Guitar Gear Review: Bare Knuckle Pickups Rebel Yell Bridge Model Pickup

I’ve been using the BKP Rebel Yell for about a year now in a few guitars. A early 90s Hamer Centaura, a 2011-ish Gibson-era Kramer Pacer Classic and a 2013 Epiphone Les Paul PlusTop Pro/FX. All are mahogany and have double locking trems, set to float.

Very cool pickup. it seems to have a few dimensions to it. the Rebel Yell has a voicing that feels familiar, but with an open clarity that lets notes work off each other. while it can have a bit of a modern vibe to it, it lacks that general congestion found in a lot of modern-voiced pickups out there. it has a bit of a rude character, like it’d be the one in the crowd that would squeeze off an off-color remark but it’s OK because everyone likes it… the iron hand inside the velvet glove, so to speak.

Where some “big name” models with this flavor might have a bit of a more modern tone with a touch of a sting to high end, the Rebel Yell is a little more versatile in that it is more responsive in a way that can make it sound a little more modern or a little more vintage. The high end of the Rebel Yell works out nicely… especially where the clearer quality of the BKP brand can help note separation. Additionally, the lows are right at the point to where you don’t get too much of a wonky flub when you’re chugging along, as you would in most 80s rock tunes. Pinched and tapped harmonics are effortless with the Rebel Yell. The pickup is responsive to pick attack and it will give out what you put in to it.

This doesn’t really seem like a pickup that could be tagged as an “artist model” as it’s so versatile. When people consider the “big name” brand Steve Stevens was using in his guitars in the 80s and 90s, it can be easy to call it a clone. Having spent decades with the same “big name” pickup in question, I can testify that’s not the case.

Tim at BKP has always been relatively quick to reply to questions via email and many people regard him as very good at matching a pickup to the player’s goals. When ordering directly from BKP (in the UK), I’ve gotten it at my door in about a week, from the time ordered. Not many shops manage that.

Special thanks to new contributor Darth Phineas for this review. 

Darth Phineas is a long time music industry insider who provides his readers with unbiased reviews on musical instrument and guitar gear. You can read more of his reviews and check out industry news on his Facebook community Darth Phineas