'59 PAF Talk

Chakalawaka

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Alright peeps,

To all of you guardians of the knowledge, I was wondering something...
And by the way, this is purely hypothetical:

Are the humbuckers on a 1959 ES-335 the same paf as the ones on a 1959 Les Paul Standard?

Or are they wound differently? And if you had a well made R9 and throw a pair of these in, would you acquire that god-like sound everyone is after? (Supposedly if you find a good sounding pair of PAFs, as we know they were not all born equal..)

1959-gibson-es-335-sunburst-1-1S9Qle3.jpg
 

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KS 5150

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To my knowledge, they were all manufactured the same. So an ES-335 & Les Paul would draw from the same stock. That said, as you alluded to, they were not all equals, due to tolerances of the era (winds, etc). If you find a good one, it shouldn't be any different than any other good PAF. Every guitar will have its own sound, regardless of the pickups. They can make a big difference indeed, but a crap-sounding guitar won't sound appreciably better with PAF's in it.
 

mdubya

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Yes, PAFs in a 1959 ES 335 are the same as in a 1959 Les Paul.

I don't know about "throwing" them in an R9, but if they were carefully installed with the original wiring harness into an R9 they might sound pretty good. Better than a nicely constructed set of boutiques? Subjective. :hmm:

However, if you had access to a 1959 ES 335 with original PAFs, you should be shot if you were to remove them. It would be considered a crime against humanity. :wtf:
 
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dc007

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However, if you had access to a 1959 ES 335 with original PAFs, you should be shot if you were to remove them. It would be considered a crime against humanity.
I am usually of the opinion if you buy it do what you please with it. But in this case I would have to agree with the quoted message above.
 

DarrellV

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Yes, PAFs in a 1959 ES 335 are the same as in a 1959 Les Paul.

I don't know about "throwing" them in an R9, but if they were carefully installed with the original wiring harness into an R9 they might sound pretty good. Better than a nicely constructed set of boutiques? Subjective. :hmm:

However, if you had access to a 1959 ES 335 with original PAFs, you should be shot if you were to remove them. It would be considered a crime against humanity. :wtf:
You DO know what kind of image you are projecting to the rest of MLP, right?? o_O

Could affect how we view you.... just sayin!

:rofl:
 

Brewdude

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Plug for an amazing book written by our own @cooljuk all about the history, myth, and lure of the PAF (and other) pickups that will answer most of your technical questions.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1574243640/?tag=mylespaul04-20

As for getting that tone if you put them in an R9, thats debatable, but I agree with others that you shouldn't be in a rush to rip out a pair of PAFs from a 335. You may find that a pair of PAFs doesn't sound great in that guitar but you're just as likely to take a good sounding pair and put them into a different guitar and not like the results. :dunno:
 

Zentar

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Plug for an amazing book written by our own @cooljuk all about the history, myth, and lure of the PAF (and other) pickups that will answer most of your technical questions.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1574243640/?tag=mylespaul04-20

As for getting that tone if you put them in an R9, thats debatable, but I agree with others that you shouldn't be in a rush to rip out a pair of PAFs from a 335. You may find that a pair of PAFs doesn't sound great in that guitar but you're just as likely to take a good sounding pair and put them into a different guitar and not like the results. :dunno:
Barnes and Noble sell this book 15% off. Don't order everything from Amazon unless you want their Bezos to rule over you like a king.
 

cooljuk

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I'll trade you one of my R9s (a very very nice one) with some truly amazing original 1959 PAFs in it for your original PAF-equipped 1959 ES-335.

Problem solved with no vintage guitars harmed. :thumb:


btw - they are all good ones!
Just not all the right pickups for, or installed in the right position of, every guitar and they are also not all in perfect condition. Some need repair or maintenance.
 

dodona

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contemporary ES-335 VOS 1959 use Gibson Memphis 'MHS' Humbuckers which are closer to original 50ths humbuckers with a clearer, more transparent 'Seth Lover' tone than todays Les Paul humbuckers.
 

Chakalawaka

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To my knowledge, they were all manufactured the same. So an ES-335 & Les Paul would draw from the same stock. That said, as you alluded to, they were not all equals, due to tolerances of the era (winds, etc). If you find a good one, it shouldn't be any different than any other good PAF. Every guitar will have its own sound, regardless of the pickups. They can make a big difference indeed, but a crap-sounding guitar won't sound appreciably better with PAF's in it.
Yes, PAFs in a 1959 ES 335 are the same as in a 1959 Les Paul.

