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Throbak vs Stephens

jamisonlps

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May 30, 2005
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I understand him defending himself, nothing wrong with that. I'm simply doing the same for Dave, cause he deserves it. That's all.

Oh and it's funny because I know things you don't.

I totally get this!!! Hahahahaha! Some things just simply don't add up, and it's quite obvious.

Back to pickups....I just got a Wolfetone MH with A2 that I'm really digging. Still interested in the Legends though. Also picked up an Antiquity bridge that specs @ 8.99k.
 

Dub'n 57 Goldtop

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Oh ooone more point before I take my leave.

You said Dave dreamt of owning your Leesona, in trying to make it seeem soooooooo valuable. Seymour owns the actual Leesona used to wind the ACTUAL PAFs of the day.

Are Duncans perceived as the sh*t for PAF tone??? :ganz

Dave's pickups are the bees knees because of what he and he ALONE knows.

I bid you adieu.

:hippy
 

Dub'n 57 Goldtop

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I totally get this!!! Hahahahaha! Some things just simply don't add up, and it's quite obvious.

Back to pickups....I just got a Wolfetone MH with A2 that I'm really digging. Still interested in the Legends though. Also picked up an Antiquity bridge that specs @ 8.99k.

Heheh :p

I hear lots of great things about the Legends, I'm curious to try them myself.
 

jwalker

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Interesting. These are mine. What lot number does this indicate? Is it NOS or newer? (BTW - I bought these used and contacted Jon about installation, he treated me like an old customer. Very nice.)

DSC_0049-1.jpg


Thanks for the kind words.

The number at the start of the lot number and the LTD indicate NOS. If the lot number began with a letter then it is not NOS and would also not have the LTD. Just an FYI since it was mentioned earlier. Before the MXV line there was a Standard (no longer available) and LTD line. The LTD line had NOS wire and different magnets and pole screws than the Standard line. The LTD upcharge was not just for the NOS wire.
 

Jumping@Shadows

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I have mad love for Dave as he has rewound a number of PAFs for me which all came back as stellar examples of the kind- i also had an early set of his clones, which were like-wise excellent, but no match for the re-built 'originals'. John has a fantastic product too, and is a highly skilled, passionate and genuine guy with talents far broader than pickup winding alone, and neither he nor his products deserve the vitriol sent his way in this thread- these are arcane and luxury accessories and ultimately for personal enjoyment, and should not be the subject for personal attacks. Enjoy your guitars and your respective pickups, it's not a battle to be won :)
 
J

JLH

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I think this post was about tone, Throbacs vs Stephens and have to agree with Jumping@shadows. I am fortunate enough to own five sets of VL series Pickups built by Dave Stephens. That stands for itself, The quality and in depth research and development that goes into Stephens pickups are amazing. The passion he has for re creating a PAF reproduction is at the pinnacle of art and science and is an amazing effort in reverse Engineering, passion and work ethic.
So, I recommend you guys do the research on the winders, the data speaks for itself. Dave Stephens has been around longer and has been doing research longer than most guys around. So, if your impressed with a winding machine, then your impressed by these type of things. As a professional Mechanical Engineer, The fact someone owns an original pickup winder from the Gibson factory means nothing. Who knows, the machine may have been running on 80 volts AC and not 110AC or was mounted un level, out of plumb or in a cold room.
So, If I had a Lesona or what ever iys called, I could make accurate PAFs?
Lets forget the snake oil and talk tone. Unless the wire is from the same lot used then, in the same room, made under the same conditions and kept in a time machine, it aint the same. Unless the Bobbins are made in the same mold ( I believe there were four different ones) with the same materials, they are not the same. Simply claiming this stuff is all HYPE.
If you have not tried a set of VL series pickups built by Dave Stephens, or a set of Throbacks,you got no reason to even comment.
As a winder, you should stay out of it, on either side, Just let your product speak for itself, Vintage wire, really? Original winder, really ?
Dave Stephens has developed a "special sauce" dielectric fluid that is virtually undetectable or traceable that he found through a molecular breakdown of a real 1959 PAF. No SH$T !!!!
 

J.D.

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I have mad love for Dave as he has rewound a number of PAFs for me which all came back as stellar examples of the kind- i also had an early set of his clones, which were like-wise excellent, but no match for the re-built 'originals'. John has a fantastic product too, and is a highly skilled, passionate and genuine guy with talents far broader than pickup winding alone, and neither he nor his products deserve the vitriol sent his way in this thread- these are arcane and luxury accessories and ultimately for personal enjoyment, and should not be the subject for personal attacks. Enjoy your guitars and your respective pickups, it's not a battle to be won :)

Amen. I really almost can't believe what I'm reading here :wah
 

jwalker

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Dave Stephens has developed a "special sauce" dielectric fluid that is virtually undetectable or traceable that he found through a molecular breakdown of a real 1959 PAF. No SH$T !!!!

