Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Anybody else suck at PAF's?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Jack Clayton, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. Jack Clayton

    Jack Clayton Tele-Meister

    Oct 1, 2017
    Phoenix, AZ
    Don't get me wrong. I love the sound of PAF pickups, when somebody else is playing them. But I've honestly never been able to get a sound I liked out of them. I recently played a 57' ES 335. I just couldn't seem to pull a good tone out of it.

    I recently got a used warmoth partscaster. It's basically a thinline tele with humbucker pockets. I've got a few pickups lying around. I plan on going with a DiMarzio humbucker from hell in neck position and a lace sensor blue/red dually in the bridge. I've never played the dually before, but its supposed to have some PAF-like qualities.

    So can anyone else relate to having trouble making PAF's work for them? Any pro tips on getting the most out of this new axe? Should I just leave PAF's alone and stick to what I know? IMG_20181026_113227.jpg
  2. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 2, 2009
    South Australia
    Always wanted a 335 Dot, friend of mine had one and it just didn't work for me.
    I guess you'd have to own one and keep working at it , I know they're good.
    I prefer the Gibson P-90s in an ES- 330. JMHO.
    tonyj likes this.
  3. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 11, 2006
    Near Athens GA USA
    I like nickel-silver casings for them (and P90's too) but not everyone does.
  4. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    If you use Fender amps, either BF or SF, the “bright” switch is your friend, when using PAF type pickups, IMO.
    I always use it.
    I like, and generally prefer humbucking pickups.
    Filterton, or Supertron (TV Jones) are my favorites, but PAFs are great, too
    Pickup height is critical/important, also.
    If pickups are set too close to the strings, your guitar can sound muddy or too md-mangey.
    Again, just my opinion.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
  5. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Friend of Leo's

    Apr 3, 2015
    Winchester, VA
    I don't like the clean sound of humbuckers, but with some grit and a delay I'm in heaven. I like Filtertrons also, but with a little more gain to make up for the lack of output.
    telemnemonics likes this.
  6. jackal

    jackal Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

    Jun 14, 2010
    mojave desert
    Some of us (me too) just can't get the sound we want with hum buckers. There are trim rings that allow you to convert from hums to single coils. (Tele or Strat)
    Satchel68 likes this.
  7. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 29, 2013
    near Arnold's
    I’m with @brookdalebill.

    Humbuckers for me. A good vintage wind humbucker (nothing exotic - classic ‘57s, Seth Lovers, etc) get me great cleans and dirt in a mix.

    If you want more chime, set them low (but still in the magnetic sweet spot) and raise the pole pieces up out of the pickup (a “Strat stagger” is a good start), and tilt so that the low E side is lower than the high E side).

    In addition to being quiet, buckers find a nice presence in a mix without being strident or too loud. They also have incredible dynamic range and ability to generate musical feedback without excess volume.

    I love them.
  8. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

    Aug 28, 2018
    I like a vintage style humbucker that's a little underwound. When I was a kid, I wanted them with high output so that they would drive my amp hard (didn't use pedals) and be loud and cutting. Now that you can cheaply add gain either with pedals or whatever you're doing, I like a humbucker that just breaks things up a little (not a lot) where a single coil doesn't.

    I had a dean hardtail at one point. The only thing I didn't like about it was that I couldn't get it to sound like a les paul (it had duncan distortions in it, ceramic magnet IIRC). Very clear sounding while being high output (relatively, not clear like a filtertron). You could do nice things with it if you rolled volume and tone back.

    (my earliest new high dollar guitar had 57 classics in it, an SG reissue. the guitar overall was a dud for other reasons, but I always resented that I couldn't really get a nice sound out of the bridge clean, and the output in the neck was a little high to do it, too. I'd play more with volume and tone now that i'm an adult, but the guitar is long gone.)

    Generally prefer to leave amp settings mostly the same, slightly scooped and if the volume is up, bass down some, too, but play with tone and volume knobs on the guitar, even though I saw a video from a road tech the other day who said that's not the way it's done these days (he was talking about the way angus young will play with his volume knob to leave a little in the tank so that he can roll up the volume to get "boost" when he wants it).

