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Boutique PAF Clones
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Mole Man
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Joined: 16 Nov 2007
Posts: 268
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:25 am    Post subject: Boutique PAF Clones Reply with quote

Hi Folks,

Just picked up a set of reliced Lollar Imperial low wind PAF clones from e-bay. Haven't installed them in a guitar yet (and probably won't for some time if the truth be told). However they have been very positively reviewed in various UK & US guitar mags and with heavily aged covers they do look fantastic! Other boutique pickups I have crossed paths with are:

Lindy Fralin covered humbucker set (9k & 8k set)

Manlius Fat Diane covered humbucker set (thanks JohnA)!

On the non-boutique side, I have used both Seymour Duncan?s (?59 covered humbuckers) and DiMarzio PAF?s (old ones from the late 1970?s).

So far I would say that my all round favourites are the Lindy Fralins.

Has anyone got any mileage to share on this subject?

Best regards,
Darren
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JohnA
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Joined: 02 Mar 2007
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Location: Leicester UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My personal favourites have always been Peter Florence Voodoo '59's, the ones I had in my Goldtop, I'm now having a re-think on the whole issue after hearing just how good DaveWW's Navigator sounded with some Tokai MK II's.

Tried some in my Bacchus (Thanks Darren ) and it sounded good, but not the same as Daves, there was that, air around the sound that I associate with my Voodoos, but I'm starting to think a lot of it is in the wood too, it's rare to find a 'boutique' pickup set in a cheap guitar, so we normall only hear them in hight quiality guitars, so think that the pickups are great, when in fact the guitar is a bigger part of the tone than I had previously thought. More to the point is that you will only get the best out of a set of GREAT pickups if they are in a GREAT guitar.
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Mole Man
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Joined: 16 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I suppose that one can't really consider the pickups (however great) in isolation from the guitar that they will be installed in. What I will say though is that there is no doubt in my mind that the right pickups can dramatically improve the right guitar. For example my Gibson Les Paul Standard ('95) always sounded great to me unplugged but strangely disappointing when I came to plug her in. Having changed out the stock Gibson pickups (490T & 489R - ceramic loaded, waaay too hot at around 14k on the bridge) for the Fralins, the guitar's sound was transformed. With the stock Gibson ceramics the sound was woolly, lacked clarity overall and only sounded passably good when overdriven. There was also a harshness that proved impossible to smooth out using the volume and tone controls. In short the Gibson stock pickups were absolute junk!! Since swapping out the pickups I have had a new RS Guitars wiring harness installed and this too has paid dividends tonally. If I couldn't have changed out the stock pickups then the only option left would have been for me to sell the guitar.
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DaveWW
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with the above replies - used to think that tone had much more to do with the pickups, the amp and the fingers but now I think the wood plays a much bigger part than I would have believed. As mentioned by JohnA above I've got Tokai MkIIs in my Navigator and they sound great but I didn't like them all that much in my LS138SEB. So now I'm going to try my Lindy Fralins in the Navigator but it'll be a few weeks now before I get around to it.

Dave
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JVsearch
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Joined: 01 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mole Man - what were your impressions of the Fat Dianes?

I'm thinking about a set of them for an SG.

Regarding wood, I've got a paper from an experiment between ash and alder using two tele bodies and identical necks and hardware. The teles were tested acoustically and electronically. There were large differences on the frequency plots between the acoustic outputs of up to 20db but only in certain frequency ranges. The electronic output showed much smaller variations that may not be audible in normal use. However, the differences between the two woods were still visible with the pickup output graphs.

The experiment appears to conclude that wood, in comparison with pickups, has a very small effect on audible tone. I should also add that the methodology of the experiment has been questioned in some quarters. Still, for my money, it definitely shows there is a different flavour to be had from different woods, in this case ash or alder. Ash definitely appeared to produce more output than alder on the treble strings.

Here's a PDF of the experiment:
http://www.stormriders.com/guitar/telecaster/guitar_wood.pdf

I guess the problem is that the results are useful for those guitars that were used in the experiment, and can not be the basis of any general rules for people to choose components for other guitars. Pickup matching with guitars will remain a "black art", all we can do is try a few combinations, and listen to others' experiences to draw our own conclusions.
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stratman323
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's an interesting study, but the sample is far too small for it to be of any scientific relevance. Are all ash bodies the same? Well, no! It can be very light (like my blonde Tele) or very heavy (like a 70s Strat), & both will respond differently. A heavy alder body will sound different to a light alder body.

Personally, after a fair bit of experimentation, I can hear a definite difference between ash & alder Strats & Teles. Alder sounds as though it produces a fairly flat and consistent frequency curve, ash is less consistent, as though the curve has various peaks & troughs. Ash has more "character", though it's more noticeable when played fairly clean through a decent valve amp. With much overdrive the differences are less obvious, & maybe the consistency of alder becomes an advantage.

Having said that, my "study" isn't scientific either, but it has involved rather more than one ash & one alder guitar!

Mike
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JVsearch
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely right Mike - there can be a bigger difference between two pieces of the same types of wood as there are between two pieces of different types.

I think your results are similar to what was hinted at in the study? That's good, a bit of real world experience to add to some measurements from a specific case. I would love ask the guys who did the study to go and do it with another 20 or 30 pairs of bodies, but I doubt they would do it.

When it comes to adding pickups into the mix, it seems that most people accept that a dead sounding guitar can't be made into a lively sounding one with pickup selection. So, possibly the wood can impose an absolute bar on how good the tone can be? But, once you have a reasonable piece of wood, some pickups will sound better than others because they just happen to work better with the way that piece of wood vibrates?

