“The Nomads can get super heavy without any unwanted spikiness, but also respect the original early ‘50s tele tones”: Rabea Massaad and Bare Knuckle team-up again for signature Telecaster pickup set

Bare Knuckle has unveiled the Nomad electric guitar pickup set, marking the British brand’s third signature collaboration with Rabea Massaad with a pair of single-coils that have been designed to give a dynamic, modern voicing for the Telecaster in your life.

You can buy the Nomad as a set or individually as bridge or neck pickups, with Bare Knuckle offering a typically generous array of finish and wiring options. The bridge pickup comes with green and black cloth ‘push back’ hookup by default but you can have it with aged or unaged finishes. 

The neck single-coil, meanwhile, has a cornucopia of options, from all different hues of metal – nickel, aged nickel and chrome for an old-school look, Camo Battleworn for the Call Of Duty enthusiast who has recently discovered James Burton – to Bare Knuckle's metal-ringed TVS finishes.

The Nomad set takes its lead from Massaad’s Triptych set for Stratocasters, with an Alnico III magnet on the bridge pickup, an Alnico V on the neck.

The bridge pickup has a flat magnet profile with a thick copper-plated steel baseplate as per the vintage ‘50s style, and is wound hot with 43 AWG plain enamel wire “to deliver a combination of muscular output, plus masses of dynamic headroom”.

Bare Knuckle Rabea Massaad Nomad

(Image credit: Bare Knuckle Pickups)

This vintage-modern vibe was what Massaad needed from the bridge pickup – it had to be something that today’s player could use for high-gain electric guitar tones while still being identifiably a Telecaster pickup.

“That was one of the first things I wanted to address: can we have a bridge pickup that has that aggression, that grunt,” says Massaad, “but also a good dynamic range for that early ‘50s sound, but by taming that sort of ice-pick area, 3-5kHz, something like that.”

Wound to complement that hot bridge single-coil, the neck pickup similarly has a 43 AWG plain enamel wire build. Bare Knuckle promises that distinctive Fender snappiness but also a bit of meat behind single notes. 

Massaad’s sonic MO typically involves lots of gain, tight and aggressive modern progressive metal guitar sounds for rhythm parts, with the adroit deployment of various reverb and delay pedals to add space and ambience – not to mention the octave-down and synthesizer tones he teases out of his superlative Neural DSP Archetype: Rabea plugin suite.

But the Telecaster is a huge part of his sound, and can be heard across his discography.

“I’ve always loved using Telecaster tones on my recordings,” he says. “They have an aggressive mid range that just brings that extra bit of gnarliness to heavier guitar tones and they also add wonderful clarity to clean and mid-gain tones.”

“When designing the Nomads I wanted to create something more controlled and powerful that would cater to my heavier sounds just as much as the ambient and cleaner side of what I do.

“The Nomads can get super heavy without any unwanted spikiness, but also respect the original early ‘50s tele tones for all the lower gain chime and spank that I love.”

The Bare Knuckle Nomad set is priced from £261, with individual pickups starting at £134. For more details, head over to Bare Knuckle Pickups. And to hear how they sound in action, check out the demo videos featuring Massaad above.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.