The Old Guard humbucker set is part of Bare Knuckle’s Boot Camp series of pickups. The Boot Camp line originates from early 2018 as a ready-to-go and more accessible option for many players.
Bare Knuckle has a reputation for a cornucopia of options. Especially on their humbuckers. Colors, covers, and poles. Did I mention covers? LOL! BKP still raises the bar for cover customization that never ceases to amaze customers. As such, the lion’s share of the main menu can be understandably made-to-order.
So, what’s the deal with the Boot Camp series? Imagine going to your local butcher. You can pick from a selection of fresh cuts from that very morning. Maybe a regimented selection of common picks. Grab and go. Or you can also look in the case and specify your exact preference of weight, marbling, and so on. Both from the same shop. Probably even from the same cow (or lamb, pig, etc.). Either will put ample sustenance on the plate. The Boot Camp is that standardized, ready-to-take choice.
Right off the bat, the Boot Camp line comes with labels on the baseplates! A choir of angels sings!
The Old Guard series would be analogous to what most consider “classic” tones. I’ll go as far as to suggest that will suffice if you consider the 1970s to be “classic”. Let’s take a look at why.
The Old Guard humbuckers have a reading of about 9k for the bridge and about 7.9 for the neck. Taking a wild guess that 42 AWG is in play, that’s bordering on vintage-hot range. That wire appears to be poly, which pulls it from the traditional PAF bucket as well. In other words, this puts it on par with what a few mass-production winders are serving up in the 70s. Just to say that there is a level of familiarity going on. That can be handy.
For this application, I’m going with the same guitar in play for the Silo and Aftermath evaluations from earlier. A double cut 2-humbucker mahogany body with maple neck and maple fingerboard. The harness contains the same BKP pots and caps. 550k pots, 0.022μF cap for the bridge, and the 0.015μF cap for the neck. The guitar has 10-46 strings and is in E standard tuning.
The Old Guard humbucker set has a nice overall balance to it. I can see where many players will look at the specs and conjure many of the trite pitfalls of the genre: too scooped or too bright or too boomy. The Bare Knuckle lads deftly navigate beyond those trappings.
The bridge position has just enough push to rock out without being compressed but still be full-sounding. The low end is punchy and the high end has some edge. The mid range is really even, which more of a growl than a roar or a bark. Riffing is firm while chords ring open. The Old Guard bridge can easily get you in to “brown” territory as well.
I’m liking what the neck Old Guard is serving up. Full, bold low end that is not muddy or woofy. The mids are tuned to be quite musical. None of that wonky nasal honkiness happening here. LOL! Pick your blues solo. Straight blues. Hard blues. Blues rock. They all live inside the Old Guard neck. It seems to be a tricky thing for some, so it’s nice when a place like Bare Knuckle manages it.
Old Guard Humbucker Bridge
Series – 9.044 K
Inductance – 4.675 H
Split – 4.542 K
Split – 4.499 K
Parallel – 2.261 K
Magnet – Alnico 2
Old Guard Humbucker Neck
Series – 7.951 K
Inductance – 3.875 H
Split – 3.989 K
Split – 3.96 K
Parallel – 1.987 K
Magnet – Alnico 2
Want to see/hear a sample? Here is a demo of the entire Old Guard line, with the humbucker kicking in around 1:20…
The Old Guard is good for blues, rock, country, pop, and alternative styles.
The Boot Camp series humbuckers are available in 6 and 7-string variations with standard or wide pole spacing. They come with 4-conuctor wiring and triangle tab mounting feet. Nickel and gold covers are an option, as well as black or zebra bobbins.
For reference, this Bare Knuckle Pickups Boot Camp Old Guard humbucker set evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller. Real cabs in use are Marshall 1960B, Mojotone British, and Peavey 6505 cabs loaded with Celestion Classic Series Vintage 30s and Classic Series G12M Greenbacks.
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