PAF Humbucker Journey of Nashville Pro Ford Thurston - Tone Specific & Virgil Arlo

ToneSpecific

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Ford Thurston is an in-demand session & touring guitarist based out of Nashville. Known for his tasty chops and ever evolving collection of vintage guitars, this guy is a tone-monster. He currently is touring with Randy Houser and formerly toured with Bonnie Bishop. In addition to being a busy musician on the stage and in the studio, he is known for his great ears and touch.

The Nashville based Thurston ordered a set of Virgil Arlo P.A.F. Humbucker after hearing another pro rave about them. Like many players in "the scene", he didn't want to be left behind and he ordered a set for his 1967 Gibson ES-335 that he felt was lackluster compared to his stable of vintage guitars.

Thurston has owned more vintage guitars than most people will ever get the chance to play. Les Paul, SG, Strat, Tele... You name it and he's owned it or used while working in the studio or on tour. His favorite guitar is the Gibson ES-335 and he's owned them from 1959 all the way up until newer models.

After he installed the Virgil Arlo P.A.F. set in his 1967 ES-335, he was so blown away that he made a video and posted on the internet saying he was "blown away" and that they "fixed his guitar". That ES-335 that had seem so lifeless before was now his go to axe. He went on to order more humbuckers for other guitars and a Virgil Arlo Tele Set for his vintage 1956 Fender Telecaster.

Here is the video of him playing the Arlo's:


Here is another Tone Specific Forum Post about the Bloombuckers design process.

 
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ToneSpecific

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Fast forward a few months and Thurston was still really loving his Virgil Arlo pickups. He couldn't help but wondering if he could get a special set made so he could have a couple of different humbucker tonal options at his disposal. He wondered if he could get a bridge pickup with more output and a neck pickup that was a little tighter or more modern while still capturing the vintage tone and feel of the stock Arlo's. He sent an e-mail and he referenced the set of PAFs he played in Duane Allman's Gold Top Les Paul while on tour in Macon, GA. Thurston requested some tweaks to the stock Arlo's to get closer to the Duane Allman's Goldtop Les Paul.

The founder of Tone Specific is in charge of artist relations for Virgil Arlo Pickups. He informed Thurston that Arlo doesn't do "one-off's" and went on to explain that he had recently launched his a pickup company called Tone Specific. They went on to discuss Thurston's desire for a bridge with a little more output along with a tighter neck. At that time Thurston was advised to give the 1957 Jazzy P.A.F. set a shot because they had the characteristics Thurston was looking for in a secondary guitar.

It took some convincing. If you listened to Thurston play, then you know he has influences from Blues, Country & Rock. "Jazzy" is probably not a word he associates with his playing too often although he definitely has the chops he ever wants to go down that road. He was informed that they are called "Jazzy" because they are the best pickups TS makes for Jazz Tone but they also sound great for other styles. Skeptical, Thurston gave it shot.

Thurston installed a slightly modified Tone Specific Jazzy Set in one of his secondary ES-335's and he was amazed at how well they sounded and felt. Although he had the "Jazzy" Pickups, his runs didn't suddenly sound like Wes or George, it was still him only better than they stock set up he had. He began using this guitar in addition to Arlo equipped guitars on stage and in the studio.

Here is a video of Thurston playing the 1957 Jazzy P.A.F. Humbucker Pickups:

 
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ToneSpecific

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A few months later & Thurston reached back out to us for another tweak. He really liked the "Jazzy" P.A.F. set but he wished that the set had more "bloom" than the 1957 Jazzy set. He referenced Duane Allman's 1957 Les Paul that he played while on tour. He also wanted a little more output out of the bridge of he 1957 Jazzy P.A.F. We informed him that there was a set in the design process that matched this description. It was so new that it didn't have a name yet. We told him that he could become a beta tester for this new design.

After playing them, Thurston immediately fell in love with this new design and said it captured the vintage "bloom" of Duane Allman's 1957 Gibson Goldtop PAF's. He ordered more sets for other guitars and these pickups became his pickup of choice. He later told us to call these pickups "Bloombuckers". We took his advice and the Bloombucker were on their way to be available to everyone.

After this long journey, he really wanted to "set it and forget it" so he requested that we send him a variety of magnets to experiment with in the just to be sure he got was getting the best tone possible. After a few days of swapping out magnets, he concluded that the magnets in the original design were best. This was quite a relief to us since we had other pro's beta testing the original design already.

Recently he told us, he stills uses the Arlo's and Jazzy P.A.F. set for certain jobs but that the Bloombuckers "feel like home".

Here is a video of Ford Thurston playing the Bloombuckers:

 


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