I don't know about "throwing" them in an R9, but if they were carefully installed with the original wiring harness into an R9 they might sound pretty good. Better than a nicely constructed set of boutiques? Subjective. :hmm:

However, if you had access to a 1959 ES 335 with original PAFs, you should be shot if you were to remove them. It would be considered a crime against humanity. :wtf:
Plug for an amazing book written by our own @cooljuk all about the history, myth, and lure of the PAF (and other) pickups that will answer most of your technical questions.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1574243640/?tag=mylespaul04-20

As for getting that tone if you put them in an R9, thats debatable, but I agree with others that you shouldn't be in a rush to rip out a pair of PAFs from a 335. You may find that a pair of PAFs doesn't sound great in that guitar but you're just as likely to take a good sounding pair and put them into a different guitar and not like the results. :dunno:

Thank you all for the answers, and thank you so much @Brewdude for the book recommandation, this is definitely something I will add to my library! It will look nice next to my copy of BOTB.
I'll take any other book recommandations on '59 LPs or vintage instruments :naughty:

But indeed guys, I would never disfigure any original ES-335, if someone put a PAF in there, it's for a reason! This was purely for science ;) And I would be so stocked to have a '59 ES-335, I don't think I would do anything to it but play it, as it was intended to!

If I would not be happy with the tone of a R9 I would replace them with PAF clones, or sometimes you do come across an original pair (without the guitar surrounding it) for sale on Reverb, although it would be a gamble to assume they are good sounding or appropriate for the guitar, and would cost most likely more than the R9 itself! The "regularity" of a clone is reassuring, in my opinion (although certain pickup artists (see what I did there) tried to copy the un-even wounding of their coils for historical accuracy).
 
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Zentar

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I think PAFs used A2 and A5 in the 50s. My modern PAFs are mostly A2(Classic57 and Pearly Gates). I keep wanting to disavow A5s in PAFs yet P90s need the A5s. I find it tough to believe Gibson had boxes of A3 and A4 magnets in the parts room yet I know Gibson was making many guitar models I've never owned or saw.. The only constant I see in PAFs is 42awg enamel wire. Everything else in a PAF seems to be chance like; what did an employee use when the parts guy ran out of A5, A2?

Gibson also made Haweaiian lap steel guitars and the P13 pickup. What else was in Gibson's parts room?

One thing that was not in the parts room was those rough, hairy magnets made in China because we didn't trade with China in the 50s
 
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mdubya

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contemporary ES-335 VOS 1959 use Gibson Memphis 'MHS' Humbuckers which are closer to original 50's humbuckers with a clearer, more transparent 'Seth Lover' tone than todays Les Paul humbuckers.
I have MHS buckers in my 2018 '59 RI ES 335 and a 2015 ES LP. I really like both sets, yet they sound so different. I don't know if it is the guitars, the wiring harnesses, variances in the pickups, or some combination of all of the above. The 2018's are smooth and mellow and clear with just a bit of top end bite. The 2015's are rangy and raw and trebly without being too over the top. They also calm down when the volumes and tones are backed down a bit.

While I would love to own some nice vintage Gibsons, I do not need better guitars than the ones I have. My Memphis built ES's and my Custom Shop Firebird make me all gooey just talking about them. Even my SG Classic just positively screams, and it plays so good.
 

cooljuk

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I think PAFs used A2 and A5 in the 50s. My modern PAFs are mostly A2(Classic57 and Pearly Gates). I keep wanting to disavow A5s in PAFs yet P90s need the A5s. I find it tough to believe Gibson had boxes of A3 and A4 magnets in the parts room yet I know Gibson was making many guitar models I've never owned or saw.. The only constant I see in PAFs is 42awg enamel wire. Everything else in a PAF seems to be chance like; what did an employee use when the parts guy ran out of A5, A2?

Gibson also made Haweaiian lap steel guitars and the P13 pickup. What else was in Gibson's parts room?

One thing that was not in the parts room was those rough, hairy magnets made in China because we didn't trade with China in the 50s
In the 1950's (and even the 1940's) Gibson used more A3s than anything else. You need to remember that Gibson was making P-90s and, as you mentioned, other types of pickups long before PAFs came about at the end of the 1950s and they continued to use those same magnets (A3s) in PAFs until they phased those out. Likely, because they realized there was a physical fitment issue of the South polar faces not being ground on the magnets when put into PAFs.

What pickup makers like Gibson and Duncan put into their "vintage style" humbuckers today doesn't reflect the realities of history.

There are also certainly more commonalities in PAFs than the wire (which did vary quite a bit, in many ways) but there are also lots of variables, as you mentioned. None of it was completely random, though. When you dig into enough PAFs, patterns emerge and time-frames start to show trends, though trends aren't absolutes, either.

You'd probably enjoy that book that Brewdude recommended, considering your interest in the history and details. There's just so much misinformation repeated over and over about PAFs and vintage Gibson pickups that Mario and I, along with some other contributing noteworthy pickup professionals, tried to set straight while also bringing to light some new and undiscussed topics ...along with plenty of photos. :thumb:
 

Zentar

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In the 1950's (and even the 1940's) Gibson used more A3s than anything else. You need to remember that Gibson was making P-90s and, as you mentioned, other types of pickups long before PAFs came about at the end of the 1950s and they continued to use those same magnets (A3s) in PAFs until they phased those out. Likely, because they realized there was a physical fitment issue of the South polar faces not being ground on the magnets when put into PAFs.

