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Quiz: Identify the PAF pickups!


Biff

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A couple of years ago (02/2005) the German magazine "Gitarre & Bass" (no translation needed I presume) posted a review of 14 PAF humbuckers from different manufacturers, including an original '62 PAF from Gibson.

 

The following tracks are all played by the same guy with the same Gibson Historic Collection Les Paul Standard 1959 (aka Murphy R9) with a Brazilian board, CTS pots, NOS Bumblebee caps and vintage '50s style wiring, using different pickups. The pickup height was set to find the sweet spot on each one. A Marshall 1974X 18-watt combo with volume nearly at 10 recorded without compression or pedals using a AKG D12 (close) and a valve Neumann mic (room). The backing track is IMO awful, but the focus should be on the pickups anyway.

 

Guess which one is which! OR, if you are clueless, which ones do you like the most?

 

The pickups on the first 7 samples are:

 

1 1962 Gibson PAF

2 DiMarzio Virtual PAF

3 Gibson Classic 57

4 Gibson Burstbucker 1&2

5 Lindy Fralin PAF

6 SD Antiquity

7 SD Seth Lovers

 

And here are the sound samples (in random order):

 

PAF #1

PAF #2

PAF #3

PAF #4

PAF #5

PAF #6

PAF #7

 

If you've seen and heard these before, please don't spoil the fun! :-({|=

 

 

For your entertainment, here's the same backing track with seven more pickups - but this time in described order.

 

8 Dommenget PAF

9 Harry Häussel Classic

10 Jim Wagner Crossroads

11 Jim Wagner Darkbursts

12 Jim Wagner Fillmores

13 Kloppmann PAF

14 Rockinger PAF

 

PAF #8

PAF #9

PAF #10

PAF #11

PAF #12

PAF #13

PAF #14

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A couple of years ago..snip!..a review of 14 PAF humbuckers from different manufacturers' date=' including an original '62 PAF from Gibson.

 

The following tracks are all played by the same guy with the same Gibson Historic Collection Les Paul Standard 1959 , NOS Bumblebee caps and vintage '50s style wiring, using different pickups. The pickup height was set to find the sweet spot on each one. A Marshall 1974X 18-watt combo with volume nearly at 10 recorded without compression or pedals using a AKG D12 (close) and a valve Neumann mic (room). The backing track is IMO awful, but the focus should be on the pickups anyway.

 

 

1 1962 Gibson PAF

2 DiMarzio Virtual PAF

3 Gibson Classic 57

4 Gibson Burstbucker 1&2

5 Lindy Fralin PAF

6 SD Antiquity

7 SD Seth Lovers

8 Dommenget PAF

9 Harry Häussel Classic

10 Jim Wagner Crossroads

11 Jim Wagner Darkbursts

12 Jim Wagner Fillmores

13 Kloppmann PAF

14 Rockinger PAF

 

[/quote']

 

I like them all! Even the European ones!..that Neuman U87 mic...but those were FETs..unless they mean the

U47 with the miniature valve...classic killer studio mic....and those NOS Bumblebees are to die for, now I see why they are asking so much for them. Where do I get a free set for the 3 inch acoustic LP that I'm assembling right now? :-({|=

 

I have my own list drawn up and may be pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised when you

provide the answers..but I think I can still pick out Classic 57s and BBs, even with these

old Indiana Jones vintage ears. I also like the #9 European for some reason.

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The WCR Filmores are the best of the lot IMHO.....far more articulate than most of the others.

 

Hmmm..they seem to have a bit more "growl"..were your dogs listening in as well? :-({|=

 

Well, I guess like beer and women and their perfume..it's all in the taste "Buds".

 

What I would like to see is a audio frequency analyzer with the sets super-imposed on each other to

see the real differences. Dang these flies buzzin' in my ears....

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All sound good to my ears... :-({|= I'm imagining to hear a slight difference with some, but overall I can't be bothered.

Would have been really interesting to have some "cheapies" in there. GFS, Duncan designed etc.

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Hmmm..they seem to have a bit more "growl"..were your dogs listening in as well? :-({|=

 

Well' date=' I guess like beer and women and their perfume..it's all in the taste "Buds".

