The high price of a boutique PAF

redgold

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,861
So I'm educating myself in the PAF world (formerly played mostly fenders) and I can't find anything I've read or heard to justify the high price of boutique PAF's other than: 1) hard to source/fabricated vintage accurate materials 2) small shop vs larger manufacturing 3) name recognition (all valid reasons for higher price). In other words, there is no SONIC difference that can be either described or heard between, say, Lovers and a boutique equivalent that is the same spec (unpotted, low output, A2) but much more spendy.

If I'm mistaken, please talk about the variables I don't yet understand and the difference they make. If any pickup makers or builders want to chime in, that would really be appreciated. TIA.
 
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hotpaul

Member
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432
Price is a function of supply and demand, nothing more. #1 and #2 above affect the supply side. #3 affects demand. These are not the only factors by a country mile.

As for there being a sonic difference between the pick ups, I don't think you can argue that there isn't one. They may sound very similar or very different, but the real question is if that sonic difference justifies the price FOR YOU.
 

Jazzandmore

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
11,053
Price is a function of supply and demand, nothing more. #1 and #2 above affect the supply side. #3 affects demand. These are not the only factors by a country mile.

As for there being a sonic difference between the pick ups, I don't think you can argue that there isn't one. They may sound very similar or very different, but the real question is if that sonic difference justifies the price FOR YOU.
Exactly!

Take time and listen to a lot of examples. There are builders like Lollar, Wolfetone, etc. that have excellent sound files on their site. Once you've listened to some boutique and non-boutique pickups, then you will know whether YOU PERSONALLY perceive any difference. Who cares what the rest of us think. Google "Best PAF pickup" and I'm sure some great TGP threads will come up. Check out a bunch of the ones people mention. You will know when you find a pickup you really like.

Forget about "justifying" as a concept for buying gear. Buy what you want at a price you feel comfortable paying. For one person no pickup costing more than $40 is "justified", for another the price may be $60, or $100. To each his own, but the "justification" concept is an individual decision.
 

cugel

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4,517
There are certainly sonic differences between low output alnico 2 unpotted pafs. If you think that a lollar imperial sounds like every other paf out there then you are mistaken.
 

Jazzandmore

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
11,053
I can't imagine needing ever needing more than a Lollar or a Fralin and usually Duncans and Dimarzios are great.
I would expand this concept in general only because so many threads focus on cost and justifying, on and on. It really is not as complicated as so many TGPers make it seem. Across the price spectrum all guitar shaped objects make guitar sounds. :). All any of us really should do is decide what our budget is, then locate a piece of gear that we like in that price range. It's really that simple in my mind ;)

Will they all sound the same, or do some sound better than others? Well only the individual can determine that since only they know what their ears are hearing.
 

orogeny

Gold Supporting Member
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10,702
you can give me seth lovers or burstbuckers and call it a day
thornbuckers too, now that i think about it (and haven't tried them!)
 

BMX

Member
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3,520
If people can hear a difference between a $100 PAF and a $400 and they like the difference--great. I have no problem with the market deciding.

Personally I'd love to watch or participate in a blind test where a Duncan 59, Gibson Classic 57, Lollar Imperial, Fralin PAF, Dimarzio 36th anniversary and a couple of really high end ones (admittedly I'm not as familiar with those) were all loaded into guitars and people could rate them all without knowing what they are. I think we'd hear a lot of "these sound really similar to me" and "I'm not sure which one of these two I like better."
 

atquinn

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,748
Price is a function of supply and demand, nothing more. #1 and #2 above affect the supply side. #3 affects demand. These are not the only factors by a country mile.

As for there being a sonic difference between the pick ups, I don't think you can argue that there isn't one. They may sound very similar or very different, but the real question is if that sonic difference justifies the price FOR YOU.
This should be made into a pop-up message that everyone is forced to read when they login :D
-
Austin
 

Jazzandmore

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
11,053
And thats the point.... with a guitar as long as you have a functioning pickup its never about a need, its about a want. what you want and are willing to pay for are different that what i want and am willing to pay for.
Very well said. A lot of the TGP arguments completely ignore these two simple concepts. 1) it's want not need. I need air to survive, I need food and water...I don't need a specific piece of gear to make guitar noises. 2) we want and will pay for different things and that's great because only one choice for all would suck.

I think folks often feel insulted when someone else spends more on gear. They often make the point that the other person's gear is not "better" than theirs and therefore shouldn't cost more. They completely ignore your very simple point above about it being a want, and we have different wants.
 

