Guitar Pickup Review

Bare Knuckle Rebel Yell Humbucker Set

The Rebel Yell is a humbucker set that hit the market in 2006. Clearly, it’s a signature pickup for Billy Idol’s Grammy Award winning guitarist and co-collaborator Steve Stevens. Steve has been called the “fingers of rock”. Those fingers are all over some of the music that helps to define the 80s and send many a shredder to the woodshed.

“White Wedding”, “Hot In The City”, “Rebel Yell”, “Eyes Without A Face”, “Flesh For Fantasy”, “To Be A Lover”, Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana”, and the Top Gun anthem among countless others. His 1989 Atomic Playboys album is a big fat lesson in melodic shred.

BKP Rebel Yell Aged Double Cream
BKP Rebel Yell Aged Double Cream

The Rebel Yell set is going in a neutral-sounding double-hum super-strat style guitar. Maple neck with 25-1/2″ maple board and 22 frets. Tuning is E standard with 10-46 strings. Harness has Bourns 500K push-pull pots, Switchcraft 12120X 3-way toggle, and Pure Tone 1/4″ output jack. Each pickup goes to a push-pull pot for series/parallel operation.

Full Disclosure

I’ve been using the Rebel Yell bridge for about 10 years now, and have had a few of them. They’ve all had the “traditionally” standard longer filister poles.

What bring that up? Because BKP now uses filister screw length based on the leg length requested at the time of ordering… unless you specify otherwise. That is relevant to players that are going to “direct mount” the pickups, so that long poles don’t extend out deeper than short legs. We also know that filister pole length affects the magnetic field. That can result in a bigger or in a tighter vibe, depending on longer or shorter poles, respectively.

OK? And…? Well, I have the neck model in both variations. The most recent acquisition has the shorter filister poles and that is what I will be discussing in this article. Why? Because I like the response from this neck position with the shorter poles. Just a personal preference, your mileage may vary. If you aren’t sure which ones you will like, visit the BKP site to order spare screws and bolts experiment with what suits you.

Black Cover w Black Poles
Black Cover w Black Poles

The Rebel Yell is pretty darned clear-sounding pickup with a relative even-sounding equilibrium across the frequencies. Steve says that he likes The Mule for recording purposes as a reference-level tone. In some respects, this signature set does remind me of a hotter, beefed-up, more modern evolution from The Mule. The clarity, the responsiveness, the balance.

The neck (with the shorter poles) is deliberate and punchy, with the intent to present a sonic footprint that kicks through the mix. Plenty of cut and edge in the high end and mids that are musically vocal. The sleekly precise low end is great for heavy blues and detailed soloing. It responds well to the volume knob and it becomes practically pristine on a clean amp channel when you experiment with the 4-con wiring options.

In the bridge position, the Rebel Yell presents itself as an archetypical contemporary rock machine. A mid-14K of 43 AWG is a pretty healthy coil on that bobbin. It’s astonishing how it remains transparent and can avoid sounding tight or congested. This pickup takes control of any rock and/or metal style that is thrown it’s way. High octane riff-rock, fist-pumping arena anthems, finger-bending technical shred. This one had you covered.

BKP Rebel Yell Aged Nickel w Ray Gun
BKP Rebel Yell Aged Nickel w Ray Gun

Rebel Yell Bridge
Series – 14.542 K
Inductance – 7.765 H
Series – 7.32 K
Series – 7.332 K
Parallel – 3.644 K
Magnet – Roughcast Alnico 5

Rebel Yell Neck
Series – 8.468 K
Inductance – 4.059 H
Series – 4.235 K
Series – 4.228 K
Parallel – 2.114 K
Magnet – Roughcast Alnico 5

Black w Gold Poles
Black w Gold Poles

Here is an official demo of a Rebel Yell set in a HSH config, with a BKP ’63 Veneer in the middle position. Check it out:

Bare Knuckle Rebel Yell + ’63 Veneer Board Demo

And in an unquestionably rare appearance, here is a demo from yours truly. This is a back and forth between the Rebel Yell bridge and the Holy Diver bridge, played over a backing track. All guitars are me. Clean parts are a different pickup and different guitar.

00:00 – 00:31 BKP Rebel Yell
00:31 – 01:02 BKP Holy Diver
01:02 – 01:12 BKP Rebel Yell
01:12 – 01:24 BKP Holy Diver
01:24 – end BKP Rebel Yell

Aged Black w Aged Nickel Screws
Aged Black w Aged Nickel Screws

It might be easy to associate this with something Steve might had used in the past. But there is more that is unique than there is similar to whatever predecessors there may be. Within the realm of the Bare Knuckle modern category lineup, I might place it between the Holy Diver and the Nailbomb. It might be a hard choice to pick between the Rebel Yell and the Polymath.

The Rebel Yell set is going to be good for hard rock, garage, punk, progressive rock, fusion, shred, and 80s metal. It is available in 6, 7, and 8-string configurations. You can choose from over a dozen bobbin colors, and an incredible array of selection of covers, radiators, and TVs. You can customize with screw or bolt poles in about a half-dozen finishes. And of course, you have a selection of mounting leg length and type of lead wire.

For reference, this Bare Knuckle Pickups Rebel Yell 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 1960BMojotone British, and Peavey 6505 cabs loaded with Celestion Classic Series Vintage 30s and Classic Series G12M Greenbacks.

Bare Knuckle Pickups Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

7 string 59 Alnico 2 Alnico 3 Alnico 4 Alnico 5 Alnico 8 Bare Knuckle BKP Brown Sound Celestion Ceramic Custom Shop Dean DiMarzio DMT Dual Resonance EVH Fishman Floyd Rose Fluence Gibson Humbucker Ibanez JB Jimmy Page John Petrucci MJ Mojotone P90 PAF Pariah Pickup Satch Satriani Schaller Seymour Duncan Singlecoil Single Width Speaker Steve Vai Tech Tip Tremolo Virtual Vintage