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Author Topic: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions  (Read 4646 times)

fdesalvo

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Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« on: July 01, 2015, 05:48:06 PM »
I've got my new build set up with a temporary neck, so I could audition the electronics while I wait for UPS to deliver the neck.  A caveat - this neck is a dual-expanding truss rod design, unlike the single rod setup on my main Tele, which houses the Abraxas and 63 Veneer pickups that I'm so fond of.  These necks tend to impart a more immediate and sterile attack with the benefit of amazing stability.  There's a trade-off to be had for sure.  On that note -

The standard against which I judge all other pickups in this configuration is the Abraxas Bridge + 63 Neck.  It gives me everything I ever wanted from vintage Strat tones to fat, rich, and slightly compressed humbucker tones that split extremely well.  These two cover a hugely broad spectrum of tones with absolute zeal.

Crawler, Bridge
Compared to the Abraxas, the Crawler is much more compressed and rich.  If you have ever played a Tone Zone, this is the impression I got without the negative characteristics (nasal, sterile, overwound, and lifeless tone).  All frequencies are represented here in spades and it is larger than life.  There is definitely more horsepower under the hood here.  It's just huge sounding.

Low notes are very chewy and that characteristic growl that I've heard mentioned is present and quite pleasing.  High notes have a scorching/burning tone that sustains into feedback and you can go well into the 22nd fret without fear of your notes thinning out.  There's something about the upper mids that this pickup produces that distinguishes itself from the Abraxas' creaminess.  It's more textured.  More powdery and modern.  This pickup can handle modern metal.

Split, the active coil doesn't give up much volume - if any.  You can continue palm muting on this configuration without a huge loss in compression.  What you gain is a sharper attack and string separation.  This is a lovely tone.  Compared to the Abraxas, which gives up a more twangy and sparkling split tone, I find the Crawler's split tone to be more modern here, as well.  Both clean up extremely well with the volume pot, by the way.

All in all, I'd say the Crawler is well placed among BK's Contemporary offerings.  I find the Abraxas to be more organic and subtle, and for me, more of an obvious "wow" than I received from the Crawler, but understand that I have the pickup placed fairly close to the strings and I haven't played with the height.  As it stands now, I can see the Abraxas' underpinnings clearly and can appreciate the additional push of the Crawler.  Where the Abraxas inspired fingerpicked, low gain passages and soaring high notes, I can see the Crawler beckoning me to goose the throttle a bit and go back to my days of silky legatos and partially muted scale runs.  This is going to be a fun ride!


Mother's Milk, Neck
The tone chart indicates a brighter tone to be had with the Mother's Milks and I think that's what I noticed, but I don't want to be too hasty in my assessment here.  I guess I can take some liberties, however, as I did forewarn that this review is a first impression. 

Alright - now, what I love about the 63 is this: it is so amazingly organic, deep, rich, velvety, throaty, sparkly, woody, and dynamic.  All of these descriptives live in the 63, even across a fairly broad height window.  How can I possibly expect any other pickup to touch this expectation?  Even the Apache fell a bit short, with it's struggle to cope with what I'd describe as fairly moderate gain for Texas Blues/Hendrix tones. 

The Mother's Milk is as described.  I believe I'm going to have to play with the height a bit.  In my opinion, it comes across a bit more modern compared to the 63, though it is not too dissimilar.  In fact, I'd say the differences are probably a bit insignificant, as one could say about the comparison between the 63 and Apache.  For some of you, who have been blessed with less sensitive hearing, you may not notice a difference.  For the rest of us, it could be enough to turn you off. 

The MM ate up all the gain I could dish up.  Where I found the 63 bouncy under low gain, the MM feels a little stiff - this could be the neck composition itself, so keep this in mind.  The tone, however is very nice, but bordering on modern.  Paired with the split Crawler, the clean tone's midrange bottoms out, as expected, but falls short of what I want and get from the 63/Abraxas combo.

