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Author Topic: Review: The Mule set  (Read 8345 times)

Alfi27

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Review: The Mule set
« on: August 11, 2016, 10:58:58 PM »
Hello again!

Received The Mule set for my SG 61 RI today! First of all, I want to thank BKP for their extraordinary service and kindness! Their turnaround time is about 2 weeks at the time, but I said that I needed the pickups as soon as possible because I will be moving away in one week and I'm bringing the guitar with me. They promised that they would be finished and shipped by 11th of August, but guess what? That's the date I received them, and it usually takes about a week from UK to Norway! Thank you so much!

The guitar turned 20 years old about a month ago, and I was a little bit on the fence about which covers I should get. I ordered aged nickel at first, but I figured that raw nickel would be closer even though there is some aging on the screws and along the edges on the original pickups. Raw nickel will age rather quickly so no issues there, and they look great on the guitar!

Initially I considered going with a higher output pickup like a VHII or maybe even Abraxas, and when I first turned on the Kemper and striked a few chords, I knew that something darker would not work well here. Actually, the tone was slightly too rounded. The profile I was using is the one I prefer for my P90 guitar, so no surprise there really. Moving on to a brighter profile I just closed my eyes and thought "that's the stuff!". But it was not before I played some slow legato single note stuff I realised just how good this stuff was: The harmonics are simply insane! I don't need much gain nor volume to get that singing, but totally controlled feedback. This actually applies to both positions, but I enjoyed it a bit more in the bridge position. And the really funny thing is that raising the pickup slightly almost completely killed that sweet feedback. Luckily I had a reference point (the pickup ring is quite tall) so I backed it right off, got to harmonic feedback heaven again and never touched the adjustment screws again!

Focusing on the bridge pickup: For rhythm stuff the low end is tight (although not surgically tight like a ceramic), but certainly enough for any metal scene in the 1980s. I have to say that it excels for classic rock like AC/DC, but with a boost or heavy amp it can do everything you want it to. Some people claim that the neck Mule is slightly "better" than the bridge Mule (whatever that means), and even though they are apples and oranges I beg to differ. I wouldn't go quite as far as saying that the bridge Mule is underrated, but I feel like it has lost some recommendations on this forum to the very popular Riff Raff/Mule combo. Not sure how this hype started, but I have to say that I was a bit disappointed by that set. The Riff Raff is a great pickup even though it does not quite suit me and my playing style, but in my opinion, hands and ears The Mule is simply better in every way.

Loading a profile of a Tim Caswell modded Marshall (made famous by a certain top hat wearing fellow on his first record) through a pair of Creamback 65Ms, the tone was instant 80's hard rock! Cleaning up very well (not quite as good as the Nantuckets, but what does?), I could easily dial the guitar in for my usual «internal two channel setup» with volume at about two on the neck and bridge at ten. Loading a profile I made myself of a Fargen Mighty Plex MKII the tone was definitely a tone Angus would enjoy on stage! Turning on the boost the tone was equally amazing, staying tight and nice but of course still very musical.

On to the neck pickup: instant beautiful vintage tones, but very capable of more modern, fluid and articulate shred stuff as well. A very good match for the bridge pickup, better match than with the Riff Raff imo. I hardly play any pristine clean stuff anymore, but turning down the volume on the guitar with some slightly hairy cleans it sounds just like a good neck pickup should in my head. It can do Slash lead stuff very well, but certainly not limited to that and equally versatile as the bridge model.

I'm not an expert on every technical aspect of pickups and what not, but I'm pretty sure that I could not do better than this set for my SG! That sick harmonic feedback I got when I first plugged was simply a sign that the guitar and pickups are meant to be, at least in my head  :cheesy:

This set is so versatile that I'd recommend them to almost anyone! They won't drive your amp like its hotter sibling; the Abraxas set, but if you use pedals or a high gain amp that won't be an issue anyway.

I am planning on doing a comparison of the Mules, Rebel Yells and Nantuckets but I have not quite decided how to do it. The guitars are not too different so I think (and hope) the comparison might help someone as well. Stay tuned anyway!  :smiley:
« Last Edit: August 12, 2016, 09:01:34 AM by Alfi27 »
BKs: Black Dog (b), Riff Raff (b), HSP90 Nantucket (b).

Telerocker

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Re: Review: The Mule set
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2016, 11:48:05 PM »
Great review. Yeah, the Mule-bridge is underrated, but when you let the amp/pedals do the work, they shine. And they also excel in the clean/slight crunch department with unsurpassed harmonics and depth. My favourite pickups for my classic rock/bluesrock band.

I believe Tim said when he was asked if he had to gig with only one set of BKP's: Mules, you can play everything with it. So true. Nolly from Periphery and an honoured forummember recorded a few years ago some awesome metalclips with Mules. Just can't find them anymore. Anyone?
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Alfi27

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Re: Review: The Mule set
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2016, 12:58:22 AM »
They are very versatile indeed! I did a comparison of the SG an my Nantucket equipped LP Special just now, and even though I tried to dial the tone in for The Mule I have to say that the Nantucket took the cake (another very underrated pickup by the way). A lot of factors at play here though, and I have of course not gotten to know The Mule like I know the Nantucket. Should not be a problem to compensate for the additional cut of the Alnico V magnet (compared to the IV), by turning some knobs :smiley:
BKs: Black Dog (b), Riff Raff (b), HSP90 Nantucket (b).

