BKP (Bare Knuckle Pickups) 8 String Cold Sweat Pickup

Recently, I got a call to play on a forthcoming X-box title and the composer asked me to bring a couple of guitars for some uptempo rock solos. (Unfortunately, I can’t post any audio from the session – but when the game releases I’ll post a link to any trailers for it.)

The session seemed like the perfect time to bring out my Schecter Omen 8 – particularly since I recently got Seth Mayer to install a Bareknuckle Cold Sweat Pickup and a kill switch on it.


Bare Knuckle Pickups

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bare Knuckle Pickups, they are one of the few companies that are making hand-wound (!!) passive 8 string pickups (in addition to their 6 and 7 string line).

When I was first looking into this – I sent an email to Tim Mills, to see what he recommended for someone needing a lot of tonal flexibility with a basswood body 8 string and he recommended the painkiller.  After reading the forums and listening to a lot of samples – I found that Axe Palace had an 8 string cold sweat neck pickup in stock for $160 and I bit the bullet.

(BTW – I had a really good experience with the Axe Palace guys, so if you’re looking for a U.S. Dealer to purchase from – I’d recommend them.)


Cold Sweat Neck Close Up

The new Bare Knuckle website is excellent and absolutely full of useful information.  For example here are some specs taken from the bare Knuckle Website.  Each pick up now has this information posted so it’s really easy to compare and contrast different pickups and get a good idea about how they’re going to sound.

There are some mp3s on the Bare Knuckle Cold Sweat page – but having done some quick mp3s of the original schecter pickups, I thought I would post a couple of mp3s for comparison.

First, here is the Line 6 POD Farm patch I’m using for both clan and dirty sounds:

Here is a 4 octave B minor scale played with a clean tone ascending and descending using the neck (cold sweat), middle (Cold sweat and stock bridge) and Bridge (Schecter).

Here is a 4 octave B minor scale played with a dirty tone ascending and descending using the same pickup order as the clean tone.

Here are some clean chords played on the upper strings.  While the pickup allows for a coil tap – I didn’t have have the push pull pot to have it wired for that – but I’m sure that allowing for a coil tap – would give clean sounds like this even more tonal variety.

Here is chunk style low end riff.  The amp setting here is a little muddy to begin with – so you’ll notice that the Schecter actually cuts through pretty well.

And here is the same idea but with the tube screamer turned on.  With the added gain – the Cold Sweat takes on more definition.


A quick sum up

This is a short review, because rather than regurgitate a lot of information that’s on their website – I’d recommend that you go straight to the source and get the full description.

For the xbox title – I ended up playing the FNH Ultrasonic and the Schecter in front of a Marshall 4×12 and for leads – the Cold Sweat made the Schecter just scream.

The fact that they’re hand wound – is insane to me – in the best way possible.  It speaks volumes about the commitment to excellence that BNK has towards its products and tone.  This isn’t the cheapest pickup that you’ll ever buy – but it blows an EMG out of the water and comes with a lifetime warranty.  Buying a Omen and installing one of these in it – is still cheaper than a Damien Elite – and I think it’s a better sounding guitar.  You owe it to yourself to check out what they’re doing.

Schecter Omen 8 String Review Part 2 – String Observations And Sound Clips

Some observations about strings

I mentioned a lot of the issues I had with the  low F# string in part one of this review, as well as some specifics of getting an .007 up to pitch as the high A string.  I still haven’t has a change to get the guitar properly set up, so everything I’m posting here should be taken with a grain of salt.

While an .007 D’Addario can be stretched up to pitch on the 26.5″ scale neck and the strings can be bent a 1/2 step or so from the 12th fret up – it is pretty tempermental (I snapped the 5 strings I ordered from juststrings.com over the course of a couple of days).  Since the Octave4Plus strings may take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to get shipped, I’ve ordered 30 sets of the .007s in the meantime (about $.50 a string versus about $6 a string for the Ocatve4plus – but if those strings don’t snap when you look at them the wrong way – it’s a good investment).

I like the D’addario .010 7 string pack set a lot for this guitar.  With the extra scale length – the tension is a little closer to an .011.  While I can’t really bend on the .007 – I can dig in on the other strings and be a little more aggressive with the bending.

Because I ran out of .007s (and none of the local music stores stock them) I found place that carried single .008s.  Those strings will not handle being tuned to high A (apparently Octave4Plus .008s can handle this tension at this scale – FYI) – so I’ve been playing the guitar tuned down a 1/2 step to acomodate the high Ab.


Some modifications you may want to make / Design Recommendations


  • The tuners really can’t handle the strings at this pitch.  Since the guitar has 4 tuners on a side – you would need to purchase two 6 string sets to replace them.  While I like Steinberger tuners – I’d have to think quite a bit before I sank $200 into tuners on any guitar.  I’d recommend using the highest gear ratio you can get.

  • While the pickups are better than what you’d expect on a budget guitar, they are a little lackluster.  Here is the sound of a B minor scale played with the neck, middle and bridge pickup settings on a clean amp setting in AU lab with PodFarm.

(Note – if you have a problem hearing the mps3 just refresh your browser window – it’s a little glitchy in Safari but seems to work fine in other browsers.)

Also – while I could have edited the clips a little tighter – the hum from the CRT is present in the clips so this should be a realistic testing environment of what some one would get just pluging this into their laptop.

Here is the sound of a B minor scale played with the neck, middle and bridge pickup settings on a dirty amp setting.

Here is the sound of a dirge type of riff played with the neck pickup.

Here is the sound of a dirge type of riff played with the middle pickup settings.

Here is the sound of a dirge type of riff played with the bridge pickup.

I plan on swaping these out with Bare Knuckle Pickups at some point.  While you could spend $200 more and get a Damien Elite – with better tuners and an EMG set – I’m not really psyched about the EMG tones.  I’d rather have $200 to spend on pickups I like rather than spend $200 more on a guitar and still have to swap out the pickups.



Since this initial post – I’ve had a Bare Knuckle cold sweat put into the neck position.  Info, pics and mp3’s here.

  • I like the belly cut a lot – but I plan on getting a wrist cut added to the body to cut down on the slab feeling when playing it.
  • As I mentioned before – the 24th fret on anything other than the highest string is pretty much just for show.  If you really wanted to access those frets, you need to modify the bout.

Final Thoughts

When I play a chord like this C major 9 #11 (if you listen under headphones – you can hear all the harmonics ringing out at the end like a piano with the sustain pedal on) I’m surprised that more people don’t go this route.  Eight string guitars may not be for everyone – but for those of you who are feeling adventurous this is not only most inexpensive entry point for exploration, it also gets you a guitar that is very similar in features to the model that’s $200 more – and stand up to other eight strings costing more than twice as much.

Thanks for reading!