#1
So a couple of months ago, I picked up a Ibanez J Custom RG, great guitar. Best part is that its an RG that has the tone woods I love (alder + maple top). By and large it sounded great too.

After playing with a basswood RG for over 10 years, I've come to dislike how basswood sounds muddy and has poor note separation compared to mahogany, ash or alder.

Link to the NGD post with the p0rn shots: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1582588

So the guitar came with a Seymour Duncan Jazz in the neck, and Custom 5 in the bridge.

The Jazz was actually very sweet and nice. Twangy, clean and with a mild scoop. Great clean tone. However I didn't really like the Custom 5 in the bridge. The Custom 5 has a compressed sound, was a little too warm for my liking and the driven tone didn't have great note definition and articulation.



So I purchased a Bare Knuckle Black Hawk set and plonked them right in.



So first and foremost... I've seen Black Hawks being bantered all over UG and over quite a lot of other guitar sites as the end-all, most-boadcious, versatile pickup in the world today. If there was a pickup that seem to do almost everything, Black Hawks seemed to be the automatic answer to it.

Hell, if you take a look at where and when BH have been recommended, if it were a girl, that girl would cure AIDS, end world hunger and still have time to make you a hot dinner, give you sex and a 8 hour orgasm.

Cons
First off, there are 2 flaws.... the pickup is FUGLY! Goddamn, the thin rails look cheap on my J Custom.

Have a look at the close up



Next, the pickup is sterile by BKP standards. It really is very very sterile... pickups like the Painkiller and Nailbomb literally sing like a busty soprano with lungs that'd capsize the Titanic. In comparison, the Black Hawks have limited harmonic overtone. It sounds flat, and chords don't pop up and sing.

That said, it still is SIGNIFICANTLY more harmonic than most Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio pickups. However, in comparison to other BKPs, this is a pickup that's wearing A cups.

Pros
When buying pickups, I utterly hate pickups that are muddy, bass heavy and have poor note definition.

In this respect, the Black Hawks really shine. Note definition and articulation is the name of the game. Play a chord, and you can hear EVERY SINGLE string ringing through with crystal clarity.

BKP was not joking when they said that the bass tracking is fast. Of course I know that you can't really measure the speed of bass, but with some pickups I hear the bass first before I feel it punch through. With the Black Hawks, the bass punches through, and never muddies up at any point in time. Tighter than a junkie's butt before prison.

I'm honestly a little disappointed with the harmonic qualities of the Black Hawks, and but the transparency, tightness, note clarity & separation, openness is on a whole different level from any other pickup. The pickup is also very responsiveness and reactive to playing style... its responsiveness to pick attacks is very much better than the Aftermath.

Design-wise, the DiMarzio D Activators have poorer definition, note clarity and responsiveness, and sound like a cheaper version of the Black Hawks, but I think it might have slightly better harmonic overtone than the Black Hawk.
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Last edited by ragingkitty at Apr 13, 2013,
#3
Sounds like your experiences match up with mine. BKP advertise them as being active tone in a passive design when it seems they've just replicated how people think actives respond and not how they actually respond. Same with the D Activators. God-awful pickups, those.

But this is the thing. You look around sites, and forums especially, and you'll see all manner of products being touted as the latest cure-all. The vast, vast majority of the time, the product in question just cures the one problem which that user had.

And yes they are damn fugly. Shame they can't have covers put on.

HNPD anyhoo, it's good you like some aspects of 'em at least and it's nice to have a blunter review around here.
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#4
nice score, and nice review

Quote by MrFlibble

But this is the thing. You look around sites, and forums especially, and you'll see all manner of products being touted as the latest cure-all. The vast, vast majority of the time, the product in question just cures the one problem which that user had.


that's a good point
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#5
Great review. We really do need more in depth reviews around here.

And they are fugly...
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#6
I like the look of them. I also bought a set of Bare Knuckles a while ago. Got a Mule in the neck and a Riff Raff in the bridge. Aka "the Jimmy Page set". Very pleasant experience and extremely impressed with the pickups.
#7
Quote by MrFlibble
Sounds like your experiences match up with mine. BKP advertise them as being active tone in a passive design when it seems they've just replicated how people think actives respond and not how they actually respond. Same with the D Activators. God-awful pickups, those.


