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Author Topic: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs  (Read 10327 times)

Alex

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My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« on: December 01, 2014, 08:38:44 PM »
So I recently had a thread about getting some lower output pickups for my ESP Eclipse. I followed the helpful reviews of the people who helped me there and did not go for the Riff Raff or VHII. I bought a used set of Black Dogs for a decent enough price. As you can see in the picture, they don't match the hardware of the guitar. I had planned to remove the covers, but to my surprise the burnt chrome is quite golden and purpleish, so it is in there for now until I make up my mind about the looks.

I had the Black Dog before in the bridge of a Gibson SG and I liked it. To my surprise, it does definitely sound more different than expected in the Eclipse.
So far I am extremely pleased. It replaced a VHII (neck) & Miracle Man (bridge) combo.

The neck pickup
I was especially hesitant about replacing the VHII, as I did like that pickup. In the end, I think the BD suits my taste more. It has a wide range of frequency and the treble is clearer and more defined than the VHII. The low e-string was a bit difficult to dial in, I had to raise the pickup quite a bit on that side to get the E-string to sound clear and defined enough. The VHII probably has the edge slightly there for responsiveness on the lowest notes, but other than that the BD is clearer, more transparent on the top end and its midrange is just perfect. Clean it is a tough call which is "better" (i.e. which one I like more), but with overdrive the fuzzy borders of the BD with the defined core of the notes has a better appeal to me, more character, and more control over playing nuances. It does Slash/Joe Bonamassa sounds very nicely, which was one of my main reasons to get different pickups.

The middle position
The middle position is quite clear and bright with a lot of harmonics. Normally I never bother about it much, but this one has so much character I use it a lot in comparison to the warmer neck pickup sound. It is maybe a bit quieter, so I wonder if the pickups are out-of-phase. If so, the effect would be less pronounced than I would have expected. It works great for clean sounds, but for gained sounds I prefer the neck or bridge pickups.



The bridge pickup
Remembering the SG, I expected a very mid-range focused sound, chewy with great midrange detail. The Eclipse does sound distinctly different in that the whole frequency band is much wider and the sound is bigger. I wasn't expecting this at all, but rather a much more narrow, drier sound. It sounds like a PAF on steroids. While it has less output than the Miracle Man, the sound with gain is huge. But first the cleans. They are better than the Miracle Man, but sadly the mids make them a bit honky, so nothing to rave about. The best results are with a slight overdrive, then they come alive more and make bluesy licks a joy. Adding more gain they do great hard rock sounds, big, raunchy, with good string separation and definition, but still the right amount of sag and chewiness. I like Guns'n'Roses and it does that quite good, but it's really perfect for sounds like Black Spiders, Sentenced etc. Adding more gain makes the sound go bigger and bigger until it surpasses the Miracle Man. By itself is does great heavy rock sounds, with big but still defined bottom end and a clear treble end that's never shrill. Soloing is a joy as well. It reminds me a lot of the good parts of an EMG81, oddly enough, because of the clarity and string separation. Adding an overdrive pedal to boost things and cut the slack out of the bottom end makes the sound get very heavy and great for metal. In some ways, the sound reminds me of bands such as Black Stone Cherry, In Flames, Amon Amarth, Mastodon, Trivium; interestingly, most of these bands use EMGs and double up the tracks on their albums. Odd, but that's how it fits in.

In comparison
So the perfect pickup? Well, I need to point out that the Nailbomb of course has a tighter bottom end and more raspy upper mids, giving it a different character. It also is slightly more compressed and thinner on most frequencies, which does slightly improve definition under gain and gives it a bit more of an "old school metal" character. More Dream Theater/Megadeth so to speak. Then in comparison to the Juggernaut differences are even more pronounced: the Juggernaut has a lot more output, the mid spectrum is shifted a lot to the upper end and the pickup just sounds a lot more "progressive" and "modern." In my small guitar collection, I think every guitar with its pickup now has its clear sound and niche, and that's what I was hoping for.
Current BKPs: Miracle Man, Nailbomb, Juggernaut, VHII
Past BKPS: Holy Diver, Trilogy Suite, Sinner, Black Dog

Telerocker

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2014, 11:15:47 PM »
Very nice indepth review. Thanks a lot!
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Dave Sloven

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2014, 12:54:12 AM »
The cleans on the bridge are honky in the Eclipse?  They must have been twice as honky in the SG!  SGs have a habit of making everything mid-focused.

Nice review, thanks
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AnnunakiMassacr

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2014, 01:56:44 AM »
I think this has me sold for the Black Dog in my Eclipse. For myself, I'm after a cleaner more vintage pickup. I prefer to let rip on my bridge pickup if I'm honest, and play cleans on the neck. For this guitar, I'm going to be playing more slash style solos. Do you think maybe a Mule or Abraxas neck?
BKPs: ESP Eclipse I CTM FT w/Riff Raff bridge/Mule neck - ESP Eclipse I CTM w/Rebel Yells - LTD EC-1000 FT w/Aftermaths - Music Man JPIX w/Juggernauts

Lucas

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2014, 07:50:21 PM »
Many thanks for great review!
On the other hand, BD is often described as HD`s 'small brother', apparently  there are some similarities.
How similar is BD to HD tone wise, there`s a quite obvious difference in output, but how does it look like in reality? Let`s focus on bridge models for instance.

