Guitar Pickup Review

Bare Knuckle Painkiller 7 Humbucker Set

The Painkiller 7 is the next step along my search for 7-string excellence. While maybe not the most common application, the test bed is a first run Ibanez Universe. The uncommon part has more to do with the guitar than the pickups. LOL!

Reading my article on the Painkiller 6-string set, you can see my take is that it is a rip-roaring monster of a metal humbucker set. Metal isn’t the goal with selecting the Painkiller 7. I am looking for 7-string humbuckers that keep things together down low in addition to being most excellent across the other 6 strings.

When it comes to this Ibanez, an added bonus is that the green Bare Knuckle bobbin is a dead match for that shade of green you can find in a certain artist’s guitars. HaHa! So that’s pretty convenient motivation as well.

BKP Painkiller 7 black battleworn w black bolt
BKP Painkiller 7 black battleworn w black bolt

This Painkiller 7 humbucker set is going into that Ibanez Universe 7-string. That’s a basswood body, 24-fret maple neck, 25-1/2″ scale rosewood board, and Edge 7 locking tremolo system. The harness is original, as is the middle single coil. The guitar has a standard tuning of low B on the 7th, using 09-54 strings.

The Ibby Universe switching that I’ll be covering is as follows:

Ibanez Universe Switching
Ibanez Universe Switching
BKP Painkiller 7 burnt chrome battleworn cover w battleworn screws
BKP Painkiller 7 burnt chrome battleworn cover w battleworn screws

Overall, I’m digging the tuning of the midrange in this set. It can be a hard feat on a 7-string guitar, considering how many things are going on. Yet there is a deft balance at work here that manages to advance the better characteristics of the overall lows and highs.

The bridge position is meant for high-octane tones and it’s here for business. There is a pummeling precision in the low end and a firm presence in the highs. Players going for accurate riffing response will be happy here. This pickup is very sensitive to harmonics off all types and from positions all up and down the neck.

If you are looking for fun in the neck position, the Painkiller 7 is ready to play. It works hard to hold together on the B string’s extended range. And here is where I cheated. LOL! I ordered this set with regular filister screws. As I’m talking about in some of my Bare Knuckle articles, they also sell their poles directly to customers. Not just every company does that, so a tip ‘o the hat to BKP.

So, yes, I start with the low B string and I swap in some of the bolt poles and work my way on to the low E and so on. I quickly find a recipe that works for my purpose. By the way, that’s just putting bolts under each wound string. The result just firms-up the respective string(s) and gives a more rigid response. To be clear, that casts no doubts on the normal operating character of the Painkiller 7 neck. I’m saying that it’s great that BKP offers access to implementations that promote and allow players to best suit their specific needs.

In-Between Positions

In the 2 and 4 positions, all selections still have ceramic magnets. Even so, I’m finding the in-between spots to clean up for really nice pristine glassy tones on a clean amp channel. You might not think so when you look at the specs, but it’s a bit of a nice surprise. If you don’t have a 5-way HSH configuration, consider the following. In a Hum-Hum 3-way, configure the middle to blend a single coil from each humbucker. Or get a 5-way super switch for your Hum-Hum and discover all sorts of fun options for positions 2-to-4. Check out some options HERE.

BKP Painkiller 7 aged black w aged nickel screw
BKP Painkiller 7 aged black w aged nickel screw

Painkiller 7 Bridge
Series – 15.842 K
Inductance – 5.683 H
Split – 8.174 K
Split – 7.691 K
Parallel – 3.959 K
Magnet – Ceramic

Painkiller 7 Neck
Series – 13.937 K
Inductance – 5.009 H
Split – 7.078 K
Split – 6.882 K
Parallel – 3.486 K
Magnet – Ceramic

What do you say we look at that up next to the 6-string version:

Painkiller 6 Bridge
Series – 15.435 K
Inductance – 6.122 H
Split – 7.899 K
Split – 7.564 K
Parallel – 3.859 K
Magnet – Ceramic

Painkiller 6 Neck
Series – 13.513 K
Inductance – 5.396 H
Split – 6.823 K
Split – 6.722 K
Parallel – 3.382 K
Magnet – Ceramic

BKP Painkiller 7 double cream w nickel screws
BKP Painkiller 7 double cream w nickel screws

As with the Aftermath and Aftermath 7, you can see how similar the specs are on paper. And as I talk about, it details the differences between the schools of thought toward a 7-string version of a 6-string model, and vice versa. Some have the approach of putting the same number of turns on the different coil. That will result in wildly different amounts of wire, inductance, and resistance. And the other approach is to make it the goal to match the tone, regardless of the bobbin size or number of strings. Doesn’t it look to you that is what Bare Knuckle is doing here?

BKP Painkiller 7 black w gold bolts
BKP Painkiller 7 black w gold bolts

The Painkiller 7 is going to be good for Punk, Hardcore, Hard Rock, Progressive Metal, Djent Metal, Nu-Metal, Thrash, Death Metal, Shred, and Extreme Metal styles. I find the set to be versatile enough to get in to Garage, Heavy Rock, Fusion, Metalcore, Grunge, Progressive Rock, and Tech Metal. It’s very much a take on legendary distortion-class humbucker for a modern player.

Like most Bare Knuckle humbuckers, the Painkiller is available in 6, 7, and 8-string variations. There are over a dozen bobbin colors and pole screw options to choose from when ordering. If you like covers, BKP offers many cover and radiator selections to personalize your humbuckers.

For reference, this Bare Knuckle Painkiller 7 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 in use are Marshall 1960BMojotone British, and Peavey 6505 cabs loaded with Celestion Classic Series Vintage 30s, Classic Series G12M Greenbacks, and Heritage Series G12-65s.

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