What does all of this even mean?  I'm not saying I'm disappointed that these two don't sound like the benchmark pair, but maybe I'm saying that's where I am now.  I think I've found my sound in the Abraxas and 63 combo and I'm comfortable with this.  I'm going to play the MM/Crawler combo for a while and will tweak heights once the neck arrives.  I can see potential in this pairing, but for me it may come at the expense of some minor tweaking.  And to be honest, I did tune my amp's preamp and power amp to suit the Tele..Looking forward to seeing what this pairing brings forth.   


Here's the guitar with the temp Strat neck



Update:

Wow, what a difference height makes.  I lowered both substantially and the feel I appreciated from the 63 and Abraxas appeared.  In addition, the MM lost it's harsh edge and the true beauty of this pickup revealed itself.  It's not quite as round as the 63 Veneer is, but it's definitely not thin or brittle.  It's a nice and glassy tone that can totally cop the bubbly Hendrix vibe.  It's just an outstanding pickup under light to moderate drive, as well.   This is a very polished sounding pickup.   In my opinion, the tone nails the 80's Strat tone.  If BK likens this to a 60's pickup, it would be the unaged tone.  Those who want the more aged characteristics would be better served with the 63 in my opinion.

While I prefer the split tone of the Abraxas a touch more due to the more vintage sparkle in the active coil, there's no love lost with the Crawler and the additional push really makes for one absolutely smoking lead tone.  It can totally crush in the rhythm dept, as well.  Like it's older brother, the Abraxas, it will do everything you ask of it, but with a bit more attitude.

Before the height adjustments, I planned on ordering another 63 to drop into the neck.  This pair has found a permanent home as far as I'm concerned. 
« Last Edit: July 02, 2015, 03:57:41 PM by fdesalvo »

Telerocker

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2015, 06:52:11 PM »
Nice review. I recognize a little what you write about the MM's. They are quite clean, clear, glassy and woody and stay quite clean under gain. I would not call them modern. They have the early sixties vibe going. Besides that I think IT's pair better with the Crawler, but that's just my personal preference.
 
I had the Crawler in the beginning set quite high, but lowered it a bit, which pleases me more. A tweak can make quite a difference with scatterwound pickups.I re
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

fdesalvo

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2015, 07:31:28 PM »
TY - I'm really excited to get more hours on the strings with these two.  It's nice to have a guitar with a slightly different array of tones to offer, though I usually end up reducing them to the one I favor most. 

fdesalvo

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2015, 03:11:08 AM »
Updated.

darkbluemurder

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2015, 09:07:24 AM »
Very nice review. I own both bridge humbuckers and I agree to your description of the Crawler being the hotter, growlier and the Abraxas being the smoother and more open of the two.

But both are very sensitive to the guitar they are in - the Crawler sounded very smooth in my Les Paul while the Abraxas which I have in my Tele Gib now turned this guitar into an absolute monster.

Cheers Stephan

Kiichi

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2015, 10:20:57 AM »
Nice writeup. Very interesting to read your thoughts on this, especially due to the comparisons you can draw.

Added this to the review collection sticky where it now is our first Mothers Milk review. Yeah!
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

fdesalvo

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2015, 03:54:09 PM »
Nice writeup. Very interesting to read your thoughts on this, especially due to the comparisons you can draw.

Added this to the review collection sticky where it now is our first Mothers Milk review. Yeah!

Thank you, my good sir! 

Very nice review. I own both bridge humbuckers and I agree to your description of the Crawler being the hotter, growlier and the Abraxas being the smoother and more open of the two.

But both are very sensitive to the guitar they are in - the Crawler sounded very smooth in my Les Paul while the Abraxas which I have in my Tele Gib now turned this guitar into an absolute monster.

Cheers Stephan

Indeed.  I've had the Abraxas in 2 different guitars and it's been spectacular in both.  I'm been really impressed with the way these pickups respond to picking dynamics and changes at the volume pot.  Can't wait to start recording with them.

Alfi27

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2015, 10:02:26 AM »
For SRV and Frusciante kind of tone/vibe, would you recommend either the 63' Veneer Boards or the Mothers Milk to pair with a Crawler in the bridge?
BKs: Black Dog (b), Riff Raff (b), HSP90 Nantucket (b).

fdesalvo

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2015, 04:34:11 PM »
For SRV and Frusciante kind of tone/vibe, would you recommend either the 63' Veneer Boards or the Mothers Milk to pair with a Crawler in the bridge?

