`50's P90 Magnet for PAFS?

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by peach64, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. ThroBak

    ThroBak MLP Vendor

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    Too bad you feel this way. I wish more pickup makers would buy from the remaining three USA Alnico makers. They make a great product. Between the 3 remaining Alnico makers you can cover every grade of vintage Alnico magnet that was in Gibson or Fender pickups. I know makers like Holmes use only USA made magnets and that is a pretty good endorsement in my book. Considering the price that I charge for a 100% in house USA made reproduction P.A.F. I decided that saving $4 per pickup by buying Chinese magnets short changed my customers when I considered the USA made Alnico nails the the vintage tone I'm after. It is big overhead to order USA made magnets, but well worth it for ThroBak MXV reproduction P.A.F.'s and P-90's.
     
  2. Dave Stephens

    Dave Stephens V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    Money has nothing to do with it, if someone in the US was making magnets that sound like vintage magnets to me, I would buy them, but no dice. Shea has some contacts I've been using and the stuff is spectacular for my work, why look elsewhere? Shea has the best customer service I've ever seen and finds what I need and gets the job done right. The US companies I've dealt with are so difficult to deal with, they still don't understand the internet world and the Chinese are eating their lunch in the tech world of internet commerce. I actively get emails from Chinese companies often, looking to make magnets for me. They have improved vastly in communication and train and hire people who speak English way better than just a few years ago now. There are US individuals living and working in China who will get anything you want made and done right and aren't running slave factories. Tonerider is one example of that, remember Andrew from the UK? He spent years over there, building that company and training everyone, he makes a good product too.

    US magnet makers haven't been supplying the pickup makers for over ten years or more anyway, ten years ago all the magnets were coming from Korea, not the US. To survive in a world economy you have to make a good product and compete with pricing. US industrial companies I've deal with are so entrenched in the past, the internet revolution swept right past them and many still don't answer email inquiries or hire people to do internet sales.

    No one really cares where the parts are made, my baseplates are top Japanese work and magnets Chinese, the rest I make or is made here, the only important thing is that every part is doing what its supposed to do to give an accurate final result.
     
  3. Wraptail

    Wraptail MLP Vendor

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    I'm callin' bullshit.
     
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  4. Dave Stephens

    Dave Stephens V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    Obviously you didn't watch the video......Watch the video I mentioned, and you will hear almost no difference between MY magnets and the PAF magnet, even though the two pickups are my HD Lite and a vintage 1961 PAF.

    The magnet literally has a very minor role to play in recreating a technical copy of a real vintage PAF humbucker. It is important to get them made to vintage dimensions, and all of mine are. The DESIGN of EVERY PART, is the most important thing to get right, you don't get it right, no magnet is going to help you. Kit bucker parts have nothing in common with actual PAF parts, the design is wrong, the steel parts are all wrong, so you don't get the tones you get from the real deal and even a vintage magnet isn't going to fool anyone into thinking you're playing a real PAF. Your vintage magnets might make your Duncan or whatever sound better, but thats all. So, no its not BS, I'm going into my tenth year now of PAF research and replication, and I've never stopped my investigations, and always re-evaluating the huge file folder of lab data I collected; the HD's came out of seeing things in a slightly different way that give me better accuracy, PAF's aren't something you can grasp accurately without spending years looking at them. The lab data is just information on paper, the trick is to learn how to apply the knowledge to real life, and thats where thousands of hours over years went on that pathway. There's much more I'm not talking about, obviously and never will, PAF tone is more complex than most think it is, and thankfully you don't need to go to extremes to get magnets that sound right because its maybe only 15% of the whole story.....
     
  5. ThroBak

    ThroBak MLP Vendor

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    Well they are, they do and they can. If you have a vintage magnet to clone send it to one and pay for the $5K plus to have it done. ThroBak and others have. Some of the stock mixes also nail vintage but you have to order them and try for yourself. Most of these places don't give samples because everything is made to order. Again $5K a batch.