The other problem is that tone is subjective, and it goes through cultural shifts - in the 70's everybody seemed to want heavy bodies with very focussed sharp tone, now we don't want that anymore. The human ear likes to hear basically a flat response with maybe a little lift in the mid bass (80hz) and the presence region (3-6khz) but the older you are the more mids and treble you will need to hear properly (depending on what noise exposure you've had over the years). I guess a 20 year old should not listen to a 40 year old who describes the tone of a guitar as balanced or flat - it will probably sound bright to the younger person! Lol.

But, as to how the various peaks and troughs inherent in the frequency response of a piece of wood come into play with a pickup and its individual frequency response... who knows?! Just keep trying those guitars and pickups, and telling people what you find.


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Mole Man
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JVsearch wrote:
Mole Man - what were your impressions of the Fat Dianes?

I'm thinking about a set of them for an SG.


Hi JVsearch,

I must confess that I haven't spent a great deal of time with my Fat Diane loaded ES-130 yet, but initial impressions were very favourable! Watch this space...

Best regards,
Darren
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luis
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tried a Lollar Low Wind neck around 7,1 k in a high end Tokai Love Rock with great results,really good for blues and rock?&roll one of my favourites.I feel Imperial a bit similar like Wolfetone Dr. Vs altough I prefer Wolfe ones by a tad.I also tried an W&B rewind in the same guitar and I liked,very trasparent with bell chime also recomended for traditional blues and rock.Finally I highly recommend Rolph Pretenders and I understand why Tokai choose these for their high end replicas,a bit different taste than Lollar,Wolfe and Will Boggs. Each of the above are reaaly good pickups all recomended if the guitar is good enough.

Mike,I also hear differences between an swamp ash and alder made stratos and I?ve found I prefer swamp ash because it?s a more singing sound in my experience.
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JVsearch
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Joined: 01 Jan 2009
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Location: Australia

PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mole Man wrote:
JVsearch wrote:
Mole Man - what were your impressions of the Fat Dianes?

I'm thinking about a set of them for an SG.


Hi JVsearch,

I must confess that I haven't spent a great deal of time with my Fat Diane loaded ES-130 yet, but initial impressions were very favourable! Watch this space...

Best regards,
Darren


No worries Darren,

When you get around to it I'll be interested in what you think of them. If you can, please try the guitar with OD/Distortion as well, as that is when lousy pickups become more obvious (I think). There's no way they're going to be lousy though - Mr Manlius appears to know what he is doing.

Cheers
Raph
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Mole Man
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recently won a matched set of Bare Knuckle, "Black Dog" humbuckers on the 'bay. Looking forward to trying these out as I have heard a lot of good things about this British brand of handwound pickups...
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Mole Man
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does anyone have any experiences (good, bad or indifferent) to share on the boutique PAF-a-likes emanating from the following UK based pickup winders:

SHED
Cat's Whiskers
Wizard
Bare Knuckle
RD Pickups

Many thanks.

Darren
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DrillerKiller
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Joined: 27 Feb 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

how come nobodies mentioned plectrums ?

and dead strings for that matter ...

first thing i`d try before emptying my wallet

i once fitted a neck pickup off an old charvel into the bridge on an old shafetesbury lp that had mismatched wood (dead guitar acoustically) THAT was an amazing transition !!!

personally i think all these custom pickups are a nonsense,as long as there is good clarity and note separation i`m happy

chasing the holy grail of tone of another player is fools gold imo,a lot of their tone is in their fingers

btw i use .38`s love the springy bright tone i get from them


and as for amp tone,i once mic`ed one of these through a 20k rig



that was a beast,sounded a lot better than the jcm800 stack !!!
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JVsearch
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, you'll get a fair bit of discussion here about changing pickups, because there is still a feeling that some of the stock Japanese pickups are not quite as good as other pickups. This is certainly true of some of the Fender CIJ models, it may not be the case with all Japanese makers (I dont' think it is personally).

Also, some people want PAF spec pickups (lower output).

And today, if you look around for pickups there's now hundreds of small firms making their own pickups - it's no longer a choice of Gibson, Fender or Seymour Duncan.

I don't think anybody on here had some dead strings and thought, "Oh I'll buy some $300 pickups to fix it"
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DrillerKiller
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JVsearch wrote:
Well, you'll get a fair bit of discussion here about changing pickups, because there is still a feeling that some of the stock Japanese pickups are not quite as good as other pickups. This is certainly true of some of the Fender CIJ models, it may not be the case with all Japanese makers (I dont' think it is personally).

Also, some people want PAF spec pickups (lower output).

And today, if you look around for pickups there's now hundreds of small firms making their own pickups - it's no longer a choice of Gibson, Fender or Seymour Duncan.

I don't think anybody on here had some dead strings and thought, "Oh I'll buy some $300 pickups to fix it"


i personaly feel that most modern pickups have the edge on vintage pickups ... and a lot of hype goes into them

theres good and bad products within batches (even more so for hand wound pickups),who`s to say you`d get a good one for your $300 !!!

and as for buying second hand,if they were so good why get rid ? ... dissapointment ?

and are they really better than a good stock pickup ?

and if they are,are they really worth the markup for which (after all) is 30 pence of materials ?

if a guitar doesnt "sing" acoustically,sustain forever without help,then all the money in the world isnt going to make it ...

strings, good setup plectrum and thats before she`s even plugged in

if you want a sound to mod and call your own get butchering your gear

my advice is buy a guitar you like the sound of !!! (you do try them first dont you?)
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