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What the real deal with PAF's?

XOSKELETAL

Banned
Joined
Aug 8, 2001
Messages
2,035
I'm reading this old book "Gibson Electronics," printed in 1981, and it discusses the fact that there was no real quality control when the PAF's were made. It says the coil can vary considerably with respect to the amount of turns. Also, the magnet changed around 1960 to a smaller one. So, if they all will sound different, why are they better. I don't mean to blaspheme, since I like the sound of mine just fine.

Now, aren't all the HB's all the same? So, shouldn't they sound pretty much the same? The wood will have different characteristics, but how much?

Just looking for some genious comments.
 
S

Snags

Guest
"Just looking for some genious comments"

Tough titties , buddy! You get mine! HA!!!

I have wondered the same thing myself. Everybody agrees that PAFs vary drastically in tonal characteristics because of the fact that the old winders were timed, rather than having the number of turns counted. But then everybody talks about Seths v.s. Antinquities v.s. Virtual PAFs, magnet swapping, etc, to make current pickups sound more like PAFs. How is this possible, when the PAFs themselves are so inconsistient? If you took a shovel and flung 100 piles of shit at a wall, and then tried to replicate a splatter that is closest to the other splatters, how would you do it? Which original shit splatter is the definitive shit splatter? Granted, they will all be about the same size, due to the volume of the shovel, but still...

My brain hurts.
 

toni

LPF Tone Chaser
Joined
Jul 26, 2001
Messages
1,103
Snags,

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU !!!

it is absolutely impossible to replicate a specific pickup, Impossible, PERIOD.
Big Al once told that old PAFs were all over the place tonewise, and when i listen old Bursts, i can only agree !
...and BTW, Antiquitys and every handmade pickups vary a lot from one to another...

BUT, old PAFs had (as a general rule) a "breathy" Woody and Warm "kind" of tone wich i think is typical.
...and alnico V magnet in a Antiquity generates that "Kind" of tone, wich was so difficult to get !
To me, they could be "Great PAFs".
each pickup has its own tone signature anyway...
...and to me, pickup individual identity is just Great !
each pickup has its own DNA...:eek
 
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Dave Paetow

Les Paul Forum Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2001
Messages
13,524
I was typing up a wonderful response to this, and then the power went out for 45 minutes! :dead:

I do think there is a certain tonal timbre or quality to the mids and top end clarity with sweetness that the repros can't quite nail, even though the originals were all over the place in output and tone. I haven't tried the Rolphs, so I can't say all the repros fall a little short.

There are many possible reasons, some may be hocus pocus BS like the coloring of the plastic and what brand of tape was used, to more realistic possibilities like magnets, wire tension, bobbin shrinkage, age, etc.
 

Des Howl

Les Paul Forum Member, Classic Club
Joined
Jul 20, 2001
Messages
800
Aging?

Maybe someday we'll have a particle theory of electricity - that it zooms through the copper molecules, shaping out these tiny little tone conduits in the pickup wire... much like the way a flat-top accoustic gains vibrational resonance. Or maybe not, even!

The intelligence of the universe is both unknowable and inescapable. Whooah! The depths of it all I cannot fathom, Rufus.

(Maybe your Duncans will kick ass in 30 years, too...)
 
S

Snags

Guest
The secret to PAFs.

Alright, if you must know. There is a closely-guarded secret that I alone have recently uncovered...

Before each PAF was installed in a guitar, they were taken to a large, darkened room, lit only by two candles on either side of a pink velvet covered altair. As Seth Lover bowed upon both knees before the altair and reverently presented the latest PAF for it's blessing, a boy's choir would sing in the the shadows, increasing in pitch and intensity until, at the climax of their young, pure voices' capabilities, Ted McCarty would emerge from the shadows, part his ceremonial robe, and rub his schlong on the pickup.


So now you know.
 

60burst

Les Paul Forum Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2001
Messages
2,854
I have owned and do own many pairs of PAFs. They are the only humbucking pickup I have ever used, so here is my two cents.

When comparing PAFs to other pickups they sound very similiar to each other. As a group, PAFs sound very close to each other and very different from other humbucking pickups, whether they be PAF copies or not.

