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Author Topic: Review: Abraxas set  (Read 10296 times)

Alfi27

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Review: Abraxas set
« on: May 17, 2016, 06:35:37 PM »
Hello again fellas!

Finally got the Abraxas set for my Gibson Les Paul Standard DC. Awesome guitar but somewhat "meh" stock pickups, especially the 498T. In their defense the stock pots were even worse, really bad taper and "wrong" values (300k volume 500k tone). I did of course put in a pair of the BKP 550k pots and a Jensen cap as well. Like I mentioned in the other thread there was a mess up at BKP so I did get them with braided 2 conductor cables for some reason, even though I ordered 4 conductor. Quite a bummer considering they spent about a week in the mail before I got them, but I have not decided yet if I want to go through the hassle of sending them back. I really want to clarify that this is not to bash BKP in any way, they have offered to clean up their mess and even a nice gesture/compensation, but that is the reason why you will not hear anything about the split tones in this review nevertheless. :smiley:

Before I start this review, I want to write a couple of words from my previous experience with the Abraxas bridge pickup in a Gibson Les Paul Custom. I started out with the Riff Raff/Mule combo in the guitar, as well as an RS-kit. The guitar did not strike me as particularly bright with the stock pickups, they were actually really good in that guitar but I had another Les Paul (Czech made Epiphone) with really bad pickups so I figured that it would make more sense to buy BKPs for the expensive LP Custom as opposed to the relatively cheap (but great) Epi. The Epiphone got the stock pickups and pots from the Custom and it sounded great!

The Custom was a different story though... The Riff Raff was too bright, the Mule was great but I honestly do not think you can go wrong with that one. I planned on exchanging the Riff Raff for an Abraxas, but I tried it in the Epiphone first. Match made in heaven really! So I ordered the Abraxas and got it right ahead of Christmas. I did not notice a too big difference honestly, it was still very bright and not too tight but alright I guess. I finally gave up on the guitar and sold it. The Epiphone honestly both played and sounded a lot better, to a fraction of the price. I tried to be brief, but you know...

Fast forward to my new experience with the Abraxas, this time the set: the very first thing that striked was that the neck pickup completely overpowered the bridge pickup! Taking a closer look I did of course notice that the height was off on both of them, but even though the bridge pickup has almost double the DC it is in no way overpowering. I had no problem balancing them and this was really not one of my concerns either. After my previous sort of "meh" experience with them I was really excited but also a little bit skeptical. Not really sure how I came to that conclusion, but for some reason I blamed the Alnico IV magnet for my previous experience. Like almost every time with Bare Knuckle, I was proven wrong, but I do not think I have ever been proved this wrong!

Like some of you in my other thread pointed out, it has a few similarities with The Boss. If you like that one you will most likely love the Abraxas. So what does it sound like, other than «great»? It has this really unique mid range drive and crunch, I really cannot emphasize enough how driven it sounds even with moderate amounts of gain! And yes, it is tight! Compared to my Alnico V Nantucket (P90) equipped guitars it is a tiny tiny tad less tight maybe, and compared to the Riff Raff I honestly do not think you would notice a difference. I also noticed one really surprising thing today: dropping the low E string to D and playing really heavy metal (Scream Aim Fire by Bullet For My Valentine to be exact) I actually vastly prefer the tone of the Abraxas to my EMG 81x/85x equipped Mayones Setius which has heavier strings and is in general set up for lower tunings like that! That is just mindblowing, I do not know why they write "heavy rock" as the heaviest the Abraxas can do in the "Applications" section on the site. It may depend on the guitar as well of course, but it might also be that they want to stay more true to the Santana-reference? A little bit strange though. One last thing: despite the 14k DC resistance the versatility is not compromised at all, definitely not any less versatile than the Riff Raff, Nantucket and the Boss which was exactly what I wanted! I would say that it handles heavier stuff even better without compromising lower gain tones.

