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Author Topic: Sinners Review  (Read 7236 times)

Slartibartfarst42

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Sinners Review
« on: April 27, 2013, 07:17:06 AM »
Over the years Iíve read a number of comments on this forum from people looking for single coil sized pickups that sound like humbuckers. Iím one of them as, truth be told, over the years Iíve discovered Iím not really a huge fan of single coils. That turns out to be a pain when you have an HSS guitar! Although this is a review of Sinners for the neck and middle positions of a guitar, I feel I should point out from the outset that this review may be of limited use to a lot of people because I havenít used the correct neck and middle position Sinners. Instead, Iíve fitted bridge versions of the pickups and whatís more, Iíve had the baseplates fitted on both of them too. Daft? Perhaps, but as always it followed a consultation with Tim and even though his suggestions havenít always worked out perfectly for me, I still feel that only a fool would ignore his advice as heís right more often than not. He suggested using a bridge version of the Sinner with a baseplate and fitting it to the neck as that would give a tone that was Ďextremely fat, fluid and preciseí as well as easily having enough power to keep up with the Miracle Man. This sounded very encouraging in my search for humbucker tone. It certainly sounded like a description of a humbucker and while it could obviously never sound like a real humbucker, it sounded like a very promising idea. I was so excited about this that I then decided to change the middle pickup at the same time and do exactly the same thing with reversed polarity. The order was placed and a week later, my new beauties arrived to be swiftly installed. This was the longest Iíd had to wait for Bare Knuckles to arrive but I get the impression these had to be made specially as Ben told me that if I ever wanted a bridge Sinner to go with them, I had to remind them what Iíd done with the neck and middle so that they could allow for that in the construction of a bridge Sinner.

So, what are they like? Well, the first thing to say is that they are naturally hot being bridge versions of the hottest single coils BKP make. In terms of DC resistance the numbers come in at 21.5 for the middle pickup and 21 for the neck but their output is enhanced by the baseplates that have been added. Iíve never tried Sinners without baseplates so I have no way of making a direct comparison but checking out the BKP instructional video on the use of baseplates makes it quite clear that they do make a pickup that bit hotter than it would be normally.

All well and good but do they work as I wanted them to? Not really. No. Thatís probably a bit unfair as a more accurate answer might be yes and no. Letís explore why they donít work first of all. Listening to them in the neck and middle, theyíre still quite obviously single coils and thereís no getting away from that, especially as I was after a humbucker sound. If you want a humbucker, you simply have to get a humbucker but in fairness, I could probably make the same comment about single coil sized humbuckers. This guitar originally came with Hotrails in the neck and middle and while they were less like single coils than the Sinners, I canít honestly say they sounded like humbuckers either. Tim also described a bridge Sinner fitted to the neck as an Ďabsolutely bonkersí pickup with endless sustain and frankly, I donít find them Ďbonkersí and I donít think they give masses more sustain than any other pickup Iíve ever tried. To be honest, theyíre nothing like as hot as I was expecting, although they are hotter than the Trilogy Suites that used to be in there. As a result, there is still a perceptible drop in volume when switching from the bridge Miracle Man to the neck Sinner and that was something I really wasnít expecting. The pickups are actually quite open sounding, being nothing like as compressed as you might expect from such a Ďhotí pickup and although theyíve moved me a step in the right direction, I find I still want them to be hotter, fatter and more fluid as well as more compressed.

