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Thread: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

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    Toneologist Seraphial's Avatar
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    Default Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    So I'm hankering for a set of PAFs for my way-too-middy LP and have been doing some research, and all signs kinda point to a low wind PAF that can help take the blanket off my tone. I'm desperately wanting a set that has much better string definition, tighter bass, and a push on the high mids and treble.

    My search has led me to look at lower wind pickups, and there's a number of more boutique winders like ReWind and Lollar. Of course, that comes with the $300+ pricetag, a lot of marketing info about using original materials, and wire spun directly from the pubes of a unicorn.

    Now I'm not saying they aren't great pickups, but sometimes you need to step back and cut though the jargon.

    So my question is, considering that they're similarly priced, would you go for a boutique PAF maker, or SD Custom Shop, and why?
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    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    Antiquities would be what you need. Amazing boutique pickups under that price. They are clean, clear, dynamic, and about as good of a pedigree to old PAF design as you can get.
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    Tone Member Big Mike Blues's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    At antiquities and boutique. really you're just picking your favorite recipe of a good gumbo. Everyone's is a little different. I believe the law of diminishing returns kicks in at some ppint.
    Could be totally happy with the SD catalog, but I do like trying different things ala Wolfetone, Jim Wagner, etc. Lollars never floated my boat.

    I'd try a used set of antiquities first. If those don't do it for you, it gives you a good baseline
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    i love the antiquitys and use em in a few guitars but i dont know if the stock aged a2 magnets are the best for what you are looking for. luckily, its really easy to swap em. as far as boutique or duncan cs, id almost always go cs since you can have what you want. i bet an a4 loaded antiquity set would be sweet in that guitar. do you have 500k pots in there or 300k?

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    PenultimateTone Member Demanic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy View Post
    i love the antiquitys and use em in a few guitars but i dont know if the stock aged a2 magnets are the best for what you are looking for. luckily, its really easy to swap em. as far as boutique or duncan cs, id almost always go cs since you can have what you want. i bet an a4 loaded antiquity set would be sweet in that guitar. do you have 500k pots in there or 300k?
    Or an Eclair set.

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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    I would go for a local custom winder who has worked on those pickups.

    Why? A set is around half of an SD custom shop PAF set.

    But if I had to choose, I'd also go with SD custom shops. The people there have had extensive experience with pickups AND the price is totally reasonable.

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    OH THE GLAZE! Clint 55's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    I'm equally happy with my boutique Fralins and custom shop Duncans. They're both outstanding. You'll get the stock ones quicker, but it's fun creating your own pup.
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    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    Both Zhangbucker and Vineham wind great pickups at less than Custom Shop prices......in fact less than regular Duncan prices sometimes. And they will listen to you and wind what you want (or recommend a stock wind that will do what you want).

    The more expensive boutiques go all out getting every aspect of a vintage PAF right. There is a lot of small run fabrication going on, which inflates the price more than somewhat. But of course if you want to get as close to the vintage tone - tone specific aspects like wire, magnets and other metal parts do have to be taken care of.
    The above recommendations aren't trying to dot every 'i' and cross every 't'. So they are a lot cheaper for a lot of pickup.

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    Mojo's Minions LLL's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    I would say if your LP is too "middy", and you want tighter bass, get a PAF clone that utilizes an A5 magnet.
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    Tbh, having played A4, A3, A2 and A5 PAFs, I'd say that a good winder will be able to wind you something good with the magnets' weak and strong points in mind regardless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Myaccount876 View Post
    Attenuators are for pussies. Neighbors calling the cops isn't a problem - if the cops can actually still decipher the neighbor's complaint on the phone with the Marshall in the background, you're doing it wrong and it needs to be louder.

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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    An Antiquity or Seth Lover set with some sortiment of magnets go a really long way, tonewise.

