Describe What the Quintessential "PAF" Sound Is To You

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by Guitar Rod, Jun 21, 2017.

  1. Guitar Rod

    Guitar Rod Senior Member

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    There are lots of threads describing what a PAF is, how it should be built, metallurgy, butyrate this, PE that, hand wound, scatter wound, who builds the best clone, etc, but what is the quintessential sound to you? How would you describe it? If you've played one or several original PAFs, what did you hear? If you haven't, what are you in search of? What song exemplifies it to you?

    Excluding technical details and naming PAF clones, what is the "holy grail" PAF tone to you?

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  2. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    Huge, fat, harmonically rich and complex with clean, breathy and seemingly unreal amounts of detail. All at once.

    Every position of every knob is something unique and special.

    No compromises. They do it all, all the time, with no weaknesses, only unprecedented strengths.

    Sweeter than a hug from your mother and stronger than Godzilla.
     
  3. bulletproof

    bulletproof aka tarddoggy Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    Thats it,right there....well said,brother!:thumbs:
     
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  4. Elmore

    Elmore Member

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    It sounds like someone talking to you. Here is 19 or 20 year old Eric Clapton on lead PAFing as well as it has ever been done:

    <iframe width="854" height="480" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
     
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  5. bulletproof

    bulletproof aka tarddoggy Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    A couple of my examples would include:





    Not to cause confusion....Dickey,not Warren.
     
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  6. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    As great as they sound in recordings, until you feel them respond under your fingertips, you're not getting the full experience. I promise!

    A canon and a Lamborghini will both move you along very quickly from point A to point B but one will feel so much more comfortable.
     
  7. Dr. Strangelove

    Dr. Strangelove Junior Member

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    At one point I played a 1960 or 1961 335, and it had the best tone I'd ever heard. The neck pickup was crisp, woody, and a tad bit brighter than other neck pickups I've heard with tons and tons of harmonics, while the bridge pickup was fat, thick, rich, still woody like the neck but in a different way, all without being terribly hot-- though it did have some balls behind it-- and with just as many harmonics as the neck, and in the middle the it sounded like Eric Johnson on Cliffs of Dover mixed with Brian May on Bohemian Rhapsody, oddly enough. The most noticeable parts of the sounds in all positions were that woody tone and the vocal character people tend to associate with PAFs. I've been hunting for that tone ever since and have barely touched it since, though I'm getting a tad bit closer. I think the pickups might have been slightly hotter with A4's, as I recently tried a set of sandcast A4's in the pickups I'm using now and that got them the closest to that sound I've managed to get so far, but it's still not quite there yet (though obviously the wiring and guitar itself played a pretty important role in getting that sound).
     
  8. thesjkexperience

    thesjkexperience Member

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    Since I haven't actually played a paf I will have to have a few recorded examples. Note they are all different though with the OX4 and Wizz pickups I have played can hit these sounds with some guitar knob tweaking.

    Since I've been lovin You and No Quarter (the most underrated solo of all time) from the Song Remains the Same movie. I love that sharp opening notes of SIBLY and wondered for years why I couldn't get a humbucker to do that? I just got mud until I got the above clones. The No Quarter solo has that sound Page got that was actually rather clean, but sounds oh so heavy. It seems that clean but heavy tone is super elusive as most everyone plays Zep with too much overdrive/distortion.

    Blue Sky by the Altman Brothers. Duane has that super fat, saturated LP tone that I can hit with the Hot Duanes! Then Dickey playing with an additional 50 Watts over Duane has the thick yet clean tone with sustain. Different than Page and almost sounds like some Tele pickups I have made.

    There are probably another 20 I could name that are different yet just as good as the ones mentioned above.
     
  9. zoork_1

    zoork_1 Senior Member

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    I find it very hard to describe, but here's two clips...


     
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  10. Axis39

    Axis39 Senior Member

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    25 years or so ago, I was in a vintage guitar shop, Southworth's up in Maryland. Gil is a nice guy and he was very free with letting folks try things in the shop. I was buying a late 60's ES-340 for what seemed a like a small fortune for a guitar at the time, $850. As I was fooling around with my new-to-me Gibson, I glanced up and saw a guitar on the wall for $24,000. I asked Gil why that one cost so much more.