Just and FYI on this "special sauce" dielectric fluid. Makers have been doing this for years with their own "special dielectric sauces". Some people like the tone. Two important details as they relate to vintage P.A.F.'s, the plasticizer in Butyrate does off gas. It sometimes leaves a hardened oily deposit in the inside of the cover. The oil is castor oil which was used as a Butyrate plasticizer. Castor oil turns into a drying oil when heated through the molding process and given enough time will harden. The other unintentional dielectric application is oil applied to the felt tensioners to help it glide through the felt. Sometimes used and sometimes not to this day. Oils like this will change the dielectric properties of a coil. These things are not secrets but just more tonal tools at a pickup maker's disposal.

Again this is not a slam on anyone just a statement of fact that many might find informative.
 

toxpert

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Jul 2, 2005
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Jon,
Thank you for your time, talent and treasure that you share with us. Your work with reverse engineering to re-create a by-gone product is quite remarkable.

All this one versus the other with focus on a "victor" is missing the point. It's all boils down to choice and there's plenty enough of that to make everyone happy.

Thank you, again, for your fellowship ... and the nifty pickups.
 

BrazenPicker

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Oct 31, 2010
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I have mad love for Dave as he has rewound a number of PAFs for me which all came back as stellar examples of the kind- i also had an early set of his clones, which were like-wise excellent, but no match for the re-built 'originals'. John has a fantastic product too, and is a highly skilled, passionate and genuine guy with talents far broader than pickup winding alone, and neither he nor his products deserve the vitriol sent his way in this thread- these are arcane and luxury accessories and ultimately for personal enjoyment, and should not be the subject for personal attacks. Enjoy your guitars and your respective pickups, it's not a battle to be won :)

+2. i'm disgusted by the behavior of some people here.
 

8ohms

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Aug 31, 2003
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169
I'm sorry to have started this thread. It has gotten out of hand and off subject. At the time, I was just trying to gather some knowledge and first hand information between these two pickup types. Something I could not discern from website video clips alone. Thanks to those who have contributed to my original request.
 
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efk

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Jan 8, 2009
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519
8 ohms: I have had a set of used Throbak SLE101, a set of Tom Holmes 450/455, two different sets of Duncans (unpotted 59s and Antiquities) and a set of early (from the first run of them, I believe, right after he began selling them) of Stephens VL3 that I ordered new - all in the same guitar, a DaPra R9. I had the Stephens in the longest and they were in it when I sold it. Any one of those pickup sets were GREAT pickups and each sounded slightly different, but all were capable of great old PAF album tones. I liked the Holmes the least - they sounded more compressed and less "open" to me. And while Duncans are usually kicked to the curb, they won't be overlooked by me. Just because they do not have a high price tag doesn't mean they aren't great. The unpotted 59s are wonderful pickups and very alive, but they were a bit "harder" prob. due to the full strength A5 magnets and they were more mid focused. I actually LOVE them in an sg. The Antiquities as sold stock - with weak magnets - I do not like, but w/ a full strength A4 mag in each, they continue to be just about my favorite pickups for the sounds *I personally* like to hear, bar none. Those Antiquities with a little tweaking can compete with ANYTHING. The Throbaks were great pickups but I ultimately preferred the Stephens pickups ***in that particular guitar*** as they were a touch brighter and that guitar needed brighter pickups. I was happier with the bridge than I was with the neck, and if I had kept the guitar I think I may have swapped out the neck for something else.

