“Blue Sky”-vintage humbucker

Single NZ$199 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas it’s GST free; NZ$173.04

Pair NZ$379 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas they’re GST free; NZ$329.57

Cover NZ$20 ($17.39) extra each pickup

Alnico II – Bridge 8.02 KOhms, Neck 7.41 KOhms

Every pickup manufacturer makes a “Vintage” humbucker based on the Gibson PAF, of course they do – old Gibsons sound so good.

So how come they all sound so different? Well, the simple answer is that PAF’s were all different. I’ve been a full time luthier since 1995, whenever I come across an old humbucker I test the ohms and the gause and have a good listen. They’re all different. My conclusion is that pickup manufacturers have taken the PAF they like and based their own version on that. Old PAF’s vary so much so modern ones do as well.

I like my own version to be clear sounding, have obvious string separation and definition and to keep clarity no matter how much gain. The mids must be strong and woody, this is not a “scooped” pickup. The clean sound needs to be chimey and clear with no mush; through a valve amp I want clarity. When I tickle it I want clean and vocal sounding when it clips. The bridge pickup needs to be well behaved with high gain and clear with enough cut through so the drummer knows you’re there. The neck smooth, clear and articulate. Warm but with none of the boom you get with a more powerful pickup.

I don’t want much do I.

My “Vintage” Humbucker has an Alnico II magnet and I’ve used plain enamel insulated magnet wire with asymmetric coils to open up the mids. The very first pickup I ever made back in 1995 was a PAF style and I’ve been tweaking the recipe ever since. Like all my pickups I’ve used a number of test pilot players in its development as well as gigging it myself. It wasn’t until around 2015 that I settled on this particular design. I did a gig with a set in a PRS SE series only last weekend – sounded great to me.

The open clarity of this pickup reminded me of the quote – “there is only one perfect view, that of the sky over our heads” accredited to Dante – so I called this pickup set the “Blue Sky”. The name seems to suit it.

Here are some sound samples recorded clean through a Fender Princeton Reverb-Amp. The overdrive sounds are using an Electroharmonix Soul Food. The guitar is a ’98 Les Paul Std with D’Addario 10-52’s. All of them with the same guitar, same amp, same settings, no reverb or eq added later.

Neck Pickup Clean
Bridge Pickup Clean
Middle Position Clean
Neck Pickup with Overdrive
Bridge Pickup with Overdrive
Middle Position with Overdrive

Here’s a Blue Sky bridge along side a Bellbird neck pickup.

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