Why Gibson PAF humbuckers remain the most revered and elusive of all pickups

Gibson PAF pickups
In pride of place on an original ’Burst , such as the one above, the PAF is a tonal touchstone that powered landmark recordings by Clapton, Free and other celebrated acts. (Image credit: Future / Adam Gasson)

Back in the 1950s, single-coil pickup noise was a big issue for players and all the major guitar manufacturers were aware of it. 

Gibson employee Seth Lover had adapted a well-proven humbucking circuit for the power supply choke in his GA-90 amp design and realised the same idea could be used to make a humbucking pickup. Ted McCarty gave Seth the go-ahead in 1954, and by the following year he had a working prototype with a plain cover and flat slugs. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Huw Price

Huw started out in recording studios, working as a sound engineer and producer for David Bowie, Primal Scream, Ian Dury, Fad Gadget, My Bloody Valentine, Cardinal Black and many others. His book, Recording Guitar & Bass, was published in 2002 and a freelance career in journalism soon followed. He has written reviews, interviews, workshop and technical articles for Guitarist, Guitar Magazine, Guitar Player, Acoustic Magazine, Guitar Buyer and Music Tech. He has also contributed to several books, including The Tube Amp Book by Aspen Pittman. Huw builds and maintains guitars and amplifiers for clients, and specializes in vintage restoration. He provides consultancy services for equipment manufacturers and can, occasionally, be lured back into the studio.