Most pickup makers dive straight into PAF replicas but House Of Tone took its time – for reasons discussed in our interview with Matthew Bascetta on p108. Suffice to say, 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.
Shortly before handing this set over to TGM for review, Bascetta installed them in a Gibson Custom Collector’s Choice #15 ‘Greg Martin’ Les Paul for the Kentucky Headhunters mainman himself. Having tried the new pickups, Martin declared that the borrowed instrument sounds better than his personal Collector’s Choice guitar.
For our test, we brought in another Collector’s Choice #15 to see how the House Of Tone Tru PAFs stack up.
As a result of much previous A/B testing with vintage examples, Monty’s PAFs serve as our reference replicas of Gibson golden era ’buckers. Like the Monty’s, the Tru PAFs share all of the characteristics of a great set of originals, but there are differences. Where Monty’s offer a lower mid growl, the HOTs have more bite in the upper-mid ‘loudness’ frequencies. First impressions indicate that these are rock voiced PAFs with slightly more aggression and authority to cut through the mix.
Everything that appeals about PAFs, such as finger noise, note bloom, versatility and controllability is here. We that find the bass end of the neck pickup can get a little woolly, but the bridge has no such issues. The soft bass may be down to the difficulty our cathode biased, tube-rectified test amp has dealing with overdrive and such deep lows. It’s not displeasing, and with a tighter amp it may be unnoticeable.
The Monty’s are more microphonic than the HOT units and have a more even frequency response, whereas the Tru PAFs give more emphasis to highs and lows. With the HOTs, the experience is less like playing a microphone with six strings, so it’s less ‘acoustically live’. However, clean-up is equally impressive because the extended treble ensures that chime is always retained.
The HOTs give notes an extremely articulate and defined front-end, while the Monty’s are more rounded and forgiving. If you play fast and have precise technique, the HOTs will track your picking superbly.
Swapping from Monty’s to the Tru PAFs is like Peter Green handing his Burst over to Gary Moore. It may have been the same guitar, but it never sounded the same again. Even pedal-free, the extra push from the bridge pickup does a lot of the work for you because of its fluid sustain. As a vintage PAF interpretation, the HOTs may make for an easier introduction for fans of hotter humbuckers.
Although the House Of Tone Tru PAFs are not quite as harmonically complex or pretty as the Monty’s, you may find them more exciting and raucous. If you’re chasing Southern Rock, ZZ Top, Zeppelin and early GN’R tones, Bascetta’s Tru PAFs are damn near perfect.
House Of Tone Tru PAF Humbuckers
• PRICE £200 (set, covered) £180 (set, uncovered)
• DESCRIPTION Hand wound vintage PAF style humbucking pickups. Made in the UK
• BUILD 42 AWG plain enamel magnet wire, alnico II & V magnets, unpotted coils, butyrate bobbins, low carbon steel parts, nickel silver covers
• DC RESISTANCE Bridge 7.2k, neck 7.4k (as reviewed – production versions will feature bridge units wound to around 7.7k)
• CONTACT House Of Tone Pickups 07791 691251 or www.houseoftonepickups.com