    Price has everything to do with buying Chinese. If you are a corporate bean counter then Chinese magnets and parts is a no brainer cost wise on the face of it. But manufacturers pay some of that price back in run to run variation and parts that are also sold to competitors made from your tooling. I actually had two spec. problems with Shea that made me decide no more for Chinese magnets. Shea was super nice ant tried his best to make it right but the Chinese magnet maker he had to use just was not capable of getting the basic specs. right for two different batches. This is why Chinese made parts for me don't cut it. I want somebody I can meet with and work with and trust that is actually physically making the part. If you want to make a premium product you have to use premium materials. Junk in, junk out.
     
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  6. LtKojak

    LtKojak Senior Member

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    Truer words have never been spoken.

    Amen to that, Jon.
     
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  7. Dave Stephens

    Dave Stephens V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    "If you want to make a premium product you have to use premium materials. Junk in, junk out."
    Nice spin, but untrue. Real PAF's were made with what would be considered today in modern times as junk materials. The wire would be considered unsuitable for sale, it breaks very easily, insulation thinner, copper not as pure; Gibson bought the cheapest magnets they could find (source: old time magnet salesman who actually sold to them), even "reject" magnets no one would buy. Vintage alnico would not pass modern QC standards. Steel back then was crudely made. Magnet sales guys will tell you anything you want to hear, Arnold was like that, their magnets sound extremely bland and boring, the Strat pickups I made with them don't sell, the Fender pickups they were used in the 90's had a reputation for just being bad. Money can't buy tone when it comes to materials, cost doesn't equal tone. The more you spend doesn't equate to improved tone, if it works for you fine, it didn't for me. As I said, I've been sent several US "vintage repro" magnets that didn't sound any different than anything else, in some cases worse, why would I pay extra for nothing...

    Duncan in the early 80's used butyrate bobbins, wound on a vintage winder, used plain enamel wire of that period which was closer to vintage than what we get now, even a waterslide decal, etc. etc. still doesn't sound right and no one wants those pickups even now. I'm sure he spent a ton of money on parts, oh well, they look good but where's the tone? Money didn't buy it...

    My video is still there, listen to my pickup, my modern Chinese magnet, then I demo a vintage 1961 vintage PAF side by side, same licks, don't comment unless you actually hear and see what I am doing, it works extremely well, my magnets are made to my specs. Readers can PM me if they can't find it. Its worth watching to see vintage PAF's in my guitar, my rig, my 50's spec harness, my vintage Vibrolux.

    Shea does a great job, you're going to have problems with anyone you work with, Shea takes care of that so I don't have to, I've had problems too but She always resolves it graciously and quickly, my current batch of A4 is amazing stuff, the same as the samples he sent me to try out. My problems with Arnold were ridiculous, it took six months just to get an order confirmation, they are a giant corporate entity that head doesn't know what tail is doing.

    These US companies think they are owed higher prices just because its made here, most likely you are getting Chinese materials in your US magnets anyway, where else are they going to buy alnico ingredients when no one really makes it here anymore, except high tech companies who make high tech magnets the modern way. I'm glad they work for you but the crudeness of Chinese work is exactly what I want, it sounds right and thats all I care about. Korean stuff was just as good. Its a world market and companies here didnt adapt to reality, I dont feel sorry for companies that complain yet don't keep up with modern times, every item in hardware stores and everywhere is Chinese because they did it cheaper and sometimes even better. The complaints about Chinese products are the same complaints I heard as a kid about Japanese products, you're too young to remember that, Chinese products get better and better, their guitars get better and better. Eventually Chinese stuff will cost alot and probably Africa will be the new China as far as cheap products go. Chinese magnets are crude but thats what vintage magnets were, I happen to love how they sound....
     
  8. BrazenPicker

    BrazenPicker Senior Member

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    Think what you want of the man, but to call his pickups "junk" is nonsense from people who have an axe to grind. As far as a cloning attempt goes, the video is very impressive, and I don't know of another winder who's putting himself out there like this. I still think the 61 PAF sounds a tiny bit sweeter but it's very close. If you know of videos of clone vs real that's as good or better, let's see it. Processes are all nice, and I own 3 sets of Jon's work and know they're good. But ultimately the only thing that counts is the end result.

