What is the PAF sound?

Duane_the_tub

V.I.P. Member
Joined
May 30, 2015
Messages
3,258
Reaction score
6,329
Good video today from Rhett Shull, featuring Jon from Throbak:


It's funny, when Rhett talks about "clarity" I don't really hear a lot of it. I personally think Wizz are more dynamic sounding than your typical vintage Gibson humbuckers, though of course it's highly subjective.

Great little jam to open the video, too. I like this guy's work.
 

cooljuk

Transducer Producer
Premium Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
16,343
Reaction score
23,467
Some good stuff in there, ya, but...

"DCR = output"

and

"AlNiCo 2 is scooped in the mids compared to AlNiCo 5"

I think the first must have been a misunderstanding or previous beliefs by Rhett that was said after the interview and couldn't be corrected by Jon.

The second must have just been Jon misspeaking because I don't imagine he finds A2 (which tend to be mid-heavy) magnets to be scooped in the mids, compared to A5 (which most consider extremely scooped).

I enjoyed it but I just hate the idea that even more people will walk away mislead, thinking that DCR of a pickup = output, which is NOT true, even among the same model of pickup with the same wire gauge.
 

Duane_the_tub

V.I.P. Member
Joined
May 30, 2015
Messages
3,258
Reaction score
6,329
People seem to very commonly confuse DCR with output. I see it all the time in threads. Perhaps Jon will see this thread and offer a clarification.
 
Last edited:

cooljuk

Transducer Producer
Premium Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
16,343
Reaction score
23,467
If you swap the magnets between a 14k Super Distortion and a 7k T-Top, the T-Top will have FAR more output (and the DCR will remain the same in both).

...but even with the same magnets and wire gauge, variances in copper core and insulation thickness, as well as coil pattern, can result in pickup coils with lower DCR having more output and a warmer sound than coils with higher DCR.

I gave some examples of that here: The Misleading Nature of DCR Regarding Guitar Pickups
 

cooljuk

Transducer Producer
Premium Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
16,343
Reaction score
23,467
People seem to very commonly confuse DCR with output. I see it all the time in threads. Perhaps Jon will see this thread and offer and clarification.
Perhaps, and I'd certainly enjoy hearing his thoughts, as well. I'll likely go watch the entire interview that wasn't presented later. I'm sure there's fascinating stuff in there. ....at least to a history/tech/sound geek like me.

I think, overall, this forum does an excellent job of educating the non-technical about the technical side of guitar stuff like pickups and DCR. ...but on the wider internet, like FB and YT, comments show that there's not only a ton of misinformation circulating, but plenty of folks who feel so confident in their misinformation as to boldly proclaim it and "correct" others who are already correct. I guess this is just the "misinformation age" in many ways.
 

jbash

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2014
Messages
1,088
Reaction score
1,346
I've heard Jon saya bunch of times, and I believe its on the Thro-bak page-- that his A2s are scooped in the mids.

I think he hears something the rest of us don't, and/or he's speaking about a specific midrange frequency that is lacking in A2.
 

LP1865

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2020
Messages
290
Reaction score
184
I've heard Jon saya bunch of times, and I believe its on the Thro-bak page-- that his A2s are scooped in the mids.

I think he hears something the rest of us don't, and/or he's speaking about a specific midrange frequency that is lacking in A2.
I find A2s mid heavy, and I like them. But maybe his versions are different, and we're unable to figure out what he's saying.
Somebody should ask him
 

VictorB

Formerly LZF
Super Mod
Joined
May 31, 2007
Messages
42,572
Reaction score
110,555
I have a set of Tom Short humbuckers with A2s, and they are not mid heavy at all whatsoever.
 

cooljuk

Transducer Producer
Premium Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
16,343
Reaction score
23,467
I have a set of Tom Short humbuckers with A2s, and they are not mid heavy at all whatsoever.
That's understandable. Not all magnets, at all charges, of a given type will sound the same.

....but how much of the voice you are hearing is the magnet and how much is the pickup?

