ES-335 pickup identification (Shaw's?) - Mystery Solved!

Saiko

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Hey everyone, just wanted to post this here hoping for the pickup experts to chime in. As seen in my other post in the other Gibson's section I recently acquired a 1983 ES-335.

It appears at some point the bridge pickup was changed but appears to be from the same era as the guitar. Being a 335, it is not easy to look at the pots to see if anything was changed under the hood but the neck pickup is definitely a Shaw. I am trying to figure out if the bridge pickup is original or replaced and what it could be. It has a much brighter chrome cover than the aged original hardware on the rest of the guitar and doesn't seem to have had the cover removed.

I am leaning towards it being a replacement for obvious reasons but I am curious if it is also a Shaw or something else. Patent stamp, brass screws on the bottom and no ink stamp. Could someone at Gibson have accidentally thrown a chrome covered pickup in the guitar when it was built?

I have no intention of selling the guitar or changing the pickups or anything else about the guitar, this is more of a curiosity for me than anything and potentially a good learning opportunity.

First picture is a close-up of the guitar with the pickups in it, the second is the neck pickup and the last two are of the bridge pickup. Thoughts?

IMG_20180905_144359.jpg IMG_20180905_150622.jpg IMG_20180905_150856.jpg
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DarrellV

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Could be a later T-top after the sticker phase...

Can you get an ohm reading? That would help greatly.
 

Saiko

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Could be a later T-top after the sticker phase...

Can you get an ohm reading? That would help greatly.
Sure thing, I'm not at home right now but I will get a reading and post it in a bit. I can say that it balances well with the neck pickup as far as volume which is why I didn't think of T-Top which I would think would have a substantial volume dip from a Shaw in the neck.
 

mdubya

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Can you see a plastic spacer? I think Shaw's have one.
 

cooljuk

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One of those pickups has had the cover removed so there's no knowing what's inside without looking.

The other has been removed from the guitar, as you said.

You'll note that one baseplate/pickup sits much deeper into the cover than the other. If they are the same covers, they are not the same pickups.

In the photo below, you'll notice how unusually tall this pickup is (bridge pickup from 1979 SG). That's because of the large ceramic magnet you see just below the baseplate leg.


If the covers are the same type on both pickups (neither aftermarket), I bet you've got something like that going on in there. You should definitely be able to tell with your ears if you have an AlNiCo neck pickup and a ceramic magnet bridge pickup.
 

Saiko

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One of those pickups has had the cover removed so there's no knowing what's inside without looking.

The other has been removed from the guitar, as you said.

You'll note that one baseplate/pickup sits much deeper into the cover than the other. If they are the same covers, they are not the same pickups.

In the photo below, you'll notice how unusually tall this pickup is (bridge pickup from 1979 SG). That's because of the large ceramic magnet you see just below the baseplate leg.


If the covers are the same type on both pickups (neither aftermarket), I bet you've got something like that going on in there. You should definitely be able to tell with your ears if you have an AlNiCo neck pickup and a ceramic magnet bridge pickup.
This helps a little. The first picture (the one more recessed in the cover that looks like it's been taken off) is the neck pickup. The date stamped, if I read correctly, is October '83 but the guitar was made in July '83.

The bridge pickup is the one with the more flush cover that I am trying to identify. It's starting to look like both pickups were indeed removed at some point and replaced with Gibson pickups from the same era.

I will measure the DC resistance when I get home and take a closer look but I was hoping to avoid pulling the covers. If I do pull the covers I will replace the bridge cover with a matching aged cover to match the rest of the hardware.

I don't know very much about Gibson pickups of this era, but the bridge is very warm and mellow, something I generally would not equate to a ceramic pickup.

Part of me just might leave it alone since I love how the guitar sounds and I purchased it largely in part due to the fact it was owned by one of my favorite artists.
 

cooljuk

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Nothing wrong with leaving it alone, if you like the sound. Nothing at all.