Doesnít sound good does it, so whatís good about them? Well, they do have that trademark BKP articulation so note separation is superb even with loads of gain and I do mean LOTS of gain as I kept pushing the gain up to see when theyíd give up but they never did. While they will certainly do the Metal music theyíre associated with, theyíre actually remarkably versatile. They clean up beautifully and will cover a range of styles quite easily. Because theyíre a thicker sound than the Trilogy Suites, I much prefer the clean tone on these sinners. The luthier who was doing a set up on my guitar and installing the pickups was playing some Dire Straits on them when I arrived and they were far more convincing in that style than I would have expected. I swear I could happily play Blues on these things all day long. While still clearly being single coils, the sound is quite a bit fatter and darker than I normally associate with single coils and in that respect it is certainly a lot closer to the sound in my head. Like all Bare Knuckle pickups, theyíre also very sensitive to height adjustment and moving them closer to the strings does bring out more power and create a bit more compression so at the moment I have the neck pickup as close to the strings as it can get before I run out of spring. Iím going to put a bigger spring in there to get them even closer but Iíll need to be careful in case the magnet starts pulling at the string too much. The middle pickup is still a bit further away but thatís fine as it then doesnít interfere with my pick and it means the middle pup is that bit more open sounding and gives me a slightly different flavour.

So what can I say in conclusion? Well, itís a mixed bag really. For those of you out there who, like me, are looking for a single coil sized pickup that sounds like a humbucker from BKP and have heard that the Sinner fits the bill Ė donít raise your hopes too high. Itís not a humbucker and never will be, even using bridge models with baseplates. However, once I got past the fact that they werenít as Ďbonkersí as Tim suggested, I was left with a really nice pair of pickups. True, theyíre still obviously single coils but not like youíd imagine single coils to be. The tone is thick, fluid and highly articulate and when youíre really giving it the beans, it can be very convincing as a screaming lead pickup in a way that normal single coils never are in my experience. The description of the Sinner on the website makes it sound like a brutal monster and it isnít, or at least it doesnít have to be. It retains its single coil roots while offering something a bit different. Back down the gain a little or roll off a bit of volume on your guitar and youíll have a great clean tone and a highly versatile pickup that is capable of a very wide range of styles. There is certainly no need to be worried about the power of these beasts. These are a lot hotter than normal neck and middle Sinners but they donít over-power the bridge at all. Against a Miracle Man they just about keep up and Iíd have no qualms about using these with either a Cold Sweat or Emerald in the bridge. Iíve used both of those before and neither would be swamped by Sinners even this powerful. If you want great single coil tone thatís a bit different to the conventional single coil sound and you like your tone to be fat, fluid and articulate while offering great versatility then this could well be an option for you, especially if youíre using quite a hot bridge humbucker. If you prefer a humbucker sound Ė buy a guitar with an H-H configuration.

These havenít turned out to be exactly what I was looking for so I could just send them back but I wonít. While Iím still a humbucker fan, Iím not totally against the idea of single coils when they sound like this. Tim once told me that he didnít do single coil sized humbuckers because he felt they werenít convincing as either single coils or humbuckers and my experience with Hotrails suggests heís possibly right. This doesnít attempt to be a humbucker but you do end up with a single coil tone that gives quite a significant nod in the direction of humbuckers and perhaps thatís good enough. Iíve also found that the power of these pups opens up new possibilities with the middle pickup. Iíve rarely used the middle pickup before but thereís enough power in these to make it a very usable option and playing the neck and middle together creates a lovely thick and powerful tone that other single coils Iíve used donít. Iíve been using position 4 quite a bit as a result of this and I never bothered with it before. I feel I now have single coils in my Jackson that are about as close as I can realistically get to the tone Iím after so theyíll stay there until Tim decides to make a single coil sized humbucker, which I wish heíd do as Iím sure heíd do it better than any other manufacturer.
BKP owned:

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

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

Alex

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Re: Sinners Review
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2013, 02:10:36 PM »
When I had the guitar with the Sinner in the bridge I thought it sounded a lot like a humbucker once you "pushed" it a lot with an overdrive pedal - alot more than you'd do with a humbucker. Dialing down the tone a bit as well worked better. Once it got saturated it "thickened" up a lot.

I also found that, surprisingly, all my pedals sounded differently with singlecoils, and that a lot of things, especially overdrive pedals, but also phaser and c--ked wah sounds, made a lot more sense how they worked and sounded.

