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Throbak vs Stephens

Calgary Flametop

New member
May 11, 2010
I still like my old Throbaks, but I am not going to put any time into trying to figure out how any pickups are made any more. It is going to be simple sound tests for me. That is all the person with the original question wanted to know anyways.

So, I thought I would list some other pickups that are tops on my list for getting that old woody PAF tone. It is still very important to have good pots, PIO caps and an aluminum tailpiece.

1) Schaller PAF copies from the 80's. Schaller made a lot of different pickups back then, but their PAF style pickups are one of the best copies of the time. What would you expect, Made In Germany.

2) Dry Z pickups used by Greco in the 80's. These pickups are another great PAF copy. Not as cheap to buy though as the Schallers.

3) Dimarzio PAF copies from the 70's. Dimarzio Super Distortions were very popular in the 70's and Gibson was also going that route with their Super Distortion and Dirty Finger pickups, but Dimarzio also made PAF copies then and they are excellent copies.

I think one thing to point out here is that on top of being made by quality companies these pickups are all older. Alnico pickups will generally hold their charge for a very long time unless they have been degaussed by a field coil, magnet, etc. in a different orientation. Even if they have been kept away from those environments they will still lose a little bit of their magnetism over time and I think the field of the magnet somewhat adapts, as well as transfers, to it surroundings (wire, poles, etc.). I put a new magnet into one of my early non T-Top Pat # Gibson pickups (same as PAF) as an experiment and it lost a fair amount of that smooth vintage PAF sound. It actually sounded a lot like a new Gibson Pickup.

Anyways, try giving some of these pickups I mentioned a try. As long as you have the other parts I mentioned in place you might be surprised at how vintage PAF like they sound. I actually have a pair of the 80's Schaller PAF's in my favorite Les Paul.


New member
Feb 1, 2003
Can I make a suggestion?
Find a really good sounding guitar. The pickups can only enhance what is already there not replace short comings. Listen to all of the clips,try all of your friend's guitars and decide which sound you like the best.

Then roll the dice...

I am really glad there are guys like Throbak, Stephens, Rolph etc out there. At the end of the day all of this stuff (leesona, hand winding, magic elf screws etc..) are just means to an end. Isn't the point "Does this help me/my guitar deliver the best tone/playing we are capable of ?"