I think the 63 would be my choice. I may throw it in with the crawler tomorrow to experiment. 

Alfi27

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2015, 05:03:35 PM »
I think the 63 would be my choice. I may throw it in with the crawler tomorrow to experiment. 
Thank you! I understand they are very similar pickups, but do they respond the same way to gain? Even though the Crawler will be the pickup of choice with high gain, I also like to get that smooth lead tone from the neck pickup. Please let me know the results if you throw the 63' in with the Crawler  :smiley:
BKs: Black Dog (b), Riff Raff (b), HSP90 Nantucket (b).

fdesalvo

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2015, 06:04:04 PM »
I think the 63 would be my choice. I may throw it in with the crawler tomorrow to experiment. 
Thank you! I understand they are very similar pickups, but do they respond the same way to gain? Even though the Crawler will be the pickup of choice with high gain, I also like to get that smooth lead tone from the neck pickup. Please let me know the results if you throw the 63' in with the Crawler  :smiley:

They both handle gain equally well, but the MM is a bit brighter. I find the 63 to have more depth to it. More of an earthy depth to it, where the MM is more modern and clean. More brightness.

I'll report back.

Alfi27

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2015, 06:29:33 PM »
They both handle gain equally well, but the MM is a bit brighter. I find the 63 to have more depth to it. More of an earthy depth to it, where the MM is more modern and clean. More brightness.

I'll report back.

Alright, I guess the 63' Veener Boards it is then!
BKs: Black Dog (b), Riff Raff (b), HSP90 Nantucket (b).

fdesalvo

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2015, 05:37:17 AM »
Update:

After a couple hours with the new pickups, I've come to a decision point. The Crawler and MM are goin into my #2 or #1B (wouldn't want her to get offended!). In this piece of mahogany, the Crawler is just too much - and in general I found myself missing the organic and more dynamic touch of the Abraxas. I really love the sparkling growl of the Abraxas in split mode, as well. I found the Crawler to be to dull in this guitar. But what a thick and amazing tone. Just too powerful/compressed for what I go for now- and the Budda SD30, being a thick and chewy beast, is only going to embellish this further.

The MM is actually an outstanding single coil, but I know the combo of Abraxas and 63 will be perfect, as it has been outstanding in 3 guitars so far. The MM will haunt me - id say it's equal to the 63 in the tone and feel spectrums. It's very Hendrix to the 63's john Mayer - two heavyweight titans of tone. Take your pick, you can't lose.

All in all, I think it will be nice to have an alternative guitar for flamed thrower leads, so no loss here. Now the only other humbucker I'm even remotely curious about is the VHII, but that can wait. My prefers combo is heavenly.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2015, 01:37:24 PM by fdesalvo »

Kiichi

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2015, 12:20:21 PM »
You mention Mayer, who has the tone IŽll be chasing once I get a strat, and I seem to recall that the 63 usually is the recommendation for his tone due to the woodyness of it. Seeing as you have played the 63 and MM now, which would you say is the better bet for his tone?
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

fdesalvo

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Re: Crawler Bridge + Mother's Milk Neck - 1st Impressions
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2015, 01:44:08 PM »
I mixed em up by mistake. Fixed now.  The 63s def have a woodier and richer tone, so I'd lean that way. 

The MMs are the cleaner, more direct sounding of the two. I lowered it quite a bit from the strings and really enjoyed the tone, but by this time it didn't balance with the Crawler. I can see why the ITs are recommended in this instance.

I keep going back to the Abraxas/63. It's just the most perfect pair of pickups I've ever played. If I was still playing heavier music, I'd no doubt go Crawler/ITs, but for authentic blues - heavy rock, the Abraxas/63 combo is the dog's danglies. 

Edit:  I wouldn't be surprised if the Sultans crushed for JM's tones, as well.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2015, 02:02:11 PM by fdesalvo »