PAF (which stands for “patent applied for”) was the nickname given to the first models of humbuckers designed for Gibson by engineer Seth Lover in the 1950s. Used by the organization on the top of theirs of the line guitars between 1955 and 1962, the PAF popularized the humbucker style of pickup and revolutionized the guitar audio world.
Finding one of these vintage pickups can be both costly and difficult, but thankfully getting that exact same sound does not need to be. Many companies these days create the own version of theirs of Seth Lover’s iconic humbucker, and while a lot of them shoot for the own distinctive sound of theirs, the choices below will supply you with the warmth and clarity the original PAF pickups became very popular for. These’re the best PAF pickups still on the market.
Lindy Fralin Pure PAF
Even the most well honed ear will have a hard time telling a Lindy Fralin Pure PAF from an original 1950s Gibson PAF. Short of finding an antique original (and convincing its lucky owner to part with it), the Pure PAF (see full specs) is the ideal example of its type. The magnets are hand weakened to make the upper range less strident and smooth out the tonal quality overall. The outcome is an effective and articulate pickup that truly shines when it is played really clean, making it perfect for jazz players and less heavy rock styles.
Gibson’ fifty seven Classic Plus Humbucker
The initial PAF pickups were designed for Gibson guitars (specifically the Les Paul) so it is not surprising that one of the greatest modern PAF models is made by them, also. They normally use the classic Alnico II magnet that you would expect from a PAF. Unlike the initial, the poles are wax potted to prevent feedback squeal and unwanted noise. The largest variation between a 1950s PAF and the’ fifty seven model is in the mid range. The’ fifty seven has a much more pronounced low end than the initial design which gives it a slightly warmer, bassier tone. It is the among the very best PAF pickups (well, PAF styled pickups, in case we wish to be much more specific) for players of driving rock or perhaps heavier music who want that PAF character with a little more power.
Seymour Duncan Antiquity
You are able to find numerous businesses that create the own version of theirs of a PAF style humbucker, but with their Antiquity pickups Seymour Duncan takes it one step further, aging the magnet poles and covers to provide them with the sound that a 1950s PAF will have if you decide to purchase it today. Just like the original PAF, the Antiquity is unpotted and uses an Alnico II magnet. The blend of these materials with the company’s excessive level of craftsmanship – each humbucker is hand-assembled and hand-wound – means you get a pickup with an exceptionally balanced tone and a very harmonic resonance in the bigger end that sounds great played both completely clean and with distortion.
DiMarzio 36th Anniversary Humbucker
Best for the bridge position (though it is able to also work in guitars with a hotter neck pickup) the 36th Anniversary humbucker uses modern technology to replicate the vintage PAF pickups of the’ 50s. It uses the nickel silver base of the original PAFs and is styled for a vintage look, also. The sound has much more emphasis on the top quality than most PAF replicas on the market. You are able to also split it right into a single coil mode in case you wish to change up the sound of yours, which tends to make the overall tone brighter without having it really feel weak or thin. No buts and ifs, this’s among the very best PAF humbuckers for the investment.
The original 1956 PAF pickups have been made with either a stainless steel or perhaps nickel plated brass cover. Both materials are great for their shielding properties, which helps to get rid of the hum that plagued single coil models. The bottom plate is usually made of nickel silver since it is non magnetic and will not disturb the pickup’s magnetic field.
All vintage PAF pickups were made using Alnico magnets, although Gibson experimented with a selection of magnet strengths, between 2 to 5, before settling on Alnico five magnets for their humbuckers in 1961. This variation in magnet strength is accountable for the tonal inconsistencies of probably the earliest PAF pickups. Additionally, it means the magnet is exactly where you will notice almost all variation in modern PAFs.
Pickups which use an Alnico II magnet is going to have a smooth tone that adds a touch of warmth to the sound of yours. Those which use an Alnico V will have a tighter low range with scooped mids and some sparkle and bite in top of the range.
One additional important design feature of the original PAFs was the point that the poles were unpotted. Wax potting is a procedure in which the pickup components are soaked in melted wax, reducing the movement of the coils. Many modern pickups are potted since it prevents a large amount of unwanted feedback and noise as well as increases the durability of the pickup. On the other hand, a pickup that is been potted can lose several of the edge and character from its sound.
Because some guitarists are looking for the unpotted sound out of PAF pickups, a lot of those that are meant to come as close as you can to the character of the originals will be unpotted (notably, the Seymour Duncan Antiquity listed above). Others are going to use a modern day wax potting technique to eliminate microphonic squeal, and though this alters the character somewhat from the original PAF tone, for lots of guitarists this minor concession is worthwhile to prevent the pickups of theirs from squealing when they get very near the speakers on stage.
Who PAFs Actually are For
The very best PAF pickups have a singular tone that a lot of players treasure (there’s a reason vintage PAFs is able to go for a huge number of dollars) but that does not imply they are going to be the very best pickup for every guitar. At the best level, not every guitar is routed to use PAF pickups with no modification.
in case the guitar of yours is able to work with other humbuckers, PAF models are going to fit, but if it is routed for single coil pickups (like many Fender models) you will not be ready to install PAF style pickups without some modification. PAF pickups have a warm, fat sound that is good for jazz styles, folk, and most rock.
Apart from the feedback concern of unpotted pickups, PAFs are humbuckers that will not produce a great deal of extra noise, which makes them ideal for players that make use of a great deal of sensitive dynamics. On the contrary, players of harder styles – like metal and punk – may find that PAF pickups make the tone of theirs too dark and do not get them the bite they are searching for.
Ultimately, as with any piece of musical equipment, the most effective way to make sure if even probably the best PAF pickups are for you is usually to pay attention to some players using them, considering just how they are going to fit into the overall sound of yours. Good luck!