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Author Topic: Alnico Nailbomb review  (Read 22515 times)

Slartibartfarst42

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Alnico Nailbomb review
« on: April 21, 2011, 08:23:55 AM »
I'm in two minds about the Nailbomb as you might imagine, given I just sent mine back but I'll try to be even handed and when reading this, please bear in mind that because of the time constraint of returning pickups, I only had one day to play around with it.

Let's start with the positives. The tone is pure quality, as you'd expect from BKP. It certainly has an organic quality to it and the tone is noticeably thicker than something like a Cold Sweat. As others have done before me, I’d say it has body to it and I found it surprisingly open sounding. Its voicing is modern Metal without a doubt and I imagine shredders with more technical skill than me will love it. Anyone worried that it won’t be tight enough for them because it’s alnico should immediately calm themselves. It's highly articulate and as tight as a badger's backside. Like many BKPs I found it to be very sensitive to height adjustment. Away from the strings it was VERY open and VERY tight while bringing it closer to the strings made it thicken up considerably but the tightness was always there and the distortion was always very gritty. I'd probably describe it as hairy I guess.

As for the negatives, I'm wary of saying anything at all because clearly lots of people like them and the fact they weren't for me doesn't make it a bad pickup. I can obviously only give my honest opinion based on my limited experience in my guitar and in that context, I’d have to say that my experience of the pickup, limited as it was, did not entirely match the descriptions I've read about it, either on the forum or the main website.

In my guitar at least, (maple neck-thru with alder wings) it certainly didn’t have ‘a huge, deep bottom end with rich, throaty mid range and warm highs’. I actually found it to be a relatively bright pickup. I think the perception of bottom end is influenced by the strong throaty midrange, but I can’t say I’d describe the bottom end as ‘huge’ or ‘deep’ and I didn’t find the highs particularly warm. I would imagine it would work a lot better in a guitar that is naturally warmer and darker like a Les Paul, where I think the positive elements of its character would really shine through. In fact, if you like a gritty Metal tone that is thicker and more organic than your ‘run of the mill’ EMG-type pickups, I think the Nailbomb would be absolutely awesome in a Les Paul but I wouldn’t fancy pairing it with any guitar that is brighter. Although it may be thicker than some ceramic pickups, ‘thick, fat and fluid’ wouldn’t be words I’d use to describe it in my guitar and even in a Les Paul I would add the caveat ‘for a Metal sound’.

I also wouldn’t describe it as a ‘perfect synergy of old-school and modern rock tones in a high output humbucker’. My overriding impression of it was ‘Modern Metal’ and it gave me that impression so strongly that if it wasn’t for so many people on the forum saying it’s highly versatile, I simply wouldn’t have thought it was versatile at all as nothing I did took that hairiness out of the tone. I’d be the first to admit, however, that if I’d had more time with the pickup, I may have been able to unlock some of its secrets but as already indicated, time was against me. As I’ve also already said, I think these elements of the pickup would come through rather more strongly in a guitar like a Les Paul. I suspect the idea of versatility comes largely from the fact that it sits between so many other pickups in the range. It has PAF-type characteristics but is clearly aimed at Metal so I wouldn’t naturally associate it with ‘hot, fat blues rock’. It has a lot of tightness that I think most people associate with ceramics yet there are tighter pickups out there if that is your thing. It also has organic and thick qualities to it, albeit not as organic and thick as other Alnico V pickups. It really does have elements of lots of other pickups and in many ways that’s great but if you were to focus on any individual element, you’d be able to find a BKP that does it better.

The impression I was left with was that it could probably do a number of things fairly well because it sits between so many other pickups whereas other pickups in the range are more closely associated to a particular sound and probably do that particular tone better. I’d sum it up as in many ways a ‘Jack of all trades’ but I’m not sure I’d say it was a master of any of them and that’s not meant as a criticism. There is versatility there but I didn’t find it anything like as versatile as I’d imagined as whatever I did with it, the pickup remained firmly ‘Metal of the 90s’. I’ve certainly played pickups that offer more versatility. This IS a very good pickup with great tone for the right person. If you were a Les Paul Metal player who wanted a thicker, more organic PAF tone that is still firmly in the Metal camp with gritty, hairy distortion, I would have no hesitation in suggesting the A-Bomb at all as I think it would sound incredible but if that’s not the tone you’re after or you have a brighter guitar, I’d look elsewhere as I think BKP may well offer better options for you.

