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Old 01-19-2013, 11:58 PM   #1
dannyalcatraz
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Assistance/reality check

We've all heard it said: just because a thing can be done, doesn't mean it should be done. Well, I'm rethinking 2 guitar projects, because even though I can afford them, I'm not sure I should do them as I planned.

1) I have a Dean EVO Special Select- arched maple top (quilted tiger's eye finish) with a mahogany body- I bought in 2003. It holds tune with a death grip, it sings even when unplugged, it feels great in my hands, but the pickups, compared to my better guitars, are muddy...lacking clarity and definition. So I'm upgrading them in 2013. So I decided to upgrade them, and settled on a Bareknuckle Rebel Yell HB (bridge) and a Mississippi Queen HB-sized P90 (neck).

https://bareknucklepickups.co.uk/ma...ckup=rebel_yell

https://bareknucklepickups.co.uk/ma...ssissippi_queen

2) I decided to have a custom guitar made. With the Luther's help, I picked out a nice piece of claro walnut, which, as it turns out, was big enough to make a single-piece top & bottom for not one but TWO guitars. So we decided to go for it- that's the way the wood was cut. The first one had already had its details worked out by the time the wood got cut, nothing on it is changing. But now I'm trying to figure out the details of the second one. Again, Bareknuckle pickups were chosen: a Nailbomb HB in the bridge and a Stockholm HB-sized P90 in the neck.

https://bareknucklepickups.co.uk/ma...pickup=nailbomb

https://bareknucklepickups.co.uk/ma...ickup=stockholm

Here's why I'm reconsidering my decisions: on the first guitar, as good as those pickups would sound, at @$375 (before shipping from the UK to the USA), they'd basically cost nearly as much as the guitar did (not adjusted for inflation). On a certain level, that seems a bit bizarre to me.

The second set of Bareknuckles would be just as pricey, but since they're going into a custom guitar, it makes more sense. But does it make ENOUGH sense?

So, I'm asking those who know more about pickups to help me find reasonable substitutes for those pickups, ESPECIALLY the HB-sized P90s.

I mean, I can find a good HB- I've got candidates lined up from Lace, Railhammer, Tesla and others.

But oversized P90s are harder to find, and good ones especially so. And on top of it all, the Stockholm is a pretty high-output P90.

So: should I choose differently, or should I stick with the Bareknuckles?
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Old 01-20-2013, 12:17 AM   #2
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Doesn't Lollar make one?
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Old 01-20-2013, 03:45 AM   #3
dannyalcatraz
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Yup- they were under consideration when I chose the Bareknuckles. And now that I'm rethinking, they're back in the mix.
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Old 01-20-2013, 06:15 AM   #4
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I'll start this by making one thing clear: I really do not like Bare Knuckle pickups. None of their pickups that I have tried or heard have impressed me, some of Tim's business practises are shady and rub me the wrong way and there are several other boutique pickup winders in the country that offer a more personal service at a lower price. So, you may wish to take anything I say in relation to BKP's products with a pinch of salt; I am predisposed against them and will often prefer other things in their place, even when the majority wouldn't.

With that in mind, I would say go for something cheaper for the Dean. The Seymour Duncan Custom 5 and Full Shred, DiMarzio Breed Neck, Rio Grande Barbeque Bucker, Tonerider Rocksong and Kent Armstrong Rocker Alnico all do the same job in the bridge position as the Rebel Yell; the Mississippi Queen neck can be duplicated by the Tonerider Rebel 90, Seymour Duncan Phat Cat, Rio Grande Bastard and IronGear Alchemist 90 (though the IronGear does use a cheaper cover with more square corners).

