Guitar Gear Review: Bare Knuckle Stormy Monday Humbucker Set

The Stormy Monday is clearly a nod to the Allman Brothers’ 1971 At Fillmore East live album. Duane Allman and Dickey Betts put out a predominantly blues-based Southern rock guitar tone. The Allman-Betts guitar character and playing styles work together like a sonic peas-and-carrots. Right up there with Skynyrd’s Rossington and Collins, and the Eagle’s Frey, Walsh, and Felder.

For this live Fillmore recording, it’s pretty well documented that Duane was using his 1959 Cherry Burst Les Paul. However… dramatic pause… Duane had the pickups swapped out with the humbuckers in his 1957 goldtop Les Paul. An interesting side note is that goldtop had previously been used when Duane played on Eric Clapton’s Layla sessions. So, yes, these are those pickups.

There is evidence that Dickey was using a 1957 goldtop Gibson Les Paul as well. Some say a 1958 Les Paul, and others say a Gibson SG. To keep the conversation from going off the rails, I’m not going to stick a pin in it. LOL!

For amps, we are looking at a 50W Marshall for Duane for quicker breakup and a little more edge. And a 100W Marshall for Dickey, providing a little more headroom.

For this evaluation, I put the Stormy Monday set in a trusty double-hum test mule. The wiring harness has Bourns 500k pots, a Switchcraft 12120X 3-way toggle, and Switchcraft 1/4″ jack. During the install process, I take advantage of the opportunity to hit the fretboard with Lizard Spit Fret Board Conditioner and to apply Lizard Spit Slick Nutz to relevant friction points.

Once up and running, I can with a fair certainty establish a pattern with how BKP describes their products. LOL! I did, in fact, avoid the Stormy Monday set in the same way as some of the other Bare Knuckle sets. When I read marketing material that includes words such as sweet and warm bass and smooth high end and mellow, I think of something at risk of being soft and dull. And yes, once again, I am proven wrong. HaHa!

Here is an official demo of the Stormy Monday neck, with a Riff Raff bridge: Tim Mills Plays Riff Raff/Stormy Monday

The Stormy Monday set has a significant pedigree that lends to the vintage tonal characteristic. 42 AWG plain enamel with butyrate bobbins and roughcast magnets. The fun part is that the old PAF humbuckers were all over the place. So it’s great when the different voices can be served up so well.

There is a slightly more open vibe to the Stormy Monday set. This is exceptionally revealing in that sweet spot between the decay of the natural sustain and the slight introduction of the mechanical noise of the string’s vibrato across the frets. Something generally forgotten in the high-octate big-hair glory days of indulgent 80s riff rock. LOL!

If you’re looking for note separation and an expressive attack, the Stormy Monday is worth your consideration. This set is overflowing with clarity and definition. You can easily manage clean amp settings with little more than the volume pot, if needed. Going to a split or parallel wiring option will take things to a exceptionally chimey snap and glassy sparkle.

The low end manages a definitive presence with a slice of punch and a smidge of fullness without the expense of too much of either. This is a key factor when getting in to edgy, dirty, or overdriven amp tones. The mid range is crafted to accentuate how the Stormy Monday will rest within a mix. The high end has a little sweetness blended with a bit of a bold presence that will ease your lead playing out front without making the dogs howl.

Specs – Let’s peek at some specs:

Stormy Monday Bridge
Series – 7.898 K
Inductance – 4.422 H
Split – 4.082 K
Split – 3.818 K
Parallel – 1.9735 K
Magnet – Roughcast Alnico 2

Stormy Monday Neck
Series – 7.265 K
Inductance – 3.836 H
Split – 3.619 K
Split – 3.651 K
Parallel – 1.8183 K
Magnet – Roughcast Alnico

To my ears, the Stormy Monday falls between The Mule set and the PG Blues set. All are excellent are capturing a snapshot of certain late-50s era PAF humbuckers. And I do genuinely like each of them for the respective strengths they bring to the party.

The Stormy Monday set is geared toward Blues, Country, Jazz, Funk, Indie, Reggae, and Classic Rock. I find that it is also good for heavy blues, hard rock, and even some brown-sound. As with most all BKP offerings, this set is available in 6, 7, and 8-string selections, with a choice of many different bobbin colors and cover options. And importantly to me, short or tall legs and vintage or 4-con lead wire.

For reference, this Bare Knuckle Pickups Stormy Monday humbucker pickup set evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller. Real cabs are Marshall 1960B cabs with Celestion Vintage 30s and G12M Greenbacks.

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