Eight best PAF pickups to buy in 2019

If you're after accurately vintage-spec'ed PAFs, check out our picks of the best examples on the market today.

Virtually every pickup maker in the business has a PAF replica in the product range. Some offer several varieties and others make replicas exclusively. Some are offered pre-aged and the quality of the relic-ing can be terrifying to behold. Even so, the likelihood is that relatively few pickup makers have even been in the same room as a vintage Patent Applied For pickup, let alone played one. Here’s a small selection of PAF replicas that are respected by those in the know.

1. Stephens Design PG HD/59 HD

PAF

Based in Seattle, Dave Stephens is a bona-fide Patent Applied For authority and it’s reflected in the way his PAF replicas are built. I haven’t tried them myself, but friend and colleague Dave Hunter put it this way: “Let’s just say… they deliver to the player wanting to go all out for real deal ’59 tone, and leave it at that.”

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Price: $785 (pair)

2. Shed PAF Daddies

Spencer Mumford uses vintage-correct components and applies his outstanding relic-ing skills to create a PAF replica that looks indistinguishable from a real 55-year-old gig warrior.

Price: £220 (pair)

3. Mojo Pickups “Vintage” PAFs Low Output

Voiced to capture the early-PAF sound with a brighter and slightly lower output than Mojo’s standard PAF set. Vintage-spec parts include butyrate bobbins, rough-cast magnets, two-stranded braid hookup wire and degaussed alnico magnets. Available relic’d.

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Price: £190 (pair)

4. Monty’s PAF

Matt Gleeson has had his hands on countless genuine PAFs as a guitar restorer and repairer and he took his opportunities to analyse and measure those he considered the best examples. We have A/B tested Monty’s pickups with the real thing and can report we haven’t found any replica that gets closer to the original tone.

Price: £216.99 (pair)

5. House Of Tone Tru PAF Humbuckers

House of Tone Tru PAF humbuckers

These Tru PAFs are the unpotted PAF humbucker replicas we have been waiting for from one of the UK’s most talented and knowledgeable winders. The units are made entirely from vintage-correct parts and for a small upcharge, relic’d sets with ‘Patent Applied For’ stickers are available to order. Wax potting and four-conductor wire are also available. Like the Monty’s, the Tru PAFs share all of the characteristics of a great set of originals but the HOTs have more bite in the upper-mid ‘loudness’ frequencies.

Price: £200 (pair, covered) £180 (pair, uncovered)

6. Tyson Tone The Preachers PAF Set

Tyson Tone’s unpotted PAF replicas feature butyrate bobbins, maple spacers, 42AWG plain enamel wire and rough-cast alnico magnets charged to vintage-correct levels. Then it gets more interesting, because Bob Tyson winds his coils using a vintage mechanical auto traverse coil winder, just as Gibson did. The TTL-1s have authentic PAF tone and response in spades, they’re extremely touch sensitive, pleasingly microphonic without being squealy and you can turn down your volume controls without losing treble or clarity.

Price: $325

7. Seymour Duncan Antiquity Humbucker

It’s now common knowledge amongst guitar players that Seymour Duncan’s Antiquity range produces some of the best pickups on the market. Their PAF replica is no different, offering a truly vintage sound and look. Notably more balanced than a true PAF, it’s also worth mentioning these pickups aren’t wax potted if that’s also your bag.

Price: £249

8. Lindy Fralin Pure PAF

PAF

Widely regarded as one of the best PAF replicas on the market today, it offers both vintage articulation and sheer power in spades. Constructed by hand, the magnets are weakened by hand allowing the upper range to sound less forceful and evens out the tonality. Perfect for both jazz and rock aficionados.

Price: $300

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