AndyR

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Re: Review: The Mule set
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2016, 08:01:44 AM »
Nice one! :-)

Sounds like you fall into the same trap as I do with new pickups/guitar - comparing it to another, already well-loved, one. Of course, we need to do that, but you can end up wondering if the new is as good as you thought when you first plugged in!

I found the answer is to stop comparing at that point and just get know the new one and embrace it as it is.

For me, if my first reaction was "WWOWWWW!" the new is usually a guitar/pickup that joins the ranks as a well-loved one.
Play or Download AndyR Music at http://www.alonetone.com/andyr

Telerocker

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Re: Review: The Mule set
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2016, 09:13:23 AM »
They are very versatile indeed! I did a comparison of the SG an my Nantucket equipped LP Special just now, and even though I tried to dial the tone in for The Mule I have to say that the Nantucket took the cake (another very underrated pickup by the way). A lot of factors at play here though, and I have of course not gotten to know The Mule like I know the Nantucket. Should not be a problem to compensate for the additional cut of the Alnico V magnet (compared to the IV), by turning some knobs :smiley:

P90's can sound huge due to the big coil and the mids are more present than in say a Mule. More straightforward too.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Alfi27

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Re: Review: The Mule set
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2016, 09:25:33 AM »
That description is pretty much spot on! Especially the mids are huge, raw, throaty and fat but cutting at the same time. I was actually expecting the Nantucket to almost sound brittle through that setting, but it certainly did not. The Mule is balanced while the Nantucket has more of a peak in the upper mids. I am very eager to try them both at a band setting, but I expect the Nantucket to take the edge there as well if I don't do some tweaking. Mule has more mid and lower mids than higher mids, so it will be interesting to hear it in a mix!
BKs: Black Dog (b), Riff Raff (b), HSP90 Nantucket (b).

ericsabbath

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Re: Review: The Mule set
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2016, 01:13:59 PM »
glad you liked it
the riff raff might have the edge when more articulation and attack is required, but the bridge mule is better at everything else
it actually impressed me more than the neck model
I certainly miss mine
 :afro:
Riff Raff, Mules, Black Dog, VHII's, Cold Sweat

johnny_rock_it

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Re: Review: The Mule set
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2016, 02:17:03 PM »
Great review, thanks for the write up!

Looking forward to the Mules/RY/Nantucket comparison as well!

Kiichi

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Re: Review: The Mule set
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2016, 01:13:02 AM »
Lovely. Thanks for the writeup! It is now in the big sticky in the sky. =)
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: The Mule set
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2016, 12:52:53 AM »
Thanks guys! I sure love the Mules! They are not as bright as the Nantuckets, which is to be expected. Not because of the magnets, but the fact that they are different types of pickups. Hopefully there will be more cut and brightness when I replace one of the Creamback 65M speakers with a 75H as well!

It's maybe a tough statement to make after just two days with them, but I am pretty sure that when I get to know them as well as the Nantuckets and know exactly what to expect from them when I plug the guitar in, I will love them equally as much. For now, I just enjoy the sick harmonics (I can get harmonic feedback with the neck pickup rolled of for crystal clean tone at living room levels!!) and the extremely sweet, balanced and "driving" crunch tones.

They are more similar to the Abraxas' than I thought; the mid range crunch and drive is there although it is brighter, more open and naturally not as hot. The Abraxas' are great for getting Mule-esque tone and vibe in a Strat or Tele, although I know many people love them in Les Pauls also. I haven't tried the Mule in other guitars, but I wouldn't be surprised if they work just as well in a huge range of guitars, like the Abraxas.
BKs: Black Dog (b), Riff Raff (b), HSP90 Nantucket (b).

Kiichi

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Re: Review: The Mule set
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2016, 01:49:17 AM »
Speaking of that lovely feedback thing, are yours potted or not (pardon if it is mentioned and I overread it)?
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: The Mule set
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2016, 10:20:19 AM »
Very good question! Now that I think of it, it completely blows the Burstbucker 1 & 2 out of the water on the feedback thing (which are unpotted), but I did order them potted... Maybe it's just simply the nature of the Mule, but if someone handed over this guitar and told me the pickups were unpotted I wouldn't doubt it for a second. I am now starting to suspect that they might in fact be unpotted; and although it rarely happens, BKP have made mistakes before...
BKs: Black Dog (b), Riff Raff (b), HSP90 Nantucket (b).

38thBeatle

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Re: Review: The Mule set
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2016, 05:54:00 PM »
Great review. If I am able to change the pickups in my 339, I reckon Mules would be the choice.
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BKP's: Apache, Country Boy, Slowhands.

Kiichi

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Re: Review: The Mule set
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2016, 12:17:21 AM »
Very good question! Now that I think of it, it completely blows the Burstbucker 1 & 2 out of the water on the feedback thing (which are unpotted), but I did order them potted... Maybe it's just simply the nature of the Mule, but if someone handed over this guitar and told me the pickups were unpotted I wouldn't doubt it for a second. I am now starting to suspect that they might in fact be unpotted; and although it rarely happens, BKP have made mistakes before...
Does not have to be that they are unpotted, but I was just wondering as I have found my unpotted set of PAFs from BKP to be noticably more prone towards that too. Thing is that I can get it with potted BKPs too if set right, so I am not sure.

Who really cares, as long as you are happy.
However, you might care for some unpotted Stormies or PGs....;)
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

Telerocker

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Re: Review: The Mule set
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2016, 12:50:02 AM »
Potted Mules have already a lot of mojo.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.