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Throbak vs Stephens

Dub'n 57 Goldtop

New member
Joined
Nov 23, 2008
Messages
532
Oh and I just threw it to half step down last week, in the R7, aand I busted a whole new nut!!:worm

:hippy
 
J

JLH

Guest
The wait for a set of Stephens pickups is 30 weeks or so, not a year. The VL pickups are amazing, they reflect years of research and development, are IMO the closest in authentic parts and circuit and built by him personally. Not just assembled but the parts are made by Dave. I know of no other current winder that has been around this long continuing the research and development, or of any current winders that has the background and knowledge of Stephens. The guy is a true tone scientist.
 

jwalker

Les Paul Forum Sponsor
Joined
Dec 10, 2004
Messages
2,581
The wait for a set of Stephens pickups is 30 weeks or so, not a year. The VL pickups are amazing, they reflect years of research and development, are IMO the closest in authentic parts and circuit and built by him personally. Not just assembled but the parts are made by Dave. I know of no other current winder that has been around this long continuing the research and development, or of any current winders that has the background and knowledge of Stephens. The guy is a true tone scientist.

Just for clarification in this thread. ThroBak makes every part of the P.A.F. assembly in house, in the USA, to vintage specs.. Dave Stephens uses off the shelf mass market parts for bobbins, baseplates and covers. Basically the larger parts that require hard tooling, covers, baseplates, bobbins, Dave Stephens buys mass market. This is not a diss on Dave at all. But those are the facts for anyone comparing the two on parts accuracy etc....

Dave is a one man shop so a 30 week back up is to be expected if he has a large volume of orders. ThroBak is a 3 man shop that makes pickups and effect pedals. Every ThroBak pickup set gets extreme and expert attention to every detail start to finish by me and my crew of two. Extreme attention is the only way to make an accurate P.A.F. repro IMHO. I'm sure Dave and other select makers feel the same way. At ThroBak just having a guy dedicated to shipping and packing helps get pickups out the door fast. But since Dave Stephens is doing it all solo, orders can stack up to a 30 week backlog pretty quickly even if everything is running efficiently.

Whomever the buyer's prefferred maker is there are more choices for great P.A.F. inspired tone than ever! From extreme accuracy in a P.A.F. reproduction to low cost P.A.F. inspired pickups the buyer has a lot of great tones to chose from.:dude:
 

bigtomrodney

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Joined
Nov 7, 2009
Messages
1,448
Whomever the buyer's prefferred maker is there are more choices for great P.A.F. inspired tone than ever! From extreme accuracy in a P.A.F. reproduction to low cost P.A.F. inspired pickups the buyer has a lot of great tones to chose from.:dude:
That's the real trick here, isn't it. Twenty years ago you had a few great pickups out there but so much of the market was high-output or just some bizarre interpretation of what a winder thought a PAF might sound like...rarely with any correlation to what a PAF actually was. Remember how many PAF clones were balanced poly coils and sintered magnets?

Nowadays you have a dozen makers doing a masterful impression of PAF tone and a few of them with parts that are extremely close to the original...butyrate bobbins with even the right tooling marks, maple spacers, nickel baseplates, the right screw and slug poles. The magnets are sandcast and hand-finished...amazingly it's not just A2 and A5 now either!

This is a pickup golden age. While the dream of owning your own PAFs becomes more elusive we might find our current "early" Throbak, Bareknuckle or Stephens command the same mystical reputations that PAFs - or lets face it Holmes or Shaw pickups have. Might sound crazy now but I'll be happy for this post to be revisited in April 2032.
 
R

R9.

Guest
I have two sets of Throbaks with the NOS wire and they're easily my favourite sounding pickup. I also just signed up for two sets of Dave's '61HDs; so, we'll see how those stack up later on this year. One thing's for sure, Throbak covers look 100 times better and I'm putting them on the HDs.
 
J

JLH

Guest
Just for clarification in this thread. ThroBak makes every part of the P.A.F. assembly in house, in the USA, to vintage specs.. Dave Stephens uses off the shelf mass market parts for bobbins, baseplates and covers. Basically the larger parts that require hard tooling, covers, baseplates, bobbins, Dave Stephens buys mass market. This is not a diss on Dave at all. But those are the facts for anyone comparing the two on parts accuracy etc....

