Bare Knuckle Pickups The Mule
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Bare Knuckle Pickups The Mule

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The Mule, Humbucker guitar pickup from Bare Knuckle Pickups in the Humbuckers Vintage series.


13 user reviews
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Bare Knuckle Pickups The Mule tech. sheet

  • Manufacturer:Bare Knuckle Pickups
  • Model:The Mule
  • Series:Humbuckers Vintage
  • Category:Humbucker guitar pickups
  • Added in our database on: 09/14/2005

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Bare Knuckle Pickups The Mule user reviews

Average Score:4.6( 4.6/5 based on 13 reviews )
 9 reviews69 %
 2 reviews15 %
 1 user review8 %
Value For Money :
albou04/19/2014

albou's review"They need to be tamed!"

Bare Knuckle Pickups The Mule
The Bare Knuckle pickups are handmade in England with specs that make them very (or maybe too) expensive!
I have never been a fan of Seth E. Lover's invention, preferring single-coils and the P90. However, I became disillusioned with the arrival of my pair of The Mule, which don't seem to have any relationship with the other humbuckers I have been able to test, particularly those of Gibson. They came mounted on a Custom77 London's Burning HB (an ES-type guitar in LP format with the back nicely curved...)
These humbuckers try to resemble the original PAFs, like all others today, but using Alnico 4 magnets, which you might think is only a mere anecdotal detail, but it isn't!
Unlike its 2 and 5 "cousins," this alloy has the particularity of producing a more brilliant, even biting, sound when you drive it hard enough. This means their sound is far from the characteristic and well sought-after warm and vintage humbucker sound. At first, I was a bit surprised, and even disappointed, by the fact of not being able to feel the warm "Gibson vibes," but I said to myself: You paid almost 300 euros for them so you'd better do something! That's where joy resides! Finally, pickups that need to be tamed, to be domesticated. They need to be shown who's the boss around here!
The dynamic response of these pickups is hard to describe. You are sometimes under the impression of hearing Peter Frampton comes alive (without the same dexterity, obviously). The sound is quite simply organic, both clean and distorted. It's fantastic with a Vox AC15 and its natural distortion! I can only imagine what it can achieve with an old Marshall Plexi ...
Despite everything, the price is incredibly high (the pickups cost almost the same as the guitar...). It's good to know that if you don't have a fitting model, it's not worth it. You can play any pre-70s music style, given their dynamic response and exceptional take on not-too-extreme distortions. I don't play much jazz, but that's probably not their main strength, due precisely to their dynamic response (and my other gear, that's true ^^).
Every nuance is faithfully translated and, if you plan to buy them, you should know that you need to use them with a high-quality circuit to be able to take the best out of them. The circuit of my C77, even if quite acceptable, doesn't seem to be up to the job and the sound starts to lose quality as soon as I touch the knobs... What a pity =/

In short, you need to be very sure of what you're doing when buying them, they are very particular pickups. You might risk giving the cold shoulder to a brand that could surely satisfy you besides having lots of models....but with hefty prices ;(
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BigB07/14/2013

BigB's review"Cold, me? Never..."

Bare Knuckle Pickups The Mule
I recently mounted this set on a LP Studio 91, but I have been using BKP for over four years on other guitars. The original pickups (490R and 498T) aren't bad but, to be honest, they play in different leagues - definition, clarity, articulation, dynamics, response, there's no comparison. For me, these BKP are the ideal complement to a LP and they are simply incredible, among the best BKPs, together with the Blackguard Flat 52.

I can understand that people used to overcompressed pickups or with a poor definition don't like them, because it's not as "comfortable" to play with pickups that reveal absolutely every detail, for good and for bad... You can certainly say "cold" instead of ""precise and detailed" ─ or "round and warm" instead of "muddled and mushy" ─ it's all a matter of word choice. As far as I'm concerned, I love to be able to hear distinctively every single note of a chord, even with a fat distortion, and that all playing intentions are faithfully reproduced. All wrong notes are inevitably and faithfully reproduced, too, which is certainly not as nice but, on the other hand, it makes you want to improve.

