Username: Password:

Author Topic: Long winded review - Nailbombs, Divers, Rebel Yells  (Read 4372 times)


  • Junior Flyweight
  • *
  • Posts: 41
    • Check the epic shred
Long winded review - Nailbombs, Divers, Rebel Yells
« on: February 09, 2012, 02:15:14 AM »
After buying and trying a bunch of Bare Knuckles, Iíve decided to share my results with the universe. I hope it is helpful to anyone researching pickups, I know it can be tough! Iíve rated each pickup in my own wayÖ 1/10 being absolute garbage, 10/10 being absolutely the best of the best of the best there is nothing better anywhere. Lastly, I find the clips and the eqs posted on the site to be fairly accurate, though they may not tell the whole story.

Short Version: All my guitars have Bare Knuckles now. I think that speaks for itself.

Long Version:
Ceramic Nailbomb (B) Ė This was my first BKP. I went from EMGs in 2 different guitars (81, 85x) to this and holy cr@p what a positive difference. It really was like a breath of fresh air after being stuck in a submarine full of fartsÖ or something. Iíve tried it in 2 guitars, both maple neck through w/Floyd, but one was very bright mahogany body (ltd m1000) and the other an alder body (Jackson rr24). I found it to be bordering on too bright in the m1000, maybe even a little brittle at times depending on the amp used, but in the rr24 which is more neutral sounding I found the CNB to really shine. Itís a very metal pickup no doubt, but donít think it canít do more than that. I enjoy the clean tone I get out of it, and it even splits well. Granted there are other pickups that can do those things better, but not one that can cover so much ground. Tonally it slices and dices while being hot, thick and full; itís very articulate and insanely tight and is just metal as all hell. Itís also a very quiet pickup; I find it to have the least background noise out of any pickup Iíve ever tried. I find it almost as tight as the EMG 81, Iíd say about 90% as tight, but probably 2-3 times better sounding. Itís very responsive so if you have shitety technique youíll hear it. Chainsaw-esque soundingÖ I like it a lot for metal, and for fast tech stuff it really shines.
9/10 for rhythms, 9/10 for leads, 8/10 for cleans.

Alnico Nailbomb (B) Ė Went from a JB to this in a USA Jackson SLAT-QM, basically an all mahogany neck through string through guitar. This guitar is very beefy and is basically the destroyer of everything, it packs in a lot of bass and low mids but is still very clear acoustically. The nailbomb kicks absolute ass in here. Itís not as bright as the Ceramic version but still very clear and detailed. It is thicker and a little less hot than the ceramic version and I find it a little more ďchewyĒÖ I donít know how to describe it, maybe not as tight, but in a good way? Itís still insanely tight though so have no fear if you are looking at it for tech death or something. The harmonic overtones are also very lush itís very nice. Iíve used this guitar in everything from E standard to drop C, and it always sounds awesome. This pickup is also very good for ďnon metalĒ stuff (eww I know!) and I preferred the clean tone of this in the bridge over the Jazz that was in the neck position. Eventually I switched out the jazz for a nailbomb neck but thatís another storyÖ this is a pickup that can definitely cover lots of ground and can go from blues to metal to rock to jazz easily. Overall Iíd say this is my favorite combination (guitar/pickup) though for specific things I might want something else. People have said itís a jack of all trades but a master of none, which I kind of agree with, but Iíd say itís almost a master of most trades not just a jack. This is an awesome pickup and I think is a good representation of the Bare Knuckle line-up, I almost think of it as the pickup against which I judge others by. If you are starting your foray into BKPs I would recommend starting here.
9/10 for rhythms, 9/10 for leads, 10/10 for cleans (best clean bridge Iíve heard! I use my neck pickup for cleans though)

Nailbomb (Neck) Ė Iíve had this in 2 guitars, my bright m-1000 and my beefy SLAT-QH. I wasnít that taken with it in my m-1000 but in the SLAT-QH it fits in just great. Something about the extra low mids/bass in this guitar just even the pickup out and make it sound great. Typically I use the neck for clean stuff only and the occasional lead bit, mostly in harmonized parts. The clean is really nice and jangly while retaining a thickness to it that I like. I think you could get great jazz tones out of this. Iím not a huge fan of the neck pickup with distortion but I use it for some lead stuff and it sounds great in that application. For those of you that like sweeping with your neck pickup I think youíll like this one.
8.5/10 distortion, 9/10 for cleans.

Holy Diver (Bridge) Ė Holy cow this is the shite right here. I love this pickup. This is the shred monster right here. If you are a lead player YOU NEED THIS PICKUP! This pickup is just amazing for lead stuff I canít say enough about it. Harmonically rich with a certain smoothness that just begs for some shredding, single notes are hefty and the pick attack is perfect for leads. This pickup isÖ I wouldnít say that itís darkÖ but itís certainly not bright! Itís more mid oriented whereas the nailbomb for example is higher mid oriented. It has a certain compression to it that also lends itself to lead playing. This is probably my favorite pickup and I have to stop myself from just buying a shite ton of them, I still need to try other BKPs! For rhythms this is a great pickup too, but again itís not that bright or cutting so low tuned, super-fast tech death stuff might start to get a little blurry. That being said I play the occasional tech death song with itÖ albeit in EÖ I really like the rhythm tones Iíve been getting from it, they are chunky and thick and just sound great. This pickup is not as angry or aggressive as the Nailbombs but is similarly hot. Iíve been too busy shredding on this pickup to deal with the cleans much. Theyíll get the job done but if you need a deadly clean tone from your bridge pickup, I might look elsewhere. Iíve had this pickup in 2 guitars and it was awesome in both. Iíd recommend putting it in a brighter guitar (mine is in my very bright M1000) to add some brightness and cut to your tone. In my fairly neutral guitar sometimes I wished the diver was a little brighter in rhythm sections but in the bright guitar everything is evened out.
8.5/10 for rhythms, 10/10 for leads, 7.5/10 for cleans.