 

What I would like to see is a audio frequency analyzer with the sets super-imposed on each other to

see the real differences. Dang these flies buzzin' in my ears....[/quote']

 

Yeah it certainly is a taste thing.....I like the growl and top end on those pickups alot! I had a set in a Les Paul and it was Really nice! The bigger better known brands have a muffled quality in comparison for me....but again as you say it's a taste thing.:-k I also really like WCR Darkbursts too.......he makes some really great pickups IMHO....but they aren't for everybody. With an articulate pickup like WCR's ....sloppy technique really sticks out like a sore thumb where some pickups mute or disguise it a bit more.

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Hmmm..they seem to have a bit more "growl"..were your dogs listening in as well? =D>

 

Well' date=' I guess like beer and women and their perfume..it's all in the taste "Buds".

 

What I would like to see is a audio frequency analyzer with the sets super-imposed on each other to

see the real differences. Dang these flies buzzin' in my ears....[/quote']

 

I guess I can't hear anymore. PERIOD...I like 'em all too. I'd like to see the audio frenquency analyzer results as well. But for me, the "on stage" performance of a pup is what matters... This is soooooooooooooo subjective........J

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I guess I can't hear anymore. PERIOD...I like 'em all too. I'd like to see the audio frenquency analyzer results as well. But for me' date=' the "on stage" performance of a pup is what matters... This is soooooooooooooo subjective........J[/quote']

 

Yes subjective is the key word here..but it's a lot of fun straining your brain and any

possible recall you may have to do an A/B comparison...after hearing 2-3, they

all start to sound the same.

 

Don't forget, there may be some "colouration" added due to the Marshall amp/speaker

being closed miked by an AKG microphone (what's it's frequency response..flat, cardiod?)

and the Neumann condensor mic picking up the room acoustics..put all that into a mixer

of some sort, then record it...then listen to a digitized version played over a set of

PC computer speakers...well you get my drift...not all that glitters can be described

as pure gold.

 

Plugging the guitar direct into a flat preamp and a strip chart recorder and laying down

exactly the same notes at the same tone/volume may be a better comparison.

 

EDIT..the microphones used..here's an excerpt from a microphone recording site..

I'll just post a smidgeon, since we don't want to get into any trouble with copyright..

The AKG D12 is used for 'kick drums" because of a boosted low freq response, but then

it flattens out 200 -2Khz. The Neuman U87 (recording studio condensor flat response)

or a Shure SM57 would have been a better choice in capturing the true differences of

the various pickups...our ears are not that sensitive depending on our age and

the amount of loud sounds they have been subjected to over the years.

 

Start of extraction:

Larger diaphragms allow for a wider frequency response and have a relatively higher SPL sensitivity, but as a result, cost more. ...snip!...an AKG C1000 small diaphragm condenser for around $200, or a large diaphragm Neumann U87 for $2000. ..snip!... AKG C12s that go for $12,000,... End of extraction.

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I guess I can't hear anymore. PERIOD...I like 'em all too. I'd like to see the audio frenquency analyzer results as well. But for me' date=' the "on stage" performance of a pup is what matters... This is soooooooooooooo subjective........J[/quote']

 

It is very subjective and some of the differences are very subtle at best...but others are quite a bit more obvious. For example listen to the filmore's clip #12 second group and then pickup# 3 first group......you can really hear the pick attack on #12...yet on #3 it's mushy.

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I only have a "better" set of speakers on my 'puter, so maybe (and maybe not) they aren't good enough to hear any differences. But like some of the replies, I really think they all sound pretty much the same. Even if an electronic analyzer showed a difference, would the human ear be able to notice it? Face it; most of us don't even accurately hear what our wives say most of the time! My opinion is that this comparison shows that high-quality pickups of the same type pretty much produce the same sound and brand loyalty is just that - brand loyalty. I, too would have liked to hear PAFs from GFS, Golden Age, etc. included in the mix.

