Choosing the right PAF clones for my Les Paul's character...

onlyrockrocks

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Hi everybody! It's been a looong time since my last post, but finally here I am again, a man on one more mission... ;-)

I am on the search for the right PAF clone pickups for my Les Paul Goldtop. It is a R4 Historic from 2004 with wraparound tailpiece, but humbucker pickups instead of P90s, so it is kind of a transition Les Paul.
The guitar does have Grover tuners, which I put on there for the original Klusons, a MojoAxe wraparound tailpiece, steel studs by Historic Makeovers, a Holy Grail 50s harness with original Bumblebees by Martin Six String Customs and right now Raw Vintage RV5760 PAFs with Alnico II magnets.

The guitar is very warm and dark sounding, relatively slow attack, lots of mids (maybe rather lower mids, so even more dark and not pushing and brightening the sound), which make for a woody tone (and character) and sweetness, and prominent (not so tight) bass. The overall frequency spectrum seems to be pretty wide.
With the RV pickups, the string separation seems not to be that good as chords sound a bit mushy and not that clear.

I would love to try to get the guitar in another direction and choose some PAF clones that are better suited for that particular Les Paul. I believe the RVs are great pickups, but might be too warm and sweet sounding with their Alnico II magnets.

What I noticed is: The guitar is extremely resonant un-amplified. For a solid body guitar it is loud unplugged and you can clearly feel a strong vibration when you play it. The unplugged sound is more than just metallic, more dull, but very big/strong and woody.
In comparison, a friends R8 does barely resonate at all and the unplugged sound is very metallic (bright) as you mainly hear the strings, His LP plugged in is much straighter and brighter, faster attack, more upper mids, clearer, but less woody - maybe less complex as mine, but clearer in its voice.

Question is: What pickups would you recommend to get my R4 more into his R8s direction?

Guitar needs to be...
- more bright
- more clear
- better string separation
- maybe more upper mids
- more snap/bite in attack
- maybe tighter bass

Any experiences you are willing to share with me?

I know it ain't the pickup alone, but that is why I am not searching for THE best PAF, but for the best for a guitar like mine.

Thanks and Kind Regards!
 
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MCT

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You’ll probably get a zillion different responses, but my preference for that bright, snappy PAF sound is the Sigil Chicago ‘68 or Holy Grail 58/59s. They fit what you’re describing to a tee. So do the Tyson Tone Deacons, Monty’s PAFs, and doubtless other clones. If you want to go higher priced, the Doyle‘s Coil True Clones have that sound too.
 

NotScott

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I have a Jeff Beck R4 which is basically what you have. Mine is very loud acoustically but is a tad bright and has a fast attack, faster than any of my ABR equipped LPs so I wanted warmer pickups with more of a lazier attack than you.

That being said, while looking for the pickups I wanted, I went through many pickups and IME, what you are describing you want are Duncan Antiquities or low wind OX4s. If you are not married to the PAF idea, some T-Tops would do exactly what you want as well. Cooljuk here winds a very nice T-top clone and some PAFs that may interest you as well.

Good luck.
 

Oranjeaap

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Your answers are going to be 100 different names of winders, but basicly they are all the same thing, a PAF clone.
Maybe a better question would be "what specs should a paf clone have to give me this specific sound".
Or why should it be a paf clone? Whats more important to you? That it's a paf clone, or that it gets you the sound you want?
 

Caretaker

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Before changing pickups do the following:
Adjust the height of each pickup.
Try swapping magnets.
Try swapping caps.
try tweaking your amp.
If not satisfied after all this is exhausted, THEN go on the pickup hunt.
 

onlyrockrocks

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Hi everybody and thanks for your participation so far!

