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Throbak vs Stephens

latestarter

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Nov 9, 2009
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4,089
....happening more and more often around here. This place has gone way downhill over the last year or so. YMMV. :hippy

I see this comment Beano occaisionally (and not just on this forum). Isn't it all our responsibility to ensure it doesn't by way of quality posts and peer pressure on others to also do the same?

Regardless of anything else, the pickups discussed in this thread all sound great. As stated, I've had both and still have Throbaks and my original PAF's (Stephens were sold). With either you simply cannot go wrong - your particular ear my have a preference to one over the other however. So given these aren't cheap pickups we should assume those buying them aren't scared to invest in tone. On that basis, buy both sets - install, play, choose the right pair, sell the others. Quite simple I would have thought.
 

J.D.

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May 24, 2006
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9,924
I agree, there are alot of good options. Jon is hitting a nitche market within boutique PAF type pickups for the guy who wants both a good sounding pickup plus extreme attention to historically accurate details. Live and let live people. JMHO.
 

Calgary Flametop

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May 11, 2010
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119
I posted earlier in this thread. I was just trying to post my opinion on most of the pickups mentioned that I owned which I thought sounded the closest to original PAF's. I am a little confused now. I am almost positive when I bought my Throbak pickups with 50026 and 50027 wire wound on the Leesona 102 back in May of 2010 that I was told both the winder and the wire came from Gibson. I am also pretty sure that some time after when I went back looking for more when the webpage had changed to all the MXV stuff that I read the Gibson wire had run out, but that now you had the Slug 101. I can see that when I read that webpage that Gibson could have possibly been just used in text, but when I originally bought the pickups I am sure that was not the case. Was I misinformed originally about the wire? I most of the time save Web Archives when I buy something so I am going to check my old hard drive so see if I saved the original page. I hope I have it to see what it said. Anyways, is my wire then just NOS stock wire that was the same as Gibson used back then and not bought directly from them when the Leesona 102 was bought?

I still do think the older Throbak pickups I have sound the closest to original PAF pickups. I have not tried the newer pickups with the newer wire so I can not say anything about them. I would think though that intelligent person "A" and intelligent person "B" both with the same eguipment Gibson had in the 50's could wire pickups to the same spec they had back then. The only thing then that would make person "A" or person "B"'s pickup closer to the original PAF would be the sum of its parts!

Could someone please post what equipment Stephens is using along with what parts and wire?
 

reswot

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Jan 22, 2004
Messages
3,295
I bought my first ThroBaks in late 2008. Jon already had the Slug 101 winder at that time.

He has never, to my knowledge, claimed that his Leesona came from Gibson (Seymour Duncan has Gibson's Leesona), or that his wire came from Gibson. He certainly never made those claims on his website.
 

jwalker

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I bought my first ThroBaks in late 2008. Jon already had the Slug 101 winder at that time.

He has never, to my knowledge, claimed that his Leesona came from Gibson (Seymour Duncan has Gibson's Leesona), or that his wire came from Gibson. He certainly never made those claims on his website.

Reswot is correct. I never made these claims. My Slug 101 winder was made by Gibson in the 50's and I did buy it from the old Gibson Kalamazoo plant. However my Leesona 102 did not come from Gibson and the the NOS wire did not come from the old Gibson plant.
 
J

JLH

Guest
Could someone please post what equipment Stephens is using along with what parts and wire?

Ask Dave himself about this, if you want the facts. If winding pickups on an old machine that came from the Gibson factory really made a difference, Seymour Duncans would sound like real Pafs. Last I checked, there just good and come no where near what Daves pickups sound like, or Throbacks for that matter. I dont buy into the winder thing (Machine) making a difference, however, for someone to promote it makes sense as a sales "tool" for those who care to buy into it. The variables are way out there.
 

J.D.

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May 24, 2006
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9,924
I would suggest you put a '50sbuy magnet in an Antiquity sometime :hmm
 

Flying Fish

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Aug 15, 2006
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Just meet for a fuckin' tug o' war and settle the bitchin' out already. All you girls make sure you wear your sports bras and granny panties.
 