So, that was the bridge pickup. The neck pickup is not very different from the Mule neck, but it is different. The Mule sits in an all solid 4,2kg Les Paul and the Abraxas sits in a chambered 3,1kg Les Paul DC with 24 frets so the neck pickup is moved a little bit towards the bridge. Taking all of this into consideration and the fact that they perform very similar, where the Abraxas might be even more rounded, smooth and fluid but certainly not less, really tells a lot! I really love it, it sounds great clean and driven and it has this really nice in between position sort of "jangle" which I have only heard in vintage output pickups. It is also really dynamic, I found myself sitting about 10 minutes with a cranked plexi profile on my Kemper just plucking the strings really softly and enjoying the dynamics, think Brothers in Arms. I use the bridge pickup about 80-90% of the time so I am afraid that will be reflected in this review, haha!  :laugh:

Bottom line: these pickups are highly underrated! People might think that they «fall between two stools», and that they might as well go for a contemporary pickup when the DC is 14k. To put it this way: even though it is the hottest in the vintage hot range, it is more vintage than contemporary. I have not tried the Mule bridge pickup (but I really, really want to after this experience with the Alnico IV magnet!), but if you are afraid that the Mule might be too weak/low output this one is a really good alternative. I want to say that it is a "hot PAF", but it does not feel that hot honestly. It drives the amp more than a 7-8k vintage pickup but it also cleans up really well. This pickup is so unique that it is really hard to put it in a "boot". I think that covered most stuff, sound clips coming soon! Maybe even a comparison of the other BKPs! Stay tuned. :grin:
BKs: Black Dog (b), Riff Raff (b), HSP90 Nantucket (b).

Kiichi

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Re: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2016, 07:27:02 PM »
Great to hear this one worked out too. Especially that we were right with that Boss bit. =)

And thanks for writing this up, it shall now join the sticky. Cheers mate!
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

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2016, 08:06:30 PM »
I really, really must get myself an Abraxas bridge pickup! It sounds absolutely perfect with that vintage tone and feel but tight and hot like something more modern.
BKP owned:

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

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

pcarrion

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Re: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2016, 11:57:31 AM »
The main enemy of the Abraxas set is the name. We think of ourselves as people with our own judgement, not easily impressionable, and you read the specifications and reviews, ok, really good, you hear the samples, Ok as well, but then you see the name, Abraxas, and this weighs a ton in your subconscious and you start looking for excuses... well, maybe alnico IV is not the best, etc... At least, that's more or less what happened to me. When I tried the pickup, I completely fell in love and realized that from the very first moment that Ben recommended the Abraxas to me, I've been fooling around and makin' up silly excuses. :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
Les Paul Custom: HD set
Les Paul standard: RY (b)/ Mule (n)
Gibson Explorer: PK set
Fender strat: HD (b), IT (m,n)
Ibanez RGT220ANTF: MM(b)/ PK(n)
Charvel EVH art series: HD

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2016, 01:52:29 PM »
I agree 100% and I speak as one who really loves Santana's tone, especially his earlier material. The trouble is that it makes you fixate on one style or possibly in this case, just one piece of music. Even if it was meant to be his tone, Santana's catalogue of material covers an awful lot of ground but like most Bare Knuckle pickups, it will also easily cover ground both before and after the area you expect it to. That makes the Abraxas potentially a VERY versatile pickup that will cover more ground than almost anything else in the BKP range and based on the experience of those who have actually tried it, that seems to be the case. I tend to think of the Abraxas as the pickup that, if needed, really will go in any guitar and cover pretty much any style.
BKP owned:

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

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

Telerocker

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Re: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2016, 04:55:53 PM »
Great review. A lot of players want to slam their amps with highgain pickups. More or less overkill when using highgainamps. I rather prefer low- to mediumoutput with highgainamps. Even with Mules you can play metal.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Alfi27

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Re: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2016, 08:16:26 PM »
Thanks guys! I have to admit that I was not aware of the Santana-reference until recently (not too long before I bought them), but I cannot say that I was bothered by that. It was the Alnico IV magnet in general that made me a bit skeptical. When it comes to Santana I think he is a good guitarist and all but not a particular big fan of his music, I played Black Magic Woman on Guitar Hero but that is about it, haha! I can see how the neck pickup is Santana though, beautiful and touch sensitive.