Maybe start with just trying different magnets.
Truth is, swapping pickups is a crapshoot.
this
I changed the magnet on my lolar imperial high wound to an A2 degaussed magnet and it changed the character of tone to my liking.
Before changing pickups do the following:
Adjust the height of each pickup.
Try swapping magnets.
Try swapping caps.
try tweaking your amp.
If not satisfied after all this is exhausted, THEN go on the pickup hunt.
Well, of course I thought about a magnet swap before, but I was not too sure if it would make a difference that big and exactly to what I want. So I thought maybe it is less frustrating to start brand new with the knowledge about what I need sonically. Maybe your are right...

Changing caps is a thing I didn't have had on my map so far. Might be because of the relatively expensive and exquisite harness I put in there. Back then everybody recommended the Holy Grail by MSSC. But of course it makes sense that it depends on what you want from your guitar. I will need to get some more information on this first and give this topic a read.

Pickup height (including changing the height of the pole screws) and tweaking my amps of course are done with no success.

Your answers are going to be 100 different names of winders, but basicly they are all the same thing, a PAF clone.
Maybe a better question would be "what specs should a paf clone have to give me this specific sound".
Or why should it be a paf clone? Whats more important to you? That it's a paf clone, or that it gets you the sound you want?
I know and I expected a comment like that. ;) ...but I couldn't resist anyway - sorry! :D At least I described the character of my guitar unplugged and plugged with the specs it does have at the moment. Thought that would make at least a little more sense. I hoped for members who have had similar guitars and problems and got it done with xy pickups or whatever or never.
In the end it is about tone, so every hint could be the right one. On the other hand I tried to make the guitar as 50s LP hardware and electronics specs as possible, so yes, I would prefer to stay in that area, but maybe more with the look (aged nickel covers) as with everything else. It depends...

I have a Jeff Beck R4 which is basically what you have. Mine is very loud acoustically but is a tad bright and has a fast attack, faster than any of my ABR equipped LPs so I wanted warmer pickups with more of a lazier attack than you.

That being said, while looking for the pickups I wanted, I went through many pickups and IME, what you are describing you want are Duncan Antiquities or low wind OX4s. If you are not married to the PAF idea, some T-Tops would do exactly what you want as well. Cooljuk here winds a very nice T-top clone and some PAFs that may interest you as well.

Good luck.
Maybe we should trade our pickups then...

I read more than once that the OX4s are warmer than pickups like the Wizz or Sheptone Tributes and I guess I need something really bright, but of course I am not 100% sure and never played the OX4s myself. I will look them up again.

You’ll probably get a zillion different responses, but my preference for that bright, snappy PAF sound is the Sigil Chicago ‘68 or Holy Grail 58/59s. They fit what you’re describing to a tee. So do the Tyson Tone Deacons, Monty’s PAFs, and doubtless other clones. If you want to go higher priced, the Doyle‘s Coil True Clones have that sound too.
The Sigils seem to be promising - thank you! Will keep them in mind.

As mentioned before, others I have had on my list are Wizz and Sheptone Tributes, but again - haven't had a chance to play them myself.
Some years ago I got a custom wound P90 by Electric City Pickups, which is just great, ECP would have been another option, but unfortunately Bill seems to be out of business right now. Hope he is doing well.

Again, thanks for all your comments!
 
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RocketKing

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I did extensive research last year when I wanted to change pick ups in my les paul.
In the end I settled for Rewind paf 1 set with alnico 4 magnets which are great.
As other has said changing pickups is always a crap shoot.
Having said, basing myself on what you're looking for, you should consider pick ups with alnico 5 magnets. They have that upper mid /treble thing you want.
And quality ones at that or they're just going to sound boomy in the neck and super shrill in the bridge.
 