Dave is a one man shop so a 30 week back up is to be expected if he has a large volume of orders. ThroBak is a 3 man shop that makes pickups and effect pedals. Every ThroBak pickup set gets extreme and expert attention to every detail start to finish by me and my crew of two. Extreme attention is the only way to make an accurate P.A.F. repro IMHO. I'm sure Dave and other select makers feel the same way. At ThroBak just having a guy dedicated to shipping and packing helps get pickups out the door fast. But since Dave Stephens is doing it all solo, orders can stack up to a 30 week backlog pretty quickly even if everything is running efficiently.

Whomever the buyer's prefferred maker is there are more choices for great P.A.F. inspired tone than ever! From extreme accuracy in a P.A.F. reproduction to low cost P.A.F. inspired pickups the buyer has a lot of great tones to chose from.:dude:

And your proof on how Dave Stephens makes his parts or buys his parts is ?
Its always interesting when another winder decides to somehow market in a post.
I have no problem with your product, I have tried them.
I am not selling anything, just posting my experience and information from personal experience. How can you say he buys mass market bobbins, etc....? I would love to see that documentation.
I am curious, How long have you been making and selling pickups, I value experience and should maybe check out a newer set of your PAF repros.
 
J

JLH

Guest
I have two sets of Throbaks with the NOS wire and they're easily my favourite sounding pickup. I also just signed up for two sets of Dave's '61HDs; so, we'll see how those stack up later on this year. One thing's for sure, Throbak covers look 100 times better and I'm putting them on the HDs.

Thats cool, cant wait to see what you think when you compare.
About the covers, LOLOLOL I bought different covers and sent them to him to install on my pickups he built for me as well. The Throback covers are very nice!
How long ago did you order them? what did he say his lead time was?
 

jwalker

Les Paul Forum Sponsor
Joined
Dec 10, 2004
Messages
2,581
And your proof on how Dave Stephens makes his parts or buys his parts is ?

Dave himself. He is pretty open about what he does and does not make on pickup making forums.

How can you say he buys mass market bobbins, etc....? I would love to see that documentation.

Again Dave has mentioned it on pickup making forums. Most pickup makers can also identify who made bobbins, covers and baseplates from a photo.

I am curious, How long have you been making and selling pickups, I value experience and should maybe check out a newer set of your PAF repros.

By all means, here is my bio... and I like to think this all plays an important role in the pickups and pedals I make....

I come from a musical family. My great grandfather and grandfather made violins and repaired stringed instruments. I learned to rehair bows from my grandfather at age 13. By age 15 I had done my first refret, made my first effect pedal and done my first finish repairs. After 20 plus years of all manner of repair and instrument making I started ThroBak. In 2005 after ThroBak was established as an effect pedal maker I decided to start work on making the most accurate top to bottom repro of a P.A.F. that I can. I apply the same hyper detail work ethic I learned making violins towards the P.A.F.. Both violins and P.A.F.'s are about tone, feel and cosmetics and the details are what separate good from great. The details I can mention without selling the farm are all on my site if you want to look. It is 2012 now, I'm 44 and I feel damn good about what I make. But there is more to come.:ganz
 

Calgary Flametop

New member
Joined
May 11, 2010
Messages
119
Throbaks!!! It really depends on the sound you are looking for, but if you are looking for the closest sound to original PAF's, they are your best bet. Especially if you can get some of the older ones that have the original old PAF wire they bought from Gibson when they bought their old equipment. I am pretty sure the pickups that don't have MXV printed on them have the old wire. I have two pairs of DT-102 pickups, one pair in gold and one in nickel. I have three pairs of Gibson PAF's, one pair from 57 and two from 59. Both pairs of 59's sound bang on to the Throbaks. I am not a tone guru, but I really like the woody tone that old PAF's give and these Throbaks have it in spades. I own pairs of every make mentioned in this thread except for the Stephens, but just for comparison to real PAF's they are the best. About 3 years ago a friend of mine would use nothing else but his 58 Les Paul for recording. I took a 58 Reissue, added Throbaks, CTS pots, Old Bumble Bees and an Aluminum Tailpiece and gave it to him to try. The 58 is now in a glass case, lol.
 
J

JLH

Guest
Dave himself. He is pretty open about what he does and does not make on pickup making forums.



Again Dave has mentioned it on pickup making forums. Most pickup makers can also identify who made bobbins, covers and baseplates from a photo.



By all means, here is my bio... and I like to think this all plays an important role in the pickups and pedals I make....

