“The best Tele tones I've ever had”: Rabea Massaad seeks to make the Telecaster more versatile than ever with new Bare Knuckle Nomad pickups

 Bre Knuckle Nomads.
Bre Knuckle Nomads.
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Three is the magic number for Bare Knuckle Pickups and Rabea Massaad, who have announced their third collaborative pickup project, the Nomads – a set of Telecaster single-coil electric guitar pickups.

The release follows the success of the Silo humbuckers, which Massaad worked on with Bare Knuckle founder Tim Mills and production wizard Adam 'Nolly' Getgood, four years ago.

They were succeeded by the Triptych single-coils in 2023, and while that set its sights on redefining Stratocaster sounds – heck, we dubbed that set the most versatile Stratocaster pickups on the market – this time it's the Telecaster that represents the duo's tonal starting point.

Regardless of genre and playing style, Telecasters have long stood as studio staples. That’s something riff machine Massaad recognized when approaching the Nomads’ creation.

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

Through the pickups’ design, Massaad adds that he wanted to create something “controlled and powerful that would cater to my heavier sounds just as much as the ambient and cleaner side of what I do”.

The result is a set of single-coils that can seemingly get planet-crushingly heavy while remaining free of “unwanted spikiness”.

Importantly, there’s a sensitivity to heritage here, too. Massaad says there is deep respect for the original early ‘50s Tele tones, especially regarding the Nomads’ low-gain output and ability to spank.

The Bare Knuckle website asserts the single coils – with neck and bridge positions available as a set or individually – are ideal for blues, hard rock, metal, alternative, and progressive playing styles.

When installed in ash or alder body models with maple fretboards, the set's creator says the tones will add “depth and extension” in the bottom end and a more solid punch in the upper mids. They’re “equally at home” when paired with rosewood 'boards, promising to deliver serious weight behind every note.

In practice, the pickups look to offer a balanced blend of bass, mid, and treble, with the treble cutting just above the rest. The bridge pickup comprises an Alnico 3 magnet, while the neck unit makes use of an Alnico 5 magnet.

The magnet combination builds on the Triptych Strat design. With a flat magnet profile and ticker, and a '50s style copper-plated steel baseplate in the bridge, it offers a “muscular” output that brings a dash of heritage into the modern-minded pickups.

Bare Knuckle Nomads
Bare Knuckle Nomads

Bare Knuckle calls the Nomads “a dynamic and engaging Telecaster pickup set created to fulfill his huge palette of tonal colors”. Massaad, on the other hand, says they provide “the best Tele tones I've ever had”.

A full set starts from £261.60 (approx. $335).

For more information, head to Bare Knuckle.

In other news, Massaad is now officially a part of the Ernie Ball family, having released his two long-awaited signature Music Man Sabre guitars earlier this year. He spoke to Guitar World about the builds in detail, saying he wanted them to be “as tonally versatile as possible”.

Wonder if we'll see a Telecaster-style build from the firm down the line…