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeTHeyt8bM8[/ame]
     
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  9. bill m

    bill m Senior Member

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    I don't know where you got that info from but you sir are incorrect. I have many samples of 50's p-90 and paf magnets and have repaired many more. None of them are in the dimensional range you indicate. When a magnet was slightly too thick they would grind some of the rough cast off one side of the magnet so the bobbins would lay properly. As I stated in my previous post, the keepers and wood spacer were both in the .125 range on every one of the vintage examples that I own and have been inside of. I have never seen a keeper .140 high. The only way to use a thick magnet like that would be to make spacers and keeper thicker, which vintage ones weren't, or to have 2 spacers cut to the appropriate height on each side of the baseplate, which Gibson didn't do back then. They only started doing that around the Shaw era.

    On the subject of magnets not being important, I'm sorry, but you are in the minority on this one. It couldn't be any more simple than looking at a strat or tele pickup. All you have is coil wire and rod magnets and I don't care what vintage wind pattern you use, or using the best correct vintage magnet wire, if you don't use the right magnets the pickup will never sound the way it's supposed to.
     
  10. Dave Stephens

    Dave Stephens V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    Bill, the only .125" vintage magnets I ever found in vintage Gibson buckers were the later early Patents with the short magnets. But even some of those into the first year of TTops were still the fatter thickness, it varied back and forth. Yes, in that period they started grinding them down, but the early PAF magnets up to probably '58 were fat mothers, no grinding except on one edge where they met the pole keepers. Jon knows this stuff. Vintage P90s are hard to date and PAF's are too, so you may be seeing later pickups, the only tip off is if the magnets are short. 2.35" long is a general short mag length off the top of my head, those happened maybe as early as '59 '60, most definitely in '61 and onwards.

    I've had ALOT of PAF's thru there for restoration, mainly because I restore them for free, and much of my research came from that work over the years. I have a good pile of vintage bar magnets, from P13's, early 50's P90s' and they are ALL fat dimensions, and have a few actual PAF magnets prior to the short magnets and they are all over .130", some even in some spots hitting .140" though thats just too thick, but rare to see that. My newest batch of alnico 4 magnets from Shea were all rough cast individually one by one, but like Jon they showed up too fat to use in PAF's. I loved the sound of them though and we decided to grind them down to my preferred fat thickness that is the average dimension I saw in all these old fat magnets. It didn't change the sound and I love them and they shine in the HD Lite bridge. The importance of the fat thickness is the added mass. The more mass of metal there is the more treble gets rounded off, don't forget that the bulk of material in any alnico is IRON ;-)

    BrazenPicker, thanks for posting the video, I'm not allowed to post videos here. The newest video of that same set, the HD Lite bridge is more broken in and got even closer to the vintage 61 PAF because when they break in they get a little brighter. Its the video showing the "short A5 magnet." There are still some things I can do to get closer, I do have a rather big bag of tricks, but I try to keep the amount of work that goes into one pickup to a reasonable amount of work. That said I am trying a couple more things this weekend and may do a followup video with short A2 magnet and some other tweaks. There are some things about vintage PAF's that probably can't be matched 100% so you'll always be able to hear a tiny difference, just a fact of life for me, but I never give up, either.

    And yes, I do put my ass out there on YouTube totally without props or crutches, so you can make your own judgements, it HAS TO BE THAT WAY for me. Total honesty, because I never want someone emailing me telling me my pickup didn't sound like what I showed them on YouTube ;-)
     
  11. ThroBak

    ThroBak MLP Vendor

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    Clearly I need to correct this. If you read my post the junk in junk out is a comment about my bad experience Chinese Alnico magnets NOT Dave's pickups. By all customer accounts I have heard his humbuckers are great. I hope Dave's business continues to grow.

