Diagnosing Weak '60 PAF

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by jdmp, Oct 22, 2017.

  1. jdmp

    jdmp Member

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    I have an early '60 ES-355 with PAFs. The bridge pickup has never done it for me. It works and will push an amp, but just doesn't have the cream and grind that my other PAF guitars have. Resistance reads 7.87K ohms which seems pretty normal for a PAF.. I always thought that the weak sound was just in my head, or a result of the ebony board on the '355 but it was getting me down. I just wasn't playing the guitar much because of it.

    I had some time today, so I decided to pull the pick up out and swap the neck pickup into the bridge position...Instant PAF beauty. Pushed the amp great. Really creamy grind with harmonics popping out. I'm sure you know what I mean.

    So now I have this PAF on my bench that reads OK for resistance but isn't putting out. I thought that maybe the problem is the magnet loosing some power. Can anyone recommend a pickup tech who can diagnose a pickup beyond whether the coil is open or short? Of course I don't want to rewind the coils unless absolutely necessary.

    Who do you recommend?

    Thanks!
     

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  2. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    James from ReWind is good with old pickups......worked on a set of my 54 p90's with harness that wasn't reading right
     
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  3. LtKojak

    LtKojak Senior Member

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    Bill Megela, Electric City Pickups.

    He's a veteran of over two decades of repairing, modding and rewinding literally hundreds of old Gibson p'ups, and has an untamed passion for vintage p'ups. Plus, is a darling to deal with!

    http://www.electriccitypickups.com/store/index.php?route=information/contact

    Tell him Pepe from Milan, Italy sent you and expect to get royale treatment. ;)

    HTH,
     
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  4. mdubya

    mdubya Senior Member

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    You can't talk about owning a 1960 ES 355 and not post photos. :)
     
  5. Bobby Mahogany

    Bobby Mahogany Senior Member

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    I can't agree with you more.
    :thumb:
     
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  6. garybaldy

    garybaldy Senior Member

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    Is it worth trying the bridge in the neck? or have you done that?
     
  7. jdmp

    jdmp Member

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    Thanks guys. Please keep the suggestions coming. Would love to hear from someone who has had direct experience with having a PAF diagnosed and repaired rather than rewound.

    I didn't put the bridge pickup in the neck space. If you've ever worked on an ES355 you'll know that it is a real pain in the butt. It took 2 hours to do the work I did and I couldn't face putting in the time to reinstall the neck pickup knowing that it wasn't quite right. I'd rather get someone with test equipment to give it the all clear before I start getting all up in there again!

    Here is a photo of my beauty...early 1960 with fat neck. I got a good deal because the old celluloid pickguard had deteriorated and the gas had tarnished the pickup covers and the bigsby. The pickguard on there now is a repro. The bigsby original but replated. Otherwise it is in 9+ condition. Has had a refret. Also the variatone is out of circuit.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. RAG7890

    RAG7890 Premium Member

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    Just out of interest what is the reading on the Neck PU for comparison?

    As for the Bridge PU, you might just have one that is not good. Not all Vintage PU's are great.

    I would think you'd want to check the Magnet Gauss reading along with a bunch of other things.

    The two I'd look at is James at ReWind & Jon at Throbak when it comes to checking that PU (because I know them). Lots of options out there though.

    Good luck.

    :cheers2:
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2017
  9. jdmp

    jdmp Member

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    From recollection the neck pickup (the good one, now in the bridge position) read a little lower than the original bridge pickup. I think around 7.4K or 7.6K. It was somewhere in the ball park. I agree that this one might just be not a great one, but with a coil that reads OK, I'm hoping that it can be made great. I'll message out a few of the guys mentioned here and see what I get back. Will keep you all posted.
     
  10. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    Hey guys. Thanks for the references. Flattered.

    @jdmp

    Have you tried putting the pickup you didn't like in the bridge position into the neck position? It sounds like that would be a better pairing, as you describe the neck pickup giving you the push you wanted in the bridge position, while the previous bridge PAF did not. That makes me think the one you have in the bridge now is the stronger of the two (and DCR can basically be thrown out the window as different magnet types will determine output FAR more than coil turns on a PAF).

    So - since most players prefer a stronger bridge than neck, and Gibson paid no attention to what pickup went into what position until the end of the 1970's (with some rare exception on odd instruments), it would make sense that you might find that the PAF you presently have pulled out would be a fine neck pickup.

