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MAGNET TEST: PAF / Antiquity

EdA

New member
Joined
Jul 17, 2001
Messages
311
Hey dudes. Well Ive done my testing. First let me say some things upfront. My opinion is only my opinion and doesnt mean anything more than that. I based my testing on my style and tastes, certain things Im looking for, that may not be as important to others as it is to me. I used my guitar, my amps and my pickups, which will be different than what you guys use, everybody's results may not be the same...

I spent many hours, switching pickups at least 15 times, sometimes going back to what I had tried earlier to make sure what I was hearing was what I THOUGHT I was hearing. In a perfect world you would have a matter of seconds between comparisons, but of course I had to deal with the time to change pickups which I had down to a few minutes. But it was quick enough to tell the differences. I also made some sound files, which help, but arent the best indication. I used my mike that came with my computer, so I had to play the amp at VERY low volume (you wouldnt wake a baby volume) so as not to distort the mike. I used my Rivera designed Fender Deluxe II with a decent amount of gain to simulate when I crank an amp. Its a good amp for low volume stuff but it does color the sound so the
differences on the soundfiles are VERY subtle. The differences were much more obvious when I cranked it through the Blockhead 45. I was asked to compare an Antiquity with a Gibson P90 alnico V magnet to my real PAF. I did that. I also compared my PAF to the same Antiquity with a Duncan alnico V and a Duncan full-strength Alnico II (both magnets recently ordered from the Duncan custom shop). I compared it to the Antiquity stock with weakened alnico II and I also compared the PAF to a '57 Classic with the P90 alnico V, because that's how Toni
sent it to me. I did all my testing with the bridge pickup only because, I dont have an Antiquity neck pup right now to compare to. I can get a hold of one and may do so, but I need a breather! The PAF and bridge Antiquity I compared have identical readings of 8.3k. The '57 classic is 8.0k.

OK, here goes:

ALL PICKUPS SUCK COMPARE TO PAFS! (only kidding!, gettin' you nervous Toni?!). Actually, none of them were bad pickups, they were all good, but VERY honestly... for me the PAF clearly came out on top...

Order of preference:
PAF
Antiquity with full stength Duncan Alnico II
Antiquity stock (with weakened Alnico II)
Antiquity with P90 Alnico V
Antiquity with Duncan Alnico V
Classic with P90 Alnico V

Surprise, surprise, I like the Alnico II magnets better in the antiquities (I really was surprised!). I'll try to describe what I found:

First I compared the 8.3k PAF to the 8.3k Antiquity with full strength Duncan Alnico II because thats what I had in it. The Antiquity had weaker mids, a little less honk, but sustained nicely and had sweet top, similar to the PAF. It didnt quite have the harmonic swell of the PAF. I dont know if thats the right terminology but thats what I call it. When you a hold a note and it takes off into this harmonic singing double tone thing (how's that for scientific!). The Antiquity didnt want to do that, but it was fun to play.

Then I put the stock weakened magnet into the Antiquity and basically it sounded the same, but weaker! A little less sustain, a little less balls. I definitely like the full strength magnet better. As it is, the full-strength magnet version still isnt as ballsy as the PAF, so I have no reason to make it even wimpier with a weaker magnet.

Then I tried the 8.0k '57 Classic that Toni sent me with the P90 alnico V magnet in it. Much ballsier than any version of the Antiquity, and really nice cutting mids (Ive always liked the mids on the classic). But the reason this pickup is last on my list is because, the bottom was too muddy and thick and it had ice-pick high end. I do think its a good pickup for someone that wants somewhat of a PAF tone with more balls (and if the top end thing is not a problem for your style, amp, etc.)

THEN I TRIED.... the P90 alninco V in the Antiquity. I was hoping it would put back in some of the mids that the Antiquity/Alnico II is missing. It did. In fact for pure tone it probably sounds the closest to the PAF. But I was quite dissapointed in its output. It was flat out weak. I couldnt squeal notes (pinch harmonics? Is that what you call it? the Billy Gibbons stuff...) The sustain was lacking, and it didnt swell after the notes. Through the low volume-amp it was less noticeable, but when I cranked it through the Blockhead, it just didnt have it. And I think the highs were more piercing too than the alnico II version. I thought maybe it was that magnet, so I took the other P90V that Toni sent, and
stuck that in and got exactly the same results. I noticed that both magnets were the short versions, not the same length as the PAF, so I took a full-length Duncan Alnico V I had and stuck that in and it was even WORSE than the P90V in output. Real wimpy with annoying top end. Now I know why Seymour himself suggested I use the full-strength Alnico II over his Alnico V.