Calgary Flametop

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Joined
May 11, 2010
Messages
119
LOL on the response with the sports bras and granny panites. I hate when mild mannered threads turn into turmoil. I try to help the guy with the first question about how I thought my old Throbaks sound the closest to my 50's PAF's and it turns into nothing but confusion. I was under the impression they were built with old Gibson wire on old Gibson equipment and now I find out I have neither. What would you expect when you read about old Gibson equipment being bought and comments like the same wire used by Gibson on their old PAF's. Oh well, it was fun in my head while it lasted.

Anyways, I found the Throbak page I had saved. I checked the properties and it is from about 4 months after I bought my first Throbaks when I was thinking about buying some more. It basically says that the old wire has run out, but that the Slug 101 has been purchased from Gibson making the new MXV pickups even better than the old ones regardless of the wire. Was this just a marketing gimmick as someone listed above that the Slug 101 was around in 2008? Or were MXV pickups available in 2008? Not trying to creat havock, I am just curious.

I just want to add that I think whoever did the marketing for Throbak pickups really missed the ball on this. Two of my friends who also have older Throbak pickups have always thought, well until I recently informed them, that they had original Gibson wire too. I have also seen some listed on ebay this way. It might be worht starting a new thread asking how many other people thought this. The person or persons doing the marketing should have made no mention of Gibson whatsoever. List the machines and the wire and let the people figure it out for themselves.
 
J

JLH

Guest
Its all marketing gimmicks if you buy into that stuff, seriously, the actual machine???? How does anyone of these guys know if they even used the 101 "slug winder" for PAF's or whatever, they weren't there, never saw the PAF production, and just are sucked into the hype and market it. Check out all the rest of the winders, how many make these claims of being able to create superior replicas because of winder. Honestly, if your at all reasonable and mechanical, the data does not jive with the claims.
You see what you got. I am not defending anyone, however, without data, your just another opinion. Show me!
 

Gold Tone

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Apr 2, 2002
Messages
6,825
Here is the original text. It seems straight forward, compares the materials and equipment used in Throbak to PAF and Gibson where appropriate...


ThroBak Vintage Authentic Series Pickups

ThroBak Vintage Authentic Series pickups are produced with a commitment to using vintage authentic manufacturing techniques processes and materials whenever possible. Details that gave the classic vintage PAF's their legendary tone are studied and duplicated in the ThroBak Vintage Authentic Series. Wound on a vintage Leesona 102 coil winder and the vintage Gibson made "Slug 101" PAF winding machine the Authentic Series offers unsurpassed vintage PAF winding accuracy. Add 42 AWG NOS vintage correct plain enamel wire for the Limited PAF line, the Vintage Authentic Series pickups embody the actual techniques and materials that made the original PAF's great. Custom rough cast magnets and a relentless quest for vintage correct parts mean that every ThroBak Vintage Authentic Series pickup lives up to its name.

The Two Winding Machine Models That Wound PAF's Also Wind All ThroBak Authentic Series Pickups.
Original Gibson PAF and Patent number pickups were machine wound exclusively. An important tonal ingredient of these legendary pickups are vintage machines that wound PAF's. The two vintage PAF winding machine models are living, breathing mechanisms. They require constant maintenance and tending by skilled operators to run at peak performance. But when used properly these winders breathe pure tonal magic into the pickups they wind. Partly a quirk of fate and partly a happy accident, these vintage winding machines hold within them a key element of the legendary vintage tones that so many strive to achieve.

The Leesona 102 Vintage Pickup Winder
In the late 40's Gibson purchased two Lessona 102 coil winders to take over the ever growing pickup winding duties. Ultimately the Leesona 102 was destined to wind the Gibson PAF humbucker pickup. The Leesona 102 is a very large machine that is designed to wind 3 coils as large as 3 inches in size. When adjusted down to the 1/4" size of PAF and P-90 bobbins the tolerances of the machine and runout of the chucks begin to play a very important role in the the peculiar winding patterns of the PAF coils wound on the Leesona 102. Doing double duty for both PAF's and P-90's, the Leesona 102 made a large variety of coil shapes. Thankfully, in the hands of a skilled operator these peculiarities add up to tonal magic when it comes to winding pickup coils.

