Username: Password:

Author Topic: Holydiver Review  (Read 20404 times)

Slartibartfarst42

  • Welterweight
  • ****
  • Posts: 2125
  • Random Solution
Holydiver Review
« on: May 02, 2011, 05:24:34 PM »
This is a review of a Holydiver bridge model fitted to a Jackson SL3 Soloist (maple neck-thru, alder wings, rosewood fretboard and OFR). For those who don't like long reviews and would prefer the short version, here it is: 'It's bloody good!'. For anyone happy to devote more time to a review, here it is:

The first thing to say is that the statement that this is Ďa celebration of the original '80s hot-rodded humbuckersí is entirely appropriate. If youíre looking for that classic 80s Metal tone then you need look no further. Iíve heard many people describe the Holydiver as being fat, rich, organic and fluid and all of these terms apply. I canít believe how much thicker and warmer my guitar sounds now. Itís still no Les Paul but itís made a distinct move in that direction. This is easily the best pickup Iíve ever used.

In exactly the same guitar, I can compare the Holydiver to both an Alnico Nailbomb and a Seymour Duncan JB. In a very similar guitar, I can also compare it to the Cold Sweat. As this is a replacement for the JB and as a lot of people compare a HD to a JB, I suppose it makes sense for me to start there. Overall, I like the JB so itís a good starting point but itís certainly true to say that if you like a JB, youíll LOVE a Holydiver. I liked the JB because it had that 80s Metal vibe about it but it still sounded a little thin to my ears and while being a more articulate pickup than many give it credit, it was still prone to mushing up a bit at the bottom end under gain. The Holydiver has a similar tonal footprint but is just so much more in every way. Itís significantly thicker, richer, more organic and articulate in its tone and has really made my guitar sing in a way it never did before. The fat lower mids really help to chunk it up so that lead playing cuts through well and gives the tone plenty of body and fluidity. I think itís easy when talking of a pickup as being Ďfat and fluidí to imagine it will mush up but this simply doesnít. For all its thickness it remains a highly articulate pickup. Play chords with a good dose of gain and the distortion is warm, thick and smooth in just the way it should be but each note remains distinct within that rich and harmonious chord.

I think the fact that this pickup is associated with the sounds of Whitesnake and Dio is a given but it does a lot more than that. I actually find the Holydiver to be far better at doing the John Sykes tone than the Cold Sweat, in this type of guitar at least. In my guitar the Holydiver is perfect if you want to play the song ĎCold Sweatí whereas I always found the Cold Sweat pickup to be too bright for that song, though I accept that might be slightly different if you were playing a Les Paul.

As a lead pickup, this is excellent. Everything you may have read about this being the best lead pickup BKP make is entirely true in my opinion. I think a lot of people rightly talk about the Holydiverís ability to play leads but this also excels at rhythms where itís a powerful pickup with lots of body and just the right amount of aggression so it can stretch to more modern Metal but also cover more restrained tones. Everybody talks about the Nailbomb being incredibly versatile and it certainly can be but Iíd have to say that I actually find the Holydiver to be a significantly more versatile pickup to use. Its natural home may be 80s Metal but it can easily cover Metallica levels of gain as well as Disturbed, though obviously not being as scooped. Moving in the other direction it plays Free very well and has a lovely clean tone as well. Iíve now tried this guitar on cleans, Blues, 70s Ė modern Rock/Metal and modern Pop Rock and it covers them all really well. I play all of these styles in my band and can use my guitar for all of them without any trouble. While itís a great Rock/Metal pickup, turn down the gain, add some delay and tweak the tone control if you want to and you can play some great Blues. It can get a great Gary Moore tone too. Would I change anything about it? Well, I still use a compressor on some songs for leads to saturate it more but I suspect that if the pickup was like that naturally it would lose a lot of its versatility so in all practical terms, no, I like it in every way.

I was originally a bit worried about putting a Holydiver in my guitar as the EQ chart on the website shows it as being very mid-heavy and a maple neck-thru guitar tends to be middy anyway but I neednít have worried. There are certainly a lot of mids there but I think itís a lot of low mids as opposed to anything else. The low mids give it much more body than Iíd imagined it would have and as such, I think the EQ numbers are a bit misleading. Instead of a B/M/T of 5/7/6, Iíd say itís actually rather more balanced than that, possibly more like 6.5/7/6.

