Old JB VS New, or Bareknuckle Holy Diver

FourT6and2

Well-known member
I played an original "holy grail" JB and... sounded like a JB.

I prefer the Aldrich. But my fave pickup right now (and for the past few years) is the Nazgul. Although probably not what OP is looking for.
 

Bad.Seed

Well-known member
FourT6and2":1vdvw8x9 said:
I played an original "holy grail" JB and... sounded like a JB.

I prefer the Aldrich. But my fave pickup right now (and for the past few years) is the Nazgul. Although probably not what OP is looking for.

I've got one of those in an LTD Viper 500 and I really dig it. Too modern for a classic LP (for me) but it's a pickup I definitely enjoy, along with the Black Winter, and ESPECIALLY the Omega for anything drop tuned
 

FourT6and2

Well-known member
Bad.Seed":1q3g7a06 said:
FourT6and2":1q3g7a06 said:
I played an original "holy grail" JB and... sounded like a JB.

I prefer the Aldrich. But my fave pickup right now (and for the past few years) is the Nazgul. Although probably not what OP is looking for.

I've got one of those in an LTD Viper 500 and I really dig it. Too modern for a classic LP (for me) but it's a pickup I definitely enjoy, along with the Black Winter, and ESPECIALLY the Omega for anything drop tuned

I have an Omega as well, but I swapped it out for the Aldrich. I go back and forth on it. Just depends on my mood.

Haven't tried the Black Winter, but I hear good things from everybody. How's it compare to the Nazgul?
 

Bad.Seed

Well-known member
FourT6and2":376fhzix said:
Bad.Seed":376fhzix said:
FourT6and2":376fhzix said:
I played an original "holy grail" JB and... sounded like a JB.

I prefer the Aldrich. But my fave pickup right now (and for the past few years) is the Nazgul. Although probably not what OP is looking for.

I've got one of those in an LTD Viper 500 and I really dig it. Too modern for a classic LP (for me) but it's a pickup I definitely enjoy, along with the Black Winter, and ESPECIALLY the Omega for anything drop tuned

I have an Omega as well, but I swapped it out for the Aldrich. I go back and forth on it. Just depends on my mood.

Haven't tried the Black Winter, but I hear good things from everybody. How's it compare to the Nazgul?

I'd say, brighter, clearer with a little more output and grain on top. Mids are not as modern sounding, and it's not quite as full.
It's much like people say, a Duncan Distortion with a little bit more everything. It's a great pickup.
 

MantraSky

Member
I absolutely love the Holydiver Calibrated set in my Charvel CS aggressive to smooth, very articulative "vocalizing" single notes, organic sounding when adjusting the guitar volume to lower-levels. Great vintage-like meets modern voice for rock/hard rock to jazz, fusion, progressive & finger styles. The JB always seem to sound at it's best "Opened up" but sounds Lack-Luster when the guitar volume is turned down.

I tried the Holydiver in a couple Les Paul's and it's really not for a dark sounding guitar to balance tone. The Aldrich sounds a bit "Fuzz/Wooly" from my Suhr guitars. I've used most of the Duncan & Dimarzio, from custom shop to Antiquity and generally they sound good but I do prefer
Bare Knuckle "hand Scatterwound" than machine wound pickups, there's a liveliness and punch to the HD that sounds amazing through my
SLO & BE-100 amps. My Charvel sounds killer with the HD, toneful and versatile, though I do still like Duncan Distortion & Pearly Gates for Blues.
 

Dino 939

Active member
Agreed with others about WCR aka Wagners. The Iron Man is by far the best high output pickup I’ve tried. I like it paired with either a Darkburst neck or matching Iron Man neck. IMO these smoke the JB, Aldrich or any Bare Knuckle I’ve tried

His other models like the Darkburst bridge or Fillmore are also cool, but Iron Man is my favorite
Darkburst neck, Godwood bridge.
The Ironman was def killer for ceramic magnet
pickup.
Sounds killer in a LP Custom.
 

Nolly

Member
I've got a drawer full of old 80s JBs (mostly JBJs), and while most are around that typical 16.4k mark, a couple are in the upper 15s and one is a total outlier at 17.1k. I don't believe the roughcast (old) vs polished (modern) magnet causes much audible difference in a JB - I've tested this swapped them around and not found any results that I could say definitively weren't caused by minor height discrepancies (half a mm can cause a pretty noticeable difference in tone and feel).
All that said, if you want to get an old JBJ I'd advise seeking out one with a DC in that upper 15k range since they'll naturally have a clearer and tighter sound. Also make sure it's not a F-spaced as a wide-spaced pickup on a Gibson string spacing will cut a fair bit of output from your lowest and highest string.
For what you're describing, I'd recommend a Distortion. It's the same wind as a JB but with a ceramic magnet - gives you tighter low end, less mid honk, and more pick definition. Oh, and lots more output too.

