Wondering If These PAFs Are the Real Deal?

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by Tonyd145, Jul 4, 2017.

  1. Dave Stephens

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

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    I've seen many many vintage PAF's in person, dissected them from every year, repaired and restored scores of them. Gibson DID do very sloppy soldering of the covers on many I've seen that were untouched. Everything on your "fake" looks right from what I can see, but I would never authenticate a PAF based on photos alone. There are many ways to authenticate then, one being the use of an ultraviolet black light, as the decal will glow a greenish color, and the paper tape will too. But, I have a late 70's Duncan that passes almost all the test, the decal glows, the paper tape glows, the bobbins are butyrate, the lettering on the decal is very very close. What gives those away is many of them have "thread cutter" pole screws which narrow down the tip. But, I was given one to authenticate that the pole screws had been replaced with correct ones. Duncan's decal had too much clear decal frame around the black silk screened part. Even the magnets were rough cast. The final test is to unscrew the slug bobbin, lift it up and if you injection sprue marks (round circles), they are not PAF's. The Duncans are the only ones that nearly fooled me, as all the materials in them are correct, mostly. The top of his slugs are also a giveaway and don't look right the way they were cut. I've not actually seen anyone try to make a counterfeit, because its just not possible to pull that off, except that if you don't know your stuff, someone can get ripped off. Even the baseplate material used in vintage PAF's, there is no nickel steel sheet made these days that looks the same. Duncan, BTW, was buying his baseplates directly from Gibson then. I'll upload some photos I took of real UV photos and a shot of what a Duncan butyrate bobbin looks like on the bottom.....you can see on the Duncan, the UV green is barely there at all.
     

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  2. Dave Stephens

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

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    There are some vintage PAF's that look suspicious too, that are actually real. This one had very light grey bobbins, a real red flag, but it was the real deal in every point. So here's the top of the greyish PAF, and then the top of the Duncan. Top photo is the Duncan. Notice the slugs in the Duncan have real deep cut bull's eye cutting pattern, the real PAF pattern varies alot but is very clean cut looking. The reason for this is Duncan used the completely wrong alloy for his slug poles. fake duncan top.jpg realpaf.jpb.jpg
     
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  3. Dave Stephens

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

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    Just for fun, here's one of 3 double whites I've worked on, just minor coil repair, of coils that were cut by bozo's cutting the covers off with a utility knife. These are BEAUTIFUL.
     

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  4. tokairic

    tokairic Member

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    He did say he'd done the soldering himself (read it), so unless he is a 10 year old Chinese kid I would say you've insulted him. If you're basing your 'FAKE' on the soldering alone I would say your opinion isn't worth very much - any pickup over 40 years old is likely to have been swapped into many guitars and had various covers fitted by amateurs.
    i would rather put expensive pickups into a Japanese Tokai than most Gibsons.
     
  5. Dave Stephens

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

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    Its not really strange for real PAF's to show up in old off brand guitars. Back in the 80's and 90's, real vintage PAF's weren't expensive at all. You could buy them for $65-$100 tops. Nobody really cared about them then. Duncan makes good pickups, but they've consistently failed to really understand the real artifacts themselves. "Good" doesn't mean tehcnically accurate, nor technically true sounding. Real PAF's don't sound like you think they sound, and no one will understand that statement until they've played a bunch of originals in a correctly constructed harness that you won't find in any current Gibson Les Pauls.
     
  6. waxout

    waxout Junior Member

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    So wow... any of you guys think you might be wound a little too tight? (no pun intended) Heres an idea, does the PU sound good to you? No, not your buddy, not your guitar tech.. and remember, almost everyone you're playing for cannot hear it whatever it is you hear. But does the sound please you? K, you should go with that, and maybe stop thinking about selling your PU's for a stupid amount of money. Just a thought.

    The bad cheese and vomit thing is interesting though! And no knock on Tonyd145, its a fair question. I swear Gibson put out the whole 57 classic line just to keep the mystery alive and confuse the issue.
     
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  7. tokairic

    tokairic Member

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    ``
    Gibson are so random with whether or not they fit stickers, or etch the baseplates 'Gibson USA' or what materials they use it takes a really obsessive expert to authenticate old pickups. Add to that the number of folks who actually try to fake the originals, buying antique guitar parts is a nightmare, and an expensive one at that.
    So whats the plan if they are genuine? Sell them on?
    I would say what the hell - if they sound good keep them, even if they are not antique. If they don't sound good then sell them on and replace them with SD or similar.
    I think the only reason for buying old, worn, messed up antique pickups is to complete an old messed up antique guitar for a collection and make it more valuable. Collectors are a pain, driving up values of old crap. There are so many great handwound pickups out there to choose from we don't need to fantasise over 'original PAF's'. By all accounts the hand winding was all over the place and they all sounded different anyway.
     
  8. Bluefox

    Bluefox Senior Member

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    Gibson P.A.F.s have never been hand wound, that's a fact.
     