When comparing PAFs to other PAFs they do vary in tone and output. How much is a matter of description. They seem to all fall in to an acceptable range for me. I have PAFs from 1957 all of the way to the patent # era in the mid 60s. Prior to 1960 the PAF varied more than the post 1960 models which are more consistent. I have several sets that sound pretty close to each other. I can't remember hearing a healthy PAF that wouldn't work for me but maybe some bad sounding ones do exist. There is a lot of good PAF information in the board archives. :60burst
 
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EdA

New member
Joined
Jul 17, 2001
Messages
311
60BURST hit it on the head. Sorry guys, but 'all over the place' has to be taken at face value. Compared to one another, PAFs vary, some clearly sound better than others depending on what your definition of 'better' is. Ive had at least a dozen and what I can tell you is that although they varied from one another, as a group they have a certain tonality that I havent heard one new pickup copy exactly. Ive heard just about all of them (except Rolph and the Virtuals). Ive owned and heard quite a few Antiquities and side by side, well they all sound like antiquities, none of them sound like PAFs. Again, Im not saying they dont sound good or even great, I like them a lot. I still find it hard to believe that changing the magnet will suddenly make them sound like a PAF. I dont doubt that an improvement could be heard, just not so sure itll magically transform into a PAF.

But I will do that test very soon myself. A friend has asked me to try some things with his pickups in his R7 goldtop. He has antiquities. Ive got '57 classics, so Im going to yank the magnets and drop them in the Antiquities. I will then compare them to my PAFs and give an honest evaluation...
 

JoeP

New member
Joined
Jul 23, 2001
Messages
1,168
Ok, I'm going to bring a set of Antiquities and 57 Classics to Arlington, we'll make the swap and see what's up.. That will be a good place to see all, tell all.... :lolspin :lolspin
 

GastonG

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 25, 2001
Messages
1,401
paf's

60 Burst and Ed A. are right!
My friend who owns a 57,58 and 59 Les Paul has that "common-tone" on all three LPs, different from eachother but the same nasty tone not found on a stock Antiquity.

If you swap the magnet from a Classic 57 into an Antiquity, you'll be only half way toward that "magic" tone. If you swap Alnico V magnets from a brand new P-90. You'll be so unbelievable close to a real paf... Big Al sold all his old paf's when he heard that combination; Antiquity/P-90 magnets.
Trust me Ed A. my aged Les Paul sound so wonderfull now!

I'll redo the A/B test real soon with my friend's old Bursts and my Y2K Historic will not get a 1.5/10 this time... compared to 9.5/10 for the original 58 & 59 Burst.

Gaston
 

JoeP

New member
Joined
Jul 23, 2001
Messages
1,168
Where is the best place to obtain P-90's.. And should they be Gibson brand, or Duncan's?
 

GastonG

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 25, 2001
Messages
1,401
to Joe P

Gibson magnets only!

The best part of doing this is that you don't mess around with old parts... only brand new pickups from Seymour and Gibson.
So you don't have to "destroy" a vintage one to get "that" tone.

Gaston
 

JoeP

New member
Joined
Jul 23, 2001
Messages
1,168
thanks Gaston, will get a set of each... Gibby 90's and Duncan Antiq's...

JoeP
 

GastonG

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 25, 2001
Messages
1,401
to JoeP

Hey Joe! where you're going with that magnet in you hand...
ta da ta da dam...

Joe, you only need one Gibson P-90; there is two Alnico V magnets in a P-90.

Gaston
 

toni

LPF Tone Chaser
Joined
Jul 26, 2001
Messages
1,103
...lucky guys we are !

We are dicussing a very "luxury" subject, aren't we ? hee hee
I think this discussion will never end, and it is a good thing, really.
what is "better" is very debatable,...a simple matter of taste in the end...
Ed, i think you said the most important thing: "...depending on what your definition of "better" is..."
and It depends on "who" makes the final "evaluation".

put alnico II from Classic 57's in Antiquitys and it sounds really really good but a little bit "hard"...
but put alnico V from a Gibson's P90 in Antiquitys and it sounds just...well...yes, Magical.

Gaston, yep, in fact Big Al sold ALL of his old PAFs, because moded Antiquities with Gibson alnico V's sounded better.
He told me that many times.

Now Gaston, it is hard work, but this dirty job has to be done...Friday, Montreal, remember our mission: play old Bursts and Historics...

...lucky guys we are...!
 
S

Snags

Guest
I think this whole magnet thing is pretty dang interesting stuff. But if you goofy bastards start swapping polepieces, I'm going to worry...
:lol2
 

toni

LPF Tone Chaser
Joined
Jul 26, 2001
Messages
1,103
...euh...

you knew about this other tone secret Snags ? :lolspin :lolspin :lolspin
 
S

Snags

Guest
:lolspin
Well, I was guessing on the polepieces, but I *DO* know that chrome straplocks give you a very bright tone, gold straplocks give you a rich tone, and black straplocks give you a very dark tone. :nut
 

toni

LPF Tone Chaser
Joined
Jul 26, 2001
Messages
1,103
:lolspin :lolspin :lolspin
...stop for a minute:lolspin, i got abdominal pain , you won !:lolspin
 
S

Snags

Guest
I cannot stop at abdominal pain! I must press on until you blow carbonated liquids through your nose!
 
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