A fair way to say would be to swap them for some other AlNiCo types in the same pickup and see what happens to the EQ.
 

VictorB

Formerly LZF
Super Mod
Joined
May 31, 2007
Messages
42,572
Reaction score
110,555
That's understandable. Not all magnets, at all charges, of a given type will sound the same.

....but how much of the voice you are hearing is the magnet and how much is the pickup?

A fair way to say would be to swap them for some other AlNiCo types in the same pickup and see what happens to the EQ.
I’m not touching those pickups, lol! I really really wish Tom was still winding pickups, I’d pick up 3 more sets of these if I could. I never experienced anything like these.
 

LP1865

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2020
Messages
290
Reaction score
184
....but how much of the voice you are hearing is the magnet and how much is the pickup?
I didn't think of that. My bridge is wound to a 12.8k DCR. With 42 gauge wire
 

Antigua

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2016
Messages
619
Reaction score
224
I like that they emphasize that Gibson's goal was to make a lot of bobbins with as few screw ups as possible, and that there is a wide variation among PAF's as they changed production methods over time. Hopefully some people out there will see the contradiction between "P.A.F. sound" and "wide variation", and get the idea that "the P.A.F. sound" is more a state of mind than an actual sound. That's why some might believe AlNiCo 2 is more scooped and other believe less scooped, it's sort of a Rorschach test for the ears, everyone hears what they want to hear. Towards the end of the video Jon even mentions that different customers come to him with their own idea of the "PAF sound", and he ends up asking them, in essence, if they want to buy a higher inductance, or lower inductance pickup.

There are other contradictory messages too, Jon says the advantages of a non potted pickup couldn't really be heard, but could be felt by the player, but then they talk about how it imparts more qualities of the guitar's wood, or some other "acoustic" contribution, which, if true, is something you certainly should be able to hear, and not merely feel. They're basically saying the pickup doubles as a piezo somehow.

I'd say the information is functional more than it is accurate. Talking about how a P.A.F. has more dynamic range and that a P-90 is "compressed", or DC resistance = output, sure, it's not technically correct, but apparently it's an effective "wroking assumption", you can tell these things to seasoned guitarists and they won't disagree, even if it's not technically correct. Since guitar is a hobby for most, and these finer details are non-essential, this choose-you-own-adventure approach to pickups is probably more fun than getting into the nitty gritty of inductance, eddy currents, and all that.
 
Last edited:

Brek

Senior Member
Joined
May 15, 2020
Messages
541
Reaction score
445
People seem to very commonly confuse DCR with output. I see it all the time in threads. Perhaps Jon will see this thread and offer a clarification.
I have been using it purely as reference, and I think I was assuming a link to output, but I get it now, the magnet strength, the amount of wind will all affect the 'output'. Playing one of my guitars yesterday and switching between pickups there was no noticeable difference in sound level, One measure a 8.02 and the other at 7.5. I shall stopped using it as a reference and will use purely to troubleshoot in future.
 

jvin248

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2015
Messages
376
Reaction score
383
.

DCR can certainly vary due to the wire gauge used ... but if you have two identical pickups wound with identical wire ... then the DCR does indicate relative 'strength'/'output'/'voltage'.

The reason people use DCR to describe pickups is the meter equipment is easy to get and it's easy to measure resistance. Few buy the meters to measure capacitance, inductance, or magnetism as those measurement devices are expensive or problematic. Ohms measurements are easy, the answer is quick to obtain, and the results give a general indication of what a player may expect from a guitar.

Some pickup vendors obfuscate the situation by only providing a bar chart of output L-M-H and no scale on the chart.

What the pickup makers should really do is figure out a way to accurately measure pickups that can best describe the functional outputs and musical qualities of their pickups as an industry and provide actual tolerances they build to. Pots have a 20% tolerance range ... I expect that pickups have an even wider range and thus it has been risky to publish anything other than a chart of relative L-M-H with no scales. Variation in pickup building is in large part the reason for players' need to "run the racks!" to find a "good" guitar.