So, I decided to stick to my initial plan and shipping them back for the 4 conductor conversion. Kind of a bittersweet feel when they have checkboxes that say "treat package as abandoned if lost" or something like that... And I do not trust the Norwegian postal services much either, but that might be because I am not used to shipping stuff abroad. Due to that there won't be any clips too soon either, but in return I will extend the review and clips to cover the split tones also! :smiley:
« Last Edit: May 18, 2016, 09:27:45 PM by Alfi27 »
BKs: Black Dog (b), Riff Raff (b), HSP90 Nantucket (b).

ryhaigh

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Re: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2016, 10:00:59 PM »
I totally agree that the Abraxas pickups are totally under-rated and that they are super versatile. 

They were the first BKPs I owned. I put them in a PRS Santana SE.  The stock ones were meh, and I figured it was appropriate.  To my surprise, that guitar has been my go-to for just about everything since.  Also, the output is high enough that even when I coil tap, I don't find a huge drop in volume, which I like. 

I just ordered a mule/riff raff combo for my McCarty Korina and I hope I like them close to the same amount.  If not, the Abraxas are coming out of the SE and going in the core.

Alfi27

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Re: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2016, 06:55:07 PM »
Got the 498T/490R wired up with the new BKP pots, hoping they would sound at least better than they did with the stock pots. I was wrong... The tone is really harsh and shrill, the guitar is no longer such a joy to play. It's a little bit hard to imagine but when a guitar sounds great it just feels great and the playability is perceived as much better. I would certainly take an Epiphone LP with an Abraxas set over a Suhr with a 498T/490R set any day!

The Abraxas' do not only have maybe the most awesome humbucker tones I have ever heard, but if they can make my Les Paul sound stratty and a little bit quacky in the in between position I hardly think it can get any better! I really hope more people will give them a chance after others and I have shared our experience with them.

As a side note: Have anyone experienced them being too dark? I can imagine them being maybe a tad dark in a really dark and heavy Les Paul, but again; they are very balanced pickups, not any lack of top end but certainly not too much either.
BKs: Black Dog (b), Riff Raff (b), HSP90 Nantucket (b).

Kiichi

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Re: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2016, 10:13:25 PM »
Ok, I after all the recent AB praise I really want a set. I too am one who knew they were good, but was not really intrigued. Cause I did not, and still don´t quite, know what they do. I hear the descriptions and all, and it seems cool, but I recon that there is a certain something about them. That extra thing.

Actually think I might have a good axe for them where others did "good" only. Now if I just could get the funds....after my homebrewing stuff.^^

Point being, I guess these are ones that perhaps more than other need to be experienced? Does that sound right?
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

Alfi27

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Re: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2016, 11:18:11 PM »
Ok, I after all the recent AB praise I really want a set. I too am one who knew they were good, but was not really intrigued. Cause I did not, and still don´t quite, know what they do. I hear the descriptions and all, and it seems cool, but I recon that there is a certain something about them. That extra thing.
My "theory" is that many people are likely to have a problem finding the Abraxas' place in the BKP range, and might struggle to put it "in a boot". "Is it a vintage or a contemporary pickup? Why shouldn't I just go with a "pure" vintage or contemporary pickup instead?" That is the real beauty of it imo it, it has the best of both worlds and it can do both vintage and contemporary stuff with attitude!

I cannot wait to put together a clip when I get them back! If anyone of you have any wishes regarding amps I can see if I can get a profile of it, if I don't have it already haha. If not you will hear profiles from a lot of awesome amps, like an exact replica of the amp Slash used on AFD (same guy who modded it with the exact same mod), 68 Plexi, Friedman Smallbox, Fender Deluxe Reverb etc.