I hesitated to write this review at all and I apologise if anyone thinks I’ve been unfair as there is a lot to like about the A-Bomb but I have done my best to be even handed in my appraisal of it. I'm happy to admit that it's my fault I'm sending it back because the description of the tone I'm after wasn't accurate enough, but equally, I think I was drawn in by descriptions of versatility that, while in many respects true, led me to expect more from the pickup than it's capable of offering. I don't want this review to put everyone off an A-Bomb because it's a great pickup but I equally don't want people to buy it thinking it will do everything because it simply won't. It's fantastic at what it does, as all BKPs are, but I'd say it has a particular sound of it's own that sits between other pickups in the range rather than being really versatile. 
BKP owned:

Bridge - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; A-Bomb; Holydiver; Miracle Man; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Neck - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; Holydiver; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Zaned

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2011, 12:01:30 PM »
I think it's a good review, although you didn't have the pickup for long. However, often some of the best info about a pickup can be found from experiences where the pickup did NOT suit the player/guitar.

I had the NB for a much longer time, and it indeed has a good bottom. That was one of the things I really liked about it. That edge just started to irritate me.

My brother has it in an alder body, all-maple neck strat, in which it sounds great. Very raunchy. BKPs as a whole are pretty sensitive to the guitar, they don't have this sounds-the-same-in-all-guitars quality that some pickups possess.

-Zaned
Paths are for followers.

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2011, 12:30:41 PM »
Thanks Zaned, I was genuinely worried about posting at all as it's not really an 'oh God this is incredible' review but I eventually reasoned that the more information was available, the better informed decisions people could make in the future. Just to clarify a couple points seeing as you touch on them; it does indeed have a good and VERY articulate bottom end, I just wouldn't have decribed it as huge, deep and rich because I think a combination of edginess, highs and upper mids prevents that description in my experience. Based on my experience, I'm surprised it sounds so good in a Strat as that's the last place I'd think of putting it now but as you say, they are very sensitive to individual circumstances and of course, individual perceptions of what's good will inevitably differ. What seems to be common is the 'edge' that you mention because whether it's called 'edginess', 'gritty' or 'hairy', my reaction to it was exactly the same as yours.

Anyway, I'm pleased you found the review to be acceptable because I tried very hard to make clear that it was based on limited experience and to make sure it was balanced and fair. I've just read through it again and I'm happy that it is a fair representation of my experience of the pickup in my guitar.
BKP owned:

Bridge - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; A-Bomb; Holydiver; Miracle Man; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Neck - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; Holydiver; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Zaned

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2011, 12:48:19 PM »
Just out of curiosity, did you ever hear this Nailbomb clip: http://www.bareknucklepickups.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=247.

That's Tim himself, with a Nailmbomb-equipped basswood body Ibanez superstrat, through a JCM 800. Sounds GREAT there  8)

-Zaned
Paths are for followers.

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2011, 01:30:01 PM »
Yep, I did hear that one and yes, it does sound really good. The Sam Coulson clip on You Tube is also awesome, though that's in a Les Paul, where I still think the Nailbomb will sound best.
BKP owned:

Bridge - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; A-Bomb; Holydiver; Miracle Man; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Neck - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; Holydiver; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

ShredHeadJHJ

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2011, 03:00:07 PM »
You have me thinking the NB may not be for me as well.

ericsabbath

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2011, 03:56:19 PM »
this is actually a very accurate review and exactly what I felt, although I had it in a les paul custom, which is quite dark and thick sounding
just disagree about it having a strong midrange (as always :lol:)
it's no near as much midrange as a holy diver, black dog or a warpig
mids are soft and kinda hollow, and that's what gives it the PAF feel, although it has a very strong output and top end edge
it does sound very mid 90ish
no matter how I dialed my amps, it always had that Helmet/Biohazard/Silverchair/Sepultura feel to it
Riff Raff, Mules, Black Dog, VHII's, Cold Sweat

darkbluemurder

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2011, 04:17:47 PM »
I think it is a very good review because it is very detailed and focussed on facts resp. on your individual experience. I would not take anything that is in there as negative. I must say my experience with the A-Bomb is quite different but then the guitar I put it in (bridge position of a PRS Single Cut) is also very different from yours (mahogany body w/ maple top and mahogany neck). I don't hear any harsh edge with my set up. Apparently the NB was not a good match for your particular guitar and set up.

