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Author Topic: Painkiller Nailbomb Black Hawk VHii EMG Duncan Distortion D-Activator etc  (Read 3317 times)

Jimmy E Moorby

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I've previously done reviews of pickups before but several were lost when the forum crashed.  I thought it may be more helpful to compare the pickups i've actually owned and had a fair bit of experience with. 
I only do this because I do a lot of 'research' into pickups and I find direct comparisons more useful than any thing else to people on the forum and to people who google 'this pickup vs that pickup'.  Or is that just me haha?!

Here are links to the in depth reviews i've done of humbuckers in the past :

Alnico Black Hawk - https://bareknucklepickups.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=30627
Alnico Nailbomb - https://bareknucklepickups.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=30752

Paninkiller Bridge
I put this is a les paul and it works extremely well.  I definitely would NOT put this in a bright guitar as its bright, powerful and abrasive in nature.  Backed off it reminds me off Bucketheads rythm tone in the last few years.  With Hi gain its that painkiller tone and beyond.  Think Judas Priest and bands like Slayer and Arch Enemy but it would be good for death metal too any thing from Morbid Angel to Necrophagist too i'd say.  Fast thrashy/death riffs.
It's tighter than the alnico nailbomb and the duncan distortion but not as tight as an emg 81.  It's not as organic as the alnico nailbomb but the tradeoff is its tighter and has more high end bite.  It not as compressed as the distortion but has more clarity and grind.  At first I though the duncan distortion had more bottom end but that may just extra compression and mud.  Its sits some where between a duncan distortion and en emg 81 but with an added snarl.  String to string clarity under hi gain is typical BKP i.e amazing and I agree this would be ideal for cutting through a mix it is any thing but muddy very present.
For massive heavy metal chugs / palm mutes I still think the alnico back hawk is the pickup though against all the above.

The painkiller to me is a full on extreme metal pickup but cleans are good considering the nature of the pickup.

VHii Bridge
I'm going to be really lazy here and just say early Van Halen tone and all the other guys who ripped off his style.  As per the desciption harmonics are incredible and the treble end is crytal clear.  I've heard some people record good thrashy riffs with this but im not sure how when I play it!  In my hands this does a decent thrash impersonation if you were desparate (Say if this was a backup guitar at a thrash gig) but I think its more geared up towards hard rock and softer stuff.  I guess it does not sound big enough compared to the high output pickups more on the thin and crunchy side which is what I wanted.  I have my les paul for the massive metal tones.

Alnico Nailbomb Bridge
As you can tell if you read the review of mine I found this mega versatile.  From classic rock to thrash.  Tight but organic and clear.  I just wish this thing has the treble response of most high output pickups.  My favourite rythm guitar pickup if I could only have one.

Black Hawk Bridge
This feels very hi ouput, saturated even more so than an EMG 81!  I'm not saying it has more output it just feels like it I don't know how or why.  It feels like a fuller juicier emg 81 I suppose it just has a lot of extra frequencies making it sound hi-defintion.  For 'chugga chugga' and palm mutes this is the king and I never really liked leads of the bridge until I played this and havent since!  I think this is the most unique pickup i've ever played but as per my review I think this is limited to metal styles...just my opinion.  Can't remember how tight it is because its been so long since I played it but the sound still sticks in my head.  I'd say this pickup is an experience.  Brutal  :evil:

Neck comparisons
Cold Sweat Neck vs Aftermath Neck Vs VHii Neck Vs EMG 81 Neck Vs D-Activator Neck


The cold sweat neck deserves its rep.  Its the clearest, most articulate and fluid of them all.  I have to say I like it in my super strat but it had some weird nuances in it...a bit 'spanky'.  In a Les Paul its a dream.  In a Les Paul cleans are awesome and its perfect for any type of soloing IMO.  My joint favourite neck with an emg 81 but theyre completely different.

The aftermath neck pickup in a super strat under hi gain does what the cold sweat does in a les paul for hi gain leads.  It's great for those Satriani/Petrucci type lead tones but for cleans etc its too dark.  If ever you think a cold sweat is too bright for hi gain leads or you want a pinch more output this could be your next stop.

The VHii neck suits a super strat better than the aftermath or cold sweat IN GENERAL.  It's less articulate than either under lots of hi gain but it sounds good and it cleans are much better.  It does a good job of every thing and i'm in the early stages at the moment so it may grow on me even more.  If I could only have one guitar ever again I think it would be my esp super strat with an alnico nailbomb bridge and vhii neck because I think it could cover any style i'd want to play.

Di Marzio D-Activator - Not as good as any of the neck pups i've had but under hi gain it does a job and cleans are pretty decent too.  Very high output and compressed and that sums it up.  Tried it because I thought all the super di marzio shredders used it so though it must be better.........its not! 

EMG 81 neck - I like this and the cold sweat but they arent similar.  The cold sweat is more fluid and the notes flow so beautifully together but the emg 81 has some awesome compression going on and works so well under hi gain.
Some one needs to make an active cold sweat neck pickup for me  :laugh:

« Last Edit: August 26, 2014, 04:18:10 PM by JimmyMoorby »

Yellowjacket

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Re: Pickup comparisons bridges and necks cross brands........
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2014, 04:08:10 PM »
A-Bomb is a really awesome rhythm pickup but with the right height adjustment, there is enough compression for soloing as well.   I personally love how it sounds quite vintage with a more vintage voiced amp but how it can do so many other tones convincingly as well.  It is positively destructive for metal tone and it has this untamed aggression which is great for thrash and chugga chugga. 

I'll be pairing a VHII Neck with a Rebel Yell Bridge in a 24 fret mahogany singlecut with a bolt on mahogany neck and rosewood board.  It should be interesting!  The VHII will be coil tapped since that axe has a push pull tone pot. 

Jimmy E Moorby

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Re: Pickup comparisons bridges and necks cross brands........
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2014, 04:35:33 PM »
A-Bomb is a really awesome rhythm pickup but with the right height adjustment, there is enough compression for soloing as well.   I personally love how it sounds quite vintage with a more vintage voiced amp but how it can do so many other tones convincingly as well.  It is positively destructive for metal tone and it has this untamed aggression which is great for thrash and chugga chugga. 

I'll be pairing a VHII Neck with a Rebel Yell Bridge in a 24 fret mahogany singlecut with a bolt on mahogany neck and rosewood board.  It should be interesting!  The VHII will be coil tapped since that axe has a push pull tone pot.

Agree with all of that.  I just dont really play leads on the bridge so cant really say!