McShred

Member
Messages
2,900
sound clips are a small part of the story... feel is hugely important and can't really be conveyed in a clip. I'm not saying the $500 Tom Holmes is that much better than a $70 DiMarzio (I think DiMarzio and Duncan's are fine BTW) but I am most definitely saying that different pickups feel different under the fingers, and that can't be conveyed in a clip.
 

big mike

Cathode biased
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
12,993
sound clips are a small part of the story... feel is hugely important and can't really be conveyed in a clip. I'm not saying the $500 Tom Holmes is that much better than a $70 DiMarzio (I think DiMarzio and Duncan's are fine BTW) but I am most definitely saying that different pickups feel different under the fingers, and that can't be conveyed in a clip.
Plus it's how they react with the wood IN THE SPECIFIC GUITAR.

I use Seymours, WCR/Wagner, Wolfetone, Nordstrand, Thorn and various other humbuckers depending on the guitar.

90% of the time, I can slap a 59 or a JB in the bridge and be happy. but some times some tuning further is needed.
 

Jazzandmore

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
11,053
If people can hear a difference between a $100 PAF and a $400 and they like the difference--great. I have no problem with the market deciding.

Personally I'd love to watch or participate in a blind test where a Duncan 59, Gibson Classic 57, Lollar Imperial, Fralin PAF, Dimarzio 36th anniversary and a couple of really high end ones (admittedly I'm not as familiar with those) were all loaded into guitars and people could rate them all without knowing what they are. I think we'd hear a lot of "these sound really similar to me" and "I'm not sure which one of these two I like better."
You are likely right about the blind test. Lots of things would sound similar. This is especially true if people did the blind test using their normal level of effects. Let's face it, nobody is going to get rich producing a pickup that strays very far from the "classic" tones that mark the popular genres. If someone plays classic rock, blues, metal, jazz, country...there is a well established range of sounds one expects to hear in a pickup.
 
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cugel

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4,517
Its not always about better its about different. Compare the offerings from Throbak vs. duncan vs DMZ. Throbak makes ~10 PAF style pickups. The big companies make mostly high output pickups. Dimarzio doesn't even make an un-potted humbucker to my knowledge. Duncan offers unpotted Lovers and Antiquities, both alnico IIs. What if I want an alnico 3 neck and an alnico 4 in the bridge? What you are saying is I would be stuck with a potted DMZ paf master and i cant get an alnico 3. OR go Duncan custom shop which is as costly as any other booteek.

Forget tone wood. The easiest way to change your guitar's tone is to change pickups. I think we all can agree that different pickups sound different! Does a duncan invader sound different than a Lover? of course. What about a Lover and an A2P? probably less so but still different. If they all sound the same then why would duncan make 50 different humbuckers?

In the same guitar I have tried Lollar Imperials (A5, potted), JS Moore v59s (A5 unpotted) and ox4 (a4 unpotted). Disregarding possible small differences polepiece heights, they all sounded very different. All good but all different. Now I can't say what an Imperial would sound like in your guitar but it would likely sound different than something else like a Seth Lover.
 

Jazzandmore

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
11,053
sound clips are a small part of the story... feel is hugely important and can't really be conveyed in a clip. I'm not saying the $500 Tom Holmes is that much better than a $70 DiMarzio (I think DiMarzio and Duncan's are fine BTW) but I am most definitely saying that different pickups feel different under the fingers, and that can't be conveyed in a clip.
Very much agree with this feel comment you make and how that can't be conveyed in a clip. I have a set of Rolph '59s. Even though I have a lot of boutique pickups in other guitars, and they all sound great...the Rolphs have a feel that is...well just like a sound clip, words won't really convey it either. Not saying they sound better, but the FEEL!

Problem for many is that they don't have the $ to try lots of different pickups to really see some of the differences in feel, tone, pairing with the guitar, that would really allow them to see that not all pickups sound the same.
 

redgold

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,861
As for there being a sonic difference between the pick ups, I don't think you can argue that there isn't one. They may sound very similar or very different, but the real question is if that sonic difference justifies the price FOR YOU.
Just to clarify, are you saying that a boutique PAF will sound predictably different than a non-boutique mid priced PAF of similar spec? If so, can you share an experience with two such pickups?

There are certainly sonic differences between low output alnico 2 unpotted pafs. If you think that a lollar imperial sounds like every other paf out there then you are mistaken.
Can you compare your experience of an Imperial with a similarly spec'd Duncan or other make? I guess the comparison would be an Imperial neck with an Antiquity neck as they seem to be very close in spec and construction. They sound very similar to me.
 

redgold

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,861
I think folks often feel insulted when someone else spends more on gear. They often make the point that the other person's gear is not "better" than theirs and therefore shouldn't cost more. They completely ignore your very simple point above about it being a want, and we have different wants.
Not the case for me. I've spent a premium for certain things that probably won't matter to most (I like roasted necks on bolt-ons and will pay more for them). I could care less what other people spend. I'm just trying to clarify if there are attributes about high priced PAFs that I may not be aware of.
 




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