Pickups made on the Leesona 102 are rich in the double tones and dynamics that are associated with the best of vintage PAF and P-90 pickups. Vintage Leesona 102 winding machines are very rare. Only one other guitar pickup manufacturer owns a Leesona 102. Even rarer is finding one that is operational. Fortunately ThroBak Electronics owns an exceptionally well maintained Leesona 102, complete with original tensioners, chucks and wire guide pulleys. Updated with digital auto stop counters, the ThroBak Leesona 102 is tuned to perfection.

The Slug 101 Vintage PAF Pickup Winder
A one of a kind Gibson made and designed machine, the "Slug 101" has been sitting dormant, in a state of disrepair, for decades in the old Gibson Kalamazoo Parsons street facility. Until now! In 2008 ThroBak Electronics purchased this historic PAF slug coil winder to once again bring it back to it's rightful role as PAF coil winding tone machine. There is no other machine like the Slug 101. Designed and hand made in the 50's by a Gibson pattern maker to wind PAF slug bobbins, this machine is the holy grail of PAF coil winders. It's existence was speculated over for years. Previously only known as "the small 4 bobbin winder," it's existence was the stuff of mystery and myth. But, once more, the Slug 101 lives again!

The pickups made with the Slug 101 are exceptional, as is the machine is itself. The Slug 101 was used by Gibson to wind slug coils for PAF and Pat # humbuckers whenever the need arose to put it to use. Due to the slow winding and set-up speed of the Slug 101 there are proportionally fewer PAF's with Slug 101 coils in them. But PAF's that do contain these special coils have a clarity and focus that is imparted by the unique winding pattern of the Slug 101. Radically different than the Leesona 102, the winding pattern of the Slug 101 is a function of the one of a kind, hand made traverse and tensioning mechanism of this exceptional machine. I have blacked out a portion of the unique traverse mechanism I want to keep secret. A little mystery never hurt when it comes to PAF mojo.

How I happened upon the Slug 101
In January 2008 I visited Heritage Guitar Inc. which occupies the old Gibson Parsons Street factory building in Kalamazoo. The purpose of the trip was to pick up a custom order guitar. Prior to the visit I asked Bill Paige if they still had any old Gibson pickup winding machines on the premises. When I arrived at the historic Parsons Street building Bill graciously showed me the Slug 101. My jaw dropped, I immediately recognized its importance. Other former Gibson employees at Heritage confirmed the historical significance of this machine. In June 2008 I purchased the Slug 101 and picked it up from the old Gibson factory building in Kalamazoo now occupied by Heritage Guitar Inc.. The Slug 101 was conceived and born in the old Gibson Kalamazoo building and resided there for half a century. Restored to it's former glory the Slug 101 is back to making incredible sounding PAF style pickups in the ThroBak Electronics facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
 

Gold Tone

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Apr 2, 2002
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6,825
Continued:

The Coils
Over the years many myths have grown along with the lengend of PAF's. Perhaps largest myth is that PAF coils or the "best" PAF coils were hand wound. In fact all production PAF coils were machine wound on a very small number of machines. The few machines that wound PAF's each put their own tonal signature on PAF's. A tonal signature that is the result of winding patterns and coil shapes that can only be accurately reproduced by machine. These machines made a wide variety of coil shapes and as a result produced the wide variety tonal colors that we associate with vintage PAF's. These shapes varied with the machine model and with small differences in operator set-up. At ThroBak we take all the tonal possibilities that these machines are capable of and combine them to produce the ThroBak Authentic Series of pickups.

