- Design Process
Tone of a Virtuoso - Get Inspired.
The Virtuoso Guitar Player may be called upon to play many different styles, sometimes even during the same set. The expectation is that the Virtuoso will always deliver the goods in a seemingly effortless & extremely musical fashion. The Virtuoso PAF® Set was created with this type of Musician in mind.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could reach all the tones needed for a session or gig with one guitar? Now you can! From Blues, Rock, Country, Jazz, Fusion & Beyond, the Virtuoso Set delivers great PAF® tone.
Hearing the Difference
When comparing our pickup 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.
Mark Whitfield, the incredible Jazz Guitarist, was attending a show at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York. He was blown away by the guitar tone he was hearing that night. After the show he approached the Guitarist and asked him how he was getting that amazing tone. The Guitarist on stage that night was the great Leo Amuedo. Leo told Mark that he was playing the Tone Specific Virtuoso PAF’s. A few days later Mark ordered a set for himself and a set of our 60’s Blues Pickups for his Strat.
Pro Tested – On the Road & in the Studio
We’ve heard a lot of people say that great vintage tone is not possible with new pickups or new guitars, this set of amazing pickups has proved the nay-sayers wrong. Don’t take our word for it, just listen to what one of our Professional Beta-Testers has to say….
Leo Amuedo, a Virtuso in his own right, is a member of the Chris Botti Band and plays on occasion with Blood, Sweet & Tears. Leo has countless credits and is in high demand for studio work when not on tour.
Nobody has been playing the Virtuoso set longer than Leo. He was our original Beta-Tester and has provided invaluable feedback. Leo has owned many guitars and used all types of Humbuckers. Most of the humbuckers he’s played over the years did a few things well but struggled in other situations. He’s been searching for great vintage sound PAF style pickups that would be able cover just about any situation.
Leo has told us that the Virtuoso P.A.F. set is the most versatile set of pickups he’s played. They sound great in any guitar and with every amp he has tried. Few people know tone like Leo know’s tone, we are honored beyond words that Leo has installed the Virtuoso pickups in many of his guitars.
The original design of the Virtuoso pickups made for Leo were made without covers and in the traditional 6 screw + 6 slug format. Leo loved these pickups and still has a set installed in one of his favorite guitars but he wondered if there would be a way to make these awesome pickups even better for a couple of project guitars he was working on. He asked us to remove the slugs and add another set of screws. We did it for him and he loved the results.
This 12 screw set is now available to the general public. It’s called the “Leo Mod” so be sure to select that option if you want your Virtuoso PAF’s to have 12 screws, just like Leo.
Warm, Clear & Dynamic
If you’ve played more than a few vintage PAF® pickups then you know that no two sets sound exactly the same. Back in the day, the materials used to make pickups varied quite a bit and you could get very different results from two seemingly identical guitars from the same year and production line. What is consistent about the PAF® era pickups, is that they are typically warm and dynamic. We used these characteristics as a starting point for the Virtuoso PAF® Set.
With the help of a few top professional players spanning across numerous styles of music, we created the best vintage voiced PAF® pickups to cover a variety of tones. We accomplished this enormous task without tricky wiring or gimmicks. We stayed true to the PAF design and the tone of the most versatile PAF® pickups. If you have great pickups, then 2 pickups and a 3-way switch is all that is needed.
You can cover a variety of tone just by using your 3-way switch, adjusting the volume/tone pots and changing your pick attack. Unlike the most humbuckers that are stiff and lacking dynamic, these pickups are super responsive to whatever you throw at them. They also have been designed to sound great in just a about any scenario a Virtuoso might find themselves in.
Vintage Tone - Modern Innovation
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 Neck Pickup is warm while remaining very clear.
- The Bridge Pickup can really cut but never gets harsh.
- The tone is very dynamic, while have plenty of punch and articulate tones on tap.
- They work great with the volume and tone pots to clean up or drive your amp.
12-Screw Mod AKA “the Leo Mod”
More About Leonardo Amuedo
Leonardo Amuedo is known worldwide for his extremely tasteful and artistic guitar tone. His musicianship has been captured on several Grammy winning recordings. Leo's style ranges across Contemporary Jazz & Bebop, Fusion, Blues and far beyond. His tone and touch are the envy of 6 string slingers everywhere. Leo is a recording artist on the Sony label. He has also toured the world with many top acts. Since 2012 he has been a member of the Chris Botti Band, they cover tunes ranging from Louis Armstrong to Led Zeppelin on a nightly basis.
Leo loves the tone of vintage PAF's, but prefers having the cover removed to "open up" the tone. This works great for his style because he has warmth in hands to spare whenever he needs it. Removing the cover gives him access to a more cutting tone when he wants it. When you hear him play these very special pickups with your eyes closed, it sounds if he is playing several guitars at once. One moment, it's pure PAF bliss, the next moment it's if he's playing a vintage single coil guitar. These pickups in the right hands are so versatile and can cover just about any type of music. It's a special set of pickups made for the elite level musician.
Leo enjoys the tone of the Virtuoso stock set without any mods but wanted to take fine tuning his tone to another level. He requested that we make a pickup with 12 screws for fine tuning. When you are a Virtuoso of Leo’s caliber, you hear every little nuance. When word got out about this mod, people started to ask for the “Leo Mod”. So we just had to add is an option for everyone to experience.
Are you ready to get the most out of your guitar and approach the tone of a Virtuoso?Check out Leonardo Amuedo on itunes
How to Buy/Pricing
Our P.A.F. Humbuckers Pickups start at $500 - Due to overwhelming demand, the current wait is 2 months. To order click the "Add to Cart" at the top of the page.
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. We want these to be the last pickups you get.
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.
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. The feel of a pickup is much more relevant than this specs, pro's understand this & Joe Cocker's former guitarist explains this phenomenon in the video below.
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. Marty5150 explains this phenomenon in the 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!