The Musician’s Hotline review of the Rebel Yell Humbucker
1st August 2016
"By now most of us are hip to this progressive little pickup company from the UK. Tim Mills, the owner of Bare Knuckle Pickups, prides himself on a simple concept: Wind the pickups by hand, and offer the highest-quality materials available. It’s a concept that works, the proof of which is in the pickups. Bare Knuckle units are definitely designed to ensure that the player knows his or her hard-earned cash has been well spent. The signature-model Steve Stevens “Rebel Yell” humbuckers are positively bursting at the bobbins with tone and response. They’re the culmination of many months’ research, along with pride possessed by this small but formidable and thoroughly innovative company.
For my test I wanted to stay true to form with the designers and review the Rebel Yell with a guitar similar to the models used in the design process. I chose a 2005 Les Paul Limited, which is basically a USA standard with an ebony fretboard. I fired up a Budda Superdrive 80 as the amplifier of choice. I ran the Rebel at a rehearsal to slam out a realdeal test. Needless to say, that test yielded more than pleasing results. Over the period of time in which I have become familiar with a handful of Bare Knuckle models, I’ve noticed some inherent similarities. The Mule and Nailbomb models, for example, seem to have a “soul,” with sensitivity, liveliness and great natural overtones. This organic nature is largely due to the fact that they’re scatter-wound by hand. The Rebel Yell is no exception. It’s wound with 43-gauge plain enamel wire and are loaded with an Alnico V magnet. DC resistance is 14.5 in the bridge pickup. The most immediate quality was the pronounced midrange punch on single notes. This works nicely to balance and enhance the timbre of the Les Paul itself. The rhythm tones are aggressive, but even with all that firepower the response is smooth and the tone is very open. The big win is how well they clean up when you roll down the volume and tone pots (meaning absolute bliss for the purist). A Pickup That Covers It All The Mule is based on the original Gibson PAF, and the Nailbomb resides on the aggressive high-output side with organic harmonic qualities. The Rebel Yell, however, gives you the best of both worlds. This pickup set is a tone connoisseur’s dream, since it so easily covers a variety of styles and sounds. Make no mistake, though: It definitely isn’t middle-of-theroad, and don’t even think about calling it generic. No doubt this level of versatility was the goal, and it was certainly achieved. So, congratulations are in order. Bare Knuckle Pickups has produced yet another sonic masterpiece! For sure, the Steve Stevens Rebel Yell set gets a Golden M."