If only things were so easy that we could buy the guitar we felt comfortable with, plug into an amp, maybe add a pedal or two, and then be done. Tone Nirvana. It usually doesn’t happen this way however. The problem is that there are numerous choices for gear and, and even more options for putting together the whole rig, to create an effective system that is optimized. And just how we use the equipment (whether for live use or studio recording) also makes a difference in finding what works for guitarists.
We recently wrote about the challenges with the Internet and its opinions. You can find as many people who will love or hate any particular piece of gear. This can become frustrating when trying to dial in a tone you’re interested in capturing.
When Les Paul fanatics talk vintage style pickups, there’s one pickup type that gets talked about more often than any other: the legendary "PAF". Those three letters stand for "Patent Applied For" and are a reference to the earliest humbucking pickups used in Gibson guitars. Even after more than forty years of continued development and advancement in pickup technology, the PAF remains the premier tonal choice for expressive blues and rock players.
This has driven early original PAF pickup prices to extreme levels and as of this writing in 2003, prices of $1000+ each are not uncommon for those that require the original deal. For the rest of us thankfully, replacement pickups fashioned after the original PAFs are offered by numerous pickup manufacturers and are much more affordable.