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These compositions were written at the time they were recorded for the sake of trying the gear described. Be prepared for poor performance & raw/unmixed state.

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Bare Knuckle Pickups

I turned into Bare Knuckle Pickup world by an accident pretty much & plain curiosity. I used to use Senior Duncan & Gibson pickups and quite honestly didn’t believe in the whole hand wound pickup hype. Now first of all let me tell you that Senyor Duncan & Gibson make very fine pickups, they have their unique character & there are many places where they are just the right tool for the job. When I bought my first ESP Horizon NT-II it came with Senior Duncan JB & 59 in it, it was a fine guitar, very well crafted, amazing neck & playability: that said being a long time Les Paul Custom player it sounded not thick enough for me. I bought my first set of Bare Knuckle Nailbombs, ceramic Nailbomb bridge & alnico neck, dropped them off together with my ESP Horizon NT-II with my guitar tech for a quick pickup chance. Now my guitar tech have seen so much gear coming in & out, that you never really see him excited about anything, it’s like “Yea, another guitar & pickup, dah”. So I was driving by early in the morning next day & decided to stop by & see if he got it finished by any chance. He was like “I wish you would come back later, because that thing sounds so great that I wanna play it”. So I grab the ESP Horizon with the new set of Bare Knuckle Nailbombs, plug into his Orange Rockerverb, still not expecting much & BAM!! Something extraordinary came out of the amp; big, transparent, powerful, musically, dynamically & harmonically rich. Stunning!! I came home & immediately tried it with Diezel Herbert & Bare Knuckles just shined through it. All Bare Knuckle pickups have something in common, what I call Bare Knuckle trademark sweet midrange & hi-fi sound. You can’t miss it, you either love it or hate it. Bare Knuckle pickups can be ordered with custom beautiful looking covers.


My experience with Bare Knuckle Pickups

Now before I start giving my opinion about different models, I just want to make sure that everybody understands that each pickup sounds different in different guitars, with different amp rigs, strings, different settings & playing techniques. You really can not predict the results until you install it in your guitar & try it for yourself. I have had MANY pickups & they all sounded great through one amp & like a complete disaster through a different amp.

Bare Knuckle Pickups Nailbomb & Bare Knuckle Pickups Warpig

Bare Knuckle Nailbombs (ceramic bridge is the one I’ve tried) sounds great coil tapped, clean or dirty, at least to my ear. It's the most versatile pickup I know of, amazing versatility & phenomenal for metal. but it's definitely not the right pickup to play BB King. Amazing versatility & phenomenal for metal. Smooth & aggressive & juicy is how I would describe the Nailbomb, full sounding from top to bottom, not overly pronounced anywhere, though there is a slight accent on high mids. Bare Knuckle Nailbombs are incredible live, hard to think of a pickup that would outperform them on stage. Bare Knuckle Warpig is very high output only on the specs sheet, in practice the Nailbomb & Warpig have pretty much the same output; all that extra output goes to power the low end. When I first got the Warpigs (ceramic bridge again), I was under the impression that it's the pickup to use if you want to go overboard with gain, which didn't work out very well. Then, when I started discovering that I like less gain, I gave the Warpig another try & it was incredible. Sounds right & has a unique character. Big low end & low midrange, actually really big! Not so pronounced in high mids & slight forwardness in the high end for clarity. I have 2 sets of Bare Knuckle Warpigs now & they are incredible pickups, I love how these sound with Diezel VH4. In contrast to Nailbombs’ versatility, the Warpigs have metal & death metal written all over them.

Bare Knuckle Pickups Painkiller

Bare Knuckle Painkiller sounded like high quality Duncan Distortion with thicker high mids. I thought that’s what Duncan Distortion should sound like, the Painkiller has the same kind of character, without that annoying fuzz & loose feel. This pickup has overbearing & thick high mid content, cutting like a knife, yet not harsh sounding, tight low end, gives a very present, upfront sound. For my taste Bare Knuckle Painkiller lacked lower midrange, which was the reason I sold it. That said I wouldn’t mind having it around. It’s an aggressive metal pickup, works well for those who like extreme amounts of gain.