  9. tokairic

    tokairic Member

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    I don't claim to be an expert, and you probably know more than I do, but I seem to remember a factory video showing an old lady hand feeding wire onto humbuckers rotating on a machine, who had been at Gibson since the dawn of time apparently.
    The result was random winding patterns and random tension and number of turns - thats what I was getting at, they were all different in some way resulting in different tone.
    Compared to the modern machine producing identical tension, pattern and turns.
     
  10. Dave Stephens

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

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    The real bottom line for your average guitar player is YES, if your guitar sounds good to you, leave it alone. But thats for an average player. There is another kind of player, usually guys my age, who have played actual vintage Les Pauls, who are highly disappointed with the ummm, stuff Gibson is charging huge money for. Well, the truth is these expensive new Gibson's can't really compete with the old ones they sadly claim they are making copies of. The people I deal with KNOW the sound of real PAF's, know the wood of the vintage guitars, you just can't fool them with a $6,000 "reissue" thats really just another LP off the production line, with acrylic "nitro." There are lots of good pickups out there, but if you have played real PAF's, this hand wind stuff won't cut it for you, if you are seeking historic authenticity. Hand winding actually insures you won't get there. Vintage PAF's aren't "magic." There are scientific reasons they sound the way they do, and I learned all of that over many years of obsessive deep research. They are things you can't see, even if you take an old PAF apart and spread it on a table.

    Admittedly this is a tiny tiny part of the marketplace, and are generally older guys, looking to bring back what was lost from their youth. And YES, it is correct that Gibson never made any hand wound pickups ever. And yes, I am an expert on vintage PAF's, and I can tell you its a hard road to go down, and I wouldn't do it again. As for "charging too much money," well, in my own work, I don't mass produce anything, because it doesn't work at all. You can't go buy a pile of parts off the internet and create a technically accurate and very close sounding replica. There are alot of reasons for this, but I sit on my knowledge because it keeps me with a moderate income and low sales I can barely handle at my age. I make less than 50 sets in a year, barely a set a week. To recreate what once was, I have to machine my own parts, do my own plating and many other things. A couple years ago I totalled up all the time it takes to do everything I do, that goes into one single set that goes out the door. It came out to 13+ hours, more if it involves doing relic aging work. It takes me 3 days just to do 250 slug poles, cut and plated and tested to match as close as I can, what was actually IN vintage PAF's.

    But you can't just "make parts," I put 17 years so far, into science-based research on real PAF parts, and had mentors in the steel industry and magnet wire business, so, the truth in the end is that the sound of those old pickups was based in vintage materials, that have no direct equivalent in our times. Now, all this is just words and mumbo jumbo if the results don't speak for themselves. I'm not even here to try to sell anyone anything, I don't care, I always have more work than I can handle and always have about 7 months back list of work to complete. I DO like to SHARE some of my knowledge and have tons of photos of every PAF I ever worked on, and a huge bunch of videos I did on youtube, that I can't share here because of forum rules ad nauseum. The videos I did, many are direct comparisons of real vintage PAF"s in a single guitar vs. what I have created thru too many years of hard work. No pedals, no masking high distortion, just a simple vintage Fender amp, a guitar cord, and an LP correctly wired 50's style with hardware matched in materials to real vintage LP hardware. Everything ON, or IN your Les Paul determines its sound. Gibson fails on almost all of this, though their newer True Historics have made some progress, towards accuracy. Finally they are using actual brass posts and wheels, that alone wakes the guitar up vs the steel junk they have using to save money. Anyway, I just dropped in here for a short visit. If you have questions about vintage PAF's, let me know and I'll answer what I can share.
     
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  11. Dave Stephens

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

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    You have interpreted what you saw in the wrong way, and yeah, I've seen that video or others. She wasn't hand GUIDING the wire, she was setting up the bobbins, installing the soldered start lead, setting up multiple bobbins on a fixture etc. etc. That machine is probably the Meteor machine they are using now. Its a mechanical AUTO winding machine. There are gears in it that determine the "pitch" or how many windings go down on the coil for each pass of the winding process. I've unwound boxes full of vintage PAF's, and all of them were machine guided precision wound winding patterns. All vintage PAF's except for the earliest 57's used a single winding pattern. The 57 I had, used an earlier winding pattern of less turns per pass that I've seen on P90's of that same year. Winding patterns are real important. For a neck bucker, if you hand wind it, the turns per layer are random, what this does in reality is it clips the treble response, it takes the treble DOWN. This is why Leo Fender's girls all hand wound, because single coils are super bright, hand winding just helps them from being screechy bright. So, yes, a hand wound bridge bucker can sound good, but it kills the focused bright treble that vintage PAF's have. It sounds "nice" but it doesn't have the typical treble peak that real PAF's have. The main winding machine that Gibson used was the Leesona 102, Seymour Duncan owns both of the ones they used back then. One is functioning, the other is for parts. These are mechanical winders, that use certain gears to determine the winding pattern. No idea if he is using the right gears or not. The winding machine contributes nothing to the sound of pickups, its the winding PATTERN that does, plus tension. Vintage plain enamel has a very abrasive insulation varnish, so the tension was always very low, but the coils feel very tight and hard when you push on them, because the wire cannot slip on itself like modern wire DOES. I had a pile of vintage plain enamel wire analyzed at Elektrisola Wire Corp. back a few years ago, and the differences between modern and vintage wire are dramatic. In fact, the MAJORITY of all vintage pickup sound comes from the WIRE. I've wound alot of vintage wire myself and am always looking for more, so I know it very well. The older 50's and 40's wire also had impure copper in the core, which also contributes something that can't really be measured or defined. So, there is still some mystery to these vintage materials that you can't put your finger on, to say this does that, or this other ingredient contributes something else to the sound. I had a funny email argument with an 80 year old transformer winder guy last year, who I thought might have some vintage wire. He got really mad at me because I waa telling him how the older the wire is, the better it sounds in PICKUPS. He ranted for paragraphs about how what horrible wire that old stuff was, and if he had any he would throw it out ;-)
     