Current BKPs: Miracle Man, Nailbomb, Juggernaut, VHII
Past BKPS: Holy Diver, Trilogy Suite, Sinner, Black Dog

Philly Q

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Re: Sinners Review
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2013, 04:33:20 PM »
Good review.  And I read all of it!  :wink:

I suspect you're trying to to squeeze the sound of oranges out of apples, and it seems you're coming to that conclusion too.  Humbuckers and single-coils are different beasts, and you can't make one sound exactly like the other.

I thought your comment about them being "actually quite open sounding, ... nothing like as compressed as you might expect from such a Ďhotí pickup" was interesting.  Again, I think that's in the nature of single-coils - this may not be scientifically accurate, but I think part of the reason humbuckers sound more compressed is that, while doing their original job of cancelling hum, they're also cancelling out a bit of the frequency range to create that tighter, thicker sound.

Tim once told me that he didnít do single coil sized humbuckers because he felt they werenít convincing as either single coils or humbuckers and my experience with Hotrails suggests heís possibly right.

With all due respect to Tim, that philosophy has always annoyed me.  I don't see why every pickup should sound like either a single-coil or a humbucker.  Maybe we need to be a bit more open-minded about what a guitar's "supposed" to sound like.  Single-coil-sized-humbuckers (what an awkward description that is) are, like mini-humbuckers, perfectly valid designs in their own right.  Stacked "single-coils" are rather different, since the aim there really is to make a hum-cancelling pickup which sounds like a single-coil - but maybe they shouldn't try so hard.
BKPs I've Got:  RR, BKP-91, ITs, VHII, CS set, Emeralds
BKPs I Had:  RY+Abraxas, Crawlers, BD+SM

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Sinners Review
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2013, 05:30:35 PM »
Yeah, sorry it's so long  :? I don't seem to be able to write short reviews! I just love guitars and I love writing about them as well as playing them. I'm still not a great player but that doesn't stop me loving everything about them.

I agree Philly, I don't see why a 'single coil sized humbucker' can't be something in its own right, in exactly the same way that humbuckers, single coils and P90s are. Just call it something new like a P45; it worked for Jeremy Clarkson  8) There's clearly a market for it. We make humbucker sized P90s so why not single coil sized humbuckers? TBH, if it was possible, I'd have been just as happy to try a P90 in the neck of my guitar but unfortunately the bodywork is routed for a traditional single coil so I'm left rather limited. I can't quite fathom Tim's logic because it's like saying that we've had these types of pickups for years and it's impossible to ever come up with something new. I realise BKP has this whole 'vintage correct' thing going on but that doesn't mean they have to live entirely in the last century, especially not when you're as talented as Tim quite clearly is. I'm quite convinced Tim could come up with something better than either DiMarzio or Seymour Duncan.

Regarding the 'open' sound, I think you may be right. Because the pickups are so hot, I assumed that they would naturally become more compressed like a humbucker and the baseplates would help to change the frequency response a bit. Heard in isolation, they do sound different to normal single coils but when you suddenly switch from a Miracle Man, it's astonishing how much you notice how open they actually are and it's this trait that immediately makes me think of single coils again. I daresay saturating them more may be a possibility but that's not so easily done when I'm also using a Miracle Man. Nevertheless, I will experiment with that a bit. Ultimately, it is apples and oranges - you're quite right. The Sinners may have had some orange juice squeezed all over them but they're still apples when all's said and done.

I asked Chris George of 'Chris George Guitars' about the pickup height issue as he's the guy who does the setups for me and he said that "the danger of setting single coil pups close to the strings is that you often get false harmonics and overtones especially on the wound strings further up the neck. The reason is that the magnets in the pole pieces "pull" the strings away from their normal vibrations (it's commonly known as "Statitis"!!)". Clearly in the neck position that is more likely to happen than in the bridge. Even though I currently have the neck pickup as close to the string as the spring will allow, I can't say I've noticed this effect but I'll play around with it over the next few days and if I still notice no obvious issue I'll go ahead and fit bigger springs, though I won't be able to get them that much closer they're so high up already.
BKP owned:

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

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

Mr. Air

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Re: Sinners Review
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2013, 07:08:52 PM »
Quote
Yeah, sorry it's so long

Don't be. Long in depth reviews are superb and really useable so keep 'em comming  :D
Mississippi Queens, Stormy Monday/Apaches, Emeralds, Nailbomb (bridge)

darkbluemurder

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Re: Sinners Review
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2013, 09:41:14 AM »
Again, a very great review. I like in particular that you describe both positive and not so positive aspects - thus providing a really detailed picture.

