- Design Process
Vintage Tone - Modern Innovation.
The early P.A.F. pickups from the 50's are famous for great tone and infamous for inconsistent materials. A common thought is that they just used what was available in the late 1950's to make humbuckers. By 1961 they started to produce these pickups in a more uniform fashion. There were still plenty of variance from set to set but the use of Grade V Alnico bar magnets become the norm. When they got it right, these pickups were super punchy and direct with immediate attack. There was noting else quite like these especially if you want to cut the mix and have your tone heard in the back row.
We used a 1961 Humbucker as a tonal starting point. Using our proprietary techniques we've added enhanced dynamics & increased sustain. This will also enable you to hear the previously hidden harmonics from your guitar. We do this all while keeping the pickup within the vintage range in terms of measurable output. You'll notice these tonal differences immediately.
These are the Best Humbucker Pickups for Rock, Ska, Metal, Funk or Punchy Tone but they also work great for any Guitar that lacks clarity or needs a more immediate attack. Many Rock Musicians own this set but lots of other guitarists from the Jazz, Blues & Nashville scene improved a lackluster guitar with these.
There is reason you almost never see these pop up for sale on the used market. Most self-respecting guitarist would rather cut off their hands than sell their Tone Specific's. If you are like most of our customers, you'll order multiple sets upon hearing these.
Our painstaking design and testing process has yielded pickups that that sound great with tube amps, pedals, solid state amps, digital devices and even software. The Pro's tell us they are very tube-like in their response.
Our painstaking design and testing process has yielded pickups that that sound great with tube amps, pedals, solid state amps, digital devices and even software.
- These PAFs sound a little more “in your face” without losing the vintage sweetness.
- Neck is clear & punchy but still has plenty of warmth but with zero mud.
- Bridge Pickup is mean with plenty of cut. We make these pickups with plenty of Presence and Gonads without being even a little harsh. It’s a delicate balance that most pickup makers fail at miserably. It’s full and clear. It sounds great to drive your amp or if you want to step on a drive pedal. It is a very dynamic pickup.
- These pickups have a lot of punch they also work great with the volume and tone pots to alter your desired tone.
“Tone Specific makes the best pickups. The sustain and warmth is incredible. They are very dynamic, very tubey. They destroy all other pickups. They go in all of my guitars.”
-Mike Severson, Guitarist for Robert Glasper, Phillip Bailey
“These pickups respond just like vintage pickups. What makes them better than vintage pickups is that each set is consistent. You don’t don’t get that with vintage pickups…some are great & some are duds. The Tone Specific’s always sound amazing. There's nothing else like these on the market.”
-Dan Courtenay, Vintage Guitar Expert/Buyer in NYC
“The sustain is really amazing. They’re really easy on the hands...they just feel right. They are so dynamic...I just love them.”
-Mike Machado, Blues Guitarist
"Just like vintage pickups only better. They have this dynamic thing going on kind of like a great tube amp. I imagine this is what new vintage pickups sounded like back in the 50's & 60's"
-Dani Robinson, Blues Guitarist (Performs Jimi parts w/Billy Cox Experience)
“You are a Tone Wizard. My guitar has never sounded or felt so good. They respond to my playing in such an incredible way. It's just like playing an incredible tube amp. These pickups are so much better than everything else out there.”
-Breck Phillip, Guitarist
“They bloom just like a vintage Tube Amplifier. There are just really vintage sounding pickups. Super warm, dynamic & they sustain forever. They just agree with all of my amps. There's nothing else like them. I put them in all of my guitars, even my vintage guitars.
-Ford Thurston, Guitarist for Randy Houser based in Nashville, TN
“Very present, warm & fat. Big improvement over thin sounding stock pickups. They just sound huge”
-Alexander Flock, Session Guitarist
“They sound great & complement each other very well. They play just like butter & sustain forever. Other pickups seem very stiff compared to these.”
-Rob Phillips, Guitarist
“These are the quintessential sounding P.A.F. style pickups. They give you all of that warmth, bloom & sustain you’d expect in a vintage pickups without being overly wound.”
-Jay Leonard, Session & Touring Pro
“You are a Genius. These things make a solid state amp sound like it has Tubes in it. They have this 3-D thing going on. I’ve tried every important pickup upgrade since 1983 & the pickups are the best by far. I want these in all of my guitars.”
