The UK now has some of the very best pickup makers in the world, and Monty's Guitars in Cheltenham are definitely high on that rollcall. So when we heard they'd added a new UnderSpun PAF to the range, alongside the acclaimed standard and recent Peter Green Bethnal Green options, we obviously wanted to find out more.
We've talked to Monty's founder Matt Gleeson about the unmistakable qualities of Gibson PAF before, and his recreation of it alongside his team of four specialists has found customers around the world. But now players have a new take on it to try.
"We wanted to highlight a new flavour of PAF, something a little different, but equally awesome," Matt tells us. "We work with a lot of pro players to help tailor their sound and have had the opportunity to have this set road tested with great results and felt it was now time to offer them to the guitar community at large."
The name UnderSpun should give a you a clue as to what these humbuckers are about; they read lower in DC than the average PAF (approx 6.8k in the bridge and 6.1k in the neck) and that creates some attractive characteristics. And as with Monty's standard PAF pickups, it's about capturing the best examples of original pickups that could be quite variable in performance.
"We have been lucky enough to see hundreds of original PAFs over the years and generally they are all different, some awesome, some simply meh," notes Matt. "One day a producer friend dropped an early 1960 Les Paul Custom into the workshop for a setup and when I plugged it in, it immediately sounded absolutely killer, it still had the classic PAF vibe, but was just a little different, brighter and less aggressive in the mid-range, very 3D.
"As I do with all the vintage pickups I see, I gave them a once over and they read low, lower than the ballpark DC value you would normally expect to see, but they just had so much character, I was blown away."
Matt being Matt, he eventually set about recreating what he heard for other players to enjoy, after some extensive R&D.
"I really fell in love with the sound and reversed engineered a set for myself, which I used in various guitars for a long time," he explains. "Over the years, after seeing more of the good underwound examples, I made a couple of tweaks, put them in the hands of some amazing players and settled on the recipe."
The UnderSpun PAF is now available in sets, as well as individual neck and bridge pickups in Monty's usual extensive options; braided two conductor wiring or four conductor for coil-splits etc, plus black, cream, zebra and numerous metal cover options – included aged gold and nickel.
"The UnderSpuns are a great choice for a player who likes sweet and clear humbucker tones," Matt tells us about a pickup that leans more towards single-coil clarity than before. "They are amazing for jazzy stuff and have really great string definition, so piano like chords and arpeggios really chime, perfect with clean to lightly driven tones," he adds. "They are also really good with more hairy sounds, their unique mid range character really lets them cut through a mix."
As huge fans of the versatility afforded by quality lower output humbuckers, these sound like an exciting development to us. You can find out more and order direct over at Monty's Guitars (opens in new tab).