So Im sorry, but for me the P90V magnet doesnt do it. But its not a bad pickup with it! If I didnt have the PAF to compare it too, Im sure I would think its fine. It has a similar tonality to the real deal. It is good tone, but lifeless compared to the PAF. I enjoyed playing the Antiquity with the full strength Alnico II more. Sweet top, more sustain. But even that one didnt do what the PAF did. I only wish you guys were around to hear the difference in person. The PAF just 'takes off'. Thats the best way to describe it. I did everything I could to keep the experiment 'controlled'. Same pickup heights, didnt touch the settings on the amp, etc. And I am comparing identical output pickups, so why the PAF sings and drives more, I dont know. I suppose if I had a pile of PAFs and Antiquities that all read 8.3k, I might find weaker sounding PAFs and stronger sounding Antquities. Maybe not, Ive had a ton of PAFs and a half dozen Antiquities and the Antiquities always sounded a bit soft in comparison. There still is that certain something with the PAF, Im not hearing with the others. Is
it worth ten times the price? Probably not. But you know the deal, whether its a good guitar, amp, pickup, whatever, its hard to go back to something thats not as enjoyable to play as what you are using so I wouldnt trade my PAF for the Antiquity regardless of value. In fact, finding a good early patent # for 3-400 bucks may be a good way to go and the value will only go up. But Antiquities are very good pickups, my favorite PAF copy and a good choice for the money, for sure.

Bottom line. My suggestion is to try for yourself the full strength Duncan Alnico II magnet and compare it to the Alnico V. I think its a great pickup with the Alnico II. Your tastes will be different than mine, some of you may come up with a different opinion. Toni and others who like the P90 V might have just the right combination with their Antiquity and their guitar. For me it wasnt the best choice. The sound file is a comparison of my real PAF and the Antiquity with the P90 Alnico V. Each phrase is only a few seconds long so you can hear an immediate comparison. Some of you may listen to it and say 'what the f*ck, where's the difference?' As I said, it was recorded at very low volume, but if you listen close you should be able to hear the 'swell' following the notes with the PAF. I guess it also depends on your sound system your computer has. Cheers.

Sorry for the lengthy post! -Ed

PAF then Antiquity with P90 Alnico V magnet
 

Ed Rafalko

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Jul 15, 2001
Messages
6,287
When and where did Seymour recommend to you to use the full-strength Alnico II over the V?
We've been trying to reach him since March and he's not responded whatsoever.
 

Ken

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Joined
Jul 16, 2001
Messages
711
Ed, First of all, you are god! I think we need a matrix or something to provide an overview of all of the combinations. Nice job and beautiful tone. In the hands of a tonal surgeon as yourself, both sound great to my ears. (If I had your playing skills, I would split hairs too. ;))

That said, I can hear the difference. Most noticeably at the "swell" as you said and the general clarity of the notes. I wondered if the boosting the treble or mids on your preamp/amp helped put some of the sqeak back into the Alnico V's mids/highs. Clearly everyone's experience will be different...I purposely changed from '57 classic Alnico II's to the P90 Alnico V's because I felt the II's were too trebly and piercing. Hey, but I'm a bass player anyway. ;) It really does come down to personal preference.

Thanks again!
Ken
 
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darkburst

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Jul 15, 2001
Messages
294
I'm sure I speak for many when I say, THANKS ED:dude

Only thing I'd like to say is that my P-90 Alnico V's are full length and I do get the pinched harmonics with the modded Antiquities. I don't with the stock Antiquities, at least don't very well. I also use the neck PU almost exclusively, so that might make a difference.

Great report.
 

GotWood

Active member
Joined
Jul 16, 2001
Messages
3,347
Ed,
For all the time you spent on the test, you should draw a pay check!:lolspin :lolspin

I must agree with you, there is nothing like an original PAF!
Thanks for the great job!!:dude
 

EdA

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Jul 17, 2001
Messages
311
Yeah, well again, I wanted to make it clear that NONE of the pickup combinations I tried were bad, they have a similar tone to the PAF for sure, a helluva a lot more than a Dimarzio super distortion! But I couldnt get any of them to do what the PAF did. Of course you could compensate with the amp, and if you are gigging I dont think ANYONE would care about the difference. But if we are going to split hairs and compare, well that's what this test was about...