-Mark Whitfield, Legendary Jazz Guitarist
“Hey Maestro, the pickups sound amazing. There’s more depth to these than the stock pickups for sure. There’s a boat load of sustain too.”
-Will Brahm, Virtuoso Jazz Guitarist
“It's like plugging into a nice Studio Tube Compressor...you hear every nuance of every note. Tone Specific pickups are more dynamic sounding, I'd say they're organic sounding. With other pickups you don’t get that. They sound very fat but very clear. When you hit it harder you hear the dynamics you want to hear. I’ve been trying for years and with other pickups you don’t get that. They sound like vintage pickups”
-Leo Amuedo, Virtuoso Jazz Guitarist
“They sound amazing. A big improvement over the other pickups I had. I use them in my #1 guitar for gigs and sessions.”
-Aaron Lebos, Jazz Recording Artist
“Amazing pickups. They really capture the harmonics of each instrument. I use them in as many of my builds as possible.”
-Stephen Marchione, Legendary Luthier
“I’ve had over 8 different sets of pickups in my guitar…I can honestly say without a doubt…these are the best sounding pickups I have ever heard... Well done gentleman…thanks for ending my tone search.”
-Benjamin Fargen, Legendary Amp Builder
“I noticed the difference right away. I’ve tried every pickup you can imagine and the these pickups exceed everything else. Hands down the best pickups on the market. Just pure tone…the only pickups I’ll ever use”
-Lefty Ferguson, Nashville Guitarist
“It sounds like the have Tubes in them...almost three dimensional. They just sound really sweet. I don’t how they do it but they even feel sweet. Just like vintage pickups but with more sustain and less noise. They are just amazing”
-Mike Gallaher, Legendary Guitarist - Joe Cocker, Leon Russell
“You guys are Geniuses. I can’t put my guitar down...the response is very Tube like..very 3-D sounding. I just played a gig with the Tone Specific’s and I got so many compliments. It’s really amazing what you guys are doing over there. You've made all other pickups obsolete."
-Cali Freeman, Session Guitarist in NYC
“These pickups sound absolutely fantastic. Perfectly matched and more versatile than my vintage pickups”.
-Steve Ouimette, Session Guitarist - Alice Cooper, Guitar Hero, Public Enemy
“Tone Specific always delivers a masterpiece. These responsive pickups catch the essence of my guitars & enables the musician to create the sounds he wants”
-Vincent Cleroux, Luthier
“Super warm & articulate with great sustain. The best pickups you can get”
-Pete Mroz, Nashville Musician
“Your pickups sound superb…they sound great in every guitar I’ve put them in…lots of sustain…clear”
-Dean Gordon, Guitar Builder
“Tone Specific makes the best pickups. The sustain and warmth is incredible. They are very dynamic, very tubey. They destroy all other pickups. They go in all of my guitars. It's kind of like plugging into and old Neve console”
-Mike Severson, Guitarist for Robert Glasper, Phillip Bailey
"Your pickups are killer. I've played a lot of guitar in my life but these pickups are the best I've played. I know you've worked hard at your craft but you should be very proud. You deserve all the kudos you get. Thank you very much".
-Lightnin Willie, Blues Recording Artist
How to Buy/Pricing
P.A.F. Humbucker Pickups start at $500 per set - Made by hand right here in the USA - Due to overwhelming demand, the current wait is about 2 months. To order click the "Add to Cart" at the top of the page.
The demand from Professional Guitarists & Luthiers is about enough to sustain us but we really enjoy sharing our creations with the general public. If you are willing to be patient, then we will be happy to make a set for you.
Our building process takes a little longer than most pickup winders and we have rigorous testing that is performed on all pickups before they ship. This includes sound test. The goal is to make pickups that will not only inspire you when you get them but also 20 or 30 years down the road. Our goal is for these to be the last pickups you have to install in your guitar. We work hard & in a mindful way to make the perfect pickup, this is why you rarely see our pickups for sale on the used market.
Players with good ears seem to hear the difference right away. In fact, just about every pro we've dealt with has ordered multiple sets altering hearing how these pickups transform the feel & the tone of their instrument. We are sure you will appreciate the attention to detail when you hear your new pickups.
Sound is something you hear. Tone is something you feel. Great Tone has the ability to move you & the audience too. When you are able to grasp this concept, then you've arrived & we can't wait to make you an amazing set of pickups.