As for the second custom, my first bit of advice would be to settle on the details on the guitar's construction, and once you've done that, e-mail Jaime at at-the-creamery.co.uk. He can actually make you something specifically for the guitar, taking into account every element of it. His pickups will still be quite expensive, but should work out cheaper than Bare Knuckle.
Failing that, the Stockholm P-90 in the neck can be replaced by a Rio Grande Fat Bastard. The two pickups use the exact same wire and magnets, wound and constructed to the same spec. Rio Grande pickups aren't as chep as DMs and SDs, but at least you won't have to pay a premium on shipping and import.
You could also try putting a Kent Armstrong hum-retrofit P90 (they have no 'proper' name) or a bridge version of the Tonerider Rebel 90 in the neck. These are not quite as powerful as the Stockholm, but they're both wound a little hotter than a P90 usually is and, given P90's knack for picking up any and all hum, this may be a better way to go anyway.
As for the Nailbomb, depends which version you go for, ceramic or alnico. Pickups that are similar—or even exactly the same—include, but are not limited to:
Alnico version:
Seymour Duncan Custom 5, Rio Grande Crunchbox, Tonerider Generator, DiMarzio Breed Bridge and Super Distortion.
Ceramic version:
Seymour Duncan Custom, Distortion, Kent Armstrong Rocker, Super Distortion, DiMarzio Evo 2, Steve Morse.

The Seymour Duncan Alternative 8 is halfway between the alnico and ceramic versions, tonally, with just a touch more output, too. A 'Custom 8' (buy a SD Custom and replace the magnet with an alnico 8 one) is also tonally in the middle, without the even higher output.

I'm confident that with a SD Custom 5 and Tonerider Rebel 90, and a Custom 8 and a Fat Bastard, I could replicate the sound of both sets of BKPs and nobody would be able to spot which was which in a blind test.
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:29 PM   #5
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Honest, informative, detailed & to the point: I like that kind of post.

That's the kind of in-depth stuff I really, really needed to hear. I hadn't even considered The Creamery, but they may be the best suggestion I've heard so far for custom #2. They have a good rep, and their stock offerings seem to be running about 20% cheaper than the Bareknuckles.

And I'll have to look at the Rio Grandes- never heard of those before.

Thanks!
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:42 PM   #6
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Hey a really good oversized P90 pickup is the Arcane Pickups PX100 (it's phil x's signature p90 in a humbucker housing). From what I hear, it sounds really good.
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
I'll start this by making one thing clear: I really do not like Bare Knuckle pickups. None of their pickups that I have tried or heard have impressed me, some of Tim's business practices are shady and rub me the wrong way and there are several other boutique pickup winders in the country that offer a more personal service at a lower price. .


Care to elaborate, not questioning you, just curious as to what practices you refer too, aside from being extremely expensive in the USA. I was looking at a set of pickups from Bare Knuckle.
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:21 PM   #8
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I'd look at GFS's oversized P90's. They're killer pickups for the price. I'm blown away by the HSS rail set I ordered from them. For $30-$40 per pickup, you really can't go wrong.

Check out the Dream 90:
http://www.guitarfetish.com/Dream-9...Case-_c_62.html
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:17 AM   #9
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^ GFS' pickups are okay for what they are, but they're a few rungs down on the quality ladder compared to the products we're talking about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DylanHendrix
Care to elaborate, not questioning you, just curious as to what practices you refer too, aside from being extremely expensive in the USA. I was looking at a set of pickups from Bare Knuckle.
As I've written about it here before, there's more infomation from other people that can be found with a quick trip to Google and I've already taken up a solid 20,000 words in this thread, I'll just say that Bare Knuckle's owner has made needlessly disparaging remarks—outright slander—towards and about his competitors and has tried (and, arguably, succeeded) to rip off and run out several companies. More detail is a search box away.
And they're extremely expensive everywhere, not just in America. But that isn't just a problem with Bare Knuckle, it's an issue with every English company; taxes here on these sorts of specialised and niche businesses are horrendous, so though every English company prides itself on quality and customer service, that comes at a very literal cost.
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:21 PM   #10
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MrFlibble, I've contacted both Rio Grande and The Creamery- some of their suggestions were nearly identical to your own- and I'll probably go with one or the other in the 2nd custom. I'm even contemplating a couple of The Creamery's stock pickup options- great sound and about £30 cheaper per pickup don't suck.

Thanks, again.

