British pickup maker Monty’s Guitars was founded a few years back by Matt Gleeson, who cut his teeth as a repair tech working at Chandler’s Guitars in Kew in southwest London for several years. Working in the repair shop alongside tone nuts such as Brinsley Schwarz (now back at his gig playing guitar with Graham Parker and the Rumour) and Charlie Chandler himself, Gleeson developed a particular interest in the sonic enigma behind many of the great vintage pickups, and set out to crack the codes—a venture that seems to be having plenty of success at Monty’s. Having played, studied, and measured every original PAF and all the best repros that came through the door during years of servicing many of London’s A-list musicians, Gleeson compiled a knowledge base of the specs and characteristics behind the pickups he liked most. “All the ones I liked had an almost single-coil, ‘fat Tele’ thing going on,” he tells us, “and all of them had similar resistance readings and mismatched readings between the coils.” Now, after acquiring the best original- composition materials he could source and putting in a full two years of testing—with close comparisons to an original ’burst owned by Phil Harris (of London’s Harris Hire gear rental) and those of other British pros—Gleeson has set loose his PAF Set, shipping them in an elegant wax-stamp-sealed box that, I must say, really heightens the buying experience!
Tested in a 2013 Gibson Custom Shop 1959 Les Paul Reissue through a Komet Aero, 3rd Power British Dream MkII, and tweed Fender Deluxe amps, I quickly found these pickups to be superbly accurate in tone and feel to some of the lower-wind original PAFs I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. The most powerful impression was made by the way they nailed that elusive mix of lively, cutting attack and toothsome compression—that “touch factor” that makes a great PAF so playable. Gleeson���s “fat Tele” thing was there in spades in the bridge, complemented by a rich, deep, vocal tone in the neck position that never lost its detailed articulation. Both pickups cleaned up beautifully when the guitar’s volume was turned down, which is another essential characteristic of original PAF pickups. All considered, Monty’s PAF set nails all the key construction and sonic elements of a late-’50s Gibson humbucker, earning an Editors’ Pick Award in the process.
MONTY’S GUITARS PAF SET
PRICE $379 per pair, including covers
MAGNET Alnico V neck, Alnico II bridge
DC RESISTANCE 7.12kΩ neck, 7.74kΩ bridge (can be ordered 5-10% hotter)
COVERS Nickel (chrome, gold and agednickel also available)
LEAD WIRE Traditional braided shield/ single-conductor supplied; four-conductor also available.
BOBBINS Black, white, or zebra available.
KUDOS Extremely articulate with excellent depth, characteristic PAFlike bite, and playing feel.