It would be interesting to compare the HD and the NB in the same guitar which I have not yet done. 

Cheers Stephan

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2011, 04:39:33 PM »
this is exactly how i felt both times i had a nailbomb.

I really wanted to get along with it hence trying it a second time and shifting it through a lot of guitars.

It just didn't work for me yet it clearly does work fantastically for others.

A friend of mine has it in a superstrat that is mahogany body maple neck thru with bubinga and walnut strips down the neck and he plays into an engl powerball & a 5150 and it sounds amazing.

Shame it didn't sound amazing for me :(

ElectricTurkey4369

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2011, 07:58:27 PM »
Nice review man!

I needed an in depth nailbomb review

thanks!

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2011, 08:19:20 PM »
just disagree about it having a strong midrange (as always :lol:)

I'll be able to give you a better qualification of that once I've tried the Holydiver  :D but to me, the upper mids and highs were dominating, which gave the bottom end its edgy quality.

I must say my experience with the A-Bomb is quite different but then the guitar I put it in (bridge position of a PRS Single Cut) is also very different from yours (mahogany body w/ maple top and mahogany neck). I don't hear any harsh edge with my set up.

That's interesting because I don't have a guitar like a Les Paul so my comments were more educated speculation than concrete knowledge that it would work in that format. It would appear I was largely right, though of course Eric experienced the same as I did even though his was in a Les Paul.

It would be interesting to compare the HD and the NB in the same guitar which I have not yet done.

So far I've delayed writing a review of the Trilogy Suites in comparison to the Hotrails they're replacing because I was going to tie it in with a review of the Holydiver when that arrives. I agree it will make an interesting comparison with my experiences of the Nailbomb and of course, the JB before that.

this is exactly how i felt both times i had a nailbomb.

It just didn't work for me yet it clearly does work fantastically for others.

I know you mentioned this to me before and with hindsight I should have listened to your great wisdom  :P Now I know exactly what you were talking about.

Nice review man!

I needed an in depth nailbomb review

thanks!

Thanks to everyone for the support, I feel a lot happier about the review now than I did this morning when I posted it. I was afraid I was going to get swamped by Nailbomb fans saying I was an idiot who didn't understand the pickup and didn't appreciate what the pickup could do. Some of that may still be true but thanks for the support anyway  :D 8) When I post the review of the Holydiver and Trilogy Suites it will probably be just as long, if not longer but I teach English for a living and unfortunately that means I can go on rather a lot when I get into the writing.....as I am doing now  :lol:
BKP owned:

Bridge - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; A-Bomb; Holydiver; Miracle Man; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Neck - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; Holydiver; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

MDV

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2011, 09:05:08 PM »
This is not at all far from *some* of my experience with the nailbomb.

In a bright guitar, its brash and harsh. It really doesnt shine there because the low end of the guitar isnt giving the pickup nearly enough to work with, and it seems, in my experience, that the NB doesnt impose enough grunt of its own to compensate for that (whereas moderately similar ceramics, CS, PK, AM, and indeed the C-Bomb, do).

In those circumstances it will be best exploited in detuning. The extra mass in the heavier strings and the increased bias toward low end in the acoustic resonance of the guitar (with, say, B2 being driven through it) allow the top end cut and crunch to balance against the stronger low end

Similar in more standard tunings with more balanced and darker guitars; then the warmer, fuller mids and low end of the nailbomb come out (or rather the pickup handles those sorts of frequencies very well, when they're allowed to propogate on the string by the guitar) and its a better match of pickup for them, both in terms of the fullness of sound in metal applciations and the warmth and depth in mellower tones.

Bottom line is its down to the guitar. I've heard night and day differences depending on the exact instrument, but if your guitars a brighter one, then your review is consistent with my experience of the pickup in a bright guitar; its cold, harsh and can only really handle massively detuned all-out metal. More balance to the instrument (I've heard it perform well in RGs through to les pauls; the species of wood doesnt seem to matter much, the guitar itself, that exact one, there and then, is what counts) and the pickup can be very good.

