You had me at unholy.
You had me at unholy.
I like your passion Les, you should get back in the courtroom
PAF's, I'v not heard them up close and personal. So PAF to me is something figurative in my head. It is what I want PAF to sound like, and it probably isn't what the PAF really did sound like.
Who says that the PAF (the first humbucker to reach production) was somehow the best possible configuration for magnetic field disturbance sensors? Was the first internal combustion engine the best ever invented? Was the first anything the best version to be invented? Usually not. Now I think Seth did a terrific job. And I think the idea that SD Seth Lover pups should be used as a standard is a genius idea. I have a pair, and they do sound like what my mental PAF is supposed to sound like. But I doubt that the SD Seth's are exact reproductions of his PAF's from the 50's despite what they say. They are close I am sure, but probably better; even much better. We all know that the windings were not consistant from the start, so there is no way for Seth to tell you what the exact number of winds needs to be. I am sure he got these where they sounded like he remembers after 50 years and he said "make that the number of winds". I bet he experimented a good while and found a sound that reached the heights of what the best PAF's did and maybe better. Would he stop at some intermediate sound and say "well that is what we had so build it even though this other one sounds better"? He found the best sound he could during development of the new Seth and he said "that's the sound" regardless of what the originals really did sound like. It is just the way we as humans think.
My sound doesn't have to come from a PAF pup. I've had a number of good guitars. I have kept the ones that sound the best to me and even though some had the same pickups, the others have gone to someone else who thought they had the sound they wanted. My sound happens to sound a lot like my Bernie with Seth Lover's does. Warm, clear, lots of overtones. The guitars I have kept have that sound coming from an HFS/Vintage, Dragon 1's, SC245's/Mira's, 57/08's, Starla's, #7's, and T&B's. Not a who's who of PAF pickups. Maybe it's more how I use them than anything.
1988 CE24, 1995 CE22, 2000 SC, 2003 Standard 22, 2003 Cu24 AP, 2006 Cu24 AP, 2006 SC AP, 2007 CuRo22, 2010 Mira
2007 SE Soapy 2, 2010 SE 25th Anni Cu24, 2012 SE Bernie, 2013 SE Angelus Custom
PRS 2 channel "H", PRS SE50, Mesa RectoVerb, Mesa Lonestar, Fender HRD
PAFs.... I like the good ones...
But if you gave me the choice of owning a Burst with new pickups, or having a new LP with PAFs, I'd take the old one with new pickups.
I definitely like a lower output pickup but to me I can't put all of the eggs in one basket and say PAFs are the only reason Bursts sounded so good. A lot of it is the construction and aging and wood from that time.
But for me I think PAF's are very inconsistent. I've had the thrill of playing two Bursts with them, both Bursts were outstanding but one definitely sounded better plugged in than the other and it was the pickups. One set was dramatically different in spec and output than the other.
For me when it comes to amazing tone from the classic rock heyday, the sum is greater than the parts and you have to factor in the amp and effects used and also the recording process (mics, eq, gear). And in terms of live tone, the amp and micing techniques for sure.
I love the 57/08s personally. I use them in a not-so-classic rock guitar (CU24) and they still come across like all the great recordings I love with the right amp.
Last edited by LSchefman; 04-09-2014 at 11:13 PM.
Kingsley, I dug your demo! Both guitars sound really great, by the way.
For one, what is "best"? Who determines it, and according to what criteria? Personally, I would love it if the concept of "best" could be stricken from everyone's vocabulary, at least when applied to anything relating to music and/or gear. It ends up doing a lot more harm than good to constantly chase after, or think in terms of, "best."
The PAF, like everything else in the world of guitars that happened in the 1950s, was the product of all sorts of elements that are simply "what was available at the time." All the component parts. The way things were built. The people who built things. The people who managed the people who built things. The people who designed things. From one perspective, you have to say "man, all those people at that time were *blessed*, 'cos what they did, what they built, still stands up today in terms of being functional, great-sounding instruments."