Original PAF coils and coils made on the vintage ThroBak Leesona 102 and Slug 101 PAF pickup winder models are very tightly wound solid coils. Contrary to machine winding critics, coils wound on these vintage machines show a complex wire scatter driven by the quirks unique to these machines. They do not show the orderly distribution of wire exhibited by modern computer controlled winders. None of these winding patterns can be accurately duplicated by hand. Some of these shapes can be approximated by hand winding but the internal wire distribution of the hand wound coil will be radically different from the correct machine wound PAF coil. Differences that effect the final tone of the assembled PAF pickup. These machine wound coil shapes are in fact the signature winding patterns and tonal signatures of the vintage machines that were put to use in winding PAF's.

The Wire
All ThroBak Vintage Authentic Limited Series PAF's and Vintage Authentic rewinds use NOS vintage correct plain enamel wire. This wire is no longer being made. ThroBak has a large 200lb. stash of this vintage wire. However due to it's scarcity it is reserved only for the Limited Series PAF's and Vintage rewinds. So when it's gone it's gone. I hope to successfully beg a wire manufacturer to make 42 AWG magnet wire to these NOS specifications but successfully getting a wire maker to do it is a long shot.
The Vintage Authentic Standard Series uses current production 42 AWG plain enamel wire. Although not the same as the NOS 42 AWG wire it does make wonderful sounding PAF style pickups.
The ThroBak stock pile of NOS 42 AWG plain enamel wire covers all of the varieties of tolerances, min. to nom., that are found within 42 AWG. Because of this we can match just about every possible wire combination when it comes to vintage rewinds. Plus this wide variety of wire lets us cover all the tonal bases when it comes to the ThroBak Vintage Authentic Limited Series of PAF's.
Just as with the vintage wire the NOS wire in the ThroBak stash has the color variances that are found within the 42AWG tolerance. The color changes can go from jet black, maroon to a very light maroon to brown. The photo here illustrates the range of wire colors from the same era and manufacturer of ThroBak's NOS 42AWG plain enamel wire stock.
The Magnets
Just as with vintage PAF magnets ThroBak Vintage Authentic series magnets have the oxidation layer in tact on the outer surface. This oxidation is a resistive layer that effects the inductance of the pickup which in turn effects the tone. Some PAF magnets did not have the pole edge ground smooth but instead had the oxidation layer from the sand casting left in tact, still further effecting the tone. This is just one other detail that we have duplicated with the ThroBak Authentic Series line of magnets. All ThroBak magnets are special ordered to our specifications from the manufactures. We are constantly searching for and analyzing great sounding vintage magnets so we can work with our suppliers to deliver as accurate a PAF style magnet as possible.


Vintage Authentic Series Limited PAF Sets
All ThroBak Limited PAF's are wound with vintage correct NOS 42AWG plain enamel magnet wire for the ultimate in PAF tone and authenticity. Add to this the two vintage PAF winding machines on which the coils are wound and you have a ThroBak Limited line which unmatched in the authenticity of its PAF coil windings. The Limited PAF line also includes magnet choices not available for the standard series. Custom rough sand cast vintage clone A2 magnets are available exclusively for the ThroBak Limited line of pickups. The Limited line is the ultimate in PAF clones.

SLE-101 LTD specs.: Neck 7.6K Bridge 8.1K
NOS vintage correct PE magnet wire is wound on the slug coils with the the original Gibson Slug 101 winder and screw coils wound on the Leesona 102. SLE-101 Limited has a clarity and note bloom as the Standard but with the added authenticity of NOS vintage correct plain enamel magnet wire. The NOS magnet wire coating differs from current magnet wire in texture and in thickness. These differences effect how the wire sounds and how it scatters as the coil is formed. The tonal result is the rounder top when compared to current production PE wire of the same diameter. A2 vintage clone sand cast magnets,custom milled Michigan hard maple wood spacer, vintage correct two conductor wire and threaded baseplate complete the picture.
 