Actually think I might have a good axe for them where others did "good" only. Now if I just could get the funds....after my homebrewing stuff.^^

Point being, I guess these are ones that perhaps more than other need to be experienced? Does that sound right?
What axe is it that you want to put the 'Braxies in if I may ask? :smiley:  And yeah, that is probably true. To put it quite simply, they have mojo, or x-factor if you will! I haven't found any guitars, amps or pickups (that are not BKP) that are super versatile and still have that.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2016, 11:24:45 PM by Alfi27 »
BKs: Black Dog (b), Riff Raff (b), HSP90 Nantucket (b).

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2016, 08:41:21 AM »
You always here mixed things about the 498T but I have to confess that in my Les Paul Studio, I love it. It seems to have a distinct PAF feel about it but it's also clearly a hot pickup and tight enough for Metal. It also has a lovely hairy 'sizzle' to it that has great 'attitude' without being anything like as OTT as the A-Bomb. Horses for courses I guess but I admit I'm not keen on the 490R and that's the only reason I'm changing the set. I'm actually getting something for the bridge made to pretty much the same specs as a 498T but as it's hand wound I imagine there will be some differences and for the neck I'm getting an AII PAF wound with 42.5AWG. I really did think about the Abraxas as an alternative but as this set is costing only slightly more than a single Abraxas it made sense to try these first and if they don't work I can try the Abraxas in the bridge after that. I almost hope the bridge pickup doesn't work to give me an excuse for trying the Abraxas  :evil:
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: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2016, 12:30:54 PM »
Ok, I after all the recent AB praise I really want a set. I too am one who knew they were good, but was not really intrigued. Cause I did not, and still don´t quite, know what they do. I hear the descriptions and all, and it seems cool, but I recon that there is a certain something about them. That extra thing.
My "theory" is that many people are likely to have a problem finding the Abraxas' place in the BKP range, and might struggle to put it "in a boot". "Is it a vintage or a contemporary pickup? Why shouldn't I just go with a "pure" vintage or contemporary pickup instead?" That is the real beauty of it imo it, it has the best of both worlds and it can do both vintage and contemporary stuff with attitude!

I cannot wait to put together a clip when I get them back! If anyone of you have any wishes regarding amps I can see if I can get a profile of it, if I don't have it already haha. If not you will hear profiles from a lot of awesome amps, like an exact replica of the amp Slash used on AFD (same guy who modded it with the exact same mod), 68 Plexi, Friedman Smallbox, Fender Deluxe Reverb etc.

Actually think I might have a good axe for them where others did "good" only. Now if I just could get the funds....after my homebrewing stuff.^^

Point being, I guess these are ones that perhaps more than other need to be experienced? Does that sound right?
What axe is it that you want to put the 'Braxies in if I may ask? :smiley:  And yeah, that is probably true. To put it quite simply, they have mojo, or x-factor if you will! I haven't found any guitars, amps or pickups (that are not BKP) that are super versatile and still have that.
I would not mind a taste of Orange, Tiny Terror to be precise. Orange always has a particular sound and I wonder how they fare with that.

The guitar I have in mind for the AB is this weird HSH superstrat thingy. Five piece neck through maple and something I don´t recall of the top of my head. Ebony board, madagascar ebony top and back with swamp ash wings. Plays unusual and not optimal, but it has a certain special sound to it that is hard to tame. Very heavy guitar too. Has a load of interesting high end, but also a deep low end that I find hard to describe. It is just there somehow? Also a generally focused sound in a compressed way. Had a Crawler set in there before. The bridge worked well, especially with the high end, but the low end never quite clicked. I think the Crawler was a bit too smooth there. Never quite got warm with the neck here, too compressed. So something a touch more open and brighter seems like a good choice.
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

northlane.josh

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Re: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2016, 02:01:08 PM »
great review, I'm a huge fan of this pickup.
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Northlane, Sydney, Australia

richard

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Re: Review: Abraxas set
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2016, 05:26:58 PM »
I can't remember how I came to decide on the Abraxas set for my PRS Bernie but I am so glad I did. They are awesome in every respect and it's good to see that the word is spreading.
PRS Bernie Marsden Abraxas set
Gibson Firebird Studio  Rebel Yells
JV Strat  IT Bridge
Gibson SG Junior JB bridge
Cornford Roadhouse 30 combo
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