Bare Knuckle-wise, the Holy Diver used to be the closest to a JB since it was the only BKP wound with 44-gauge wire (crucial to the JB sound, IMO), but the newer Silo bridge model also uses 44AWG and has symmetrically wound coils like the JB does (again, pretty crucial to the JB sound). The Silo's scatterwound 15.7k gives you more clarity and tighter low end than a JB, and having double-row pole screws gives you a bit of thickness. I think it's a great pickup that'd serve you well, given your wishlist.
Now, if you want to step outside the 44AWG bubble, there's a huge list to try. I'm sure others will give you plenty of suggestions ;)
 

Racerxrated

Well-known member
Also, I wouldn’t buy into the JBJ hype. JBs are JBs. I had a 1990 Hamer Diablo, amazing sounding axe. Ended up trading it but before I did I grabbed the JBJ out of it, and put a DiMarzio Tone Zone in which I hate. Damn thing sounded great in that Diablo. Put the JBJ into the guitar I traded for and it sounded ‘meh’...which told me the guitar was the reason for the great tone more so than the pup.
 

Kapo_Polenton

Well-known member
I've been looking at those as well, but can't find one cheap enough to pull the trigger on.

I'm also looking at the antiquity JB if anyone has tried those and can comment?
I was going to say, this could be the way to go and I have thought about this myself. I currently play a JB with alnico II in one of my guitars and I love it. You could look at the AT-1 dimarzio which is their take on the JB with a 250k pot sort of deal. IT is not as saggy in the bottom. You could consider the Aldrich too. Very well balanced and hot but nice and tight. My only gripe is that it doesn't pop harmonic as easily as my JB does but that could be the guitar i have it in currently.
 

kmanick

Active member
I've used Holydivers in several Jackson soloists. They are tighter , and smoother than the JB. They lack that upper mid spike (to the degree the JB has) so the voicing is similar but not "A better JB" like BK likes to promote them. BKs soak up gain without mushing up, they stay clear and tighter than the JB does. I personally love them for "a different flavor" that is similar to the JB which I love and use in a lot of my guitars. I have never found one to be "thin sounding" by any means. I've never used one in a Les Paul (I have a Rio Grande BBQ in mine that I love but's not a "tight" sounding pickup. I've heard al lot of positive reviews of the Suhr SSH+. I would maybe look at one of those first and give it a try.
 

jabps

Active member
BKP Rebell Yell. Less low end than Holy diver but tighter and more upper mids and harmonics. If Your LP is thick sounding it will fit perfect.
Yep, what I was going to say as I believe it's based off one of Steve's old JB's plus a little less aggressive which should tighten it up.

500T, either you like them in LP's or you don't. I have them in all of my LP's, can't really use anything else. The JB is my favorite all time pup but I hate them in LP's.

If you want to stay in the ceramic range, maybe try a Tremonti Bridge. It's based off the 500T but it is a little tighter in the low end.

Also, maybe the Dimarzio Norton as well. And maybe check into a custom wind Lindy Fralin. I have one that he wound for me based off a JB that will probably go into my Chubtone guitar if the stock JB doesn't work. Further, Pariah pickups may have something and in the past they have been pretty responsive to answering questions.
 

braintheory

Well-known member
I see my 2 year old now post about the Iron Man got some likes. I’d just add that it’s still a great pickup, but my 2nd favorite now and rendered obsolete for me because of a new signature Tone Specific pickup made for my taste, but for the price the Iron Man I think is still the best high output pickup I’ve tried. I don’t recall noticing much difference between the older and newer JB’s FWIW, but would choose that Tone Specific or Iron Man over either anyway
 

Rex Rocker

Active member
Also look into the Fishman Fluence Classics. Voice 2 on the bridge pickup is supposedly based on a holy-grail JB with added clarity and tightness.
 

Kapo_Polenton

Well-known member
Also look into the Fishman Fluence Classics. Voice 2 on the bridge pickup is supposedly based on a holy-grail JB with added clarity and tightness.
They look interesting but the name is terrible and the look too! I mean it's pickups, how could they make them look like they are for grandpas?
 

Rex Rocker

Active member
They look interesting but the name is terrible and the look too! I mean it's pickups, how could they make them look like they are for grandpas?
I don't see what's wrong with the name? Seems pretty generic to me.

And the look? It's the Willie Adlers that look terrible, IMO. The Classics just look like any other covered or uncovered pickups with the added line across.
 

braintheory

Well-known member
They look interesting but the name is terrible and the look too! I mean it's pickups, how could they make them look like they are for grandpas?
Those Fluence's are not gonna cut imo if you want a JB substitute. They'll sound like JB's in the same way a modeling amp will sound like an amp its trying to be. I guess it's nice to have options, but I personally only use Fluences for their active sounds they excel at. I use them when I want all out modern brutality and maximum tightness. For the most part I find them to sound too processed and compressed, but they have their place
 
Top