I think the Holydiver would work very well in any guitar. Iím sure it would thicken up a Strat-style guitar beautifully and certainly works well in a maple neck-thru. In a Les Paul it will sound absolutely huge but I seriously think it has the articulation to pull it off with stunning results. If youíre after an exclusively modern, djenty sound then you can look elsewhere but if you want a pickup that is highly articulate, fat, fluid, organic, warm and rich that is equally good at sweet leads and powerful rhythms and can cover a wide range of sounds then I canít think of a better pickup for you to buy. This really is the best pickup Iíve tried so far by any manufacturer and by quite some margin. I canít recommend the Holydiver enough.

EDIT: I have now installed an open poled Holydiver in the bridge of my PRS SE Custom 24 and it's incredible all over again. This is a pickup that really does seem to work in absolutely anything.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2012, 09:05:20 PM by Slartibartfarst42 »
BKP owned:

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

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

Kiichi

  • Welterweight
  • ****
  • Posts: 2492
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2011, 05:45:15 PM »
Great review, thanks for the detailed description of the sound!
Now I just want a HD...
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

ericsabbath

  • Welterweight
  • ****
  • Posts: 4648
    • Colidium
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2011, 05:56:32 PM »
This really is the best pickup Iíve tried so far by any manufacturer and by quite some margin. I canít recommend the Holydiver enough.

+1

I'm missing mine again :cry:
Riff Raff, Mules, Black Dog, VHII's, Cold Sweat

kmanick

  • Bantamweight
  • **
  • Posts: 150
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2011, 06:19:03 PM »
thanks for the review!
it's exactly what I was hoping to hear as I'm waiting on one to replace the JB7 in my BRJ
(which I really like) a thicker more articulate version will be perfect for what I'm looking for.
can I be the devil on your shoulder?

TRAVIS BICKLE

  • Junior Flyweight
  • *
  • Posts: 31
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2011, 09:32:30 PM »
many thanks for this review!!!! i'll be throwing in a holydiver into my old ibanez rg470 for pure E standard metal madness. 

Cboysen

  • Flyweight
  • *
  • Posts: 75
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2011, 09:44:38 PM »
So you did make a review of the holy diver after all ;) - Well you're an amazing writer that's for sure, and very informative - If it wasn't for the fact that I'm not playing 80'ies metal, I wouldn't hesitate to throw that pickup in my guitar after reading this :)

Really nice job!

Philly Q

  • Light Heavyweight
  • ******
  • Posts: 18109
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2011, 10:33:15 PM »
Terrific well-written review, very much confirms the impressions I've formed of the HD during my years hanging around this site.  :D

Still haven't tried one though, and still not sure I have a guitar which would suit it, but maybe one day!
BKPs I've Got:  RR, BKP-91, ITs, VHII, CS set, Emeralds
BKPs I Had:  RY+Abraxas, Crawlers, BD+SM

Slartibartfarst42

  • Welterweight
  • ****
  • Posts: 2125
  • Random Solution
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2011, 10:43:19 PM »
Many thanks to everyone for the positive feedback on my review. Getting such positive feedback makes the whole process of writing it worthwhile and I hope it will help lots of people come to an informed decision on their own pickup choices.

it's exactly what I was hoping to hear as I'm waiting on one to replace the JB7 in my BRJ
(which I really like) a thicker more articulate version will be perfect for what I'm looking for.

I have no doubt you'll love it if you like the JB. I'd be interested to hear your own thoughts.

many thanks for this review!!!! i'll be throwing in a holydiver into my old ibanez rg470 for pure E standard metal madness. 

I imagine it will work very well in that guitar and will certainly be a major upgrade on the stock pickups.

So you did make a review of the holy diver after all ;) - Well you're an amazing writer that's for sure, and very informative - If it wasn't for the fact that I'm not playing 80'ies metal, I wouldn't hesitate to throw that pickup in my guitar after reading this :)

Really nice job!