Want to Skip the Wait? Contact a Dealer...
Red Circle Guitars...602-857-9277
Our pickups are Handwound one at a time. Using several unique processes and the finest modern materials available, we are able to create Amazing Vintage Voiced Pickups. We slightly tweak the voicing of these Vintage Style Pickups to nail a desired tone.
Sound is something you hear. Tone is something you feel. If you've realized this, then you've arrived & we can't wait to make the last set of pickups for your best guitar. Be sure to scroll to the bottom to see the shop tour.
All of our pickups are equipped with Alnico Magnets. We use different types of magnets for the various styles. For some designs we use more than one type of magnet. We have a special process that makes these modern Alnico's sound very vintage. During beta testing, many of the top Pro's we work with could not tell the difference between their vintage pickups and our freshly-wound gems.
All of our pickups are made with coated magnet Wire that are of Vintage Specs. The style of pickup and desired tone will dictate which type of wire is used.
All of our pickups are potted to avoid unwanted feedback or the hated squeal. We use several different vintage based potting methods. The style of pickup and desired tone will dictate which type of potting materials and potting methods we use. Some pickups that really need to breathe are very lightly potted, while other in other pickups we employ different methods to help achieve certain tone and functionalities.
Bobbins, Covers & Other Materials
We use vintage style bobbins and metal cover materials as well as other materials. Vintage pickups sound great for a reason and we try to recreate our pickups to be as historically correct as possible. We have made various improvements in an effort to eliminate the dreaded pickup failure assoiciated with the pickups from the vintage era.
We don't disclose Ohm reading for several reasons. The most important reason is that an Ohm reading will tell you very little about the tone of the pickup. The tone of a pickup is partially determined by the collective materials along with the various techniques employed by the builder of the pickup.
The other reason we don't disclose Ohm reading is due to the fact that over time, and even from batch to batch, the composition of materials can slightly change. We buy large quantities of everything but when we open a new batch of anything, we have to go back to the drawing board. The tweaks are typically very minor. The important thing is the tone stays the same as the result of our constant attention to tone. Any pickup winder that has rigid specs on a pickup design is very likely to make pickups that sound different from one another even though they have the same name and basic measured specs. We go the extra mile to ensure the tone of our pickups is consistent from batch to batch and year to year.
Bottom line, sound is something you hear. Tone is something you feel and the reading on a multimeter has no place in a legitimate conversation about tone.
Huge Tone. Huge Sweet Spot.
Our pickups are designed to sound great in the guitar in which they are installed. Whether you like to put them closer to the strings our further away, your tone will remain dynamic, warm and touch-sensitive. These pickups let the sounds in your head shine through the speaker with sweet tone and singing sustain.
They make a good guitar sound great and a great guitar sound amazing. More than a few top pro's have reported a huge improvement by dropping these into their vintage guitars.
A set of pickups that capture every nuance of your playing style is rare find these days. Most pickups are made by big corporations in factories. Our pickups are made by guitar players for other guitar players. We care about your tone.
These pickups are designed to musically respond to you. They are directly between you and your amp and interact in a very musical way. You can produce an endless amount of tone by changing your pick-attack and picking location. Adjusting your volume and tone knobs opens up all kinds of doors in exploring the tonal pallet of these pickups. There is no need for tricky wiring gimmicks when you have a set of pickups of this caliber.
Our Pickups are made by hand, one at a time, right here in the U.S.A. Our goal is to make the most Dynamic, Warm & Sweetest sounding pickups in the world.
Now every Guitarist can experience the joy of having vintage voiced pickups tailored for their preferred tonal style without breaking the bank. Unlike the rest of the herd of boutique winders that just wrap wire around a bobbin to achieve a certain Ohm reading, we've taken painstaking path to tonal perfection. We welcome you to join us on this path. If you are thinking about Great Jazzy Tones………….Think Tone Specific!
The Difference - Amazing Tone
When comparing our pickups to other pickups, the great players hear the difference right away. It seems the better the player, the more excited they get after hearing our pickups in their guitar.
This is why you rarely see a used set of our pickups for sale on an auction site. This is the same reason so many pro's equipped all of their guitars with our pickups. Many of these guys even ditch their vintage pickups in favor of our pickups.
