Ducan Antiquities vs. Rewind vs Original T-Tops

Erodr133

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I'm debating whether to switch out the pickups in my '59 Les Paul Replica. Right now, I have a set of Duncan Antiquities in there but I'm curious if I can get more accurate PAF tone from another set of pickups. I'm looking at Rewind True Kalamazoo pickups from James or a set of 1965 Patent Sticker T-Tops. My Les Paul is made to exact '59 specs so I have that part of the equation. Which pickup would get me the closest to the sound of PAF pickups?
 

cooljuk

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T-Tops are going to be entirely different sounding. They have the scooped mids and jangly snappy treble of low-output A5 poly-wire pickups. Some 1960's PAFs from the end of the PAF days have a sound that's somewhat in that direction but it's still quite different from the coils. If you want that really choppy scooped mid sound with the snappy attack of early T-Tops, go for it! It's an awesome sound. Just different from PAFs and not period-correct to 1959, since you mentioned that. They have a particular voice and are fairly consistent in sound, as long as they aren't messed with, so it's not as much of a game of chance as buying original PAFs.

I find Antiquities plain and uninteresting sounding but I don't imagine that means much coming from me, being a contender in the running, so I'll let others comment on that part.

With the True Kalamazoo sets, just be aware they are somewhat a roll of the dice. I don't have one set I make for each period. They are a somewhat-random-but-calculated-on-averages set of parts/specs. You don't know what coil patterns or magnets or alloys you may get in most cases, just that they may be more likely to be one thing or another based on a given time period. It's just like buying a Burst and getting the pickups that happen to come in it! It's fun, but not for everyone. Maybe you know that, but some aren't clear on it (which is really my fault, because I could explain it better on my website). If you want a specific sound or want to reduce or enhance particular sonic qualities of your guitar/rig, than opt for a set with a known voicing or a custom set made to your needs.
 

rockinlespaul

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I would definitely go with Rewind. Don't discount the lower winds either. Fantastic pickups with great note seperation and definition with no loss of umph. Good luck in your search.
 

Jymbopalyse

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I'm still new to this tonz shaping game but I am now starting to understand (to the extent my pea sized brain will allow me) the lower and mid gain pickups and descriptions and attributes allotted to them.


I still get confused though, when someone wants a "real" PAF sound. Given what we know of the construction of real PAF pickups shouldn't there be like PAF1 and PAF2 (PAFx) descriptions by now?




THIS FROM WIKIPEDIA - a very cool read
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAF_(pickup)

Early PAFs are often the most-sought-after vintage humbucker pickups by guitarists, and each individual pickup is unique in terms of output level and tone. Factors that account for their sound are:

  • Gibson used four different machines to wind vintage P.A.F. pickups. Two of the four machines lacked auto stop mechanisms resulting in variation in turns for each of the bobbins that make up the P.A.F. pickup assembly. The resulting inconsistency in turn count led to variation in the output and tone. For the same reason, the two coils within each pickup unit usually have a slightly different number of turns affecting the treble overtones of the assembled pickup.
  • Gibson used Alnico magnets in PAFs, the same magnet as used in the P-90. Alnico has several different grades with different tonal properties. Alnico grades 2, 3, 4 and 5 were in used vintage P.A.F. pickups with Alnico 3 being the least common.
  • Original P.A.F. magnets were charged in groups of magnets resulting in Alnico magnets that are not fully saturated with a magnetic charge. As a result, the Alnico magnets installed in vintage P.A.F. and P-90 pickups can lose some charge over time affecting the tone of the pickup. P-90's in particular are more prone to lose charge over time.

Actual question (no purple implied) Isn't asking for PAF tone akin to asking for a bag of popcorn when going to the Kernels stand at the mall ?? How do you know which one the person is asking for ?
 
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Antigua

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I still get confused though, when someone wants a "real" PAF sound. Given what we know of the construction of real PAF pickups shouldn't there be like PAF1 and PAF2 (PAFx) descriptions by now?

They say that an original PAF had a range of potential values, due to extremely high deviation in manufacturing tolerance, so I think ultimately you'd want to offer customers the ability to choose from within some given range. Discrete models like PAF1, PAF2... are just going to be arbitrary values from within range of possibility.
 

cooljuk

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I'm still new to this tonz shaping game but I am now starting to understand (to the extent my pea sized brain will allow me) the lower and mid gain pickups and descriptions and attributes allotted to them.


I still get confused though, when someone wants a "real" PAF sound. Given what we know of the construction of real PAF pickups shouldn't there be like PAF1 and PAF2 (PAFx) descriptions by now?