Bare Knuckle Pickups Emerald & Bare Knuckle Pickups Rebel Yell

Bare Knuckle Emerald is dry & raw in my experience, very tight low end, crunchy mids. Awesome rock pickup. Emerald neck is my favorite pickup in a Les Paul, coil tapped cleans are just amazing, it's so good, that it's almost unreal. Bridge is a great dry pickup, which works extremely well with amps that have loose feel. The only thing that I wished the Emerald bridge had would be a little more output & that's why I went with a Rebel Yell. Bare Knuckle Rebel Yell has bigger low end, more loose fell & higher output. It still is a tight pickup, just not as tight as the Emerald. These two Bare Knuckle pickups are rock heavens. You can use both for metal or something heavier too, if you have to, that said there are better pickups for that.

Bare Knuckle Pickups Holy Diver

I was told that Bare Knuckle Holy Diver was crafter after Duncan JB. I personally didn’t find it sounding like JB at all. It had mellow character to it with some unusual sounding high mid content, which I personally didn’t care for. It wasn’t bad, just not the kind of sound I’d be after. You can check out any recording done with Bare Knuckle Holy Diver & it’s so apparent, that you will immediately hear it. It’s a unique sound & if you dig it, than it might just be your thing, otherwise, I’d stay clear of these. Holy Diver doesn’t have a lot of output, but it’s not low output either, it’s more like a middle man pickup, both spec wise & sound wise, it’s neither here nor there.

Bare Knuckle Pickups Miracle Man

Bare Knuckle Miracle Man is believed to be crafted after famous active EMG pickups, very often recommended as a passive equivalent for those who complain about EMGs sounding sterile. The main difference between Miracle Man & say Ceramic Nailbomb is that Miracle Man's cut is pronounced at lower frequency (the reason for EMG81 reference) than Nailbomb, which gives you overall darker/rounder sound in the mix. It doesn't cut any more or less. The Miracle Man however is really different from the Nailbomb in many ways, it’s clearly metal oriented, likes a lot of gain, I don’t find it versatile at all. The pickup is powerful, with tons of output, you can hear the crunch of ceramic magnet. Great forward sound yet leaves enough space for vocals. I didn’t find it sounding like EMG 81 in the room that much, however in the mix it’s pretty much dead on, so the fundamental is there.

Bogner Uberschall Review and Revisions Explained

Bogner Uberschall was the very beginning of my venture into the boutique amp world. This creation of Reinhold Bogner sets a new standard for extreme preamp saturation & the most fun to play amp I’ve ever had at home. I had the blue revision of Uberschall. It had a beautiful midrange, nice thick & warm sound, lots of lots of gain, loose feel. I personally think the sound of Bogner Uberschall has a lot of Mesa Boogie Rectifier sound in it, slightly leaning towards Marshalls and something new from Bogner. I’m not a big fan of EMG 81s, but they sure sounded great with this amp. Playing it feels great, it certainly likes 4x12 cabinets, there is always plenty of gain, has metal written all over it. This amp is for heavy styles of music. Sure many things can be played on any amp, but metal is what the Uberschall does best & intended for. In all fairness to Bogner, that’s exactly how they advertise the product, so if you buy it expecting it to do other things, you have only yourself to blame. Now on stage at bigger venues is where I don’t like Bogner Uberschall so much. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad at all, it’s simply not as powerful as products from Diezel like Herbert or VH4. At low to moderate volumes this amp is really good though and might be a dream amp for a metal player who prefers more loose feel to his sound. The presence on the gain channel of the Uberschall acts like a midcut, act nothing like presence on any other amp I’ve tried. If you want more scooped sound, roll down the presence & you have it, no need to cut the mids. Rolling down the gain gives you a little tighter sound. I didn’t find the clean channel on this amp anything to rave about, however it’s not a bad clean channel. I believe this was the reason they revised it, at least to get some variety out of it. Anyways, if you have enough to spend on a special metal machine, I’d recommend giving the Uberschall a go.


Bogner Uberschall revisions explained by Rig-Talk member “Death by Uberschall”

“This is the basic rundown of the Uberschalls:”

Bogner Uberschall Original
“Original - Fast gain taper on Gain Channel (some have said almost like an Off/On kind of jump in gain), high plate voltage, good power section compression/sag when pushed, Clean Channel volume slightly lower than Gain Channel by comparison, plastic carry handle (although some Original Uberschalls got the leather handle just prior to transitioning into the Rev2), EL34”

Bogner Uberschall Revision 2
“Rev2 - Reduced gain taper on Gain Channel (same gain, just more controllable), high plate voltage, good power section compression/sag when pushed, Clean Channel volume slightly lower than Gain Channel by comparison, leather carry handle, EL34”