    There are good Chinese Alnico magnets but consistency batch to batch was horrible from my experience and that is a problem for my work. I don't think Dave would use horrible magnets and perhaps his experience with batch to batch consistency is better than mine. But IMHO USA made blows Chinese magnets away as far as vintage tone and QC go. How much of that has to do with USA made Alnico being 5x more expensive I can't say. I just know I gladly pay the extra for USA made Alnico.
     
  12. bill m

    bill m Senior Member

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    I won't waste my time arguing this point any more. You can believe what you want to believe. I am just stating facts from many actual examples. I've been studying , repairing, and rewinding pickups longer than most here and have probably had more vintage examples of paf's and early pat # pickups than most. The fact still stands that you cannot have a thick magnet in a paf as the bobbins will droop on the outer edges unless you shim them. Paf's did not use any special shimming and just used the standard keeper and wood shim. I am talking about 50's long magnets and not about the short mags that showed up around mid/late 1960

    Yes, vintage p-90's and paf's are hard to date, unless you have the guitar that they are in, then you have the guitar to date the pickup. Many customers send the whole guitar to have a pickup repaired because they know nothing about pickup removal and don't want to screw up their vintage instrument.
     
  13. Dougie

    Dougie Senior Member

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    I'm not gonna get in the coffee grounds of this thread, ok,we have enough bullshit politics on every conceivable form of media these days, but....

    None of the PAFs I have ever owned had drooping coils from fat magnets. They were all really flat on the top and squarely put together. I have some magnets here I will get a pic and some measurements of the ones I have later, digital caliper is at my other house.

    The magnet in a P-90 USED TO BE better choice for making a PAF clone because there wasn't really an accessible source for .125x.500x2.5" magnets. All that changed with the internet. You can get vintage magnets, you can get new magnets, unoriented, degaussed, whatever.

    I will agree with Dave in that the magnet is only a part of the PAF tone. If you have never owned real PAFs, if you have ever swapped a long PAF/P90 magnet into a newer pickup and liked the change in the tone it gave, you need to try swapping in some of the steel alloys, and the covers. I'm talking about genuine late 1950s pole screws and keepers, and genuine late 1950s nickel silver covers.

    Just swapping in a set of pole screws will do an amazing thing to the treble edge of the tone, you have to hear it to appreciate it. Nobody uses the same alloy in the manufacture of steel for screw machines and if you can't hear the difference, PUHLEEZ go to the DOCTOR and get your ears examined!

    Same with the covers. Bill says he has heard a couple of covers that darkened the tone, I have a few here that were (at one time) gold, that have the bronze looking plating inside (which went away about 1963 or so, in favor of a costume jewelry looking shiny gold on the inside of the cover) those give their own sound. It's a cool jangly bell like ring that is very pleasing on the ears. Dave says that vintage PAF covers color the sound, and I will agree with that, but they color it in for the better in my experience, I use them on all the Gibsons that have full size humbuckers.

    P-90/PAF magnet only a part of the PAF tone? Yup, that is indeed a fact. Y'all need to do the A/B test with -just- pole screws or -just- covers, and see for yourself how that changes things, you will recognize certain tones and traits of the PAF tone, and you will begin to realize then that each component adds something to the overall sound, and realize that the biggest reason that something like a screw or a piece of nickel silver sounds a certain way, is because it was MADE a certain way, out of materials that nobody makes or uses these days because they have refined and changed how things are manufactured.

    It is my contention that you could go out and buy a keg of old nails from the 1950s, make pole screws and slugs out of the steel in them nails, and be surprised how close you get to what Gibson stuck in those PAFs back in the day.
     