THIS FROM WIKIPEDIA - a very cool read
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAF_(pickup)

Early PAFs are often the most-sought-after vintage humbucker pickups by guitarists, and each individual pickup is unique in terms of output level and tone. Factors that account for their sound are:

  • Gibson used four different machines to wind vintage P.A.F. pickups. Two of the four machines lacked auto stop mechanisms resulting in variation in turns for each of the bobbins that make up the P.A.F. pickup assembly. The resulting inconsistency in turn count led to variation in the output and tone. For the same reason, the two coils within each pickup unit usually have a slightly different number of turns affecting the treble overtones of the assembled pickup.
  • Gibson used Alnico magnets in PAFs, the same magnet as used in the P-90. Alnico has several different grades with different tonal properties. Alnico grades 2, 3, 4 and 5 were in used vintage P.A.F. pickups with Alnico 3 being the least common.
  • Original P.A.F. magnets were charged in groups of magnets resulting in Alnico magnets that are not fully saturated with a magnetic charge. As a result, the Alnico magnets installed in vintage P.A.F. and P-90 pickups can lose some charge over time affecting the tone of the pickup. P-90's in particular are more prone to lose charge over time.

Actual question (no purple implied) Isn't asking for PAF tone akin to asking for a bag of popcorn when going to the Kernels stand at the mall ?? How do you know which one the person is asking for ?


I don't agree with everything in that quote above and the parts I do agree with are WAY over-simplified and only a piece of the whole picture. Many people focus on turn counts, which definitely matter, but are only one of many variables regarding PAF coils. ...and, FWIW, DCR won't tell you the turn counts (just because I know that will come up later).

Though PAFs have some common sonic traits across the board, there is not a "the PAF sound" and there is not a "1958 PAF sound" or "1959 PAF sound." The variables are not entirely random and, at some periods they seem to have been made much more consistently than at other times.
 

Duane_the_tub

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Never tried Rewinds, so I can't comment on those. I did have Antiquities in my first "real" Burst reissue, and they were excellent. I did not find them lacking in tonal character at all; in fact, they were one of the best examples of the classic PAF bridge-neck characteristics I've owned. The bridge was strong and clear, and could positively rip with the volume cranked and tone rolled back a bit to ease some of the bite. The neck was very lush, and added some gorgeous color in the middle position. Great pickups.

The T-tops in my '65 SG were also phenomenal, but as stated above they are a different animal than PAF clones. They absolutely shine with darker sounding, vintage amps though.
 

AJK1

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I just installed a Dimarzio 59 PAF set and they are excellent !
 

thehtm

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Goes to show that different pickups work for different people. I have had Antiquities in both a 335 and les Paul and loved them and would not consider them dull or lifeless. I am a huge Allman fan and was drawn to them because Warren and Trucks both used them. ReWind also winds great pickups— the Creme brûlées I had were great.

I do wonder about the knocks on Duncan. They wind some great pickups but do not seem to get a lot of love on forums.

Either way you go, you should be happy! Let us know what you get and what you think.

T-Tops are going to be entirely different sounding. They have the scooped mids and jangly snappy treble of low-output A5 poly-wire pickups. Some 1960's PAFs from the end of the PAF days have a sound that's somewhat in that direction but it's still quite different from the coils. If you want that really choppy scooped mid sound with the snappy attack of early T-Tops, go for it! It's an awesome sound. Just different from PAFs and not period-correct to 1959, since you mentioned that. They have a particular voice and are fairly consistent in sound, as long as they aren't messed with, so it's not as much of a game of chance as buying original PAFs.

I find Antiquities plain and uninteresting sounding but I don't imagine that means much coming from me, being a contender in the running, so I'll let others comment on that part.

With the True Kalamazoo sets, just be aware they are somewhat a roll of the dice. I don't have one set I make for each period. They are a somewhat-random-but-calculated-on-averages set of parts/specs. You don't know what coil patterns or magnets or alloys you may get in most cases, just that they may be more likely to be one thing or another based on a given time period. It's just like buying a Burst and getting the pickups that happen to come in it! It's fun, but not for everyone. Maybe you know that, but some aren't clear on it (which is really my fault, because I could explain it better on my website). If you want a specific sound or want to reduce or enhance particular sonic qualities of your guitar/rig, than opt for a set with a known voicing or a custom set made to your needs.
 

cooljuk

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I'm not knocking Duncan. I'd just take a Seth Lover, AlNiCo Pro 2 or Pearly set over the Antiquities, in the Duncan world.

I don't think there is anything terribly wrong with the Ants, though I wouldn't mind a little more openness and detail. Mainly, there is just nothing about them that jumps out and grabs my attention. Nothing complex or interesting to the voicing and not the super breathy extended top end like original PAFs. They are just alright. I'm not hating them.