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I only have a "better" set of speakers on my 'puter' date=' so maybe (and maybe not) they aren't good enough to hear any differences. But like some of the replies, I really think they all sound pretty much the same. Even if an electronic analyzer showed a difference, would the human ear be able to notice it? Face it; most of us don't even accurately hear what our wives say most of the time! My opinion is that this comparison shows that high-quality pickups of the same type pretty much produce the same sound and brand loyalty is just that - brand loyalty. I, too would have liked to hear PAFs from GFS, Golden Age, etc. included in the mix.[/quote']

 

Yeah you can get rediculous with this tone chasing stuff for sure........The reality of it is most solid body guitars with a pair of decent humbuckers through a cranked up marshall sound pretty similar....agreed. It's still fun though!

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Yeah you can get rediculous with this tone chasing stuff for sure........The reality of it is most solid body guitars with a pair of decent humbuckers through a cranked up marshall sound pretty similar....agreed. It's still fun though!

 

What? Are you saying that all the boutique p-ups (#42awg + alnico V mags) are

sounding pretty much the same...why...um...that's heresy! off with your head(s) ](*,)

 

There just has to be a difference between a $35 p_up and a $130 p_up?

 

Everyone pretty much is in agreement with quality hand built tube amps, .and don't forget the much better quality speakers like the Celestion, or Blue Marvel, or Eminence, or JBL...there is a difference there

in flatter frequency responses and more faithful reproduction of those long tenon

Gibby LPs.

 

And those PIO vintage Bumblebees..or the Vitamin Q's, or some of the other exotic

tone caps made by the monks in some undisclosed monastery

...made with pure Virginia peanut oil and the finest papers the world

has to offer...mojo does come with the territory...ya gotta believe!

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What? Are you saying that all the boutique p-ups (#42awg + alnico V mags) are

sounding pretty much the same...why...um...that's heresy! off with your head(s) ](*

 

There just has to be a difference between a $35 p_up and a $130 p_up?

 

Everyone pretty much is in agreement with quality hand built tube amps, .and don't forget the much better quality speakers like the Celestion, or Blue Marvel, or Eminence, or JBL...there is a difference there

in flatter frequency responses and more faithful reproduction of those long tenon

Gibby LPs.

 

And those PIO vintage Bumblebees..or the Vitamin Q's, or some of the other exotic

tone caps made by the monks in some undisclosed monastery

...made with pure Virginia peanut oil and the finest papers the world

has to offer...mojo does come with the territory...ya gotta believe![/quote']

 

Just don't say anything about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny!!!!

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Just don't say anything about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny!!!!

 

Well' date=' I'm convinced. It's gonna be [b']Jupiter Beeswax caps [/b]for me.

Made from pure hive beeswax and it's a natural sound enhancer.

Not only do you get that vintage sound that people are paying thousands of dollars for,

but being made of beeswax, the tone is very sweet. ](*,)

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And the correct answers are:

 

PAF # 1: SD Seth Lovers

PAF # 2: DiMarzio Virtual PAF

PAF # 3: 1962 Gibson PAF

PAF # 4: Lindy Fralin PAF

PAF # 5: Gibson Classic 57

PAF # 6: SD Antiquity

PAF # 7: Gibson Burstbucker 1&2

 

Any surprises?

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And the correct answers are:

 

PAF # 1: SD Seth Lovers

PAF # 2: DiMarzio Virtual PAF

PAF # 3: 1962 Gibson PAF

PAF # 4: Lindy Fralin PAF

PAF # 5: Gibson Classic 57

PAF # 6: SD Antiquity

PAF # 7: Gibson Burstbucker 1&2

 

Any surprises?

 

Actually YEAH....I'm really surprised at #3 to be totally honest! It was the vintage PAF and my least favorite by far......I thought it was pretty muddy compared to many others. When he grabbed the 5th and then the root towards the end my favorites seemed to have a nice ring to the top end that was lacking in clip #3........so much for vintage snob appeal on that one Ehh?

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Worthless comparision really.