Rebel Yell (Bridge) Ė My newest BKPs, I just bought a set of RYs so keep in mind I havenít fussed with them as much as the others yet. This is definitely the least hot out of my BKPs, however the others are pretty dang hot so donít think this pickup lacks output. Very clean, clear and articulate. I can see the lineage from the nailbomb, but these are certainly different animals. This has more high end, but in a different way. I would say the ceramic nailbomb can be more cutting (high high end?) whereas the RY is more just regular high endÖ so, maybe described as bright vs cutting I guess. Similar but different.  Anyways I digress. I absolutely love these pickups. Fantastic lead tones in the same league as the Holy Diver in that regard. The rhythm tones are just deadly as well and very tight. I find that this pickup is more for the highly experiences players though, it can be harder to control than the others. I find that if you arenít paying attention to you palm muting and pick attack you can get some weird sloshes/thwack noises occasionally. Someone said this pickup has kind of a single coil quality, and I find that to be somewhat true, especially with regards to my previous statement about controlling the pickup (to me, single coils can make weird noises on the pick attack). Other than that I think overall for all things considered this is the best pickup Iíve ever played. I love the clean tone and this pickup definitely can do lower gain stuff. I really like it for the higher gain stuff though itís just veryÖ I donít know how to describe itÖ It just sounds really really really good. Great description hey? Mine is in a maple neck through w/Floyd and mahogany wings. Fairly neutral super strat. I think if you want something super aggressive you should look elsewhere but if you are after just pure godly tone, check this pickup out. I have mine really close to the strings though if anyone is curious. In fact I have all my pickups really closeÖ
9.5/10 for rhythms, 9.5/10 for leads, 9.5/10 for cleans.

Rebel Yell (neck) Ė Ok now here is a serious neck pickup. I really love this pickup I think it is right up my alley, in that it can produce some really beautiful clean tones. My favorite neck pickup for a long time has been the EMG 60 but the RY beats it hands down. I really like this pickup and it makes me want to try more neck pickups from BKP such as the cold sweat and the VHii, which I hear are similar to the RY neck. Distorted lead stuff sounds great on it too, but again thatís not really my thing I mostly stick with the bridge in those applicationsÖ anyways, not much to say other than I love it. The Rebel Yell set is awesome I highly recommend them to anyone for damn near anything. Metal, rock, blues, jazz whatever. 
10/10 cleans, 9/10 distortion (I donít really use distortion with my necks so I donít have much of an opinion but It sounds good to me!)

These pickups have made my tone so much better it is unreal. I never thought a simple pickup change could affect the tone so much but it really works wonders. I find that BKP in general really bring out the nuances in your playing and are incredibly articulate and clean sounding. Yea they are more expensive than Duncans or Dimazrios or whatever but they also sound way better, you get them shipped to your house, and they are custom made for you with whatever cover/colour options you want! How can you beat that? And for me, in Canada at least, the final cost isnít really that much more than a set of EMGs. Itís almost the same really depending on what you are purchasing. So in that respectÖ would you rather save 10$ and be stuck with some lame ass EMGs that are dull, lifeless, compressed to shite, brittle and sound the same in every guitar, or would you want some serious tone that brings out the flavour of the wood and your fingers?

Up next Iím thinking about trying the VHII set, the Aftermath set (mostly looking at the bridge), and the Black Dog set. Iím on the fence with the Miracle man set tooÖ I hear itís better for single guitarist bands, mine has 2. Anyways I hope that helps anyone looking at pickups here. The review was a good way to kill time on a bus trip though thatís for sure!
BKPs: Nailbombs, Ceramic Nailbomb, Holy Diver, Rebel Yells, Blackhawks, Aftermaths


  • Bantamweight
  • **
  • Posts: 119
Re: Long winded review - Nailbombs, Divers, Rebel Yells
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2012, 03:56:06 AM »
Great review!!!  I have the A-bomb bridge (also have a CS neck) in an ESP NTII and absolutely love it.  Awesome pickup!! I also have a RY bridge in a Kramer Baretta (maple or poplar?) and it is also a great pickup.  I had to mess with it for a while to get the right tone.  I found lowering it more than I usually do for PUs worked out great for me.   I also had a pair of HDs in an Alder bolt strat style guitar and they just did not sit well with me for an over all tone for rhythm on the low end strings.  One of the best lead pickups around though and I find the A-bomb  to be a close second for leads but i like the versatility of it for both rhythm and leads.  Contemplating putting a C-bomb in an RG3120 (Mahogany Body/Maple top/Maple Bolt neck).   Debating between the A-bpmb and the C-bomb.  I currunetly have a Suhr DSH+ on there and while it is a very good pickup and much better than the Tone Zone, Super Distortion, and the JB, I am still looking for something better.
RYb, A-BOMBb/CSn; owned a HD set


  • Welterweight
  • ****
  • Posts: 2214
Re: Long winded review - Nailbombs, Divers, Rebel Yells
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2012, 08:43:28 AM »
Thanks for this great and detailed review, very informative.

Enjoy your axes!

Cheers Stephan


  • Welterweight
  • ****
  • Posts: 2492
Re: Long winded review - Nailbombs, Divers, Rebel Yells
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2012, 12:02:41 PM »
Thanks a lot for the reviews, very nicely done (absolutly signed on the RY bridge). Enjoyed the read and will definetly come back in the future to look em up again. Really looking forward to your future reviews.

I do tend to put my BKPs rather far from the strings though...different tastets and rigs I guess.

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