    Whatever you do, I implore you to not have the cover removed, if it is originally soldered on. SO MUCH can be known about a pickup without having the cover removed, yet that's the very first thing many techs will do when diagnosing a problem. With the right type of charger and fixture, the magnet can be charged fully while the pickup is still covered. ....even while still in the guitar, without unsoldering the main hookup lead! That's the sort of care you want to put into a vintage instrument/pickup like this. With the right types of meters, and knowledge, very much can be said about the state of the internal coils. Removing the cover on a vintage PAF should be a last resort done only when necessary to make the pickup work again.

    Also, even it it's not the right pickup for the guitar (and I wouldn't give up on that yet!), it sounds like you probably have a fine working vintage PAF. I'd strongly suggest you not resort to modifying it. In a worst case scenario, a buyer will pay a higher figure for your original PAF and you can buy one that's already been opened up for much less. That would:

    1) Get you the sound you want
    2) Make you some money
    3) Preserve the rare piece of musical history for future generations, which is your original PAF

    Hope that helps! Anyone is always welcome to reach out to me directly, of course. :cheers:

    All the Best,
    James
     
  11. jdmp

    jdmp Member

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    Thanks James. Nice to meet you. I will PM you for a more detailed discussion, but in the interest of completing the info loop for anyone reading...the covers had already been removed and put back on when I got the guitar. I haven't put the weak pickup in the neck position yet because 1) it would be alot of work and 2) I just have a feeling that something is wrong with this one. I played with it for a few months, adjusted height, pole pieces etc...it just never came good. I'd be alot happier, if someone like yourself had a look at it with some test equipment and tell me what you find. If you say it is OK, back in the neck position it will go. I suspect a magnet recharge will bring this guy up to full potential...
     
  12. garybaldy

    garybaldy Senior Member

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    I'm glad my stab in the dark suggestion in post #6 looks to be an option.
    I've had some great advice from Mr Rewind in the past.
     
  13. jamman

    jamman Premium Member

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    sorry if someone asked this , I didn't read every word of each post .
    1. is this "problem a new " issue ?
    2. Are you running a "Y" cable from the guitar to the amp /
    3. Was the circuit made into mono ? (or was the guitar originally made mono?)
    4. Have a tech (if you can't) check all the caps in the vaitone to make sure all are in spec or at least not Dead ? ....
    My thinking is , if the pup reads OK , the problem is farther down the chain .
    Love that guitar .... 60's ,,,, how sweet the neck is :bowdown
     
  14. mdubya

    mdubya Senior Member

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    Also, what is your location? Someone might know a local, trustworthy tech that can do the wiring and verify gauss on the magnets and so forth.

    A 335 is bad enough, wiring harness wise. I can't even imaging the nest of vipers in a 355. :shock:

    Thank you for the photos! What a sweet guitar. :bowdown :dude:
     
  15. jdmp

    jdmp Member

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    Thanks for the follow ups. Since I've owned the guitar (less than a year) the pickup has been weak. The guitar was converted to mono so issues with variatone or stereo. I live in Sydney Australia, so nobody around here that I would trust with something like this. Back to the USA it goes!
     
  16. Duane_the_tub

    Duane_the_tub Senior Member

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    I bought a pair of PAFs last year and had this exact problem with both pickups - DCR readings looked fine, but they had no balls at all no matter how hard I dug into them. Several experienced local guys helped me try to figure out the issue, including swapping them in and out of different instruments to test them. The end conclusion was along the lines of, "all PAFs have different voices, and yours are just really... subtle."
     
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  17. jamman

    jamman Premium Member

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    Contact member RAG7890 .
    I can give you a 100% on him and I'd trust him with any guitar I have . everyday .
    He's close to you and IMO worth checking out .You'd be pressed to find a better guy then him , really . Also he knows some of the best m so a think he can help you find a solution vs, sending the git to the USA .
     
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  18. Mustard Caps

    Mustard Caps Senior Member

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  19. honduras

    honduras Member

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  20. RAG7890

    RAG7890 Premium Member

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    Thanks Jeff. I now have John's Mobile & will talk to him later today.

    As he is in Sydney we can get the PU fully tested (& any charging done if required) and then he can make a decision from there re which way he'd like to go.

    Cheers, Rudi
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2017

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