Oranjeaap

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I know and I expected a comment like that. ;) ...but I couldn't resist anyway - sorry! :D At least I described the character of my guitar unplugged and plugged with the specs it does have at the moment. Thought that would make at least a little more sense. I hoped for members who have had similar guitars and problems and got it done with xy pickups or whatever or never.
In the end it is about tone, so every hint could be the right one. On the other hand I tried to make the guitar as 50s LP hardware and electronics specs as possible, so yes, I would prefer to stay in that area, but maybe more with the look (aged nickel covers) as with everything else. It depends...
It was meant as advise not, not as an attack :yesway:
Im actually following this thread with interest because my Les Paul Custom has the same sound as you described. It's not really loud unplugged, a bit dead sounding to be honest, but it resonates like an earthquake and especially the lower frequencies. They are like a shotgun to the face and the guitar needs pickups with a really tight bass response to not make it a muddy, onfocused mess. I tried paf's but it didn't really do much. Modern pickups worked best for this but their clean sound isn't that good usually.
 

onlyrockrocks

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It was meant as advise not, not as an attack :yesway:
Im actually following this thread with interest because my Les Paul Custom has the same sound as you described. It's not really loud unplugged, a bit dead sounding to be honest, but it resonates like an earthquake and especially the lower frequencies. They are like a shotgun to the face and the guitar needs pickups with a really tight bass response to not make it a muddy, onfocused mess. I tried paf's but it didn't really do much. Modern pickups worked best for this but their clean sound isn't that good usually.
No, no, all good! I didn't feel attacked in any way. I rather think that you are right. I tend to forget that there are THAT many options out there and everybody will drop one or more names, though I knew that there are more than just one or two manufacturers around. I just couldn't resist to give this thread a try anyway and hoped (and still hope) that I will get some good hints from people who have experienced a "problem" like this. I mean, maybe I will never ever get this guitar in the wanted direction, no matter which changes I make. I just don't know, so I hope to benefit from the knowledge of the members here before I choose my next steps.
When I experienced how much more resonant my guitar is compared to my friends LP and how they differ sonically unplugged and plugged, I was really surprised at first as I always believed a highly resonant guitar must be gold. I like the woody character of my guitar, the warmth and sweetness has its beauty, but since I only own one LP at this point, I would like it to be more in a direction, that I hear in my head when I think about LPs. There are different shades of LP tones and for certain sounds I love mine, but I am curious if I can turn it into another direction and maybe somehow get the goodies from both worlds. And by the way: It is fun to research and try.
 
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NotScott

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Maybe we should trade our pickups then...

I read more than once that the OX4s are warmer than pickups like the Wizz or Sheptone Tributes and I guess I need something really bright, but of course I am not 100% sure and never played the OX4s myself. I will look them up again.
Yes, Wizz are very bright. They have more presence than OX4s. The OX4s have more treble though. However, my experience with Wizz was that they were more compressed where the OX4s were more dynamic. Monty's is another winder that makes bright, uncompressed PAF clones but they are pricey.

As for my JB, I have a BB2 in the neck and a Duncan Custom in the bridge. I wanted hotter, warmer and more compressed for my JB and these were perfect. for that sound.
 

ARandall

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Most of the A4 PAF clones I have....and indeed have heard clips of..... seem to have that 'dry bite' to them. My ones I have in guitars are 2 sets of wizz one of them being the vintage wire model.....plus the ECP RD 59 model.
Some of these are now unavailable, but the Sigil Bluesman 68 has the same tonal footprint.

I've tried a few low wind pickups.....but despite supposedly having a higher resonant frequency, they don't necessarily do the bright thing all the time.
The ones that have the best sort of stinging top end of all of mine I've tried....the beefy tele cliche....are the Rewind true Kalamazoo 1960 models. They are loaded with short A5s.
 

onlyrockrocks

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Yes, Wizz are very bright. They have more presence than OX4s. The OX4s have more treble though. However, my experience with Wizz was that they were more compressed where the OX4s were more dynamic. Monty's is another winder that makes bright, uncompressed PAF clones but they are pricey.

