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Thoughts on the "best" PAF reproduction

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  • Thoughts on the "best" PAF reproduction

    I'm interested in your thoughts on who you think makes the best replicate of a PAF. There's a slew of handwinders out there, all claiming to reproduce the PAF faithfully, but we all know it's all about the sound. I'm planning to gut my LP for all new electronics, starting with the PUs. They're just OK; I need them to sing. The guitar itself is too good of a player to replace it with another and its quite a looker, too. Those flame tops!...
    So who has the real tone monster...any thoughts?

  • #2
    For me it would be the BB Pros or '57 Classics for real PAF sounds. I've heard things about SD's and a few other big name manufacturers but haven't tried them myself.

    If you are looking at other manufacturers I'd consider the toneriders or BG pickups, I've heard great things about both. The thing about the PAF sound to me is that it is a sound based upon variations in windings so basically they weren't consistent to begin with. Which PAF sound is the one that is being targeted for which pickup? For me I want something a little bit loose in the bottom end without sounding thuddy or muddy, some good mids and tighter around the high end without being shrill.

    The BB Pros were exactly what I was looking for, but others can't stand them. I hate the 490R/498T pickups and others love them. Its going to really come down to what your definition of a good PAF sound is in the end. Listen to some of the clips on the tonerider and BG websites and try to concentrate on the harmonic overtones and coloring rather than the amps. I hate the fact they recorded all of their clips through amps that I will probably never be able to afford. They sound amazing most of the time though.
    <div class="signaturecontainer"><font color="black"><font size="1"><font color="gray">AxeFXII with these: </font></font><font size="1"><a href="http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z4/ashasha3/CP/1.jpg" target="_blank">Axis</a></font><font size="1"> | <a href="http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z4/ashasha3/CP/2.jpg" target="_blank">BMG RS</a> | <a href="http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z4/ashasha3/CP/3.jpg" target="_blank">Strat</a> |<a href="http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z4/ashasha3/CP/9.jpg" target="_blank">N4</a>| <a href="http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z4/ashasha3/CP/5.jpg" target="_blank">LP Classic</a> | <a href="http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z4/ashasha3/CP/6.jpg" target="_blank">SG Classic</a> | <a href="http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z4/ashasha3/CP/7.jpg" target="_blank">Sheraton</a> | <a href="http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z4/ashasha3/CP/9-1.jpg" target="_blank">Tele</a></font></font></div>

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    • #3
      Not talking about specifics, but my fave PAF type 'buckers always seem to be those that a bit microphonic. Both the standard Pups in my '06 Tokai love rock and the original Pups in an old '70s "Pearl" LPC copy I have sound wonderful, but can get squealy in high volume/high gain situations.

      Funnily enough, my favourite Gibson 'buckers are an old (80's or earlier) PAF type pair that I currently have fitted to a Eoi G400...they are a little microphonic too, but they all seem to have that warm creamy feel to them, more so than pretty much anything else I have got.

      Does anyone know if wax potting the pickups actually chamges the sound of them?

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      • #4
        I'm a big fan of SD Seth Lovers
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        • #5
          Fralin humbuckers.
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          • #6
            ... The thing about the PAF sound to me is that it is a sound based upon variations in windings so basically they weren't consistent to begin with. ....

            We have a Winner!! ... the original Gibby PAF was all over the place, some sounded sweet and others not so much.
            For a great sounding HB, I'd highly recommend checking out some of the BG-Pups offerings.
            My Name is Tom Pettingill ... I build Hand Crafted Custom Lap Steel Guitars
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            • #7
              Given few of us have actually played/owned an actual PAF pickup, who can really say how close they are to the real thing?

              For whatever it's worth, I really like Lollar's humbuckers in that vintage HB class.
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              • #8
                i really like my bg pups PUFs
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                • #9
                  No PAF can really be an exact copy because of the variations in winding that the originals all had. That said, I believe a lot of the appeal comes from the fact that they weren't wax potted. My favorite sounding PAF type humbucker (so far) are Seymour Duncan Seth Lovers. Fralin Unbuckers are a little nicer if you plan on splitting them and doing stuff like Jimmy Page wiring in your guitar. PAF style pickups really shine at the neck position. At the bridge they are o.k. but lack the mid hump that you need there sometimes. I have a Schaller humbucker that I pulled out of a Heritage hollowbody that I love at the bridge. I don't know the exact model number of it though....wish I did.
                  Originally Posted by DToad:

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                  • #10
                    I like the Duncan Seth Lover and Jason Lollar's PAF copy as well.

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                    • #11
                      I'm a big flag waver for shed pickups! They are in Wales.

                      Look great, too!

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                      • #12
                        Best is really subjective, especially when dealing with the variations in construction that are mentioned above.

                        Are you looking for an authentic repro (materials, construction, etc.)?

                        How much $$$?

                        The modern PAF clone that had the best tonal complexity and touch responsiveness to my ears was the Tom Holmes, but these will run you more than $600 for a pair. They weren't cheap to start with, but when Holmes put PU winding on the back burner the price went way up. Another high priced (but in production) option is Wagner; great PU's designed to nail some famous recorded tones.

                        If you want authentic in a mass-produced PU, you'll have a hard time beating the Seymour Duncan Seth Lovers. Scatter-wound, unpotted, AlNiCo II mags. It's about as authentic you can get from a assembly line piece. They run around $75-100 per PU. A few pesos more can also buy you Gibson's most authentic made versions the Burstbucker 1's and 2's, they run around $100-130 per PU.

                        These are all great choices but I'm going to recommend going another route. For about the same cost or slightly more than the Seth Lovers or Burstbucker 1/2, you can get a set handwound to *your* tastes and specs. You describe the gear you use and the tones you want and they wind to match. Many of the handwinders even offer a guarantee to rewind if they don't nail your tone the first time. Look into Manlius, High Order, and JS Moore. All have great reputations, all are custom-order, and are competitive to the big mass produced boys on prices.

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                        • #13
                          BKP Mule.

                          Excellent sounding vintage tone. I haven't played an original PAF eqipped guitar but these apparently are a faithful repro of PAF's and sound great as well.
                          <div class="signaturecontainer"><b>Electric: Gibson LP Classic, Fender Marauder, Vintage V100, Vintage AV6P</b><br><br><br><br><b>Acoustic: Yamaha APX500</b></div>

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                          • #14
                            I'm a big fan of SD Seth Lovers


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                            • #15
                              i have classic 57s and BB2 ... i much prefer Classic 57... fwiw
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