Warning - continued opinion content.
The bottom line is, pickup making is not rocket science nor is it some kind of mystical magical sorcery-based abyss of unknowing. Hell, I've wound some pretty darn good sounding pickups myself just for the fun of it to be used on guitars that I have built myself. And there aren't any huge mysteries left to PAFs either. It's known how they were wound and details like tpl, screw and slug material, bobbin design and material, baseplate composition, magnet composition etc. have ALL been determined by science by this point. There seems to be some constant Gundry bashing going on, and I have to tell you - as I perceive it, it all just looks like jealousy. I have to admire the guy considerably, as I work in a historical-based trade where similar "historically correct/authentic" details are also desired and contentious. So rather than try to "mystify" everything PAF and add many layers of BS, the guy goes and apparently spends what would seem to be an enormous amount of money and time to have everything analyzed and re-made exactly to spec, and all in the US to boot. How is that not admirable? And why SHOULDN'T it be used for marketing? Of course it should, unless he's a crappy entrepreneur. (I apologize if this interpretation is presumptuous, however this is how it appears to me) No other winder to my knowledge has done this. So if you want a PAF made exactly as PAFs were made, with exactly the same materials, you really only have once choice. That doesn't mean other winders' pickups are garbage - as Ive stated, to my ear, most are remarkably good. What it simply means is that everyone else (again, to my knowlege - I apologize if I'm overlooking someone else doing the same thing w/ PAFs) is maybe making some parts, and making use of chinese or whatever other parts. If you go spend some time reading through things at the Pickup Makers forum, you can't help but see jealousy rear it's head a LOT; it's symptomatic of the fact that others apparently can not or will not spend the money Gundry has spent to do what he has done, so of course if they want to market their own pickups they are going to have to say, "well, bobbin material isn't important" or "I can make a PAF just as well with this chinese baseplate" etc.

It has gotten pretty silly, especially when certain winders have stated at one point, for example, that butyrate bobbins are completely unnecessary or pointless, then later advertise the advantages of having butyrate bobbins made. One can do just fine with off-the-shelf screws, then finally spends the money to go have proper screws made and turns around an talks down about the same off-the-shelf screws. It's just jealousy, pure and simple.

Ultimately, if I was to order new pickups again (which I can't afford to do right now anyway or I wouldn't have sold the R9 now would I? *sigh*), I would be happy with ANY of them. So, I would base my decision on (1) how much I wanted to spend, (2) the characteristics of the guitar in question and (3) the conduct of the company and responsiveness to my queries. And one thing I'll tell you up front, there is no flippin way on this planet I would wait 6 months or 8 months or whatever for a little pair of 2 guitar pickups. That's just absurdly silly and quite frankly - to my mind - suspicious. With a little lathe and a mechanized winder, someone should be able to whack out some PAFs very quickly unless you happen to be physically making your own screws, molding your own bobbins one at a time, cutting your own baseplates, pouring molten magnets or whatever. If you are BUYING screws, bobbins, baseplates, covers etc. then the job is largely an assembly job. And a boring one at that imo. Excessively long wait times for any small item such as this always lead me to believe that the individual - whoever he or she may be - is either lazy and/or fearful of business commitments, constantly broke and living off customer deposits, or using an artificial lead time as a marketing tactic to increase perceived desirability and thus value. JMHO - I am not accusing Dave Stephens of this and he seemed like a nice guy when I corresponded with him, but my thoughts are my own and there you have it. Half a year for two pickups? Come on. Others certainly may think otherwise.
 
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pepejara

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Originally Posted by Jumping@Shadows
I have mad love for Dave as he has rewound a number of PAFs for me which all came back as stellar examples of the kind- i also had an early set of his clones, which were like-wise excellent, but no match for the re-built 'originals'. John has a fantastic product too, and is a highly skilled, passionate and genuine guy with talents far broader than pickup winding alone, and neither he nor his products deserve the vitriol sent his way in this thread- these are arcane and luxury accessories and ultimately for personal enjoyment, and should not be the subject for personal attacks. Enjoy your guitars and your respective pickups, it's not a battle to be won :)

Amen. I really almost can't believe what I'm reading here :wah

+1
 

jamisonlps

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JMHO - I am not accusing Dave Stephens of this and he seemed like a nice guy when I corresponded with him, but my thoughts are my own and there you have it. Half a year for two pickups? Come on. Others certainly may think otherwise.

I hear ya and will further add my 2 cents.

Just for comparison sake:

1) Dave is a one man shop and probably has a backlog, Throbak is a 3 man shop based on what was stated in this thread.

2) Dave makes all types of pickups, not just PAF's. Strat, tele, humbuckers, P90's, you name it. Throbak is only in the PAF market (AFAIK).

There's other points I could make but I do not really see the need.
 

Beano Geno

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I'm sorry to have started this thread. It has gotten out of hand and off subject.

....happening more and more often around here. This place has gone way downhill over the last year or so. YMMV. :hippy
 

marshall1987

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....happening more and more often around here. This place has gone way downhill over the last year or so. YMMV. :hippy

Agree completely. I started a thread about Gary Richrath a month ago and within a couple of days the trash talking commenced. One guy just had to post trash about Gary Richrath. Pathetic if you ask me. The moderators deleted the thread because two immature posters had to trash talk on my thread. I likely won't be contributing any more threads to this forum. Why bother?
 

