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Discussion in 'Pickups' started by skydog, Jan 10, 2009.
can someone tell me when and in which models the original tim shaw humbucker guitars were built?
They were early to mid eighties. My Custom Shop Spotlight Special has them, it's an 83'. They also came in most of the Custom's from the early to mid eighties. I don't have the exact years but I am sure there are others on the forum that know the exact dates.
I don't have a list of the guitars, but the history of the "Tim Shaw" pickups was covered in an excellent article by Walter Carter, entitled "Keeping The Flame Alive" some years ago in Vintage Guitar Magazine. I have the article as a .pdf file, but it is too large for the attachment limits of this Forum. The following is an excerpt:
Whether it was rivalry between plants or increased market awareness, the Nashville plant jumped into the reissue action in 1980. By this time, one of the most glaring deficiencies of new Les Pauls (compared to the originals) was the humbucking pickup. In preparation for its first attempt at a reissue, Gibson assigned engineer Tim Shaw the job of designing a reissue of the original Patent-Applied-For humbucking pickupwithin certain restrictions. This was 1980 and Norlin was already feeling the pinch, Shaw said, referring to Gibson's long decline through the 1970s and early '80s. We weren't allowed to do much retooling. We redid the bobbin because it was worn out. We got some old bobbins and put the square hole back in. We did it without the T-hole, which stood for Treble.
To replicate the magnets, Shaw gathered up magnets from original PAFs and sent them to a lab to be analyzed. Most were Alnico 2's, he said, but some were 5's. In the process of making an Alnico 5, they stick a magnet in a huge coil for orientation, but an unoriented 5 sounds a lot like a 2. They started with Alinco 2 and then switched to Alnico 5.
Shaw discovered that the original magnets were a little thicker than 1980 production magnets. Magnetic strength is largely a function of the area of the polarized face; increasing the face size gives you more power, he explained. So he specified the thicker magnet for the new PAF.
Wiring on the originals was #42 gauge, which Gibson still used. However, the original wire had an enamel coating and the current wire had a polyurethane coat, which also was of a different thickness or buildup than that of the original, which affected capacitance. Norlin refused to go the extra mile-or extra buck, as it were. Enamel-coated wire cost a dollar more per pound than polycoated. Shaw could change the spec on the buildup without additional expense, so the thickness of the coating was the same as on the original wire, but he was forced to use the poly coat. The difference is easy to see: purple wire on the originals, orange on the reissues.
Shaw later found a spec for the number of turns on a spec sheet for a 1957 ES-175. It specified 5,000 turns because a P-90 had 10,000 turns and they cut it in half, Shaw said. In reality, however, originals had anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 turns, depending on how tight the coil was wound. Shaw later met Seth Lover, who designed and patented Gibson's humbucker, at a NAMM show. Lover laughed when asked about a spec for windings, and he told Shaw, We wound them until they were full.
The spec for resistance was even less exact, Shaw said. The old ohmeter was graduated in increments of .5 (500 ohms). Anywhere between 3.5 and 4 on the meter (3,500 to 4,000 ohms) met the spec. Consequently, Shaw pointed out, there is no such thing as an exact reissue or replica of the 1959 PAF pickup. There can only be a replica of one original PAF, or an average PAF. As Gibson would find out in the early 1990s, the same could be said about the entire guitar.
Shaw's PAF reissue debuted on Gibson's new Nashville-made Les Paul Heritage 80 in 1980. Compared to anything Gibson had previously made (which is to say, compared to nothing), it was an excellent reissue of a sunburst Les Paul Standard. It had a nice top, thin binding in the cutaway, nickel-plated parts, more accurate sunburst finish and smaller headstock, but the body shape, body size and three-piece neck, among other details, were just regular production. It appears that Gibson still didn't understand the demand for an accurate reissue, because Gibson accompanied the Heritage 80 with fancier versions: the Heritage 80 Elite, with an ebony fingerboard that had no relevance to the reissue market (although it did have a one-piece neck) and the Heritage 80 Award, with gold plated hardware that also had no relevance to the reissue market.