Hey Ed, a few months ago, when I ordered the magnets from Duncan, I spoke to someone on the phone who asked Seymour my questions while I waited. She came back to the phone and gave me his answers. Of course she could of been speaking to the janitor! Actually, she was sincere and when she told me she was going to Seymour to ask the questions, I had no reason to doubt her.
 

Ed Rafalko

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Jul 15, 2001
Messages
6,287
Works for me, Ed.
I switched pickups this weekend- I went to the Custom Custom and bigger pure-nickel strings in an effort to darken up the sound of the Deweyburst. It worked, it sounds nice and thick. I even put covers back on the pickups until BrianG sends me that double-cream Custom Custom .;)
 

GastonG

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Jul 25, 2001
Messages
1,397
Great stuff! EdA (and great playin')

Hi Ed !

Thanks so much for the test!
Maybe because my Antiquitys are "old" (1994) but mine are not weak; I just dunno why thought...
I also find myself, that the closest to an old paf is the Antiquity/p-90 alnico V, but I would like you to try my guitar...

Gaston
 

roguejim

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Joined
Jul 18, 2001
Messages
48
Nice demo!

It is subtle, but still you can hear the PAF wanting to morph into that "harmonic howl". How's that for descriptive!
 

EdA

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Jul 17, 2001
Messages
311
harmonic howl... Perfect! Good name for a band too...:dude
 

nicholas

Prince of Darkburst
Joined
Jul 15, 2001
Messages
1,648
Bravo EdA ! I can totally hear the difference. Its like going from GRRRREEEAT tone to good tone.

I wish you had a Dimarzio Virtual Vintage PAF to compare during this test. Hearing your thoughts, plus maybe changing the magnets with those would be very informative

Thanks again for all your effort. Now, back to listening to your boss tone for me !!
 

howardslespaul

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Jul 16, 2001
Messages
1,635
Thanks Ed for your time & effort!

All I can say now is.......HOW MUCH FOR A SET OF PAF'S!!!

AHHHOOOOOOOO! Greasy baby! greasy! :dude
 

omarxx

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Jul 16, 2001
Messages
266
Yes Ed, thanks for the effort and great report and sound clip. I definitely hear what you're talking about. The real PAF with that "harmonic morphing" is going to be hard, if not impossible, to attain with modern pickups.
 

RobertD

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Jul 15, 2001
Messages
467
Ed, thanks for all the work you put into this project. Where do you think a Tom Holmes would rate in this?
 

DoobieK

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Jul 16, 2001
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EdA, Great job. Now I am less apt to try the Antiquities. Cost and your evaluations are very instrumental in my in my final decision.
 

Ed A

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Jul 16, 2001
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Al. I wouldnt want anyone to feel from this test that they shouldnt even try antiquities. I still think they are the best new copy of a PAF. Ive tried Seths, '59s, Holmes, Fralins, Van Zandts, Classics and probably some others and in my opinion the Antiquities actually have the closest tone. My only complaint is that they are weaker and dont do that harmonic thing as well. I do think there is a couple ways to improve that. As I said, I had better luck with the full strength Alnico II. I have also found in the past that with Antiquities you have to get a bit higher output. I compared identical readings, 8.3 for the PAF and 8.3 for the Antiquity. I think if you found an 8.5 or 8.6 Antiquity which should give a bit more mids and gain, then added the full strength Alnico II. You would have a damn good pickup. Again, only my opinion. I like bridge PAFs that read in the low 8s, some guys like them in the 7s. I think with an Antiquity you have to go a little higher to compensate for the weakness.
 
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M

Mojojojo

Guest
Good job Ed! I have a pair of Antiquities coming from Black Rose this week. I'd really like to hear the Antiquities with the full-strength Alnico II magnets, oh please oh please! :)spin

Just called Duncan and they will not sell magnets any longer. They will remagnetize or replace magnets for a fee of $20.
 
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plaintop

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Jul 15, 2001
Messages
9,591
My Antiquity bridge is from 1995 and it is marked 8.34. It blew away tone/volume of the new one I bought that was marked 8.62. I think the older ones are a lot hotter. I love the V in that older Bridge 8.34. Thanks for the A/B ed. Where those sound files through the blockhead?
 

Ed A

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Jul 16, 2001
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No Plaintop, they were at VERY low volume through a Deluxe Reverb II. It was the only way not to distort the computer mike. The tone difference between the pickups was more obvious throught the Blockhead though...
 
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