TM1

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Well, I hate to post under the one directly above, but..

Jon @ ThroBak is a very positive and upstanding guy. We've been trading emails for years and those are ones I've throughly enjoyed! His knowledge and willingness to share it are exceptional. He's relayed things to me and asked me not to share the info and I would never violate that trust he's bestowed on me.
I own at least six sets of his pickups that I've bought over the last 4+ years. As well he's rewound two very old, pre- P-90 lap steel pickups(from 1947). Those pickups now sound exceptional in the old BR-9's that they were built for.
I just don't understand why anyone would want to bash Jon or his products? Why? Doesn't make any sense to me unless folks are just jealous. There have been many times where I've emailed Jon at like 8-10 pm my time(West Coast) thinking I'll get a reply the next day. To my surprise and delight, he emails back at what would be anywhere from 10 pm to 1 am his time.
To my ears and in my guitars, Jon makes the best pickups bar none. There are a lot of great pickup makers around now, but for what I dearly want to hear, Jon's are IT!
 

slammintone

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Jul 19, 2001
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Let me relate a totally unrelated subject and try to tie it back all together here to the main theme.

Unrelated subject? Colt Python .357 Magnum revolvers. One of the finest revolvers ever made period. These came from the factory with a hand honed action that was as slick as glass on oil in double action. Single action they were tuned by the factory to fire with but the slightest finger movement. Superb pieces. If the cylinder ever got out of time well, up till 45yrs ago there were many revolversmiths who knew how to fix them correctly. Back in the late sixties, early seventies there were four known masters of the Colt "I" frame who could do better than fix them correctly. These master craftsmen could take that stacking Colt double action and give them a steady 6lb DA trigger pull that was beyond amazing and at the same fix the guns to where they kept the timing better and longer. Last I heard all four of these great 'smiths have passed on or retired. The guns they worked on nearly never come up for sale as they're too precious to their owners. There are ZERO run of the mill gunsmiths now who would even have a clue as to how to fix let alone modify a Python action. There is however one more recent revolversmith who is capable of the same level of excellence as the prior four masters and his waiting period now is probably 2-3yrs. The other choice is to send your Python back to Colt and wait 4-6 months to have it fixed and if you do, you lock that baby back into it's safe and DONT FIRE IT any more. They're too valuable and the next time you need it serviced there may be nobody left capable of doing the job.

Nowadays I feel there are at least a handful of craftsmen making killer PAF clones. This is the golden era of the return of PAFs in my estimation and the competition seems to be getting heated up. This is all good for us PAF buying consumers. It means a steady improvement of whats out there, with guys fighting to get their products into our hands quickly. Who knows, 20yrs from now it may be down to one guy making these things at the level they are now. Maybe nobody even bothers. To me, a ThroBak or Wolfetone PAF clone is a jewel! It's money in the bank too because these are always gonna be worth what you paid for them at worst and may even demand a premium down the road at best. These are the two high end pickup winders I've tried and I'm sure the same probably goes for Stephens Design and maybe others. My advice, fret over which makers set you want to try first and then get more sets from the other winders, they all have something very cool to offer. These are great times for guitar players chasing great tones.
 

59Vampire

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Feb 1, 2005
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Geez, enough bashing. I must admit that I got caught up in the bashing a few years ago but not about the product. I just thought the dude was creepy. I think its safe to say we all know what tone we like. different strokes for different folks. I never tried Stephens but there are people here who say they sound great so I am sure they do. I have had many positive dealings with Jon as well as Tim White. I like them both. Does that mean other makes are bad? NO WAY. I had wolfetones that were to DIE for. to this day i wish i nver sold that bridge pup.

Bottom line is if you like it and it sounds good, then it is good! I know somewhere along the line I apologized for my comments about the maker and I apologize for bringing it up again. BUT, if I had a set of his pups and I liked I would give a rats ass about what I thought about someones personality.

Dudes, there are so many great products out there. Try what interests you and report on it. Thats what this is about. As far as someone being "slick" because of how they market things, you guys gotta be kidding me. How many of you own a historic? ISnt that "slick" for trying to create the most accurate thing they can?

Hell, Seymour Duncan and Larry Dimarzio started this whole thing almost 40 years ago. I tried ants and they sounded great. I had dimarzios that sounded great too. If you want to blame anyone for all the choice weh have today, blame them! LOL

NO more hate. just tone!
 
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