The PAF sound?

Slick Willy

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Hi all I want to start by saying this is one of the greatest all things Gibson forums! I’m truly amazed at the wealth of knowledge here. My question is a simple yet open opinion typed question. I’m looking for the closest sounding pickups made today by Gibson. which pickup do you feel captures the original PAF tone. I’m not asking for other makers. But those of the mother companies line up. I know the wood and building techniques all play in as well. But im speaking on the electronics. We have all these great reissue models that closely captures those beloved instruments. But those and the Murphy models do elude some players do to the cost. What are your thoughts and opinions?
 

ARandall

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You'll probably find every model mentioned.....and a lot who think no model Gibson does is anywhere close.

Tone is pretty personal.....I'm in the latter camp.
 

Slick Willy

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You'll probably find every model mentioned.....and a lot who think no model Gibson does is anywhere close.

Tone is pretty personal.....I'm in the latter camp.
Maybe? I was just thinking with all the technology we have today it shouldn’t be to hard to capture that sounds. You know what I mean. Besides when those classic tracks were laid down the guitars weren’t that old.
 

ARandall

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Maybe? I was just thinking with all the technology we have today it shouldn’t be to hard to capture that sounds. You know what I mean. Besides when those classic tracks were laid down the guitars weren’t that old.
Well, pickups don't 'age' for starters.....p90's might discharge their magnets over time as they are opposing, but thats easy enough to remedy.....after a recharge they would go back to what they were new.
And its the technology we have that has made the pickups further from what they were. Its pretty much the low manufacturing tolerances applied to generic parts way back when that lead to the great tones the old guitars and amps gave.

Last but not least, Gibson has no desire nor intent to make exact PAF clones - even for their most exclusive guitars. Their guitars come with their own pickups, and there's no choice about it. So for them they aim at getting the 'cheapest construction pickup that is in the ballpark' as the best they need to do. For the USA line (as well as the older RI pickups) the 'in the ballpark' bit is more leave it than take it.


Want PAF accuracy, go boutique. Oddly enough about half of the clone market is below retail Gibson pickup prices anyhow.
 

Brek

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'The PAF sound?' i'm tempted to say, its not what you think. *from what i have learnt on here.
 

Cjsinla

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The late 50’s LP’s with PAF’s supposedly sounded like a Tele on steroids. For me, that sound has been captured by the 59 Tribute pups. Never played Burstbuckers. Both the 59 Tribute pups and Burstbuckers are made with unbalanced coils and are mostly lower output. The 57’s are darker, especially the 57+, and only sound good in an SG in my opinion. I also like Custombuckers and Wildwood spec pups.
 

jbash

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I would ask you first- What is the PAF sound?



Ask 10 people, get 15 answers.

Historically accurate from Gibson these days? none of them , really.

BUT I like the way some of them sound.

I really dig the BB1/2 combo, and 57 classics (not the +) in the right guitar. I had some 59 Tributes and had they just a bit more punch in the bridge, and a bit more clarity in the neck they would be my faves. I've had couple guitars where the Burstbucker Pros were righteous. Sometimes everything hits on all cylinders-and the guitar is just amazing right out of the box. Custombuckers seem to be the same for me as the BB pros. Sometimes they sound great, sometimes they are just thin and bland- Tele on Tofu, instead of Tele on Steroids.
 

TM1

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I would try the Custombuckers with a ThroBak A-4 magnet installed. I just don't care for A-3's!
 

paddybrown

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The 57 Classic is made exactly according to Seth Lover's design, with Alnico II magnets and the exact number of turns on each coil as specified, so they are exactly what a PAF pickup should have been. Problem is, the original PAFs varied. They couldn't count the winds precisely, they just eyeballed it, so some of them ended up overwound, some underwound, some balanced, some unbalanced. The strength of the magnets varied as well. What you got when you bought a guitar was the luck of the draw. The various models Gibson makes now are an attempt to recreate that variation.
 

jbash

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Overwound B1’s & B2’s (Slashbuckers).
I think these may be the best sounding pickups Gibson have done in decades, but I didn't mention them because they are not available except from someone who sells them out of a guitar. I love my set, and I keep trying to find something better, and they keep going back into the guitar.

That said, they are definitely not like an overwound BB 1/2 (or 3) They are far clearer, have a wider frequency response and are more touch and V/T control sensitive than the Alnico 2 BBs- It's more than a simple overwind.

And they kick the Duncan set to the curb, AFAIC.
 

sonar1

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I think these may be the best sounding pickups Gibson have done in decades, but I didn't mention them because they are not available except from someone who sells them out of a guitar. I love my set, and I keep trying to find something better, and they keep going back into the guitar.

That said, they are definitely not like an overwound BB 1/2 (or 3) They are far clearer, have a wider frequency response and are more touch and V/T control sensitive than the Alnico 2 BBs- It's more than a simple overwind.

And they kick the Duncan set to the curb, AFAIC.
Agreed.
My criteria comes only from the PAF’s I had in an early sixties Barney Kessell.
What with all the variations and other factors it’s an admittedly small sample, but for my money an SD Antiquities humbucker was VERY familiar sounding, so I moved that (neck) pickup from hollowbody to hollowbody and it always satisfied me.

The Slashbuckers had some of that smoke (and quite a bit of fire).
They sounded to ME like overwound Burstbuckers, but indeed, there may be more to it than that.

Gibson’s “PAF” quest began with 490’s and quite a few AlNiCo II interations.
As shared above, the ‘57’s in an SG really float my boat, though I haven’t appreciated ‘57’s in several other Gibson style guitars.
 

DVHII

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Everyone has an opinion on what is tone. You can get 10 people playing the same guitar through the same amp and get 10 different opinions. Your tone is up to you. I'm afraid you just have to keep searching. Once you find it, it will elude you again. That's the nature of the beast. In my experience. I truly appreciate this forum and you all. Thanks.
 

Cory

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Hi all I want to start by saying this is one of the greatest all things Gibson forums! I’m truly amazed at the wealth of knowledge here. My question is a simple yet open opinion typed question. I’m looking for the closest sounding pickups made today by Gibson. which pickup do you feel captures the original PAF tone. I’m not asking for other makers. But those of the mother companies line up. I know the wood and building techniques all play in as well. But im speaking on the electronics. We have all these great reissue models that closely captures those beloved instruments. But those and the Murphy models do elude some players do to the cost. What are your thoughts and opinions?
I’m assuming that by saying PAF tone you’re referring to a true 50’s LP - like others have stated, you’re going to get a lot of opinions on what people have been told by someone else that *insert pickup name here* pickup delivers true PAF tone blah blah blah, but unless that person owns / has played a real deal 50’s LP, it’s all subjective and hearsay. Hell, I’ve even read that people have stated that the tone from 50’s PAF’s are all over the place anyways so who really knows. For me, the unpotted custombuckers are absolutely fantastic and are my favorite pickup I’ve ever played - so do they sound like a true PAF? I’ll never know, but I do know they sound great to me and f***ing rock, so that’s really all that matters :dude:
 

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