I wasn't going to get into it, initially, as people may just discredit my opinion since I'm in sort of that same business. ...and that's fine. I really don't consider Duncan a "competitor" at all, though. Totally different demographic and they have different goals as a company. Truthfully, I find Seymour to be a great inspiration and very much admire his operation. I just love watching his shop tour videos. I don't plan to ever scale up to that style of business with ReWind but I love to see how he has and how his factory runs. It's really impressive.

Duncan is in the same boat Gibson is in some regards, where some little changes that would improve their pickups to many of us vintage-lovers would both turn off much of their high-gain demographic and be too costly and/or time consuming to work into mass production at the price points they are competing at. I totally get why both companies do what they do and don't do what they don't do. For them, it makes total sense. It's not an oversight or lack of knowledge or research.
 

Antigua

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I do wonder about the knocks on Duncan. They wind some great pickups but do not seem to get a lot of love on forums.

Lots of reasons. The boutiques are much better situated to excel over the big companies on guitar forums. Seymour Duncan's Custom Shop has had spotty customer service over the past few years, and of course you don't speak to Seymour directly. With the boutique outfits, you usually speak to a sole proprietor directly, and there's a lot to be said for being able to talk directly to the person who is making, or made your pickups. With the big names, you're buying something that's produced on a production line, manufactured by the thousands.

People also just give much more leeway and 'benefit of the doubt' to smaller businesses than they do big ones. When you're small, you're an underdog, so people will prop you up, and start threads just to let everyone know how awesome your pickups are, and how helpful you were on the phone. But once you become big, you're seen are a faceless corporate behemoth, so you get none of that good will. People generally don't mention you unless it's to complain about your product or service.
 

AJK1

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I've had quite a few 'Boutique made' pickups and sold them all
I only use SD CS, SD, Dimarzio and Bare Knuckle now
There's a reason why these companies excel at what they do
 

Les Paulverizer

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It's true that original PAF's pickups vary from one to another, nevertheless I guess when one refers to the "PAF sound" it implies sweet highs, an unpotted pickup hence very articulate and touch responsive, and low output so that it allows the guitar to breathe and it captures its natural acoustic sound.
Contrary to what many believe "Holy Grail" 50's Les Paul's yes they do have a lot of "body" to their sound nevertheless they are actually quite bright guitars. To me the best way I can describe them is that they sound like gigantic Telecasters...that's my opinion anyway.
When it comes to pickups it depends a lot from guitar to guitar, the same pickup in one Les Paul won't exactly sound the same in another, however for a while I did have a set of Antiquities on an awesome boutique Les Paul copy and they were excellent, then I had the same bridge Antiquity in another Les Paul and even though the guitar itself sounded quite different it was still clear that it was an excellent pickup.
Let's face it, big names like DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan have some great pickups in their range, as do Gibson and Fender no matter how much some cork sniffers enjoy slagging those companies; I have an early '57 Plus and in the right guitar it's just great! Having said that personally, after having gone through a lot of brands, I couldn't be happier with the set of OX4's that I have in my #1 Les Paul: they literally give me everything I want and need.
There are some awesome winders around, much respect to them(!) and Mark at OX4 is definitely one of the best: as far as PAF-type pickups they don't come any better than his.
 

Zoobiedood

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Now I love Antiquities. Nice, clear, touch sensitive, and perfect for everyting just short of metal-levels of distortion. I've been happy with them (obviously) with every LP I've tried them in.
 

cooljuk

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...when one refers to the "PAF sound" it implies sweet highs, an unpotted pickup hence very articulate and touch responsive, and low output so that it allows the guitar to breathe and it captures its natural acoustic sound.

It may be worth pointing out there are hundreds, if not thousands, of modern unpotted low output humbucker models that are straight-up dark and muddy with little articulation. There's a great deal more to vintage PAF voicings than simply not potting a set of low output coils. Just wanted to point that out.

I agree with much else you said, though. Even the biggest, fattest, boldest of original PAFs retain an open clarity to the very top end that so many seem to struggle with today.
 
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cooljuk

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OP, don't buy James' pickups because then you'll likely find your other pickups just don't cut it and you'll need to replace the whole batch. Your tone will be 100% improved, but do you really want to spend all that money just to sound awesome?

I started out using DiMarzio and Duncan exclusively (cheap to buy, plentiful to find) and they DID sound better than the stock stuff in my guitars by leaps and bounds, but then I found the boutique world and got totally lost in it. Yes, now I'm a winder too but it's mostly because I want to shape my own tone and I have this ridiculous need to understand how things work. Even if I never sold a set, it's a journey I needed to take and recommend to anyone who is curious.