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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy View Post
    i love the antiquitys and use em in a few guitars but i dont know if the stock aged a2 magnets are the best for what you are looking for. luckily, its really easy to swap em. as far as boutique or duncan cs, id almost always go cs since you can have what you want. i bet an a4 loaded antiquity set would be sweet in that guitar. do you have 500k pots in there or 300k?
    500k. INteresting...I've never had a A4 loaded pickup before. I was always under the impression A2s would tighten the bass and give a bit more highs?
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    OH THE GLAZE! Clint 55's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    A2 is the darkest, wooliest mag... so no haha.
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    a2 tends to have a softer, rounder high end with a spongy bottom. i LOVE them in humbuckers, i dont know if i have anything else in my bridge buckers. a4 tends to have a flatter eq profile with a little sharper high end than a2, tighter bottom, and cleaner mids. a5 has a bigger bottom, scooped mids, and strong clear top end. the wind of the antiquitys is fantastic and takes mag swaps very well

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    Mojo's Minions masta' c's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seraphial View Post
    So I'm hankering for a set of PAFs for my way-too-middy LP and have been doing some research, and all signs kinda point to a low wind PAF that can help take the blanket off my tone.

    I'm desperately wanting a set that has much better string definition, tighter bass, and a push on the high mids and treble.
    What pickups are in there now? (why hasn't anyone asked this question? ha ha!)

    A2 mags are not always "wooly", particularly when it comes to low-output winds. In fact, in really low output winds, they work well to keep the sound balanced and not overly scooped or thin.

    That said, A2 is not the "tightest" of mag options. A5 will generally tighten up the bottom, clean up the mids and boost the treble.

    As has been mentioned, the Antiquities are easily among the best PAF type pickups out there and a really good starting point. But I'm curious what's already in your guitar...do you have any experience with low-wind PAFs or any PAF type pickups at all?

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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seraphial View Post
    I'm desperately wanting a set that has much better string definition, tighter bass, and a push on the high mids and treble 500k. Interesting...I've never had a A4 loaded pickup before. I was always under the impression A2s would tighten the bass and give a bit more highs?

    Tight lows rules out A2 pickups, like Ant's & Seth's. For tight, bright & clear in a middy LP, you're best off with A5 & A4 magnets. Have you looked at Duncan's like the '59/Custom hybrid with a Jazz in the neck slot?

    Also, check out spin-a-split (diagram on this site) for the neck PU, it gives added clarity and thins out mids, by giving all the great unbalanced tones of the Original PAF's. No parts needed, just rewire the neck tone pot. No cost.
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    Have you thought about 'bucker sized p90s?

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    Toneologist Seraphial's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    Quote Originally Posted by masta' c View Post
    What pickups are in there now? (why hasn't anyone asked this question? ha ha!)

    A2 mags are not always "wooly", particularly when it comes to low-output winds. In fact, in really low output winds, they work well to keep the sound balanced and not overly scooped or thin.

    That said, A2 is not the "tightest" of mag options. A5 will generally tighten up the bottom, clean up the mids and boost the treble.

    As has been mentioned, the Antiquities are easily among the best PAF type pickups out there and a really good starting point. But I'm curious what's already in your guitar...do you have any experience with low-wind PAFs or any PAF type pickups at all?
    They're A5 Marshallheads from Wolfetone. More on the hotter PAF side of the spectrum. Experience has been 59s (too much wooly bottom), 57 and 57+ (good cut, but uneven across the spectrum and the plus can be a touch harsh), Burstbucker Pros (not actually that bad), Seth Lover neck only (good, only needed a touch more treble, stored away in another country).
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    Toneologist Seraphial's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    I have. I'm actually really tempted on it tbh...also considering a wide range hummy, but the version I have (Creamery) is a little too far from the PAF sound.
    'Without music life would be a mistake'.

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    Default Re: Custom Shop or Boutique PAF?

    Quote Originally Posted by LLL View Post
    I would say if your LP is too "middy", and you want tighter bass, get a PAF clone that utilizes an A5 magnet.
    This is my vote as well. I'd be less concerned about boutique/custom shop and more concerned with the eq curve. A5 pickups are where you should start, though I guess you shouldn't limit it to that. Stock Whole Lotta Humbuckers might do the trick, and they're not all that expensive.

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