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  14. copperheadroad

    copperheadroad Senior Member

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    The P-90 I have here from probably '56 or '57 has long magnets, One is .133" thick the other is .134" thick
     
  15. Dave Stephens

    Dave Stephens V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    I DO use the same alloys that were in vintage P90's and PAF's, so does Jon, but he only uses one version. There were 3 different alloys I found, I have two of them, I usually use one for neck buckers and the other for bridge buckers. Yes, it makes a difference, and no one other than Jon and I are using these screws, everyone else got it wrong. The third alloy I haven't investigated having them made because it was from very early years and I doubt that any screw making coil stock is available in that particular carbon range. I may check into this and do a group buy if they can do it, next year, as well as some other possible group buys for pickup makers who've participated in my previous efforts like my last screw buy for the 2nd alloy pole screws. Its only for things though that aren't super critical to getting those tones and I don't mind sharing to fund my own work, but its not going to take anything away from what I'm doing. Yes, you are right, if you got a barrel of 50's nails you would have the right stuff, but I would have it analyzed first, ALL steel from those years was different than now. Modern nails are different, the steel making processes are different, way more high tech and clean these days. Alot of bolts and nails now come from China too. When TTops came in the screw alloys changed, one small reason why the tone changed. The earliest TTops are the most pleasing sounding ones, and some of the techniques were still somewhat like whats in PAF's, but they quickly veered into something else. By late 70's they were bright and harsh, alot of it due to the steel.

    No, fat magnets don't make the coils droop, but I have seen PAF's that DO, especially the earlier ones, and it can be for other reasons. We're talking maybe .008" difference, but when you increase the magnet to that thickness vs. modern thin magnets, you gain a noticeable increase in overall mass, and this DOES make a difference how the magnet interacts with the magnetic circuit. More mass, more eddy currents to round off any harshness possible. I call them "fat" magnets and to me they are when you compare them to .125" modern magnets and some which are even thinner, these "thin" magnets can be too bright, they make good neck magnets. The fat measuring ones lasted up til '65 in the very earliest TTops but quickly disappeared and were then onwards always ground to .125" because this is the thickness of the pole keeper they butt up against. The solution to tilted coils is simple, as a builder its a simple to make the maple spacers match the magnet thickness, I make my own.
     
  16. ThroBak

    ThroBak MLP Vendor

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    Dave you have no idea what I use. I use two alloys of screws from a completely different run than the screws you are familiar with. I have done a bunch of lab testing independently. I have not shared any of that info or resulting parts with you.
     
  17. Dave Stephens

    Dave Stephens V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    That's fine. I'm using the alloys my own testing found which I didn't share either, though you did share in my first lab testing work and know what that first alloy was, the third is more common to real early PAF's and earlier P90's, not of much use really, so never pursued it. I also had made TTop alloy pole screws and modern alloy pole screws several years before I met you, from an outfit up in Maine. There is one thing about PAF screws I've not shared with anyone, that could make a minor difference, that I learned last year when we examined something like 20 different vintage parts in one last big bash of lab work. We found some amazing stuff in other Gibson vintage pickups. Really, we covered pretty much everything they made from early Charlie Christian pickups up to late TTops in the late 70's. Pretty much everything they made in a 40 year period. To understand the PAF era it really helps to understand the big picture. We also covered every part that every parts seller sells, they all use the same stuff that was never found in PAF's, and then parts from so-called repro pickups which were mostly wacko....
     
  18. Mouse

    Mouse Senior Member

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    oh boy.... get out of the left side of your brains ...
     
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  19. Dave Stephens

    Dave Stephens V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    You really HAVE to do left brain thinking to get this stuff right, there's no other way. Bad research equals failed attempts, and products that miss the boat. Materials research is real complex, the interaction of parts in a humbucker is very, very complex. There are literally hundreds of ways to interpret the actual lab data, the combinations are endless; finding the ones that work best to get the closest to materials that don't truly exist anymore, takes years. You have to really LOVE it, and thats why I keep working at it. I love PAF's and I don't think there's ever been or ever will be a better humbucking pickup ;-) They definitely are not for everyone, though, many from my generation really dislike them....
     
  20. Mouse

    Mouse Senior Member

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    Love is everything dear, it makes world turn around, it's magnetic love, just ask Tesla or Vedanta. Now, I had to turn my left brain on to come up with all commas ... :hippie:


    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uxt1PRLvr2Q[/ame]
     
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