Bare Knuckle Pickups The Mule

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

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albou 04/19/2014

Bare Knuckle Pickups The Mule : albou's user review

« They need to be tamed! »

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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 ;(