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Thread: A3 PAF

  1. #1
    Ultimate Tone Slacker
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    Default A3 PAF

    Arguably the most exclusive and highest rated Gibson PAF pickup is their relatively new custombucker. It has A3 mags. Gibson's new Randy Rhoads signature guitar also has A3 loaded PAFs.

    I heard the hype of the A4 PAFs here and their tonal character but what about the A3 tonal characters?

  2. #2
    Mojo's Minions ItsaBass's Avatar
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    It's the weakest of the commonly used guitar magnets. Its main effect is to lower the output of the pickup. You get all the effects of a lower output pickup: Less saturation of the amp, resulting in more clarity. Less responsive to the strings.

    If coming from A5, it's a big drop in output. Coming from A2, it's minor. I think of A3 as "Diet A2" and A4 as "Diet A5." If you have an A2 powered set, and one of the pickups is a little too hot to match the other, put A3 in that pickup. If you have an A5 powered set with a similar issue, put A4 in the one that's a little too strong.

    I have attempted to use it to tame firebreathing pickups like the Gibson 500T. No dice. It cuts output, which helps a little. But there's no way it can get rid of the congested and treble-weak e.q. of heavily wound coils.

    My takeaway from this and other such swaps? Magnets mainly affect output, not e.q. The different e.q. largely comes from how the change in output interacts with your amp and your technique. People love to talk about the "e.q. of magnets," but based on what I've tried, I don't exactly buy it. I mainly hear differences in output with mag swaps, not fundamental changes in the e.q. of the pickups.
    Last edited by ItsaBass; 05-25-2020 at 12:10 AM.
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    OH THE DOUBLE THICK GLAZE! Clint 55's Avatar
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    I think it sounds great for a PAF sound. In the bridge it doesn't do anything that crazy. It's just a little lower output and thinner than A2. Sounds pretty natural. In the neck it's still fat and rich like A2 but a little more bite.
    Last edited by Clint 55; 05-25-2020 at 12:37 AM.
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    Mojo's Minions beaubrummels's Avatar
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    The Gibson A3 Custombucker in mine sounds great, bright and chimey when all the controls are dimed. It’s seems to get dark a bit when the controls are rolled off. My Duncan Skinnerburst set by way of comparison stays the same when rolling the controls off. IME A3 PAF types sound like a slightly weaker darker Seth.

    I can’t for the life of me picture why they would put them in a Randy Rhoads guitar.
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  5. #5
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    I've swapped mags between the major alnico types (5,4,3,2) a LOT......and not found any obvious changes in output.
    Only ever changes in the eq balance.

    My A5 and A3 strat pickups end up at the same height to sound good.

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    Bacteriaolgoist GuitarDoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    Well, we've got two diametrically opposed opinions regarding magnet output vs tone.

    Here's my opinion: I see definite changes in tone from the different magnets, but I ALSO see output changes.

    So now we have three different opinions. But really, it doesn't matter because you use the different magnets whichever way they work best for YOU and give you the results YOU are looking for. So, you're/we're ALL correct.
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    I honestly have never tried one in a PAF wind. I'd probably like it, as I like the weaker power idea.
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    mild old man perv Aceman's Avatar
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    I see tone changes in a significant way, output maybe a little.

    I submit the Custom line as a great example. Clearly
    - Ceramic vs A2 changes the tone immensely
    - A5 vs A2 changes the EQ a lot
    - A2/A5 still hot, but not ceramic hot.

    And I'll stick with the A4 / Roughcast UOA5 neck for the win...that's just me. I think. Whatever I dod to my old Epi Classic LP

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    mild old man perv Aceman's Avatar
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    You know. I think it WAS an A3 in my old Epi. Definitely didn't mess with volume much, if at all, but loved the sound.

    So many pickups, so many magnets, all these years...

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    Mojo's Minions beaubrummels's Avatar
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexR View Post
    I've swapped mags between the major alnico types (5,4,3,2) a LOT......and not found any obvious changes in output.
    Only ever changes in the eq balance.

    My A5 and A3 strat pickups end up at the same height to sound good.
    It’s very slight for me. Like rolling the volume on the guitar half or 3/4 of a number. But it’s just enough to notice if you live on the edge of breakup. Grit can become cleaner with little grit sparkles.
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  11. #11
    mild old man perv Aceman's Avatar
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    Yeah - Epi was an A3 and a UOA5

    Sounded fantastic.

  12. #12
    Mojo's Minions Lewguitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    I like a roughcast A3 a lot in a neck humbucker! So far it's my favorite sound for cleanish rhythm playing and for soloing too. Clearer, more transparent and less muddy sound.

    But A3 is too weak in a bridge humbucker for my tastes. I like a roughcast A2 best.

    I have a set of 59's in a PRS SE Singlecut with A3 neck and A2 bridge.

    I have a set of Antiquity with A3 neck and A2 bridge in a '92 PRS Custom 22.

    Those are my two best sounding humbucker guitars.

    I'm a blues player but I do like to have fun with overdrive sometimes for more of a Gary Moore/Clapton Bluesbreakers tone.

    Anyway, bottom line is I like paf style humbuckers with roughcast A3 neck and roughcast A2 bridge better than any other humbuckers I own.
    Last edited by Lewguitar; 05-26-2020 at 06:06 AM.
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  13. #13
    LoveMachineologist jeremy's Avatar
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    i like a3 for a warm clear tone with a little less low mid push than a2. i use a smooth a3 in the neck antiquity bucker of my lp and i really like it

  14. #14
    Mojo's Minions hamerfan's Avatar
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy View Post
    i like a3 for a warm clear tone with a little less low mid push than a2. i use a smooth a3 in the neck antiquity bucker of my lp and i really like it
    I didn't hear too much difference between the stock degaussed A2 and a A3 in the Ant neck.
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    LoveMachineologist jeremy's Avatar
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    as i said in that post, i noticed a little less low mids so the notes are a little more clear. subtle but enough of a difference i kept the a3. still have the stock covered ant bridge in there and they match well. i really wanna pull the cover and swap a full strength a2 in there but it sounds really good as it is, just want a touch more muscle at times

  16. #16
    Mojo's Minions Lewguitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: A3 PAF

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy View Post
    as i said in that post, i noticed a little less low mids so the notes are a little more clear. subtle but enough of a difference i kept the a3. still have the stock covered ant bridge in there and they match well. i really wanna pull the cover and swap a full strength a2 in there but it sounds really good as it is, just want a touch more muscle at times
    My guess is that it would sound more like a Seth Lover.

    I really like stock Antiquitys just as they are with the A2 magnet.

    But I also like putting an A3 roughcast magnet in the neck Antiquity for exactly the reasons you said.

    I don't have any trouble getting a great soloing tone and I like my clean rhythm tones much better.
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