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  12. fretrattler22

    fretrattler22 Junior Member

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    My burst buckets have a little white paper sticker with a number reference as to wound them.
     
  13. vortexx

    vortexx Senior Member

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    I did put a real PAF in a Orville by Gibson '59RI because I liked the guitar quite a bit at the time actually.

    For reference purposes photos of one of my PAFs and pre T-Tops. Note that pre T-Tops also came with orange wire after the purple wire ran out.

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  14. tokairic

    tokairic Member

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    Well, thanks for the brilliant posts - its great that there are folks like you out there that actually do know stuff.
    There is a lot of smoke and mirrors around tone and pickups, wood etc and for someone who doesn't 'know for a fact' that can be very distracting. Add to that the dubious 'facts' that evolve from here say....
    I daresay there aren't many who were there at the time, played the originals before they were messed around, and stayed involved right through to the here and now, and can make good, knowledgable comparisons.
    Terrific - more posts please.
     
  15. Dave Stephens

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

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    The Burst Buckers just had who the person that manned the winder that day, the winding is automatic, not hand winding.

    They didn't "run out of purple wire." The switched to poly wire was on purpose. Personally I think it was because Gibson was just CHEAP and tried to save money. They bought their magnets like that, they bought seconds and reject magnets. The wire was never really purple, thats a myth. REAL purple plain enamel was used in the 40's, and I've had a couple rolls of it. PAF wire was all a reddish maroon color, a tint of purple sometimes but never really purple.

    They are not called "pre-TTops," from '62 to '64 those are just "Patents," because of the patent number decal. In '63 they went to the orange and even a gold colored poly insulation wire, this is much brighter wire and some of these can be overbearingly bright. But in '64, for some odd reason there were a few sets wound with plain enamel again, even some of these are real screechers, real unpleasant. SOME early Patents are actually full blown PAF's, that had the Patent decal put on them later. The way to tell is by the leads coming off the coils. If both leads are black they are PAF-era, if one of the coils has white leads coming off the coil, they are Patents. There IS a difference in the Patents even with plain enamel. The bobbins were different, the pole screw alloys changed, the magnet were short alnico 5, instead of the regular A2. These changes made these pickups much brighter than classic PAF era. I've coached a few customers on buying real PAF's on Ebay for real cheap, because sometimes I can spot Patents that are actually PAF's. Its a gamble but pays off sometimes.

    TTops replaced PAF's because the advances in materials technologies made the magnets real bright and strong, the pole screw alloys changed as common threaded screws in hardware stores changed to harder material, adding brightness. The bobbin geometry changed a little bit, the little hole disappeared, not sure why, and winding pattern dramatically changed and poly wire took over. From what I see with the new TTOP design, they were combatting the extreme brightness that the classic PAF recipe had changed to as materials evolved and ruined the magic. Even TTops did not remain static in design over years. The earliest ones from '65 are the best ones and even still had thick A2 magnets in some. Even these kept getting brighter, so by the late 70's Gibson began winding them hotter to kill the extreme treble.

    Here's a photo of two spools of vintage plain enamel, the one on the right is more PAF era, the one on the left is more towards the 40's and a little bit of purplish tint. 2nd photo is PAF era on right and definitely 40's wire or earlier on the left. vintagewire.jpg purplewire.jpg
     
  16. vortexx

    vortexx Senior Member

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    Hi Dave,
    I just called them pre T-Tops in my post because I just woke up and was lazy about typing. I do have them listed as patent number in my photos. I have never seen the wire from the 40s before. Even if you see my photos showing the wire through the bobbin top, it looks more marron-ish as you say. In darker light it looks more purpleish but in bright light it looks pretty orange. Both the patent number pickup and the paf pictured have the same maroon-purplish wire. The PAF has a long magnet and the patent number has a short magnet.
     
  17. javamusic

    javamusic Junior Member

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    The sticker looks vintage to me. My '59 PAF has the same sticker, I took the pickups from a '59 ES-175.
     
  18. 61LPSG

    61LPSG Senior Member

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    Here's one of my '62 stickers for reference. This one is pretty clean. IMG_8776.JPG
     

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