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Closest pickup to an original PAF?


If I wanted to replace the pickups in my PRS CU22 (Dragon II's) with something that was as close to an original Gibson PAF what would you suggest. I'm a little shy of the $250K price tag for a '59 LP but I'd like to get closer to the sound.


The first problem you will have is a PRS CU22 is constructed very differently from a Les Paul and if you put a set of genuine PAFs on it it will not sound like a Les Paul, old or new.

However, like most stock mass produced pick-ups (IMHO) PRS pick-ups lack character and a change to a nice set of pick ups will make a positive improvement. I have/have tried the following:

WB 67/07 PAFs - Best I have tried yet with bags of character. I have these installed in my Gibson R9 and they were a massive improvement on the stock Burstbuckers

Lindy Fralin Unbuckers - these have a lowish output PAF type of presentation although a little brighter. They sound better (again IMO) than every other humbucking when coil split due to one of the coils being wound much more than the other resulting in lkess volume drop when tapped. I have these fitted to my CP Thorntons and they sound real nice.

Sheptone 'real' PAFs: These are very nice in my PRS Santana III, not quite as much character as the WBs but half the price

Some friends have:
Lollar Impwerials: Fitted in a Les Paul - he (and I) prefer the WB 67/07's, but they still are a nice sounding pick-up. Perhaps a little polite.

Lindy Fralin: 15% Overwound in the bridge position of a PRS CU24 and this sounds a lot thicker and more 'Les Paul' than the stock pick up.

Pick ups I haven't tried but have heard good things about are:
Seymour Duncan Seth Lovers

The more I think about it I would recommend an overwound/hot humbucker if you want your PRS to sound more like a Les Paul.


Think of pickups as being microphones. No matter what microphone you use, everyone will still be able to tell who is singing. I have a humbucker in the bridge position of my Tele and it still sounds unmistakably like a Tele.

fast ricky love

Gold Supporting Member
Another vote for the WB '67-'07's... outstanding pickups.

I really like pat sticker T-Tops too for a little less $.


The ones I have tried are:
JM Rolphs: 58 pretenders. really good PAF seems to be a hotter wind.
Seth Lovers: A really good PAF recreation overall
Voodoos: Really nice balanced set. very PAFish and mellow.


Gold Supporting Member
If your looking for true PAF tone , Rolph Pretenders are at the top IMHO.

Scumback Speakers

Platinum Supporting Member
Depends who's PAF tone you like. Duane vs Dickey, Clapton vs Beck, Page vs Bloomfield.

The truth of it is simple, there is no one PAF tone, as they were all over the map tone-wise. I've been through 11 and kept 3. Two are in my 61 LP/SG Std, one is in the parts drawer.

If I had to pick one, it would be the WCR pickups, but he has five PAF variations to choose from. He found what I found, there is no ONE PAF tone.

After WCR, I'd probably nominate Voodoo 59's, then Wolfetones, then take your pick.

While I unabashedly love Wagner's pickups, I keep him honest by trying the competition's offerings.

After 3.5 years, he's still the winner, although I have tried to find a better one...(just to keep him honest!).

My favorites in order:

American Steele set (Crossroads Neck/Goodwood bridge)
Voodoo 59 (A3 neck, A5 magnet bridge, 7.4k neck, 8.4k bridge)
Wolfetone Scumbag wind (7.6k neck, 9.1k bridge A5 magnets)

Yes, I've tried the others, either in other folks guitars or having bought them myself.

I actually like the American Steele & BetSet better than my original PAF's.


Wild Gear Hearder
Platinum Supporting Member
Well this is definitely not an "Amps and Cabs" kind of question is it? Thread moved. Carry on.
I've tried a few, and like others have said, the important thing is that there isn't one definitive PAF sound, so you have to go with what you like. Also, I think you need to consider the application, too . . . every guitar wants something different, IMO, and it's up to you to figure out what what that is.

Here's what I've tried:

1) Duncan '59's -- great rock n' roll pickups, sounded wonderful in a custom korina solidbody guitar.

2) Tom Holmes 450/455 set -- amazing neck pickup, really warm, phat and clear, not so impressed with the bridge pu, though. Still, it's been in the guitar for 10 years now so it's not all that bad . . . :~)

3) Duncan CS PAF's wound by MJ; great detailed, clear yet driven sounding tones -- one of my favorite sets ever, sounded great in a 335 clone that cost less than the pickups!

4) Rolph '58 Pretenders -- really warm and balanced, not as clear or clanky as the Duncan CS PAFs, not as warm and detailed as the Holmes, all around wonderful, though -- right up the middle of what a good PAF should be, actually. These gave up a wonderful B.B./Little Milton/Cream era Clapton tone in a Greco 335 . . .

5) Sheptone Tributes -- I've got these installed in a 335, and they're the bomb. They remind me a lot of the Duncan CS PAF's in that they're hyper clear and funky, yet they have lots of interesting harmonic content, and they compress nicely and really sing when you get on 'em. To me, they're the perfect PAF -- but again, that's for what I want to hear, and I can easily see how others would like the Rolph's or Holmes PAF's much better.

Good luck and choose well; there are a lot of great choices out there!



Wolftone Legends get my vote.

I don't think Lollars sound anything
like a PAF. They are more open and
brighter as well. They don't get that
mid-range honk I associate with the
classic Gibsons.
Lollar Imperials are definitely on the bright side. They are awesome pickups though.


Silver Supporting Member
I've been collecting early '60s Gibson patent sticker pickups for a while -- they're close -- pretty much PAFs with different labels. The prices have been going crazy over the past year or so -- even the T-tops cost big bucks now. I've got a pair of Voodoo '59s in my Love Rock, and they sound GREAT.


Has anyone tried the Fralin True 60's? If I rememeber right, I think they were a small run done through RS Guitarworks.


WB / Smit's / Antiquites / Seth Lovers

Are all great PAF types. Never tried any of them in a PRS thought.


Frikkin genyus
Platinum Supporting Member
Go to www.marksguitarloft.com and look at the Mike Turk pickups in the "new stuff" section.

Mark himself is all about Les Pauls and PAFs, and these are the first "wannabe" pickups he's ever gotten excited about. I have 'em in three different guitars -- I have a couple of PAF guitars as well -- and they are damn good.

That said, I'm not sure a PRS CU 22 is the best platform for sounding like a Les Paul. If it were me, I wouldn't bother with the pickups, I'd just sell the CU 22 and buy the new David Grissom model. That's the closest to "Les Paul honk" I've ever heard from a PRS. And you wouldn't have to change to pickups -- they sound *great*. Bonus: the DGT is relatively inexpensive. You can get a goldtop with moons for just over $2K. (note: they're just starting to ship so it might be hard to find one just yet)

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