I come from a musical family. My great grandfather and grandfather made violins and repaired stringed instruments. I learned to rehair bows from my grandfather at age 13. By age 15 I had done my first refret, made my first effect pedal and done my first finish repairs. After 20 plus years of all manner of repair and instrument making I started ThroBak. In 2005 after ThroBak was established as an effect pedal maker I decided to start work on making the most accurate top to bottom repro of a P.A.F. that I can. I apply the same hyper detail work ethic I learned making violins towards the P.A.F.. Both violins and P.A.F.'s are about tone, feel and cosmetics and the details are what separate good from great. The details I can mention without selling the farm are all on my site if you want to look. It is 2012 now, I'm 44 and I feel damn good about what I make. But there is more to come.:ganz

Thanks for the time and detail in your response, I surely appreciate your passion for what is involved and respect that.
I love the comparison with violins. My wife plays a Cello, it is an amazing instrument in both tone and aesthetics, the wood is amazing and the vowel tones are also amazing, that tone (dry, open and complex) is what I look for in a pickup.
 
J

JLH

Guest
Throbaks!!! It really depends on the sound you are looking for, but if you are looking for the closest sound to original PAF's, they are your best bet. Especially if you can get some of the older ones that have the original old PAF wire they bought from Gibson when they bought their old equipment. I am pretty sure the pickups that don't have MXV printed on them have the old wire. I have two pairs of DT-102 pickups, one pair in gold and one in nickel. I have three pairs of Gibson PAF's, one pair from 57 and two from 59. Both pairs of 59's sound bang on to the Throbaks. I am not a tone guru, but I really like the woody tone that old PAF's give and these Throbaks have it in spades. I own pairs of every make mentioned in this thread except for the Stephens, but just for comparison to real PAF's they are the best. About 3 years ago a friend of mine would use nothing else but his 58 Les Paul for recording. I took a 58 Reissue, added Throbaks, CTS pots, Old Bumble Bees and an Aluminum Tailpiece and gave it to him to try. The 58 is now in a glass case, lol.
You should try a set of VL's as well, they are amazing
 

Ryan Givhan

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Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
3,220
You should try a set of VL's as well, they are amazing
i have neither SD pups or throbak's (i cant afford either) but if the guys says that he thinks throbaks are exactly like his paf's (and thats the tone he is going for) why would he want to try anything else?
 
J

JLH

Guest
i have neither SD pups or throbak's (i cant afford either) but if the guys says that he thinks throbaks are exactly like his paf's (and thats the tone he is going for) why would he want to try anything else?

If you read "the guys" post, he said, He's never tried the VL's, then it says the throbacks are the closest thing to his PAF's, but he has never tried the other pickups (Stephens) that the thread was started about ie.Throback vs Stephens. So , I am not sure why you ask. It was simply a suggestion
Does that make sense?
I respect "the guys" opinion and do not doubt his throbacks sound exactly as he say's, I don't believe I suggested that they didn't, or am I missing something?.

As well, his advise is "they are your best bet" but that is based solely on half the equation, Make sense?
I have a set of throbacks :dude:
 

Ryan Givhan

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Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
3,220
that wasnt meant to be mean, my man. i understand it was a simple suggestion. and my simple suggestion would be for him to not mess with what is, to him, an exact paf replica.
 

Triburst

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Joined
Feb 12, 2006
Messages
4,347
When you get to the point where you're looking at great high-end pickups -- Throbaks, Sheptones, Stevens, Zhangs, etc., it becomes a hugely subjective thing. It's doubtful you could get five people to all say, "oh -- there we go -- it's obviously THIS one," given the quality of these great pickups all shooting at basically the same target.

Even with the same guy playing each pickup set in the same guitar, it's not going to be the same as it would (for instance) with me playing them in MY guitar with MY fingers.

Enjoy your search -- but this is something you're going to have to research on your own. The forum guys can point you in some very good directions, but the rest is up to you. :peace2
 

Cygnus X1

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Joined
Sep 20, 2007
Messages
363
Good point Triburst.
It's very difficult to be objective especially given the time it takes to swap pickups.

How many here have directly A/B'd between the two?
I haven't so I can't say.
I have MHD's that are great also, but even the old DiMarzio PAF has its good days.
Or so it seems.
 
R

R9.

Guest
JLH, I placed the order three days ago. He said about 35 weeks.

Calgary Flametop, I have two sets of MXVs and they both have NOS wire. I know because it was a $100 up charge at the time and I also emailed Jon Grundy to confirm they were still using it. If memory serves me right, Jon wrote me in November 2010 that they would stop using NOS soon.
 
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