Bogner Uberschall Revision Blue
“Revision Blue - Same basic gain structure, lower plate voltage, less power section compression/sag when pushed, Clean Channel volume matched closer to Gain Channel, re-design of circuits, addition of Loop volume control, bias test points, power jewel changed to smaller LED type, dedicated design ability to allow power section slaving from an outside source (but this can be accomplished on Original/Rev2 versions), EL34”

Bogner Uberschall Twin Jet
“Twin Jet 1.0 - Gain Channel re-design in a direction towards the Original/Rev2 designs, plate voltage unknown at this time so I can't say, less power section compression (due to the design switch to KT88 power tubes), Clean channel re-do in the direction of a high gain modded Marshall tone with very little ability to get a truly clean sound, addition of power section Presence and Depth controls, KT88

Twin Jet 1.1 - The same as 1.0 but with a modded gain taper on the clean channel, same level of gain available as 1.0 with the ability to go lower gain and clean up better

Now keep in mind, I made up TJ 1.0/1.1 for the purpose of comparison  , I don't think Bogner looks at them that way. Bogner does offer to perform the Clean Channel mod for anybody who owns what I call 1.0 at no charge.

These are the main differences I know about. I don't know specific component values between the different versions from a design stand point, but I can say my descriptions above, for the most part, are right on the money by way of research, comparisons and the general consensus from those who have had time with them. The volume difference between the Clean Channel and Gain Channel on the Original and Rev2 seem to be exaggerated. Yes there is a difference, but nothing that can't be fixed by just turning the Clean Channel Volume control up a little more than the Gain Channel volume control. Another words, adjust the amp with you ears, not your eyes.”


How to Bias Bogner Uberschall Revision Blue

You can find how to bias Bogner Uberscahll Revision Blue here


Bogner Uberschall bias instructions


Diezel Einstein - REVIEW

Diezel Einstein 100wt - E34Ls/12AX7s

I ran the Diezel Einstein mostly with my modified Avatar OS 1x12 loaded with a Black Label EVM12L & Bogner OS 2x12 with EVM12Ls. A great match! I liked this Diezel amp the best with my ESP Horizon with Bare Knuckle Nailbombs. I was expecting the Bare Knuckle Emeralds & Bare Knuckle Rebel Yell do the blues & rock thing better, but surprisingly they didn’t. Overall I found this to be a great rock, nu-metal & “neo”blues amp.

Diezel Einstein has a lot of low mids, very nice & thick, singing midrange, no ear piercing highs, yet open & full and a good amount of low end, the power amp is powerful. Overall feel is pretty loose, especially compared to Diezel products like Diezel Herbert or Diezel VH4, more compressed compared to a Soldano SLO or Bogner XTC 101B. To my ear the amp sounds better at lower to loud volumes. The Einstein looses its greatness of the feel when played really loud. It was also the best bedroom amp I’ve ever played, to me this 100wter sounds so much better than 5wt amps at the same volume.........

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A-Designs ATTY, A-Designs Pacifica, A-Designs MP-2 (MP-2A) Review

Follow the link below for my review of these 3 A-Designs products.

A-Designs ATTY, A-Designs Pacifica, A-Designs MP-2 (MP-2A) Review


Soldano Avenger with SLO/DeYoung Transformer, Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier, Diezel Herbert - REVIEW/COMPARISON

Soldano Avenger with SLO/DeYoung Transformer - 6L6s
Mesa Boogie 3ch Triple Rectifier - 6L6s
Diezel Herbert - EL34s

I ran everything with 2 Bogner OS 2x12s, one loaded with EVM12Ls, the other with v30/75 & an Avatar OS 1x12 loaded with a Black Label EVM12L.


Soldano Avenger with SLO transformer

This amp is pretty much as minimum as it gets. Absolute lack of features, to the point that very few will be able or would like to use it live. I find an amp with no loop in 21st century bordering with ridiculous personally.

Mesa Triple Rectifier

Abundance of features here, so many that I find it overwhelming & in some cases differences are so subtle that they could as well not be there. With all that this amp lacks one very important knob - deep/depth, call it what you like. If there is nobody offering such a modification, then there should be someone, it will turn this thing into a monster.

Diezel Herbert

Great features, top notch loop & midi on top of that. What else could you ask from the Diezel Herbert.........