    Instead of describing anything to me, he simply insisted I play it. I tried to bow out, because I sure as s*** didn't have a spare 24k laying around, but he pushed me to do it.

    Turns out it was a refin'd 1957 Les Paul with all original parts, other than the old refinish job. He had me plugged into a little Tweed Deluxe, probably another '57. That tone haunted me for years. It took me 20 years to find another Les Paul that sounded and felt like that guitar. The neck was fat, warm, smooth and, as others have described, harmonically rich and complicated. The bridge was thick, bright, but thick without being brittle.

    In recordings/Youtube stuff, I find the guys playing Duane's Gold Top to be the woody, rich tone I look for in a guitar these days. I sent the video to David (Zhangbucker) and he nailed it! My LP Custom Lite is so incredibly responsive and rich... I wish I'd had the money to go for the truly hand wound option... But, i am not sure I could handle any better tone! LOL
     
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  11. jcsk8

    jcsk8 Senior Member

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    Bright but never ice picking. Tridimensional, clear. Very good string separation. Tight bottom, low mids and melodical bright highs. Somewherer "hollow", "airy" if the terms apply.
    Slight microphinic in a good way. Harmonic complexity and double notes on bendings.
    As far as I remember those are the most important.
     
  12. dmoss74

    dmoss74 Senior Member

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    outside of concerts, i think i've only heard (or played) a couple sets of og pafs in the flesh. they definitely had something going on, but they are way out of my price point to consider at this stage. :) along with anything "vintage" there is a lot of myth usually attached to items; but as far as the original pafs, they seem to live up to the hype...although--like anything--there are tales of duds as well.

    but i certainly wouldn't toss a pair aside, if someone threw them in my lap and said "they're yours." :) nor would i flip 'em. they'd be keepers.
     
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  13. MasterEvan07

    MasterEvan07 Senior Member

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    Hope that's what mine sound like.
     
  14. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    Only a real PAF can cover the last line. Maybe an old DynaSonic. Even my favorite thick A3 early 50's P-90s aren't sweeter than a hug from Mom!
     
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  15. Guitar Rod

    Guitar Rod Senior Member

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    Very interesting responses so far. I've previously heard the comment "like a Tele on steroids", bright (but not harsh), articulate, vocal vowel-like tones, clean, lower output, and now that has been contrasted a bit with fat and Godzilla! Love learning more and hearing what others have to say. Getting a more complete picture.
     
  16. Duane_the_tub

    Duane_the_tub Senior Member

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    Drive, push, spar with the amp. They become one.
     
  17. prakashananda

    prakashananda Junior Member

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    So, first off, I'm completely with you on your taste in guitar tones from TSRTS. Absolutely my favorite tones. One problem though, in that guitar the bridge pup was replaced with a T top. Happened sometime in '72. So that is not a PAF. The neck is a PAF however.
     
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  18. brianbzed

    brianbzed Senior Member

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    It's hard to put into words because what we hear is SO subjective. Warm,smooth,NO treble harshness or spikes. Some of Gary Moore's live material from the 90's ( when he was playing his "Greeny '59") define the tone of a 50's PAF for me. None of my instruments even come close......
     
  19. Scottbiscuit

    Scottbiscuit Junior Member

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    Open, breathy, chimey, a little tinny, a little soft, a little squishy, a little quacky, a little whiny, a little farty, a little rude, a little gritty, a little crunchy, a little grindy, a little sizzly, a little smokey, a little woody, a little murky, a little happy, a little sad.

    Never boomy, never hard, never solid, never "high-fi", never pounding, never crushing, never deep, never mean, never unforgiving, never "cutting", never harsh, never dark.
     
  20. beefyburt

    beefyburt Junior Member

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    I bought my 2010 R7 with paf's already fitted. They were from Monty's Guitars in East London, UK, and are the Pafs with aged nickel covers. Supplied and fitted by Monty's, cost today £280 plus fitting. I was already looking at getting some, and putting into a cheaper Standard, but the R7 came up with them so couldn't resist. The sound is just stunning, way bigger than any other guitar ive tried. Every time I plug it in it makes me smile, brings joy to my world!! Before the R7, I tried 2 new LP's- a Standard and a HP, both with the Burstbuckers in, and they both sounded very good, but then Pafs just notch it up a level, take it to 11 you could say. There are a few vids of them on youtube, check them out, well worth the money and support.
     

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