Sheptone specializes in humbucker pickups modeled after the 1957-1961
long-magnet gibson P.A.F.
First let me say that there is no such thing as a reproduced PAF because they all sounded different.
There were many different sounds, because there were many different variables in the manufacturing
process. Some of those old pickups didn't really sound that great. What can be done is to duplicate the sound of the "average" good sounding P.A.F. guitar pickups by duplicating the assembly process and
materials, to consistently reproduce the tone of the best-sounding original P.A.F.'s
I have owned dozens of these original pickups and have even gone as far as taking one apart (without unwinding) in order to faithfully
duplicate the original. That was not an easy task at the time due to the value of an original, untouched P.A.F. but
it was necessary so that I can bring you the highest quality guitar pick ups possible.
Sheptone tribute pickups capture that vintage sound but are versatile enough to use for just about any style of music.
I have also had the opportunity to rewind/repair over 100 of these pickups, and have taken extensive data from all of them including magnet strength, coil size, shape, offset, DC resistance per foot of the old 42PE, turns per layer, and amount of scatter. The old Leesona winder machines did not wind perfectly, at least from what I have found when unwinding broken coils turn-by-turn. There are some important things in the original Gibson assembly process and materials that contribute to the tone of these old pickups. I have duplicated these little known, seemingly trivial items, and found that they really make a difference when trying to achieve that perfect tone.
I have gone to great lengths to duplicate these pickups right down to the maple spacers and the
rough-finished alnico magnets. I have duplicated winding patterns based on the documentation I have from the old PAF's, and degauss the new magnets to average 50's PAF levels so
that they work together to produce the most accurate PAF tone possible. All of the components I use are manufactured exclusively for Sheptone in the U.S.A. and have been tested against real PAF parts to ensure identical magnetic performance. Sheptone humbuckers use Butyrate (CAB) bobbins that were molded using original PAF bobbin dimensions which are much different that the "off the shelf" bobbins others use. Cream color was color-matched to a mint-condition 1959 double-cream PAF. Believe it or not, the black was color-matched as well. Apparently, there are different shades of black, go figure...
The original style#42 AWG plain purple-brown-colored enamel wire is used just as in the original P.A.F. I don't just use the wire that is available by the spool, I custom order my wire in 50-100 pound lots with DC resistance per foot and wire thickness matching the data I have taken from the old Gibson humbuckers. This allows the coil geometry to be vintage correct when matched with the Sheptone butyrate bobbins.
Some modern reproductions use cheaper poly-insulated wire which changes the sound significantly.
Enamel wire is more expensive and more difficult to work with but the sound difference is remarkable
Coils are carefully mis-matched as the best original PAF's (although they didn't do it on purpose) to add to that vintage character, sparkling but full-bodied sound, clarity, and harmonic performance.
I have taken the best qualities of the best-sounding P.A.F.'s and
perfected my own process of winding them to reproduce the sound of the
famous Les Paul pickups that came in the Gold-Top, burst, and the Gibson ES-335, guitars that are worth $100,000-$450,000+ today.
Even though new materials are used, I have matched the tone through extensive testing with "expert ears" and frequency analysis comparisons to the best sounding PAF's that I own.
I currently offer 4 standard sets:
My Standard matched set uses rough finished Alnico 5 (degaussed) magnets, using 57-58 spec 42 PE wire to an average of 8.0-8.2K wind on the bridge and average
7.6-7.7K wind on the neck. Resistance may vary from set to set since my winding process goes strictly by the number of turns of wire. Although the originals were never installed in certain positions based on their resistance, this has proven to me be the range of the best sounding pickups in those positions. Sets can also be built with your choice of alnico 2, 3, or 4 magnets. Standard set comes in zebra, reverse zebra, or double-black.
Pickups come standard with Gibson PAF 49.2mm pole spacing. Don't let those resistances fool you... anyone can wind the crap out of a pickup, but that won't make it
sound better. Sheptone tributes were carefully designed for the BEST sound through extensive research, winding/re-winding, and comparison testing...