That said I dont personally like it even when its performing well in the guitar because I find the top end a bit blunt and the low end and a bit sloppy. Not egregiously so on either count, but I stopped using any A5 in the bridge years ago anyway since I find them all to be like that to varying degrees; ceramics are where its at for me (detuned, fast, sometimes intricate, often very aggressive metal player).

asianaxeman

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2011, 11:07:54 PM »
I think you've spent more time writing this review and writing your other threads than actually testing the pickup, 24 hours was never going to be enough mate.
c-bomb bridge, cs neck, HD set, MM set, PK set, Alnico BH set

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2011, 11:56:58 PM »
LOL, there was always going to be one :lol:

I'm not sure if your comments are meant to be quite as insulting as they first appear. The review did take time to write and I took that time in the hope that somebody might find it useful but I made no attempt to hide the fact that more time spent with the pickup might have improved the results a bit. If I'm going to go to the trouble of writing a review then I will endeavour to do so to the best of my ability and that requires detail. I believe that a detailed review is of more practical use to others than simply writing 'I got a Nailbomb and it was cr@p so I sent it back' or 'I bought a Nailbomb and it's the dog's danglies. Buy one' or 'I got a Nailbomb and it was OK but not for me'. You are of course free to disagree if you prefer the shorter versions.

It may also come as a surprise that I can write these threads but I would point out that I have nothing else to do now as my main guitar has no bridge pickup and my spare is away getting some work done to it now it has its new pickups installed. Finally, 24 hours isn't long but I only had 14 days to return it and there's a lot of public holidays in that period so I didn't want to hang around, especially as it was so obvious it wasn't for me. I played around with it for 24 hours to give me as full an understanding of it as possible in the time I had so I could give some decent feedback to the forum but it was so wrong for me that I knew within the first hour that it was going back and probably less than that. Holding onto it for another week wasn't going to change anything and as most people seem to think my review is both detailed and, more importantly, accurate, I fail to see how much else I would have learned that would have materially changed my mind. Clearly in 24 hours I gained quite a reasonable understanding of it, though before I write a review of the Holydiver and Trilogy Suites I will spend slightly longer with them and I'll make sure I put a one sentence summary of the review at the top for those who don't like to read detailed reviews.
BKP owned:

Bridge - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; A-Bomb; Holydiver; Miracle Man; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Neck - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; Holydiver; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Transcend

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Re: Alnico Nailbomb review
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2011, 12:02:29 AM »
LOL, there was always going to be one :lol:

I'm not sure if your comments are meant to be quite as insulting as they first appear. The review did take time to write and I took that time in the hope that somebody might find it useful but I made no attempt to hide the fact that more time spent with the pickup might have improved the results a bit. If I'm going to go to the trouble of writing a review then I will endeavour to do so to the best of my ability and that requires detail. I believe that a detailed review is of more practical use to others than simply writing 'I got a Nailbomb and it was cr@p so I sent it back' or 'I bought a Nailbomb and it's the dog's danglies. Buy one' or 'I got a Nailbomb and it was OK but not for me'. You are of course free to disagree if you prefer the shorter versions.

It may also come as a surprise that I can write these threads but I would point out that I have nothing else to do now as my main guitar has no bridge pickup and my spare is away getting some work done to it now it has its new pickups installed. Finally, 24 hours isn't long but I only had 14 days to return it and there's a lot of public holidays in that period so I didn't want to hang around, especially as it was so obvious it wasn't for me. I played around with it for 24 hours to give me as full an understanding of it as possible in the time I had so I could give some decent feedback to the forum but it was so wrong for me that I knew within the first hour that it was going back and probably less than that. Holding onto it for another week wasn't going to change anything and as most people seem to think my review is both detailed and, more importantly, accurate, I fail to see how much else I would have learned that would have materially changed my mind. Clearly in 24 hours I gained quite a reasonable understanding of it, though before I write a review of the Holydiver and Trilogy Suites I will spend slightly longer with them and I'll make sure I put a one sentence summary of the review at the top for those who don't like to read detailed reviews.

:D

as i said above i found the exact same as you did. And i had 2 nailbombs each for a few months at a time in various different guitars.

So i also agree that your review is accurate to my findings.

Sometimes a pickup just isn't right for the guitar or the user