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Diezel Herbert, Diezel VH4, Bogner XTC 101B, Bogner Uberschall - REVIEW/COMPARISON

Bogner Uberschall Blue Revision - Stock Chinese 12AX7s / JJ EL34s
Bogner XTC 101B 2008 - Stock Chinese 12AX7s / JJ EL34s
Diezel Herbert Second Revision - Penta Labs 12AX7s / 4 SED EL34s & 2 JJ E34Ls
Diezel VH4 2007 - TAD 12AX7s / TAD EL34s


I guess I should start with that these are very different animals. Bogner XTC 101B with no doubt is the most versatile head I’ve ever had to deal with & very complex. I really can not picture somebody demoing it in the store; hell, it took me about an hour only to figure out what is what on this amp. If a studio owner asked me for a single head to cover a wide variety of music (pop/jazz/blues/rock/metal/etc), I would recommend an XTC 101B without hesitating for a second. I find it difficult to imagine something that it won’t do. That said I find myself reaching for 101B very rarely next to my other amps. There is something sweet & unique about the Diezel Herbert, Diezel VH4 & Bogner Uberschall that tends to draw my attention, for me the sweet channel of Bogner 101B is the clean channel, I can't get enough of it.

I’m gonna compare all the 4 amps at once so I don’t have to come back to this again. 

My comparison will be for studio performance & not live playing. I’ve tested my amps with various Bogner & Mesa Boogie (1x12, 2x12, 4x12) cabinets & I mostly like how they glue with Bogner cabinets. I really like to have V30s mixed with some other speakers to get the best out of them, I especially like EVM12L & V30s combination. Very often I use EVM12Ls only.

Cleans & not only:

Bogner Ecstasy 101B Channel 1 - Clean channel on XTC can go from fender tweed cleans (which sounds mind blowing good with the nicest top end I’ve ever heard; you can find great instructions how to dial the amp on Bogner amp forum) to dirty cleans & a few other variations of clean tones all sounding from amazing to good & non less (imagine 3 pre EQ settings + boost + 3 different variations of excursion (tight/medium/loose) on each channel, these features already make your head spin & yet in addition to this plexi mod, old/new style, A/AB switch if you get the option! I’ll be honest with you, there are a lot of sounds in this head that I’m not even aware of, it can take forever to explore it). 

Diezel VH4 Channel 1 - VH4 cleans are not really clean cleans, the channel breaks up pretty fast. I found VH4 to be very specially voiced amp on all the 4 channels, that’s where its strong point is, this amp sounds like a grown up musician in his 60s, calm, but experienced, not aggressive, but can kick the young man’s butt if he has to. Diezel VH4 is an amazing addition to any studio, especially if you already have another amp or two; it blends with other amps wonderfully. VH4 is very very tight, I haven’t experienced this even with VHT amps, which are tight as hell & dryer than the Diezel amps. If you mute the strings, expect a full stop; I don’t know how, it’s like there is a short attack & release noise gate, only there isn’t one! Diezel VH4 comes to live with master high & I mean it; 2-3:00 is the sweet spot for me. Cleans go from somewhat gritty cleans to a little breakup cleans. You could sit down & play this channel & feel like you had an acoustic guitar in your hands; some cool arpeggios, some blues, some classical, some strumming - all sound non less than amazing & tight & if you have a good sounding guitar, you will notice the wood, as you would with an acoustic guitar. If I was sitting home & wanted to enjoy playing some clean electric guitar, VH4 ch1 would be great for it. Compared to Bogner Ecstasy 101B this sounds nothing alike, but mixed together they blow my mind.

Diezel Herbert Channel 1 - Herbert cleans have incorporated some modern....


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Do cables sound different or what?

WAV file at 24/96, Ibanez Iceman 400->6FT Long Cable->MP-2->ProVLA->Adi8DS
Conquest - George L - Monster Bass - Monster Guitar - Mogami 2549

1) Conquest 15$
2) George L 20$
3) Monster Bass 35$
4) Monster Guitar 30$
5) Custom Made Mogami 2549 with Neutrik Gold Connectors 18$


Shure SM57 & Unidyne III 545L

The difference is there, vintage 545L does sound better, at least to my ear.

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CAD Trion 7000 - Ribbon Sag

After many unsuccessful attempts to contact CAD I finally decided to disassemble them & I found something very interesting. Many thanks to Michael Joly ( for helping to fix this. I've got 2 Trion 7000s, both had this problem, one more, the other less. Co-incidence? Maybe.

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Royer R-121 head to head with CAD Trion 7000 (after retensioning the ribbons)

Royer 121 clip with Diezel Herbert clean channel
CAD Trion 7000 clip with Diezel Herbert clean channel


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