In actual fact, I do believe that the Holydiver will cover the genres you play really well but you clearly have a thing for an EMG 81/85 sound and consequently I think you'll love the Miracle Man.

Terrific well-written review, very much confirms the impressions I've formed of the HD during my years hanging around this site.  :D

Still haven't tried one though, and still not sure I have a guitar which would suit it, but maybe one day!

Treat yourself Phil; you won't regret it  :D
BKP owned:

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

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

Philly Q

  • Light Heavyweight
  • ******
  • Posts: 18109
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2011, 10:48:55 PM »
Terrific well-written review, very much confirms the impressions I've formed of the HD during my years hanging around this site.  :D

Still haven't tried one though, and still not sure I have a guitar which would suit it, but maybe one day!

Treat yourself Phil; you won't regret it  :D

Problem is, most of my guitars are all-mahogany LP Jr or SG types, probably the one type of guitar the HD won't really suit. 

Maybe if I ever get round to using my stockpile of Warmoth parts I'll put one in a Strat!
BKPs I've Got:  RR, BKP-91, ITs, VHII, CS set, Emeralds
BKPs I Had:  RY+Abraxas, Crawlers, BD+SM

Slartibartfarst42

  • Welterweight
  • ****
  • Posts: 2125
  • Random Solution
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2011, 10:53:48 PM »
I do believe that it's not a good match with an SG because of that whole 'high or low output' thing but I can see it working in a Les Paul, especially if it's not too dark sounding. It seems to work very well for this guy:

http://bareknucklepickups.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=24125.0

Still, it should give you a reason to get the Warmoth finished and then you can try a HD in a Les Paul before putting it in the Warmoth.
BKP owned:

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

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

Cboysen

  • Flyweight
  • *
  • Posts: 75
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2011, 11:02:47 PM »

So you did make a review of the holy diver after all ;) - Well you're an amazing writer that's for sure, and very informative - If it wasn't for the fact that I'm not playing 80'ies metal, I wouldn't hesitate to throw that pickup in my guitar after reading this :)

Really nice job!

In actual fact, I do believe that the Holydiver will cover the genres you play really well but you clearly have a thing for an EMG 81/85 sound and consequently I think you'll love the Miracle Man.


Well, I'm partially a little much biased and underknowledged at first hand - I have only been working with EMG 81/85 and the SD invader for an extended period of time, so I can't say much about it to be honest, I'm quite green what concerns pickups;) Anyhow, it would really be amazing if you could upload some kind of sound clip of your Jackson Solost, since i believe it to be structured similarly to my ESP LTD JH-600, so you might be right that it will sound better with the holy diver than the MM - but yes Indeed I do like the EMG sound, but liking is compared to the invader (which I also do like) compared to some cheap stock ibanez RG pickups that were in one my first guitars years back, since then it has pretty much been 81/85 all the way. So yeah, it'd be lovely if you could just try to get 'your' sound or whatever you figure would best for your guitar. But of course, time is not cheap these days, so only if you're up for it ;)

in anyway, again, amazing review, hope i'll hear something about your neck pickup too :)

Telerocker

  • Middleweight
  • *****
  • Posts: 7422
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2011, 11:06:03 PM »
Very good review. Thx.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Slartibartfarst42

  • Welterweight
  • ****
  • Posts: 2125
  • Random Solution
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2011, 11:07:37 PM »
My guitar is an HSS layout I'm afraid so I can't comment on the Holydiver neck. I'm using Trilogy Suites for the neck and middle and I posted a seperate review for them earlier today. (Another long one I'm afraid)
BKP owned:

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

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

kevinr

  • Featherweight
  • ***
  • Posts: 327
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2011, 11:21:54 PM »
The HD neck pup is one of the best BK neck pups!

nytkrow

  • Junior Flyweight
  • *
  • Posts: 15
Re: Holydiver Review
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2011, 11:44:11 PM »
if the bridge is nailbomb, compare rebel yell with HD on neck? on any basswood guitar? sound wise which one will be sweeter and versatile? and will compliment the nailbomb bridge well?