cheers.
Dean Cadillac - Emerald (b), Cold Sweat (n),
Mayones Flame CS2000 - Miracle Man (b), Sinner (m), Aftermath (n)
Warmoth Custom Telecaster - Cold Sweat (b) VHII (n)
Warmoth Custom Tele - Miracle Man set

Alex

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2014, 07:56:34 PM »
I'm afraid from BKP I only know the VHII besides the Black Dog from the humbuckers, sorry.
Current BKPs: Miracle Man, Nailbomb, Juggernaut, VHII
Past BKPS: Holy Diver, Trilogy Suite, Sinner, Black Dog

Alex

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2014, 08:01:05 PM »
Many thanks for great review!
On the other hand, BD is often described as HD`s 'small brother', apparently  there are some similarities.
How similar is BD to HD tone wise, there`s a quite obvious difference in output, but how does it look like in reality? Let`s focus on bridge models for instance.

cheers.

It's been a really long time since I played the HD and it was in a different guitar with quite different acoustic properties. All I can say is that the top end (bridge pickup) on the HD has more of the JBs pronounced upper mid bite, giving those harmonics, whereas the BD is cleaner, clearer and more neutral on the top end (neutral but not sterile).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrAc8HbKSNA&list=PL30BF0668348863C1&index=4
Watch some of Joe Kataldo's great videos, I feel they really show off the character in his videos as he hasn't put too much gain on them.
Current BKPs: Miracle Man, Nailbomb, Juggernaut, VHII
Past BKPS: Holy Diver, Trilogy Suite, Sinner, Black Dog

Kiichi

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2014, 10:32:47 PM »
Nice to see a review around. Been a while. I of course already added it to the sticky. Thanks for writing this up!
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

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2014, 03:12:29 AM »
Many thanks for great review!
On the other hand, BD is often described as HD`s 'small brother', apparently  there are some similarities.
How similar is BD to HD tone wise, there`s a quite obvious difference in output, but how does it look like in reality? Let`s focus on bridge models for instance.

cheers.

did a straight swap from HD to BD in my 73 lp custom, about 3 years ago
the diver had more compression and the upper mids sounded a little more aggressive
the dog is somewhat smoother, but more articulate
they sounded very very similar, which was quite a surprise for me

had a slightly similar experience with the bridge cold sweat and bridge vhII, but in a lesser degree
the vhII is like half cold sweat, half riff raff
the focused lead tone and big punchy low end of cold sweat , and the crystal clear articulation and organic texture of the riff raff

I love how bkp makes up vintage versions of their own modern pickups
most other brands only do only the opposite (hot rodded paf based models)
perhaps we'll have paf-like piggy someday
Riff Raff, Mules, Black Dog, VHII's, Cold Sweat

Lucas

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2014, 08:39:08 PM »
BDs would also cope with lower tunings  as well (drop D ect) due to the fact of providing that presence and definition even in extended scale guitars? Is that right?
For example my CBomb in LP style guitar cannot cope with drop Db very well, it gets little muddy and gets lost a little bit in the mix.

Ant the other thing is, as BD and HD are quite related, some people state that HD has some similarities with Abraxas as well.

How BD compare to Abraxas? it`s not as polite for sure, but anything other than that?

Dean Cadillac - Emerald (b), Cold Sweat (n),
Mayones Flame CS2000 - Miracle Man (b), Sinner (m), Aftermath (n)
Warmoth Custom Telecaster - Cold Sweat (b) VHII (n)
Warmoth Custom Tele - Miracle Man set

darrenw5094

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2014, 01:24:07 AM »
How BD compare to Abraxas? it`s not as polite for sure, but anything other than that?

Abraxas has fuller mids, especially the upper mids. The Abraxas is a dark pup in the treble end and i remember the BD being quite brite.
BKP: Abraxas - Les Paul
Holy Diver - Charvel
Mule - Les Paul
Rebel Yell - Les Paul
VHII - PRS CU22
A-Bomb + Cold Sweat - Les Paul
Warpig - Caparison Horus

Telerocker

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2014, 02:37:13 AM »
Abraxas is not dark, just not as clear and bright as a Mule-bridge. Especially in an Eclipse the Abraxas will balance things.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

darkbluemurder

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2014, 09:50:52 AM »
I would also say the Abraxas bridge is not dark but very smooth and creamy in the highs - not exactly bitey. The Black Dog bridge has more bite.

Cheers Stephan

BigB

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2014, 12:55:04 PM »
The middle position
 It is maybe a bit quieter, so I wonder if the pickups are out-of-phase. If so, the effect would be less pronounced than I would have expected.

The middle position is almost always a bit quieter than the neck or bridge. And you would definitely know if you had your pups out of phase, as the effect is quite drastic.
Have: Crawlers, BGF 50/52s, Mules, ABomb, RiffRaff
Had : Slowhands (n&m), Trilogy (b)

Lucas

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Re: My totally subjective review of the Black Dogs
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2014, 11:08:09 PM »
I would also say the Abraxas bridge is not dark but very smooth and creamy in the highs - not exactly bitey. The Black Dog bridge has more bite.

Cheers Stephan
cheers, and what about cleans? I pressume BD is cleaner.
Dean Cadillac - Emerald (b), Cold Sweat (n),
Mayones Flame CS2000 - Miracle Man (b), Sinner (m), Aftermath (n)
Warmoth Custom Telecaster - Cold Sweat (b) VHII (n)
Warmoth Custom Tele - Miracle Man set