What pickup makers like Gibson and Duncan put into their "vintage style" humbuckers today doesn't reflect the realities of history.

There are also certainly more commonalities in PAFs than the wire (which did vary quite a bit, in many ways) but there are also lots of variables, as you mentioned. None of it was completely random, though. When you dig into enough PAFs, patterns emerge and time-frames start to show trends, though trends aren't absolutes, either.

You'd probably enjoy that book that Brewdude recommended, considering your interest in the history and details. There's just so much misinformation repeated over and over about PAFs and vintage Gibson pickups that Mario and I, along with some other contributing noteworthy pickup professionals, tried to set straight while also bringing to light some new and undiscussed topics ...along with plenty of photos. :thumb:
I'll check the book out. I wondered why I've never seen an A3.
 

cooljuk

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I'll check the book out. I wondered why I've never seen an A3.
In vintage PAFs? A3s are definitely there. Much more common in the early ones. I've actually seen one of the original A3s in a mid-1960's Gibson humbucker with original solder on the cover. That's extremely rare, though. Almost all of what I see in those later humbuckers are short A5s.

If you mean in modern replicas, some use A3s but most just go by information that is repeated and re-told or looked up online, which is often incorrect. Few have the ability to actually get inside, much less do detailed testing of, internal PAF parts. Anything I share about PAFs is strictly first-hand from direct experience, unless I state otherwise. I try to be very clear about that, as I share info. :thumb:

FWIW - it's also the case that most modern AlNiCo magnets don't sound much at all like the vintage examples we encounter in old pickups.
 

Chakalawaka

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FWIW - it's also the case that most modern AlNiCo magnets don't sound much at all like the vintage examples we encounter in old pickups.
I have read somewhere (can’t remember the source) that the sound of a PAF today is actually different from what it would have sounded in the 50s because they lost some of their magnetism, and therefore allow the strings to vibrate longer, is there any truth to this?
 
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ARandall

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^ No.
In another thread.....
http://www.mylespaul.com/threads/magnet-question-food-for-thought.422460/
.....James has addressed this issue. Unless the pickup has been stored near an incredibly strong magnetic field, then the single magnet PAF construction has no obvious draining capacity. P90's are different as there are 2 magnets opposing each other, and one magnet from a 54 set I sent hime for 'service' showed almost no charge.

And the strings vibrating longer.....that sounds like someone jumping to conclusions, or trying to sound impressive by making something up.
 

cooljuk

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I have read somewhere (can’t remember the source) that the sound of a PAF today is actually different from what it would have sounded in the 50s because they lost some of their magnetism, and therefore allow the strings to vibrate longer, is there any truth to this?
Alex is correct. This seems to be a myth. Perhaps started by the impression of magnetic behavior exhibited by earlier non-AlNiCo magnet types, such as those in the magnetos of hit-miss engines, which do loose charge over time. Perhaps people became accustomed to the idea of having to periodically charge their magnetos in their tractors and applied that theory falsely to later guitar pickup magnets?

I did a year long-term study on vintage Gibson mag magnet behavior, using dozens of examples from the early 1940s through the 1970s (and hundreds more in short-term studies). The short conclusion is that nearly all of the magnets had originally come to me, in their unaltered 50-80 year old state, at full charge.

However, as I said earlier, modern magnets don't behave like the vintage ones. It only takes a few examples of each, a Gaussmeter, a brute-force or capacitive discharge magnet charger, and a little time to see that. ...or, even just a decent rig and pair of ears. :)
 

Chakalawaka

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Alex is correct. This seems to be a myth. Perhaps started by the impression of magnetic behavior exhibited by earlier non-AlNiCo magnet types, such as those in the magnetos of hit-miss engines, which do loose charge over time. Perhaps people became accustomed to the idea of having to periodically charge their magnetos in their tractors and applied that theory falsely to later guitar pickup magnets?

I did a year long-term study on vintage Gibson mag magnet behavior, using dozens of examples from the early 1940s through the 1970s (and hundreds more in short-term studies). The short conclusion is that nearly all of the magnets had originally come to me, in their unaltered 50-80 year old state, at full charge.

However, as I said earlier, modern magnets don't behave like the vintage ones. It only takes a few examples of each, a Gaussmeter, a brute-force or capacitive discharge magnet charger, and a little time to see that. ...or, even just a decent rig and pair of ears. :)
Oh I know where I read that, it was on the official DiMarzio website... Here's what they say about the 36th anniversary:
"We duplicated the weaker magnetic field in order to allow the strings to vibrate longer, as well as focus and articulate the attack and output."
But then in the specs section they say they used AlNiCo-5? Weren't they supposed to use A3's like mentioned above? As for the magnets loosing magnetism, I think I read that on one of the forums here...

Well at least it's nice to talk to people who actually knows what they're talking about! So when you say they don't behave like the vintage ones, what do you mean exactly by that? What's the difference? And how do it influences the sound?
 
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