I started with Guitarforce LoTBs and they blew me away, then I went through Skatterbranes, WB, MHD, Bareknuckles, Sheptone, WCR, Tyson Tone, OX4, Wizz, Duncan Custom Shop, (and probably a hundred others) and even had some ReWind pickups on the way. All were decent but some were exceptional. ReWind were in the Exceptional category, especially strong in my memory were the JPPre 72 pickups.

The only pickups I can stand from the big shops are early 57 Classics, T-Tops, real PAFs and some of the aftermarket unpotted Burstbucker 1, 2, 3s in the right guitar. Oh, and one set of Epiphone pickups from a Faded Dot Studio.

If this is your first foot into the rabbit hole, then you can't pick a better place to start. Also do yourself a favor and make sure you have a good set of pots in the guitar to start, even with the original pickups they'll improve the overall sound. If it's the one listed in your sig then it's likely full of decent parts already.


That is so amazingly kind of you, brother. Thank you very much. You're a true gentleman. I know your story and mine share many parallels.

Those who have been around this forum long enough will remember that I started making pickups for myself after much frustration finding anything modern available that captured the voicings of the vintage pickups I worked with. After spending more than the cost of PAFs and some new machinery on aftermarket stuff, I decided to use my mechanical and electrical knowledge and inclination to have a go at it myself. So, I bought a couple old transformer winding machines and modified them. I had already handled and repaired enough vintage gear to get the general idea, which was a helpful start. The first pickups I was making weren't for sale. I made them just for myself. I sent a couple to a former co-worker who shared similar taste in music and sound and also spent time around many vintage guitars with me, just for his opinion because I didn't want to be judging my own work with bias. I didn't know it at the time, but he had married a videographer and ended up posting some real nice clips of my pickups on YouTube. That's when folks here and elsewhere started hearing them and asking where they were available for sale, which they were not. Rayne, Brent, Jeff, Alex and others here started really pressuring me to sell them and it was only reluctantly that I standardized a few sets and did. At one point, Rayne told me that if I didn't start selling the pickups, he was going to strat taking orders for them on his website, with or without my permission, and then I'd look like an ass if I didn't fill them! I never intended for it to be a business, much less a career that would take me and my family through many great adventures and pave our way for a new and exciting life of freedom, personal responsibility, and (of course) much hard and rewarding work.

This forum was a catalyst and birthplace that encouraged "me just being myself" to become a way of life. That's not actually why I have a particular love for this forum though, that's just a very special memory. Why I have a particular love for it is because that was just this forum being itself. I've seen the same happen to others in many different ways, personal, business, musical, etc. That's how many of the regulars here, especially many of the original members, are. Encouraging, positive, supportive, humble, helpful, knowledgeable, and passionate about their interests and music. What a great place! Something very awesome and special resides here in the membership and it's infectious. That's why I have a particular love for MLP.

Sorry for the derail! David got those good memories flowing in my mind. :cheers:
 

Les Paulverizer

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It may be worth point out that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of modern unpotted low output humbucker models out there that are straight-up dark and muddy with little articulation. There's a great deal more to vintage PAF voicings than simply not potting a set of low output coils. Just wanted to point that out.

I agree with much else you said, though. Even the biggest, fattest, boldest of original PAFs retain an open clarity to the very top end that so many seem to struggle with today.
Thank you.
Of course, please bear in mind that my knowledge of pickups and all their intricacies is limited to my experience with them purely as a player, what I meant was that low output and being unpotted seem to me to be two vital requirements, then of course there must be other factors involved...
On the other hand I've NEVER played an high output/wax potted pickup that gave me any of the things vintage type pickups give me; and this coming from a "reformed shredder"....!
 

Classicplayer

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This has to be one of most fascinating and informative threads re: pickups that I'e read on MLP......which happens to be my fav forum too.

I haven't delved into the bailiwick of individual pup winders' offerings as yet. I can see why it would be a very rewarding experience to hear as well as play a very accurate replica of one of those early Gibby pickups in my own Les Paul.

I settled on a set of Seth Lovers three years ago and while probably not quite as satisfying as say a set from some of the esteemed winders here, they do fit my style of playing which keeps me pleased each time that I pick up my Les Paul. I play more than one style of music, so these work for me in that I can find a way to tweak them and my guitar to accommodate a particular style....so much so that I've started to think that my Les Paul could some day become my one and only guitar. Crazy, I know! I do get that feeling now and then.

I fully understand the feeling of hearing an ancient set of PAF pickups, or even any of the varieties of replicas written and discussed here, in your own Les Paul....for the first time. I may go back on my word at some point and get a set for myself...money be damned. Being that I'm one of those players who rides guitar volume knobs to achieve various degrees of “breakup”, they might be superlative at doing just that.


Classicplayer
 

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