I'm now giving a bit more thought to the EVO, possibly with a more subtle HB/HBSP90 combo than will go in the custom. (Nobody will expect subtlety from a Dean! )
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Last edited by dannyalcatraz : 01-22-2013 at 08:24 PM.
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:12 PM   #11
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there are a bunch of cheaper US-based handwinders- BG, zhangbucker, high order, etc. etc. I haven't tried them, but if you're trying to keep the price down I'm guessing they're worth considering.
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
I'll start this by making one thing clear: I really do not like Bare Knuckle pickups. None of their pickups that I have tried or heard have impressed me, some of Tim's business practises are shady and rub me the wrong way and there are several other boutique pickup winders in the country that offer a more personal service at a lower price. So, you may wish to take anything I say in relation to BKP's products with a pinch of salt; I am predisposed against them and will often prefer other things in their place, even when the majority wouldn't.

With that in mind, I would say go for something cheaper for the Dean. The Seymour Duncan Custom 5 and Full Shred, DiMarzio Breed Neck, Rio Grande Barbeque Bucker, Tonerider Rocksong and Kent Armstrong Rocker Alnico all do the same job in the bridge position as the Rebel Yell; the Mississippi Queen neck can be duplicated by the Tonerider Rebel 90, Seymour Duncan Phat Cat, Rio Grande Bastard and IronGear Alchemist 90 (though the IronGear does use a cheaper cover with more square corners).

As for the second custom, my first bit of advice would be to settle on the details on the guitar's construction, and once you've done that, e-mail Jaime at at-the-creamery.co.uk. He can actually make you something specifically for the guitar, taking into account every element of it. His pickups will still be quite expensive, but should work out cheaper than Bare Knuckle.
Failing that, the Stockholm P-90 in the neck can be replaced by a Rio Grande Fat Bastard. The two pickups use the exact same wire and magnets, wound and constructed to the same spec. Rio Grande pickups aren't as chep as DMs and SDs, but at least you won't have to pay a premium on shipping and import.
You could also try putting a Kent Armstrong hum-retrofit P90 (they have no 'proper' name) or a bridge version of the Tonerider Rebel 90 in the neck. These are not quite as powerful as the Stockholm, but they're both wound a little hotter than a P90 usually is and, given P90's knack for picking up any and all hum, this may be a better way to go anyway.
As for the Nailbomb, depends which version you go for, ceramic or alnico. Pickups that are similar—or even exactly the same—include, but are not limited to:
Alnico version:
Seymour Duncan Custom 5, Rio Grande Crunchbox, Tonerider Generator, DiMarzio Breed Bridge and Super Distortion.
Ceramic version:
Seymour Duncan Custom, Distortion, Kent Armstrong Rocker, Super Distortion, DiMarzio Evo 2, Steve Morse.

The Seymour Duncan Alternative 8 is halfway between the alnico and ceramic versions, tonally, with just a touch more output, too. A 'Custom 8' (buy a SD Custom and replace the magnet with an alnico 8 one) is also tonally in the middle, without the even higher output.

I'm confident that with a SD Custom 5 and Tonerider Rebel 90, and a Custom 8 and a Fat Bastard, I could replicate the sound of both sets of BKPs and nobody would be able to spot which was which in a blind test.



All I can say is "Well Done"!
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Mc
there are a bunch of cheaper US-based handwinders- BG, zhangbucker, high order, etc. etc. I haven't tried them, but if you're trying to keep the price down I'm guessing they're worth considering.

Thanks!
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:50 PM   #14
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no problem. there are probably other ones i've forgotten too.
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Old 01-23-2013, 01:04 PM   #15
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I can honestly say that the advice I've received here and on other websites about this has been pretty impressive!
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Old 01-23-2013, 01:13 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannyalcatraz
I can honestly say that the advice I've received here and on other websites about this has been pretty impressive!



Hell, I don't even care much for Flibble, thinking him pompous, arrogant, confrontational and often wrong but his advice to you was excellent.

In the interests of full disclosure, I might note that the above has been applied to myself on more than a few occasions as well, and I'll concede the point (with the exception of the 'wrong' portion...)
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