.
 

Netwarrior

Senior Member
Joined
May 11, 2010
Messages
276
Reaction score
369
The second must have just been Jon misspeaking because I don't imagine he finds A2 (which tend to be mid-heavy) magnets to be scooped in the mids, compared to A5 (which most consider extremely scooped).
Actually, that's also what he states on the Throbak website for magnets description:

  • A2 long / Scooped mids, chimey highs, warm sweet tones, loose feel.
  • A2 short / Scooped mids, spankier tone than long A2.
  • A3 long / Very weak, nice clarity for use in P90 pickups but very low output for PAF pickups.
  • A4 long / Balanced mids, treble and low end, drier toned than A2.
  • A5 long oriented / mid dominant, focused tone, jazzy cleans.
  • A5 short oriented / mid dominant tone, fatter toned than long oriented A5.
  • A5 long unoriented (Illinois) / Great low end clarity with good mids.
  • A5 long unoriented (Indiana) / Less low end clarity more treble snarl, good mids
I've always found it curious since it's the opposite than what other manufacturers are stating.
 

afranke

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2013
Messages
668
Reaction score
336
i have a couple throbak oriented long a5's and they are not scooped in the mids like others ive tried.
seem nicley balanced and not as strong as most modern a5s. i really like them.
now im curiuos about those a2's.
 

cybermgk

Singin' the body lectric
Premium Member
V.I.P. Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2011
Messages
14,651
Reaction score
20,563
If you swap the magnets between a 14k Super Distortion and a 7k T-Top, the T-Top will have FAR more output (and the DCR will remain the same in both).

...but even with the same magnets and wire gauge, variances in copper core and insulation thickness, as well as coil pattern, can result in pickup coils with lower DCR having more output and a warmer sound than coils with higher DCR.

I gave some examples of that here: The Misleading Nature of DCR Regarding Guitar Pickups
required reading imho
 

cybermgk

Singin' the body lectric
Premium Member
V.I.P. Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2011
Messages
14,651
Reaction score
20,563
"Modern pickups tend to have a ceramic magnet" ? Que?

Or did he mean to say modern 'sounding' pickups?

Yes, there are modern pickups using ceramic magnets. But, 'tend' means regularly, which I just don't think is true.
 

mdubya

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Messages
20,855
Reaction score
35,325
Some good stuff in there, ya, but...

"DCR = output"

and

"AlNiCo 2 is scooped in the mids compared to AlNiCo 5"

I think the first must have been a misunderstanding or previous beliefs by Rhett that was said after the interview and couldn't be corrected by Jon.

The second must have just been Jon misspeaking because I don't imagine he finds A2 (which tend to be mid-heavy) magnets to be scooped in the mids, compared to A5 (which most consider extremely scooped).

I enjoyed it but I just hate the idea that even more people will walk away mislead, thinking that DCR of a pickup = output, which is NOT true, even among the same model of pickup with the same wire gauge.
I've heard Jon saya bunch of times, and I believe its on the Thro-bak page-- that his A2s are scooped in the mids.

I think he hears something the rest of us don't, and/or he's speaking about a specific midrange frequency that is lacking in A2.
I have heard him make this statement before.

I have learned enough about pickups to not really know what I like any more. :oops:

Well, P-90's. I like most P-90's.

:)
 

jlee

Senior Member
Joined
May 4, 2010
Messages
665
Reaction score
464
I have 3 sets of Throbak A5 magnets. 2 UOA5 Indiana and a set of Illinois. Have also tried his oriented A5.

The UOA5s are definitely mid present. Smoother high end and softer low end attack than the common descriptions of scooped mids, boomy low end and harsh high end. The oriented A5s fit this Description more, but with more midrange.

I plan on trying his A2s soon. They sound great in the Doug and Pat KZ115 demo. Seem to have a little more “air” than the A5s.
 


Latest Threads



Top