They continued to find their way into guitars up until '87 or so, including customs, some standards and certain studios. The pickup rings sometimes had little black "Patent Applied For" stickers on them. Some had silver "Patent Applied For" stickers on the baseplates (I think these were replacement pickups, not stock equipment). The later Shaws did not have the ink stamps on the back and can be hard to differentiate from the p490s that were the main issue in standards before the Bill Lawrence and Gibson USA pickups came about. The problem with the covered Shaws is that they had the same pat number engraved in the back, and without the ink stamp, you can't visually tell the difference. When you open a Shaw cover though, you will see the rough cast magnet, white plastic spacer, black and white coil leads and a penny copper wire through the bobbin holes. They also measure out at about 7.5k, plus or minus. The patent number stamped T-tops sometimes come in around 7.5 also, making it more confusing when you are dealing with covered pickups. If a T-top has an ink stamp on it though, it is most likely the date of manufacture, straight up instead of in a 6 digit code (which apparently is not a clear indication of a Shaw in itself). Confused? I am. There are a lot of patent number stamped pickups floating around out there, as well as in my spare parts box, and its hard to figure out what you have when you get one.
Tim Shaw Humbucking Pickups - eBay (item 270419365202 end time Jul-08-09 19:55:59 PDT)
Some of the Guitars include:
80s ES-335 Customshops and reissues
PreHistoric reissues 1983-1987
30th anniversary Goldtop 1982-1983
Heritage Standard 80 and Elite
Many of the 80s Kalamazoo Dealer Les Paul reissues and limited editions 1980-1984
Studio Standard 84-87 and Studio Custom 84-85
Some USA Standards special ordered with "Pat Appl For" pickups.
Les Paul Customs
Generally the higher end Les Pauls and ES-335s.
Les Paul XR (some of them)
Even some SGs were ordered with them.
Plus what Sarge40 said!
Early 1980 T-Tops AND Shaws had a simple date stamp. Ex: June 1 1980. The codes came in mid 1980 and through about 1985 or so.
Remember, there were other pickups that came stock in Les Pauls during that time, the most common being the normal P490 (like the 490R) also Dirty Fingers and the Velvet Brick to name a few. The Shaw was replaced by the Bill Lawrence "The Original Humbucking Pickup" HB-1/HB-2 or HB-R/HB-L or also known as the circuit board pickup in 1988, which was in turn replaced by the 57 Classic in 1990.
I have a 1980 LP Custom, so from the info above I can't be sure what pups it has (the serial number dates it March 13rd, 1980).
I had been thinking of trying some different pups in it, but first I wanted to ascertain which ones are currently fitted.
Are there any distinguishing marks to look out for that would denote Tim Shaw pups?
If they are not Shaws, what else would they be most likely to be and how would I tell?
Thanks for any help.
Here is a picture of the backup of one of my pups:
Given the 1979 date, it's clearly not a Tim Shaw pup.
It has been stamped with the "wrong" patent number: 2,737,842 with an ink-stamped date. The pup has been coil-tapped by a previous owner.
The other pup is the same except for having a 1980 date.
I'd really like to know what type of pup this is.
Many thanks for any help.
My 1980 LPC has date stamped pups too (27 March 1980 + 17 Dec 1979). I'd also like to what they exactly are.
These are T-Tops. You will see when you open the cover. There will be a T on the bobbins. There is certainly a transitional period from about April to End of June 1980. In that time they used up T top bobbins and took the rubber stamp in the form of June 18 1980. This ended in July. There was a thread here to see the latest date in this form. From that time is was 137 780
My 82 Custom has the patent number 2737842 stamped, and the ink numbers are 392 482 on the neck pickup and 392 483 on the bridge pickups. I've always been under the impression that they are Shaws, but after doing some research I think they may not be. I don't have any pics but does anyone know if they're Shaws or not for sure? Thanks.
Yes they are Shaw's codes you mention. As for the Number 392 I'm guessing one was made in April 82 and the other was April 83 are probably leftovers that got used.
I would like to ask have you taken an ohms reading to see what the reading is on these pickups?
Definitely Shaws. Are you sure they are not 392 482 and 393 482 or 392 483 and 393 483?
Some of the earliest Shaws had the June 12 1980 style (etc) stamps too.
I think you're right. I haven't had them out in a long time, and I bought this guitar new in July of 82. So your first suggestion, 392 482 and 393 482 sounds correct. Thanks.
No, but I emailed Gibson to get some info years ago and I remember them saying the ohm reading is around 7.8 or something like that.
All you need is good guitar cord and Multi-meter (digital or analog) set the meter to ohms function and see what you have for each pickup.