 

Thing is, each pup has a bit different sound and sensitivity within it's own, so another 1962 PAF may sound quite different than then next 1962 PAF to be compared. In the end that's a good part of what makes some electric guitars sound just right, others ho hum and others like crap, along with the interaction to the guitar itself, so a seemingly muddy pup in one guitar may be just right when teamed with a guitar that itself presents an overly bright signature of it's own.

 

It's always all about the whole and not just the parts, the entire guitar and it's interaction with everything that makes it.

 

For a real learning expirence build a few dozen mutt strats and swap parts back and forth between em, necks, bodies, pups, electronics, and you'll find out really quick it's not just about picking all the right parts, it's how all the parts work together in the end.

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Yes, I'm totally surprised by my lack of audible analysis and short attention span. I even got the BBs and the

'62 paf wrong. ok, so I failed the test...but it was kinda hard and do an A vs B compariso because you could only play one

at a time and that took some guess work and lot of tone info to store in the ole brain.

But the SD Seth Lovers do so a bit like the BBs (IMO). Didn't he work for SD after he left G*bson?..

so I'm not surprised about the similar sounds.

 

So this just goes to show that if you get some alnico II or V magnets,some 42awg wire and a coil winder,

you can come up with a "grow yer own" too.

...lets see 1660 ohms per 1000 feet. Need about 2400 feet x 5000 turns around the bobbin.

That should give us about 4150 ohms x 2 bobbins ( in series) = 8200 ohms....Eureka!.....

 

Mojo? I forgot to factor in the mojo...where do I get it? :-)

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"For a real learning expirence build a few dozen mutt strats and swap parts back and forth between em, necks, bodies, pups, electronics, and you'll find out really quick it's not just about picking all the right parts, it's how all the parts work together in the end."

 

You mean like the 9 I have hanging on the wall now......yup been around the block with strats a few times myself and I see your point,but I don't think it's a worthless comparison at all.......a little less than scientific perhaps but not worthless. It was the random winding techniques that produced some great vintage PAF pickups but as a result consistent quality was pretty hit or miss too......and there are some real duds out there too. The problem with a test like this is that very subtle changes in pick attack and technique can really skew the results...but it still gives you a base line to work from. I would have liked to hear a clean riff with each pickup too.

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Yes' date=' I'm totally surprised by my lack of audible analysis and short attention span. I even got the BBs and the

'62 paf wrong. ok, so I failed the test...but it was kinda hard and do an A vs B compariso because you could only play one

at a time and that took some guess work and lot of tone info to store in the ole brain.

But the SD Seth Lovers do so a bit like the BBs (IMO). Didn't he work for SD after he left G*bson?..

so I'm not surprised about the similar sounds.

 

So this just goes to show that if you get some alnico II or V magnets,some 42awg wire and a coil winder,

you can come up with a "grow yer own" too.

...lets see 1660 ohms per 1000 feet. Need about 2400 feet x 5000 turns around the bobbin.

That should give us about 4150 ohms x 2 bobbins ( in series) = 8200 ohms....Eureka!.....

 

Mojo? I forgot to factor in the mojo...where do I get it? :-)

[/quote']

 

In the beeswax you pot the pickups in......Right?........or is it the Zebra bobbins........yup thats where the mojo is!

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It was the random winding techniques that produced some great vintage PAF pickups but as a result consistent quality was pretty hit or miss too......and there are some real duds out there too. The problem with a test like this is that very subtle changes in pick attack and technique can really skew the results...but it still gives you a base line to work from. I would have liked to hear a clean riff with each pickup too.

 

I understand they also used different Alnico magnets for PAFs... I get these skewed results playing the same guitar on a different day. Not sure why, just sounds or reacts differently. Maybe atmospheric, maybe the Chinese food.8-[

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I understand they also used different Alnico magnets for PAFs... I get these skewed results playing the same guitar on a different day. Not sure why' date=' just sounds or reacts differently. Maybe atmospheric, maybe the Chinese food.:- [/quote']

 

Yeah I hear ya there...maybe its my random playing ability 8-[ I have a buddy with an absolutely insane guitar collection and he's confessed to me several times that he can get pretty much the same tone out of "any solidbody with humbuckers" and his vox ac-30.......and there's alot of truth in that statement!

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