As for my JB, I have a BB2 in the neck and a Duncan Custom in the bridge. I wanted hotter, warmer and more compressed for my JB and these were perfect. for that sound.
Depends of the kind of compression, I guess - and of course on the guitar.
Would you say the OX4s have more biting/spongy attack because of the higher compression of the Wizz or is it not so much a factor for the attack?

And I definitely want the opposite, so not warmer, but brighter.

Most of the A4 PAF clones I have....and indeed have heard clips of..... seem to have that 'dry bite' to them. My ones I have in guitars are 2 sets of wizz one of them being the vintage wire model.....plus the ECP RD 59 model.
Some of these are now unavailable, but the Sigil Bluesman 68 has the same tonal footprint.

I've tried a few low wind pickups.....but despite supposedly having a higher resonant frequency, they don't necessarily do the bright thing all the time.
The ones that have the best sort of stinging top end of all of mine I've tried....the beefy tele cliche....are the Rewind true Kalamazoo 1960 models. They are loaded with short A5s.
Yes, the Wizz does not have the vintage wire anymore and ECP seems to be out of business.
How would you compare the Wizz to the Sigil 68s and the Re-Wind Kalamazoos?

Also: I can't find the Re-Wind Kalamazoo 1960 set anywhere, no info, no clips, could that be?

PAF? I think this sounds like you want a T-Top or clone.
I will look that up...
Although keep in mind in comparison to what I have right now with the RV PUs.

Thanks!
 
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NotScott

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Depends of the kind of compression, I guess - and of course on the guitar.
Would you say the OX4s have more biting/spongy attack because of the higher compression of the Wizz or is it not so much a factor for the attack?

And I definitely want the opposite, so not warmer, but brighter.


Thanks!
The Wizz set I had was not the vintage wire set. It was his stock recommended set. I loved them when playing at home. However, when playing gigs with them, I often found them getting buried in the mix and they didn't have that push that you get from dynamic pickups when you pick harder. The OX4s I had were the Hot Duanes and even though they were hotter than the Wizz, they were less compressed and responded better to picking dynamics. The EQ of the OX4s were also such that a slight boost of high mids or treble from the amp really brought out the pick attack of the pickups. The Wizz set I had did not respond that way for me. The only reason the Hot Duanes are not in my JB right now is because I wanted something hotter with more compression. The OX4 low-winds should be even more dynamic and brighter than what I had.

You really should contact @cooljuk and talk to him first though. His T-top and PAF-1 sets are both top shelf and he can probably deliver something that is exactly what you want faster and at a better price than the other guys.
 

northernguitarguy

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Depends of the kind of compression, I guess - and of course on the guitar.
Would you say the OX4s have more biting/spongy attack because of the higher compression of the Wizz or is it not so much a factor for the attack?

And I definitely want the opposite, so not warmer, but brighter.



Yes, the Wizz does not have the vintage wire anymore and ECP seems to be out of business.
How would you compare the Wizz to the Sigil 68s and the Re-Wind Kalamazoos?

Also: I can't find the Re-Wind Kalamazoo 1960 set anywhere, no info, no clips, could that be?



I will look that up...
Although keep in mind in comparison to what I have right now with the RV PUs.

Thanks!
I mostly have experience with T-Tops and clones. But I did give a couple PAF types a try-switching from T-Tops-and I immediately missed all six of the characteristics you are looking for.
 

rogue3

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Guitar needs to be...
- more bright
- more clear
- better string separation
- maybe more upper mids
- more snap/bite in attack
- maybe tighter bass



Thanks and Kind Regards!
I think you just described a fine set of P90's?

In my experience,vintage Shaws i once owned would come close to the mark.

My own custom winds are 15+ years old, no longer available except the used market(very rarely), and have their own character(similiar to what you describe).Try some duncans?

edit: and i like Tim Plains magnet swapping idea.Its something i wish i would have tried a long time ago...but now i'm set and gear/tone chase is .07% of my playing time,lol.



Cheers bro! enjoy the tone hunt.:cheers2:
 
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