Set
« on: April 11, 2016, 10:07:51 PM »
So about a week or two ago I came to the forums looking for a way to inject some new life into my old Gibson SG Standard. I've had the guitar for close to 10 years now, but it seemed like with each passing year, I was picking it up less and less in favor of other guitars that just sounded better to my ears. The stock 490R/498T pickups sounded really honky and had a very nasally unpleasantness. Needless to say, they just weren't cutting it. I knew that it was time to give it the BKP treatment, and after some deliberation, I ended up with a set of Blue Notes.

Bridge:
I went with P90s to get a 'best of both worlds' type of tone. Something unique that I'd want to pick up since I don't have any full P90 sets in any of my other guitars. I was actually a little surprised by how un-single coil like the bridge by itself was. It was much more humbucker like (which fits my preferences better tbh) but with a slightly altered low end. Any note above the 7th fret on the low E and A as well as any note on any other string sounds very distinctly humbucker, while that little are of low bass has that nice roundness that you expect to hear from a single coil. In a word: awesome. It's pretty much exactly what I was looking for for this guitar, something that my other guitars just can't do. As for the tonality itself, through my Vox AC15 the results are SMOOOTH! Like, unbelievably silky smooth clean tone that is pretty much the definition of perfection. If you're ripping some blistering Jazz runs and want that warm, fat sound, these will get you there (and this is still the bridge). Through a Fender Twin I found that the warmness was even more accentuated, but in a way that I didn't particularly like. It kind of lost a lot of its edge. I definitely prefer it through the AC15 for cleans. With the clean tones as immaculate as they are, imagine my surprise when I plugged into my Fryette Deliverance 60 setup for light tube overdrive. WOW! To say I was blown away would be an understatement. I was so amazed by how awesome it sound that I just had to stand there for a minute and question if the tone I was hearing was actually happening in real life. It's a perfect warm vintage distortion sound. I found that I couldn't stop playing old prog standards like 21st Century Schizoid Man, the tone was too hypnotizing and I just couldn't put the guitar down. The most amazing thing about this pickup is its touch-sensitivity. BKPs are well known for this quality, but the Blue Note takes it to a new extreme. Through my Fryette I could go from a nice warm clean tone to delicious overdrive just by how hard I picked each note. Chords are amazingly clear, even through distortion. One note about the Blue Note though: high levels of gain will lead to high levels of feedback. I tried hitting my Big Muff with it and it started squealing uncontrollably almost right away. It helped to stand pretty far away from the amp, but if you're looking to play anything with higher gain than old Rush classics, you should look elsewhere.

Neck:
With how smooth the bridge was, it was almost hard for me to imagine what the neck pickup could sound like. When I flipped the switch, it was unbelievable the warm, round tone that I was hearing coming from my AC15. Somehow this pickup manages to be smoother than smooth, yet it retains a very bell-like clarity that keep notes from getting squished together during fast runs. Through my Fryette, this pickup shines just as much as the bridge. Wonderfully smooth and creamy. Lead lines just seem to drip out of the speakers.

Middle Position:
The middle position is really where you start to hear that single coil character shine through, and boy is it beautiful. Run clean, it's like playing through the fattest, most obese strat you could imagine. The low notes have that signature hollow tightness and the highs have a nice roundness. It also has some of that really nice ‘quacky’ character to it that a lot of people (myself included) find really desirable.

Summary:
I’m finding that my favorite type of BKP has got to be the vintage category. There’s just something about that magical middle position tone that’s so usable in the vintage range, but I find really lacking in the contemporary range. That being said, these pickups are incredible! It’s a really close battle for favorite set, but I’d say these are pretty neck-and-neck with the Stormy Mondays for me. I think the biggest positive about these pickups is just how versatile they are. In my band I switch guitars a lot to get as many different tones as possible to match the character of the song; if I were to play a show where I could only bring one guitar, this is the guitar I would bring, because I think it could do everything from Yes, to King Crimson, to Floyd, to our original music extremely well. Not to mention that the touch sensitivity and dynamics are off the charts, so they’re an absolute joy to play through. These pickups are more than just tone for me though. They’ve taken my old SG and breathed new life into it. It went from being plain sounding to absolutely having its own unique voice. To me, playing this guitar again the way I have been the last few days has been like reconnecting with an old friend. Playing it really brings me back to when I was new to guitar. I did a lot of growing as a musician on this instrument, and I’m sure I’ll be doing a lot more growing with it now. To me, that’s priceless. Do yourself a favor and seriously look into getting a set of these, they’re seriously a hidden gem among the BKP collection. I can almost guarantee that you’ll fall in love with them like I did.
BKPs: BN,Mule,VHII,Nantucket,SM,MM,CS,PK,WP

Telerocker

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Re: Review: Blue Note HSP90 Set
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2016, 10:43:57 PM »
Great review and probably the only one about the Blue Note HSP. Thanks!
« Last Edit: April 12, 2016, 10:16:34 AM by Telerocker »
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Kiichi

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Re: Review: Blue Note HSP90 Set
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2016, 01:54:36 AM »
Indeed, same as with the Stormies, this is the first one I had the pleasure to add to the review collection sticky. So many, many thanks!!!

Super happy to hear the recommendations work out so well for you. And my yearning for the Blue Note just has been underlined.
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