Well, to be honest, BKP hasn't pulled a Blackstar in this respect. The pups really do what they advertises it to do. Just that one would expect a lot more harmonic quality from a Bare Knuckle given their other products.

Quote by MrFlibble
But this is the thing. You look around sites, and forums especially, and you'll see all manner of products being touted as the latest cure-all. The vast, vast majority of the time, the product in question just cures the one problem which that user had.


Yes, partially that's some issues, but also another issue is how people provide recommendations or ask for help. Check out the next "I need an amp" thread, I guarantee that each piece of the information we ask for will be answered in 3 sentences.

People will focus on the immediate issues plaguing them, which as you mention is the "one problem which that user had". Most will never talk about other smaller issues, or the things they want, or other considerations.

At the end, what they will get is a whole lot of recommendations focused on resolving one problem without resolving the rest.

On the other hand, when you provide more information, a whole lot of people will then not recommend (other than some of the experienced regulars here that is). In my experience, only people like Cath, 311, Dave, mm... and a few others will chime in.

Don't get me wrong, I know my needs and wants are very specific, and most of the time when I ask for help, I lay down very specific requirements because I've already had detailed considerations about the few products I need. What I need is an educated and experience. Though I understand that not everyone thinks the way I do, there's also something to be said about only providing recommendations BECAUSE YOU KNOW THE PRODUCT, and not because of marketing hype.


Quote by MrFlibble
HNPD anyhoo, it's good you like some aspects of 'em at least and it's nice to have a blunter review around here.


Thanks, most of the reviews here really just push the good aspects of a product, which doesn't give the real feel of the product being reviewed.
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it's so cool to hate Gibson, even the federal Department of Justice hates them.

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Last edited by ragingkitty at Apr 13, 2013,
#9
Good review, and ugly pickups
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
#10
Quote by Ippon
Very nice review!

So, you went with what you initially thought you needed when you first got the guitar. Just curious if you're already planning to try something else.



BTW, what amp and speakers?


Yeah I went with what I was planning initially. I had previously semi-arrived at a conclusion, but it was really a matter of whether I could come to like the Custom 5. Well I really didn't like the sound.

I might try the aftermath or call BKP up for a customised Aftermath for more treble. The one thing that I'm a little concerned about is that the AM is supposed to have some level of compression and strong note focus... I prefer a more open sound... so I'm not sure how that'll work out.

My amp is a Mesa MkV through a PRS SE 212 with stock speakers. The speaker sound like v30 copies to me.
Quote by Blompcube
it's so cool to hate Gibson, even the federal Department of Justice hates them.

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Last edited by ragingkitty at Apr 14, 2013,
#11
Quote by ragingkitty

On the other hand, when you provide more information, a whole lot of people will then not recommend (other than some of the experienced regulars here that is). In my experience, only people like Cath, 311, Dave, mm... and a few others will chime in.


haha when i see a really long OP even I groan. I appreciate the effort that's gone into it, and it's a heck of a lot better than "I need a new amp LOL", but still, I'm lazy
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#12
Quote by Dave_Mc
haha when i see a really long OP even I groan.


Is that why my NGD get the most pathetic number of responses.

After a while... it doesn't even seem to be worth the effort to post NGDs anymore
Quote by Blompcube
it's so cool to hate Gibson, even the federal Department of Justice hates them.

( )( )
( . .) This is Bunny. Copy and paste Bunny into your
C('')('') signature to help him gain world domination.
#13
yeah i never really bother doing NGDs
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#15
There are a bit odd looking, they remind me of the things that come in the RGDs stock..

Cool stuff, HNGD, I would actually like to hear these
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
#16
Thanks guys... but I don't have pre and post sound clips

Strongly thinking of swapping them out for Aftermaths.
Quote by Blompcube
it's so cool to hate Gibson, even the federal Department of Justice hates them.

( )( )
( . .) This is Bunny. Copy and paste Bunny into your
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#17
I want to try some Aftermaths really bad. Really I just want to try something from BKP, but the Aftermaths are at the top of the list.
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
#18
They sound really nice on the website's soundclips... but from the sound clips on the website it sounds a little compressed for my liking.
Quote by Blompcube
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#19
I dislike how the aftermath's sound. Recorded, the bass always sounds too round giving it a really loose quality when you compare it to an EMG for example.
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