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Author Topic: Black Dog bridge review + extra content  (Read 364 times)

Alfi27

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Black Dog bridge review + extra content
« on: March 13, 2020, 01:12:08 AM »
Hola amigos! It's been a really long time since I wrote a BK pickup review, mostly because most of my previous reviews were written in the honeymoon phase, which is not really that helpful and I wanted to avoid that this time... I've also managed to more or less end my amp and guitar quest, which really helped with narrowing down other smaller factors like pickups.

The Black Dog bridge's home is in a Japanese Epiphone Les Paul Standard from the LQ (lacquer) series, which is one of, if not *the* best Les Paul(s) I've ever owned and even played. Itís got that "tele on steroids" thing going on with almost any pickup, but it still has a really big and fat low end like a Les Paul should. I've also tried quite a few different pickups in it, so I'll be able to offer a little basis of comparison.

Let's start with the pickup I liked the least: the Holydiver... I had to put something else in there while I sent the Black Dog off to BKP for potting, and I know a guy who has chased tone almost his entire life (and in his 50s now) who's got a Holydiver in his #1 Les Paul - so I figured, might as well give it a shot. When I first put it in I was quite frankly a bit shocked. I couldn't lower the pickup far enough to get the low end under control, while avoiding totally neutering it in process. I've read people on here comparing the BD and HD, and in this guitar at least they were absolutely nothing alike. I suppose they have a similar amount of center mids, but that's about it. The HD was way darker, way muddier (might translate to "fatter" in a different guitar) and much more compressed. No top end definition compared to the BD. Itís also worth noting that I have tried the HD on many occassions in many different guitars (a Strat among others), and I have never been a massive fan of it in any guitar.

While I couldn't get the HD out of there fast enough, there used to be another permanent resident in the Les Paul that I almost digged as much as the BD - the Suhr Thornbucker. And speaking of the TB, that reminds me of a little comparison I did with the Les Paul and a PRS Mira that came with a set of Mules. Hope you don't mind a minor digression, but feel free to skip:

I swapped both sets over so I could compare them in both guitars, which led to a very surprising revelation: the bridge models sounded exactly the bloody same! I don't think even Tim or John (Suhr) would be able to distinguish them, certainly not in a blind test at least. The neck models were slightly different, TB more scooped and bright while the Mule was more woody and "vintage" sounding - which is to be expected with A4 vs A5. Preferred the neck Mule in that comparison, which was a little unexpected I must admit.

Back to the Black Dog vs Thornbucker; when I first put the BD in there I remember not hearing a massive difference. Top end was very similar, but it had a little bit more fatness and mids to it with a more aggressive edge. Ultimately it kept what I liked about the TB while adding push, power and "weight". Someone on here wrote that his 9lbs Les Paul sounded like 11lbs with the Black Dog, and I couldn't have said it better myself! I keep finding myself chasing the addictive feel of this guitar in my other guitars, it pushes an amp in a very particular way that makes me not having to fight the guitar - while at the same time not hiding any mistakes. In many ways itís a hot and modern pickup that sounds like a PAF (or really close at least). While I'm always chasing tone, I wouldn't dream of putting anything else in there! Maybe a different neck pickup though, I'd love a neck Mule.

Just as a cherry on the top of an already too long review: I used to own another guitar from this series that was identical apart from the finish - equipped with a Rebel Yell set. They were as similar as two different guitars can be, the Goldtop (with the Black Dog) having a naturally more extended top end but no lack of other frequencies. In this case I actually have a comparison clip, so I'll save you my deep and profound conclusion and let you make up your mind yourself on this one! It was recorded with a Marshall 2525H through a Suhr Reactive Load, tweaked to sound as close to a JCM800 as possible.

https://soundcloud.com/alfi27/rebel-yell-vs-black-dog
« Last Edit: March 13, 2020, 01:13:54 AM by Alfi27 »
Guitars:
Ernie Ball Music Man Valentine (VHII set)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard LQ MIJ (BD/TB)
Epiphone Les Paul Junior LQ MIJ (Monty's FM P90)

Amps:
Marshall JMP 50w '72
Marshall JCM800 2204 '81