Having had the Trilogy Suite in there before how would you describe the differences between the Sinner and the TS?

Thanks,
Stephan

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Sinners Review
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2013, 08:15:39 PM »
The EQ on the website suggests that the Trilogy Suites aren't all that bright and in fairness, it's probably quite accurate. I found them to be fairly balanced pickups with the open tone I'm rapidly coming to expect from single coils. They can be quite smooth and creamy with leads but with a distinctly single coil tone. Cleans are clear and have some of that characteristic single coil sound which always sounds a little thin to me. They're fairly hot but certainly not excessively so and can be quite versatile, as I find most BKP to be. I originally got them with a Holydiver in the bridge and I felt they barely kept up with that pickup and really struggle with the Miracle Man but unlike some players, I don't like the bridge to have a boost in it. I mostly use the neck for leads so that's why I want a pup that is really hot so it can live with the bridge at all times.

The Sinners have noticeably more bottom end and I think this is probably highlighted more with the baseplates fitted. The result is odd for a single coil as the tone is a lot thicker than the Trilogy Suite and a lot thicker than you would normally associate with a single coil without ever being what you'd call 'humbucker'. As a result, cleans sound much fuller than they do with the Trilogy Suite and under gain, leads have a bit more bite. While the Trilogy Suites were smooth and creamy, the Sinners have a bit more aggression to them. It's not excessive as the lack of compression prevents it getting too OTT but it is certainly there. The Sinners may not sound like humbuckers but they do sound like a single coil with 'attitude' if I can put it that way. Moving the Trilogy Suites really close to the strings gave them a bit more compression but not enough to really 'saturate' the signal. To allow room for my pick, like most players, I have the middle pickup much further away from the strings but this meant that it ended up largely useless as there was so little power there it had limited impact on either the bridge or neck pickups which were much closer. Obviously, positions 2, 3 and 4 became largely useless to me and this is where the Sinners really score. Moving my Sinners closer to the strings does produce more compression and I've found that as well as adding a boost for solos, if I also add a healthy amount of extra gain, these things really start to scream. The problem is that they're so powerful that this close to the strings the low E was starting to produce some very pronounced false harmonics above the 12th fret; something the Trilogy Suites didn't do. My neck pickup is now at quite a pronounced angle so it's really close to the strings towards the high E and quite a bit further away at the low E. A little more experimentation may be required before I get it perfect. As with the Trilogy Suites, the middle pickup is further away so my pick doesn't catch the pole pieces but the Sinner is hot enough that it can now still impact on the tones you're getting. It's useable in its own right so for the first time, position 3 is something I can sometimes use. It has limited impact when used with the bridge humbucker but that can be expected I suppose when it's a hot pickup like a Miracle Man but it has a great impact when used with the neck pickup. I really like position 4 now . It adds a bit more edge to the neck pickup and thickens up the sound a bit more, taking it that little bit closer to a humbucker tone. I like it so much that I imagine I'll use this position more than the neck by itself. These were possibilities I just didn't feel I had to the same degree with the Trilogy Suites.

Trilogy Suites had the sweeter lead tone in my opinion while the thickness means that, to my ear at least, the Sinners have the better clean tone. The lead tone on the Sinners may sacrifice some sweetness but the flipside is that you get something with a bit more of a thick and aggressive bite to it (if you like that sort of thing) and enough power to make them more useable when working with a fairly hot bridge humbucker.

Hope that helps  :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

Kiichi

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Re: Sinners Review
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2013, 01:38:08 PM »
Since you donīt like the bridge + middle position too much right, have you though about trying to go for an autosplit in that position? Might work better when it is middle + split bridge.
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