J

JLH

Guest
Blah Blah Blah, compare, whatever, My information is the slug winder was used as a backup winder and rarely used and never put in production and was built for that reason.
Thats stuff is copied from a web site that markets product.
Every one markets, I just want some data to back up the claims.
I have no problem with Throback or Dave Stephens or any of them, Its just like the above, is without clear data, its just words. It tells you it differs in texture and thickness, etc....but has a clarity and note bloom as the Standard but with the added authenticity of NOS vintage correct plain enamel magnet wire. and on and on.
So, buy it or buy into it or, try them against there competitors and there claims and then sya what you got to say, If you have never A/B'd them, get off the bus
 

jwalker

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Joined
Dec 10, 2004
Messages
2,583
Its all marketing gimmicks if you buy into that stuff, seriously, the actual machine???? How does anyone of these guys know if they even used the 101 "slug winder" for PAF's or whatever, they weren't there, never saw the PAF production, and just are sucked into the hype and market it.

This comment is really just mean spirited but if you want to know the facts about the Slug 101 winder read below.

I bought the Slug 101 winder from Heritage and picked it up from the old Gibson plant. I found it by simply asking if they had any old winders when I was at the plant for a visit. An old Gibson employee showed it to me and I asked what he knew about it. He said it was built by Gibson to wind P.A.F.'s and he saw it in use in the 50's. He also gave me the name of the Gibson pattern maker that hand made the machine who at the time of my visit was in his 90's and infirm. Mechanically the machine is not capable of doing anything other than wind P.A.F. slug bobbins which it does for me extremely well...:)

I even talked to Seymour Duncan about it and he said that that it was probably at Gibson longer than most of the Heritage founders. BTW Seymour is a super nice guy and makes great pickups IMHO! The Slug 101 was in fact so old that the power cord cracked to bits it was so dried out and internally the motor and switches are wired with cloth wiring. It clearly was used by Gibson and is even caked with solder on the side of it. I even dated as much of the parts as I could and the motors are 50's era or older.

This is the Slug 101 winder as it sat when I found it in the old Gibson Kalamazoo plant, on the top floor, stored for decades, just to the left of the old spray booth.

slug_101_in_plant.jpg


image.html

For Calgary Flametop here is a clarification.

Pre MXV pickups with the SLE prefix were wound with the Slug 101 also. LTD indicates NOS wire. MXV indicates Maximum Vintage specifications with all parts made with ThroBak tooling for the entire assembly to vintage specifications. Covers, baseplates, bobbins, keeper bar, slug, screws......... everything made by ThroBak with ThroBak tooling. Prior to MXV specs. covers, baseplates and bobbins were off the shelf parts. In addition to this some MXV sets are also LTD indicating NOS wire which is no longer available.

Okay I know that was probably confusing but these are just the specifics about how I perfected the ThroBak P.A.F. repro.

Honestly I don't even want to post this stuff as most of it is on my site. But I know people use threads like this as references and if I don't make corrections to honest mistakes or to mean spirited inaccurate posts I will just have to deal with it 10 fold in emails to me. Not to mention people that take inaccuracies as fact and never email me. I hope all the info helps.:hippy
 

J.D.

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Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
9,924
Blah Blah Blah, compare, whatever, My information is the slug winder was used as a backup winder and rarely used and never put in production and was built for that reason.
Thats stuff is copied from a web site that markets product.
Every one markets, I just want some data to back up the claims.
I have no problem with Throback or Dave Stephens or any of them, Its just like the above, is without clear data, its just words. It tells you it differs in texture and thickness, etc....but has a clarity and note bloom as the Standard but with the added authenticity of NOS vintage correct plain enamel magnet wire. and on and on.
So, buy it or buy into it or, try them against there competitors and there claims and then sya what you got to say, If you have never A/B'd them, get off the bus

Wow WTF is your problem? :wah
 

Brian H

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
719
I have no problem with Throback or Dave Stephens or any of them

I don't think there is anything in this thread to indicate you have any problem whatsoever with Dave Stephens. Understatement of the year!
 

CharlieS

Active member
Joined
Dec 12, 2002
Messages
2,618
.......That stands for itself, The quality and in depth research and development that goes into Stephens pickups are amazing.........

.......Lets forget the snake oil and talk tone..........

.......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.

Lots of irony in this post. It sure seems that you don't have a problem with Dave Stephens, but do have a problem with Jon.
 
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