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Author Topic: Love At First Strum: Old Guard Neck Humbucker Review  (Read 122 times)

Joshua Jimenez

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Love At First Strum: Old Guard Neck Humbucker Review
« on: April 09, 2021, 02:29:20 AM »
INTRODUCTION

When BKP came out with the Boot Camp line, they presented a vintage-voiced and budget friendly pickup with a  “warm, bright, and more dynamic tone.”

What they didn’t say was that they geared up to make the PERFECT vintage humbucker.

I purchased an Old Guard neck and Black Dog bridge after seven great years with DiMarzio 36th Anniversaries in my 2009 Les Paul Traditional Pro. The 36th Annivs. hit the spot back in 2013 when the stock ‘57 Classic and Burstbucker 3 didn’t cut it for me.

Just last year, I put a Mule set into my 2011 SG Special and, just like every new initiate into the Bareknuckle Order, was blown away by the clarity and power. This put my 36th Annivs., as wonderful as they were, into perspective.

After some soul searching, I finally got the pickup upgrade that my Les Paul deserved after all these years.

First impressions? While the Black Dog is taking some getting used to, the Old Guard was love at first strum. It was loud yet sweet, warm yet clear.

COMPARISONS

I’m pretty sure that the Old Guard’s counterpart in the main line is the Mule, and that’s what we’ll first compare it to. The Mule in the SG has a woodier sound and lets the guitar’s wood out more. As mentioned in another review, the Mule is more translucent and has a more acoustic quality.

While the Mule neck has its own unique personality, the Old Guard is simply where all the best qualities of a sweet PAF meet.

Compared to the 36th Anniv that it replaced, the Old Guard is sweeter, rounder, and clearer. I’d hate to say that it renders my formerly beloved as woofy and muddy, but the improvement is apparent.

Compared to the Black Dog in the bridge, the Old Guard is straightforward in its appeal. This reinforces Bare Knuckle’s commitment to deliver a no-frills pickup.

While the Black Dog got me into a nitpicky state of mind, the Old Guard had me looking for something bad in this mind-boggingly fantastic pickup. I went into the Old Guard with no expectations other than a vintage-voiced neck pickup that simply gets the job done the Bare Knuckle way. This is perhaps why I was pleasantly surprised.

CLEAN, OVERDRIVEN, DIRTY?

For cleans, the newly-fitted pickup is heavenly and can easily whip out funk on its own. It’s incredibly sweet and gentle, more girl-next-door than sexy.

With a light overdrive, I’m driven to play the opening of “The Wind Cries Mary” by Jimi Hendrix—on a Les Paul. The pickup becomes butter, with a nice warm top-end sizzle that is not at all unpleasant but bursting with character. Chords are juicy—thick but still groovy.

Through a Marshall JCM 800 emulation, the Old Guard remains fluid and clear through lead lines. It may not be ideal for high gain stuff, but it can certainly carry its weight.

CONCLUSION

I think I’ve found my perfect neck pickup, an item that blew me away just like the 36th Annivs did back in 2013. These are here to stay.

Hoping this helps given that there’s very little feedback on this killer pickup online. Let me know your thoughts!
« Last Edit: April 09, 2021, 06:40:17 AM by Joshua Jimenez »
2009 Les Paul Traditional Pro - Old Guard/Black Dog
2011 SG Special - Mule Set
1983 Yamaha Super Axe - Stock
1987 MIJ Strat - Stock
2011 SX Telecaster - DMZ Twang King / True Velvet

Telerocker

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Re: Love At First Strum: Old Guard Neck Humbucker Review
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2021, 11:44:07 PM »
Well, nice review! I would say the Old Guard is closer to a Stormy Monday, having both AII magnets. The Mule has AIV. Maybe you're referring to the dc-resistance, which tells not all.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Joshua Jimenez

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Re: Love At First Strum: Old Guard Neck Humbucker Review
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2021, 04:10:48 AM »
Well, nice review! I would say the Old Guard is closer to a Stormy Monday, having both AII magnets. The Mule has AIV. Maybe you're referring to the dc-resistance, which tells not all.