So, yes, this pickups are very brilliant, even twangy like those of a good Tele, and they require you to learn how to use the tone and volume pots of your guitar. The good news is that, as a consequence, the pots become useful, which wasn't the case with the original pickups and electronics of the LP Studio (nor most current LPs, for that matter). Personally, I think it's great to be able to go from a fat, round and warm overdrive (yes, yes, they can handle it, even the bridge pickup) to a crystal-clear clean sound on par with a good single-coil, including all nuances in between, by adjusting a couple of pots on the guitar. Compared to the (now long gone) days when I used the pots as simple switches and spent my time playing with flop flops to change channel and activate/deactivate pedals, I think these pickups are a big leap forward in all respects (sound quality and playing comfort).

Another good point of these pickups, in my view, is their ability to cut through the mix without the need to crank the volume of the amp until you mask everything else, a problem I used to have with the original 490T/498R, regardless of what I did on the amp in terms of EQ.

In short, as far as I'm concerned, I'm satisfied with these pickups. They sound just like I expected after listening to clips, samples, videos, etc. ─ under the condition that you dial in your amp and guitar appropriately.

In the end, the main inconvenience of these pickups (like all BKPs I know) is that once you get used to this kind of quality you become very demanding.

NB: For those who think they are not "vintage" enough, you must remember that the idea was to reproduce the sound of the PAFs from the late '50s *at the time they were first put to use,* not the sound they have now, 50 years after demagnetization and oxidation... Thus, they are inevitably more brilliant and biting than the PAFs from the '50s that have survived to this day.
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tjon90107/14/2011

tjon901's review"Vintage sounding boutique Bare knuckle pickups"

Bare Knuckle Pickups The Mule
One of the most popular knew pickup makers on the scene is Bare Knuckles pickup. Bare Knuckle pickups is a small boutique pickup maker from England. They have an endless list of options you can select for a set of custom made pickups. You can choose your own magnets, covers and wires when you order from them. They also have a line of production models that are just as high quality but are mass produced in the same shop and have all the same quality. The Mule is a vintage style PAF pickup for your humbucker guitar that Bare Knuckles produces. It has a lot less output than most of the other pickups the company makes but still has all the tone you would expect from a pickup by them. It is named after Warren Haynes band Gov't Mule. Warren Haynes is known for his classic southern rock sound from his vintage Les Pauls and this pickup has that tone in spades. They are pretty much old school PAF pickups inside and out. They even are reliced to look like they are 50 years old. They are voiced to go in Les Pauls of course so they boosted a bit of the high end to give more clarity to the thick Les Paul sound. In the neck position it is nice and smooth but does not get muddy at all. The bridge pickup with the extra treble is just as clear as the neck so when you are riffing away you get a ton of nice bite and clarity. The output of the two pickups is pretty close so you wont be fumbling for your volume knob when you switch positions. These pickups are well balanced for each other and for any Les Paul style guitar. If you are looking for a nice set of boutique pickups that will give your LP a very vintage sound.
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LordRiffenstein04/01/2011

LordRiffenstein's review"As good as it gets, stunning stuff"

Bare Knuckle Pickups The Mule
I have a real nice old Tokai LP, killer guitar and great sounding. The only issue being the microphonic original pickups. I wanted to replace them but there are just too many good PAF-style pickups available. Being a Gov't Mule fan, the BKP The Mule set caught my attention. The clips sounded promising and when a pair popped up on the 2nd hand market, I snagged them. I wanted relic’ed pickups to go with the look of the guitar but the ones I have are polished. Doesn’t matter, the sound is what’s important.

Got them, installed them in the guitar and haven't looked back. They sound stunningly good, they are a perfect match with the guitar. I always felt that the neck pickup in a lot of LPs sounds too muddy, not with the Mules. They have the right amount of mids to sound syrupy and smooth but not too much to be muddy. The bridge pickup has a nice attack while still sounding sweet. Both pickups also clean up nicely and respond very well to picking dynamics. Were I struggled with the in-between position on this guitar before the swap, i now find myself using it a lot, balancing the sound with the volume controls. Even with the old electronics in the Tokai, the Mule set has brought the guitar to life. A friend who owns some killer LPs played the Tokai before and the pickup swap and he was stunned with how good the guitar now sounds with the Mule set.

The Mule set will turn any good LP into a stunner. I wouldn't recommend them for metal, there are other better suited pickups but for everything else, these rock HARD. I have heard nothing but praise about the customer service from BKP so that shouldn’t be a problem. I’m considering getting some more of their pickups to try in other guitars as they are really good.
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Other names: the mule, themule, micros '' themule'', micros''themule''

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