Tom Doyle Completes Les Paul's Final Project: TRU-CLONES PAF Humbucker Pickups
By Mel Fabrikant Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 11:28 AM EDT
Les Paul, godfather of the electric guitar, was a ceaseless sonic experimenter and inventor who changed the way popular music is made and heard. In the last years of his life he continued to pursue a lifelong dream: the quest to make a better-sounding guitar pickup. Les Paul was not able to finish that project - but Tom Doyle, his personal guitar tech and confidant for over 45 years has completed what he and Les began. Doyle Coils TRU-CLONES PAF Humbucker Pickups are the culmination of years of hard work in the quest to deliver Les Paul's ideal guitar sound.
"For his entire life Les strove for a guitar sound that was as clear, crisp and even-sounding as possible," said Doyle. He has picked up the torch and finished Les Paul's last project as homage to his friend and mentor of almost five decades. "I'm thrilled with the result, as I know Les would be."
The time Doyle spent at the side of The Master has given Doyle the know-how that can not be found anywhere else. For over 45 years, Doyle maintained and repaired Les Paul's guitars, worked as his live sound man and even drove him from his New Jersey home to his legendary Monday night Manhattan gigs at Fat Tuesday's and The Iridium. No one knows what Les Paul wanted his guitars to sound like more than Tom Doyle.
He and Les Paul worked together for decades pursuing the ideal electric guitar sound - a labor of love embodied in the new TRU-CLONES PAF Humbucker Pickups, available in neck and bridge pickup models as a set. Each TRU-CLONES pickup is meticulously hand crafted by Tom Doyle from the finest materials including vintage-spec 42-gauge wire, butyrate bobbins, nickel-silver baseplates, long-cast magnets, nickel-silver pickup covers and many other high-end refinements.
Among guitar buffs, the tone of the "Patent Applied For" PAF humbucker pickup developed in the late 1950s is an iconic sound, and Les Paul and Doyle also considered it to be a quintessential sonic reference. Nevertheless, as is the case with almost anything Les touched, he wanted more. In addition, the originals are inconsistent - some sound brighter, some darker and so on.
"Without getting overly technical, it's a misconception that Les Paul only had an interest in custom low-impedance pickups rather than commercially-available high-impedance pickups," said Doyle, "but that is untrue. Les had an incredible passion for making things 'just right' and would tinker and experiment on things he wanted to fix, tirelessly, almost to the point of obsession," Doyle pointed out. "Towards the end of his life his constant passion was for getting the high-impedance humbucker pickup - so named because they 'buck the hum' and deliver a noise-free signal - to come alive and deliver that clarity he so desired."
"Tom and Les took pickup after pickup apart, experimented, put them back together again, installed pickups in countless guitars, rewound them, added and took away stuff, did endless comparisons and explored innumerable variables," explained Max Stavron, Tom Doyle's Business Relations Manager. "These Doyle Coils TRU-CLONES pickups are the embodiment of everything Les Paul and Tom Doyle worked towards and they deliver an extraordinary combination of clarity and warmth, sweetness and definition, all with a fidelity that captures every nuance of the player and their guitar."
Doyle Coils TRU-CLONES PAF Humbucker Pickups are now available from $500 to $535 U.S. retail per set in a variety of new and aged nickel, chrome and gold-plated finishes in either vintage unpotted or lightly wax potted versions. Each pickup comes in a wooden presentation box and with a certificate of authenticity signed by Tom Doyle.
ABOUT TOM DOYLE
Tom Doyle is a guitar builder and pickup maker based in Sussex, New Jersey (please visit www.tomdoyleguitars.com ), just an hour from Les Paul's former home, studio and workshop in Mahwah, NJ. Doyle first met Les Paul in the early 1960s when as a young man Doyle impressed Les by playing a custom-made guitar amplifier at a gig. Known to industry insiders as "Les Paul's Secret Weapon," Doyle was at Les Paul's side for more than 45 years until his death in 2009.
"Tom Doyle is nothing less than a walking, talking historical encyclopedia of all things Les Paul - guitars, electronics, sound, and musical history from the last 50-plus years," notes Stavron. "Tom has many of Les' experimental prototype guitars and lots of Les' notes, recording and live gear, parts and so on. He has the first Les Paul Custom "Black Beauty" ever made, given to Les in 1954. He also has one of the first two Les Paul 'Gold Top' prototype guitars made for Les by Gibson in 1952." (Les Paul gave Doyle the guitar as a very special gift back in the late 1970s, telling his friend, "hold on to this Tom; someday it'll be worth millions!")
Doyle worked behind the scenes to build, rebuild, modify and customize Les Paul's guitars and co-invent new innovations with the legend. For the last 27 years of their partnership, Doyle would pick Les Paul up from his home every Monday afternoon and drive him to Manhattan where he would serve as Les's soundman, tech, and engineer for the famous live shows he performed at Fat Tuesdays and The Iridium. Doyle is currently working on his memoir about his life with the legend, "In the Kitchen with Les Paul - My 45 Years with The Master."