Thank you Telerocker! I honestly really wasn’t looking at the specs in this case, but yeah, you’re right that the OG is more comparable to the SM due to the magnet. I was just thinking, since the OG is the key vintage pickup in the Boot Camp line and since the SM is the key vintage pup in the main line, comparisons would be drawn quicker between the two.
2009 Les Paul Traditional Pro - Old Guard/Black Dog
2011 SG Special - Mule Set
1983 Yamaha Super Axe - Stock
1987 MIJ Strat - Stock
2011 SX Telecaster - DMZ Twang King / True Velvet

Telerocker

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Re: Love At First Strum: Old Guard Neck Humbucker Review
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2021, 08:47:28 AM »
Yeah, anyway thanks for your contribution. There are not many reviews of the Bootcamp Series.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

timmy_pix

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Re: Love At First Strum: Old Guard Neck Humbucker Review
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2021, 01:31:09 PM »
Great review!

I'm very keen to try the OG set at some point - I was going to pick them up but a used 10th Anniversary set appeared and I jumped on those instead.

From your description I suspect it probably is closer to the Mule neck than the Stormy Monday. I had a Stormy neck in this Les Paul before the 10ths went in, and it's very bright and clear, and I wouldn't necessarily call it warm or rounded. The 10ths fall somewhere in between the Stormy and the Mule, so I'd be curious to plop the OG into the comparison some day too.
BKPs:
The Mule set - PRS SE Bernie Marsden
Emerald set - Gibson Les Paul Classic
Mother's Milk set - Fender Highway 1 Strat
Holydiver set - ESP LTD Ninja 600

Joshua Jimenez

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Re: Love At First Strum: Old Guard Neck Humbucker Review
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2021, 05:39:18 PM »
Great review!

I'm very keen to try the OG set at some point - I was going to pick them up but a used 10th Anniversary set appeared and I jumped on those instead.

From your description I suspect it probably is closer to the Mule neck than the Stormy Monday. I had a Stormy neck in this Les Paul before the 10ths went in, and it's very bright and clear, and I wouldn't necessarily call it warm or rounded. The 10ths fall somewhere in between the Stormy and the Mule, so I'd be curious to plop the OG into the comparison some day too.

I can’t say much about the 10ths as this is the first time I’ve heard of them, but I was pleasantly surprised with how distinct the Old Guard was from the Mule. The Mule is for those looking for THAT specific voice, while the OG is a no frills PAF done extremely well—made to cater to anyone looking for a top grade PAF. That’s why it’s such a fun pickup—you can’t go wrong with any setting here, and any search for a bad sound is an exercise in futility.
2009 Les Paul Traditional Pro - Old Guard/Black Dog
2011 SG Special - Mule Set
1983 Yamaha Super Axe - Stock
1987 MIJ Strat - Stock
2011 SX Telecaster - DMZ Twang King / True Velvet

ericsabbath

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Re: Love At First Strum: Old Guard Neck Humbucker Review
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2021, 01:32:33 PM »
The old guard sounds warmer, darker, creamier and more opaque in my 73 lpc compared to the mule

It has this distinct John Sykes neck lead tone vibe under gain that even the Cold Sweat wouldn't get (although I still prefer the Mule and Cold Swear cause they match the brighter bridge models better)

I'll probably put the Mule back in the les paul custom and move the old guard to my brighter les paul as it was my initial intention
I still wanna try the bridge version, though
I actually ordered it a couple years ago, but got the neck instead (mistake from an US retailer)
I think the Old Guard set might become one of my favorites (in the right guitar)
« Last Edit: April 16, 2021, 01:37:49 PM by ericsabbath »
Riff Raff, Mules, Black Dog, VHII's, Cold Sweat