Sound is something you hear. Tone is something you feel. This knowledge drives everything we do. If you realize this, then you've arrived & you'll be blown away by our work. Be sure to check out the Shop Tour Video below.
Demand for our pickups from Pro Players & Luthiers/Builders is enough to sustain us as a company. In an effort to reduce stress we've considered only taking orders from Pro's & Luthiers but a big part of the joy of comes from sharing great tone with the next wave of Pro's & other appreciative tone seekers from all around the globe.
A lot of companies offer more models than you can imagine. We think it is counter-productive to have more than handful of different flavors for each type of pickup. At some point some of the models are going to start sounding the same. Our pickup designs all sound different and are voiced in a way to help solve real-world musical problems.
If you are trying to sell a million sets of pickups a year, then it probably makes sense to have dozens models. Our focus is on making musical pickups that will agree with your musical vision for many years to come.
Some players have an idea of what their guitar needs to sound it’s best, others need a little help in deciding. To help you make an informed decision we’ve posted video’s that show the different models pickups being played by the same guitarist using one amp. This will help you hear the differences between the models.
Tonal Perfection is the Goal.
If you are like most Guitarists, then your Pickup Drawer is probably full. This is due to many failed attempts over the years to nail your desired tone. At some point in time, you probably came to the uneasy realization that “Close enough would have to be good enough”. Not having the perfect pickups for your style can be extremely frustrating. This frustration can limit your ability to create the tones and the music you’ve been hearing in your head.
Here at Tone Specific Guitar Pickups we feel your pain. We too have spent much of our lives chasing tones. In our quest for perfect tone our Pickup Drawers filled up too. Many of our friends had the same issue too. Fed up with over-hyped guitar pickups, we decided to take matters into our own hands.
The Art of Tone Perfected
We took the time to learn and master the art of hand-winding fantastic guitar pickups. This included working with top Professional Guitarists along with legendary luthiers, pickup winders and amp builders. To get it just right we had to really understand each part of the chain of tone and how each part interacted with the other parts. Taking this extra step enabled us to create pickups that sound great with vintage tube amps, modern tube amps, pedals, solid state amps, digital devices and even software.
During the learning process, we dumped our pickup drawers and started to reverse-engineering everything. There were some original vintage electric guitar pickups from the 50’s and 60’s as well as dozens of sets from the most prolific boutique winders. We learned the secrets of the stellar vintage guitar pickups and how to replicate them down to every tonal detail and nuance.
Tone over Hype.
During our research, the boutique pickups for the most part fell way short of the hype. Fearful of repeating the same mistakes of other winders, we took the time to find out why some of those pickups were so lifeless. There are few boutique winders doing some very special work, but what we've found is most of the big names are just wrapping wire around magnets as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Better Than Vintage?
That's what our customers are saying. It humbling but that was always the goal. Being just average was never a consideration. Our challenge was to build a line of incredible sounding Hand wound Electric Guitar Pickups made right here in the USA. These Hand Wound Guitar Pickups would at least need to have tone on par with the best guitar pickups ever made from the vintage era with enhanced dynamic and modern reliability. Now that’s a noble idea! An idea that sounds great on paper, but how do you get there? The answers were found in our study of the original vintage pickups from the 50’s & 60’s. Contrary to popular belief, not all of the Vintage Guitar Pickups were great, but there were a few very special examples. We dissected these special pickups and unlocked their secrets. We put this knowledge to use in every set we make.
After we identified what made certain guitar pickups great, we had to figure out how to replicate this greatness. It was a very difficult process that took years to master. Sometimes it seemed like a road without an end. Our conviction never softened and we continued to push forward. After we figured out how to make guitar pickups tonally equal to the best pickups vintage pickups, our work still wasn’t finished…
Now the guitar pickups had to be dialed to nail Specific Tones. Some of the tonal answers were easy because of the special designs we uncovered in our study of vintage pickups. Most tonal solutions were quite elusive and required a serious amount of trial and error. In the end, with the help of our friends and Beta testers, we got there!
Now every Guitarist can experience the joy of having vintage voiced pickups tailored for their preferred tonal style without paying crazy prices for inconsistent vintage pickups. Unlike the rest of the herd of boutique winders that just wrap wire around a bobbin to achieve a certain Ohm reading, we've taken painstaking path to tonal perfection. We welcome you to join us on this path. If you are thinking about tone………….Think Tone Specific!