Diagnosing Weak '60 PAF

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

  1. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    You guys all got it right in one way or another. Here's what concerned me....

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    Those signs show that the bobbins had been previously removed from the baseplate.


    ...but in the end, as Rudi explained, it was almost certainly just the case that someone had removed the bobbins simply to flip the magnet and put it back into normal (North = slugs) magnetic polarity, as the pickup had come from a Varitone guitar and those sometimes (not always) had one magnet installed backwards. The lack of the magnet having any markings on the North polar face may, or may not, be related to this.

    The solder joints and the tape around the coils themselves were 100% undistributed and original. That's what really counts.

    I gave the magnet a full charge and extended the original hookup lead, but also sent the pickup back home with an additional much stronger reading and warmer sounding period-correct vintage magnet, as an option that would probably fit the owner's sonic goals much better than the thin sounding original magnet, but still retain vintage authenticity.


    All the important stuff, still in original condition:

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    ...and I know I'd be a real jerk if I didn't share at least one obligatory photo of the "L" marks and decal.
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  2. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    I never tire of this stuff.

    Hopefully it sounded superb once the 'pickup general service' had been done.
     
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  3. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    The sound - ah, yes! I suppose that matters, right? ;)

    It's not so much that I forgot to report on it but that I take it for granted that all PAFs sound fantastic. ...for the right guitar/rig/player/style. Honestly, they all really do have qualities that most would consider highly desirable. I know we read about how "not all PAFs were good" and "some sounded awful" but those are unquantified statements that simply aren't my experience, at all. The pickups, themselves, have never failed to impress me, on their own.

    I've certainly heard PAFs that weren't the best match for the position they were installed in or weren't a good pairing with the guitar or other pickup, and I've come across numerous situations where they weren't the right pickup for the particular job, as this one was. There are also cases like this one where the magnet isn't properly charged and the pickup just needs a charge. That said, every one of those pickups would have been amazing in the right situation that complimented it's natural voice. The disappointing muddy PAF that was in the neck position of an acoustically dark guitar could be the perfect bridge pickup in an acoustically bright guitar that sounds thin with other pickups.

    So, to this particular PAF, yes, even with the stock magnet, and even with it being only partially charged when it first came to me, I thought this pickup sounded very nice. It was a brighter/thinner pickup, initially, and I think it would have made an excellent home in the neck position of any guitar, even one with a crisp, spanky, punchy, bright bridge pickup and those guitars tend to be the ones that are hard to pair a neck pickup with, without it wounding dark/muddy. This pickup had the brightness and clarity to pair great with that setup. With the warmer sounding stronger magnet, which also has a strong vocal midrange, this PAF will be able to pull full, thick, meaty, fat rock-duty in the bridge of any guitar and should pair well with any other vintage style humbucker in the neck position.

    PAFs all have this amazing combination of thick, fat, fullness and that breathy, airy, top end of "beyond treble" frequencies. Whether they are the vocal midrangey type, the brighter, plinky, metallic, chirpy type, or the chewy, creamy, scooped mids, crunchy type, they all have an amount of fullness and simultaneous clarity that seem to defy the laws of modern pickup making when paired together. Pickups that clear, tend to sound thin. Pickups that fat tend to sound mushy and dark. Not so with these absolutely amazing gems of the glory days McCarty's Gibson. They are indeed special, unique and absolute treasures, every one. The fact that there are so many varieties of PAF voicings, yet they all still have they common pleasing sonic qualities, only makes them more amazing to me.

    For everyone who says, "some PAFs sounded terrible" and "they weren't all good pickups" my offer to buy all "dog PAFs," at a fairly reduced price given that they are dogs, of course, stands. :D
     
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  4. jdmp

    jdmp Member

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    OK everyone...I reinstalled the pickup today (it arrived about a week ago). I thought I'd be typing up the whole story, but it turns out you guys have covered it all already! Saves me some typing.

    So I finally put aside the time to reinstall this pickup. Pulling the electronics on an ES series guitar is no easy task, but this is the 3rd time I've done it and I think I might be getting the hang of it. Still took about 2 hours...

    I'm pleased to say that the whole endeavor has been a huge success. The old plinky sound is gone and the pickup is now a big sounding PAF monster. I play medium gain classic rock and this thing does the creamy crunch so well. Think a big sounding Les Paul though a vintage marshall. It is that...

    I only got to play it for about 15 mins today. I'll be putting it through its paces this week with a jam on Wednesday night. Interestingly I never noticed the neck pickup sound on this guitar before because I was always fixated on the disappointing sound from the bridge. Now that the bridge pickup is full and muscular, the neck pickup sound is really cool. Quite sproingy (I know that sounds dumb but it is the best word for it). Clear and articulate, full and round.

    Many thanks to James who did a great job. He was exactly the right man for the job and a nice guy too.

    I guess that is the end of this story. I hope you have enjoyed it!
     
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  5. jdmp

    jdmp Member

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    Played the guitar a bit more yesterday. PAF nirvana, but there is one problem. The neck and bridge pickups are out of phase! I guess I have to flip one of the magnets... Just when I thought the work was done...
     
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  6. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    The one I worked on is set up to the Gibson/PAF standard of North = Slugs, if that helps.

    If you need help flipping one of the magnets, I can walk you through it.
     

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