My pickups are also available with your choice of
winds of up to 9K. When ordering custom pickups, specify resistance during checkout.
Please listen to Bjorn’s sound clip on my reviews page for a sample of what a 9K pickup sounds like.
These pickups produce the same beautiful sound as original PAF's at a fraction of the price.
You will spend at least $2000 on a real long-magnet PAF, and if you are lucky it will be one of the good-sounding ones. Why take that chance?
Listen for yourself ...this is a complete song recorded with my pickups in a Les Paul R9 Dogeared
Please take the time to listen to the whole thing as there is some GREAT solo work here showing the range and versatility of my pickups. I recommend HIGHLY that you burn this and other sound files to a CD and listen on a real stereo to get the best representation of the sound. I have found most computer sound systems to be quite inconsistent to say the least.
The following are sound clips from songs you will probably recognize, recorded with my Sheptone Tribute PAF neck and bridge pickup. All clips were recorded straight through an early Fender Blues Jr. amp with a Weber Blue-Dog 12" ceramic speaker.
Please also see my reviews page for sound files from satisfied customers...here is one clip of the Tributes in a customer guitar...
All clips above were recorded with my standard TRIBUTE set.
AB CUSTOM SET:
My first variation of the Tribute set is the AB CUSTOM set, wound for Musician's Services Guru Andy Brauer in Los Angeles. Below is a low gain clip of these pickups played by master guitarist Brian Kahanek. This is a "hotter" set using 1959 spec #42PE wire at 8.35-8.45K on the bridge and 8.1-8.2 on the neck, also using the alnico 5 (degaussed) magnets in both pickups.
Here is another video (Courtesy of Mojave Amps) of Steve Ouimette demonstrating some Billy Gibbons and Jimmy Page tones with a 2003 Les Paul R8 and my AB custom set.
Click here if the video doesn't appear in your browser.
BRIAN KAHANEK SIGNATURE SET:
The second variation on my Tribute set is the BK SIGNATURE Set, custom wound for Brian Kahanek of Guitar Hero II fame. Here is a high gain clip BK did for me with his Elmwood Modena 90 amp. The BK set has a slightly hotter bridge (~8.25K) than the Tribute set and uses the Tribute neck pickup. This set again uses the alnico 5 (degaussed) magnets, and 57-58 spec 42 PE wire.
Here is a new track from Brian Kahanek, "Dreamland," look for this on his new album One True Thing slated for release on April 15th!
This file is not downloadable, so listen to it on a good computer.
Solo Guitar: 2009 Gibson R9 Lemon Drop with Sheptone BK Signature PAF's
Rhythm Guitar: Melancon Custom Artist T - BK Set - Red Headed Stepchild bridge
CLICK BELOW TO PLAY
BLUE SKY SET:
This set was built to emulate the tone of Dickey Betts' famous Goldtop in a modern Les Paul. Alnico 4 Magnets and a different coil offset were selected to attain the "drier" tone of these specific pickups.
Sets are available fully aged with PAF decals for $300, "top-aged" only for $269, non-aged for $259.
Pictures of completed pickups here.
Once again, these pickups are built with bobbins molded from ACTUAL PAF bobbins, accurate nickel-silver baseplates stamped exclusively for Sheptone that were reverse-engineered from originals with real tool marks, and super-accurate PAF decals (fully aged only). Most every part of these pickups has been fabricated here at my shop, or exclusively for Sheptone to ensure the most accurate PAF replica available.
Clips courtesy of Kris and Rob Horvath, who inspired and assisted in the development of this set! The first three clips are of familar ABB songs, the last clip is a slow blues jam.
Clips were recorded with a '59 reissue Tom Murphy Les Paul through an Orange Tiny Terror head with matching 1x12 CAB with Vintage 30 speaker, close mic'd, guitar/cable/amp only no effects.
Once again, clips are best
burned to CD and played on a proper stereo.