    I like filtertrons, but end up overdriving the amp further to make up for their lack of output. My favorite pafs so far have been a set of low output paf replicas in a tokai guitar that were labeled HS-2. Duncan antiquities second, though they were probably slightly higher output. And really expensive, seemingly, for what they are.
  9. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Oct 14, 2015
    IL, USA
    Pickup height and some amp tweaking should set you right.
    awasson and brookdalebill like this.
  10. roknfnrol

    roknfnrol Tele-Meister

    Nov 16, 2004
    Louisville, KY
    I love a good PAF style pickup.
    irie, bftfender and brookdalebill like this.
  11. mrmousey

    mrmousey Tele-Meister

    Aug 6, 2016
    Largo, Fl
    IMHO, while it's good to be open to different possibilities,
    once you've found what works for you, it's more productive to focus on that.
    Don't doubt yourself- go with what you know ........
    Chicago Matt and gordon schumway like this.
  12. noah330

    noah330 Friend of Leo's

    Feb 10, 2009
    Seeing as how the ES-335 didn't get released until 1958 I would be very interested to see photos and hear clips of the one you played. Was it a prototype or an early serial number?

    Is it for sale? If so, what dealer has it? If it's a friend of yours' guitar then ask if they want to sell it.
    dan1952 likes this.
  13. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

    Nov 28, 2006
    Don't like them so much for absolute clean sounds, but anything from a bit of hair onwards I love.
    Jakeboy likes this.
  14. Area51

    Area51 Tele-Meister

    Nov 4, 2016
    New Mexico
    Like others, for clean sounds I like single coils. Once I'm adding drive, I like humbuckers. My partscaster thinline has a bucker in the bridge and a sc in the neck. Opposite most peoples. However, I prefer this.

    Things to try:

    I find the DMZ Transition in my thinline can really be a chameleon just by adjusting the volume. It's a high output p/u but can give some great bluesy sounds just turning down the volume.

    Next would be to try p/u splitting with a SD Triple Shots, or do it yourself with push/pull pots and a 4 way switch.
  15. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    Pro tips here. Turns an ok sounding premium guitar into something magical.

    Brian Wright likes this.
  16. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Nov 18, 2010
    It’s in your tone settings. I tend to bump up my mid and treble to get a nice detailed tone. I’m relatively new to single coils so I’ve got 30+ years of PAF playing and find them way easier to dial in a nice tone on. It’s all in the tone stack. I also like to add just a touch of chorus. Not like 80’s chorus where it’s all you hear but just a touch and a tiny bit of delay or reverb to wet the sound.
  17. Matt Sarad

    Matt Sarad Tele-Meister

    Apr 29, 2003
    I bought my red Melody Maker when I was 16. It had Gibson Humbuckers added. After 45 years I had it refurbished. The luthier informed me that the pups were T Top PAFs. They break up nicely with a warm sound.

    I bought a Standard SG with Throbak PAFs a few years ago.
    They sound super clean and don’t give me the tone I like from the Melody Maker.

    I had a ‘62 ES 335 with PAFs in the 70s. The pickups became so microphonic it squealed like the proverbial stuck pig.
  18. noah330

    noah330 Friend of Leo's

    Feb 10, 2009
    I love humbuckers for clean toanz. Give me a Gibson PAF (a real PAF) in the neck.
    awasson and Zeonoid like this.
  19. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

    Nov 24, 2010
    Or HB sized P90s. You might check out Bare Knuckle Mississippi Queen, Nantucket, or Blue Notes. I have a pair of MQs that are pretty amazing. Nantucket’s have a little more grind and Blue Notes are pretty clean and sparkly. All do a nice fat and sparky clean but can all do a fatter sounding distortion than most single coils.

    The OP never said where the problem areas were for HBs so it’s hard to make suggestions to help fix it. Then again HBs aren’t for everyone so maybe that’s the answer.

    There’s also a lot of variation in hollow bodies so you might have gotten an lifeless one. You need to be selective and try a lot acoustically as well as plugged in.

    I didn’t like HBs until I tried Bare Knuckle Riff Raffs and Abraxas sets. Those are the bees knees. The mule set is also amazing.

    But your ears have to decide, not mine. Good luck!
    Brian Wright likes this.
  20. Zeonoid

    Zeonoid Tele-Holic

    Dec 17, 2008
    Slovakia, EU
    In my opinion any PAF at bridge sucks.
    PAFs are great to achieve flute like tones on the neck position.

    Bridge PAF clean is the suckiest suck of all dreadfull tones
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
    RoyBGood and 3-Chord-Genius like this.
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