Of course a whole lot of the reverence from that stuff ends up being because of what musicians did with it. The Three Kings. Clapton-Bloomfield-Green-Allman-Page-Gibbons-etc-etc-etc-ad-infinitum. Chicken/egg, maybe? Would Clapton have stood out regardless? Hard to say, but count me among those who hear the sound of the lead guitar on this and get all warm & runny inside.
As for the variability among PAFs, well, part of that is because stuff wasn't made to quite the same tolerances then as it is now. Part of that is because the people building the things did things in a less tightly specified and controlled environment. Certainly there are some that don't sound so, ermm, magical, (which is also a function of failure-over-time, which happens to mostly everything that humans build) but I'm not sure it's an especially high percentage. It does (and should) give anyone pause from simply assuming, "hey, I'm gonna buy a pair of PAFs on the open market and throw 'em in my guitar and it will sound just like [name favorite recorded example here]." In my experience, that only works if (a) you are very familiar with the seller (and s/he with you) and (b) you have a guitar (and ancillary gear) that will be well-served by those particular pickups. If those two aren't true, well, can you say expensive crap shoot?
Last edited by kingsleyd; 04-10-2014 at 09:32 AM.
As a young person who has had zero opportunity to play an original PAF loaded guitar, I can honestly say, I lose no sleep at night at the prospect of playing PRS guitars and never owning a holy grail vintage instrument. The tones are great, and there comes a certain point where you just have to stop cork sniffing and play the damn thing. Plus I'm sure the new PRS stuff is more reliable and less delicate.
-I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.
S2 Custom 22 Semi-Hollow - SE Akesson+57/08's - Mira X - SE Custom 24 25th Anniversary - SE 30 Head/Cab
Just in case anyone is thinking this is a new thing in music, here's a read for you. It's a scholarly article that tries to get at the evolution of why the violins built in Cremona, Italy in the late 17th and early 18th centuries are so widely revered. In the process, they spend a lot of time exploring how it is that knowledge-in-the-field is developed and expanded -- or, in some cases, lost -- over time. Gives you some perspective on why Paul Smith might have been so driven to cultivate a relationship with Ted McCarty, and why it's such a good thing that he did.
It's a very dry and scholarly article, but stick with it. There are some really telling quotes included in places that I guarantee will have a familiar ring to anyone who's spent any time around these guitar forums.
On the other hand, as a young guy, realize that a big chunk of your life is still ahead of you. Don't be afraid to explore and learn new things. Or learn from old things. (and old dudes)
Weapons Acquired: 2005-20th Anniversary Custom 22 2006-Custom 22 2006-McCarty 2008-Chris Henderson 2009-Ted McCarty SC 245 Soapbar 2010-Tremonti 2010-25th Anniversary Modern Eagle III 2010-Modern Eagle Quatro 2011-PRS Experience Custom 24 2011-SC-58 2011-McCarty 58 2011-Angelus Custom 2011-85 Throwback 2012-DGT 2012-Custom 24 (Hand Signed Headstock Logo) 2012 Private Stock #4029 2013-Paul's Guitar AMP-PRS CAD Blistertone 50
But a lot of later players chose them because the songs they loved had those instruments, too. And that's how something goes from a good instrument to a tonal icon.
Frankly, Gibson and Fender both made very high quality instruments and it's no wonder that players chose them. Lots of factors.
Kind of related, George Gruhn on fads in the vintage market. Tastes change in guitars and even pickups.
Last edited by NomadMike; 04-10-2014 at 02:56 PM.
Bet you I can make them all sound the same. Just ask Dane.
Guitar Center Cincinnati
There's an observable trajectory where some people's hard-won, experience-based knowledge gives rise to a widely-told legend which becomes another person's illusionary belief system which becomes a marketer's target. The speed with which that trajectory happens, in these days of electronic communications, can be mind-boggling for us AARP members who remember when information about guitars and guitar-related stuff was hard as hell to come by.
It's all a matter of perspective.