Once a cover has been off a pickup, there's no way to say what's inside. Meters won't tell you if a magnet has been swapped, a pickup has been potted, a coil has been rewound, or it's an entirely different pickup with a similar reading, altogether. If you think it matters enough to find out or not - only you can say.

:cheers:
 

Saiko

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Nothing wrong with leaving it alone, if you like the sound. Nothing at all.

Once a cover has been off a pickup, there's no way to say what's inside. Meters won't tell you if a magnet has been swapped, a pickup has been potted, a coil has been rewound, or it's an entirely different pickup with a similar reading, altogether. If you think it matters enough to find out or not - only you can say.

:cheers:
As always, your informative post brings up other ideas for me. On one hand I really like the pickups. On the other hand, if I don't intend on getting rid of them then there is little harm in removing the cover, particularly when the neck cover appears to have been removed and the bridge pickup has been changed.

I enjoy figuring these things out so I may go ahead and pull the covers. My guess, the neck pickup cover was removed to wax pot the pickup. This guitar was previously owned by two very prominent touring musicians so wax potting would be reasonable, as would repair and in the case of the bridge pickup, replacement.

I am guessing I will find white spacers and a rough cast magnet under the neck pickup. The bridge is anyone's guess but I will let you guys know what I find.

In the meantime, without the ink stamp, I am guessing the bridge pickup could be virtually any norlin-era pickup except a dirty fingers?
 

DarrellV

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Having mismatched parts is not uncommon or a reason for concern.

IIRC the necks are stamped during their manufacture before they are assembled to a guitar.

So it is not impossible for the assembly line to grab a neck out of the stock that was made earlier.

Most likely you would find the pot codes won't match either as again, they sit in a bin waiting to be used.

Imho there is no need to assume the neck was changed.

It is quite possible that the previous owner found the Shaw in the bridge position a bit too weak for their liking.

It was like that for me on my 82. I had a slightly over wound Shaw clone made for mine to use in the bridge to balance the volumes and get more ummph.
 

DarrellV

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As always, your informative post brings up other ideas for me. On one hand I really like the pickups. On the other hand, if I don't intend on getting rid of them then there is little harm in removing the cover, particularly when the neck cover appears to have been removed and the bridge pickup has been changed.

I enjoy figuring these things out so I may go ahead and pull the covers. My guess, the neck pickup cover was removed to wax pot the pickup. This guitar was previously owned by two very prominent touring musicians so wax potting would be reasonable, as would repair and in the case of the bridge pickup, replacement.

I am guessing I will find white spacers and a rough cast magnet under the neck pickup. The bridge is anyone's guess but I will let you guys know what I find.

In the meantime, without the ink stamp, I am guessing the bridge pickup could be virtually any norlin-era pickup except a dirty fingers?
I am curious why you think the Shaw was potted. Mine were by the previous owner and they were ugly.

Also does the solder look messy like it's been redone? I didn't see that.

I'll have to look after this post.
 

DarrellV

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I see it now. I also see that the bobbin screws are pulled in tight enough to dimple the base plate.

Dammit, it bugs me when people mess around with them.
 

Saiko

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Having mismatched parts is not uncommon or a reason for concern.

IIRC the necks are stamped during their manufacture before they are assembled to a guitar.

So it is not impossible for the assembly line to grab a neck out of the stock that was made earlier.

Most likely you would find the pot codes won't match either as again, they sit in a bin waiting to be used.

Imho there is no need to assume the neck was changed.

It is quite possible that the previous owner found the Shaw in the bridge position a bit too weak for their liking.

It was like that for me on my 82. I had a slightly over wound Shaw clone made for mine to use in the bridge to balance the volumes and get more ummph.
This makes sense given the neck pickup appears to be the original.

As far as the bridge pickup, the previous owner before the individual I purchased it from was Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. I only bring up this fact because it could relate to the pickup choice. He tended to prefer a more vintage wind when it came to his pickups and the individual I purchased it from stated that he had not changed anything but perhaps it was changed even prior to Chris owning it as I do not know if he was the original owner. Either way, the bridge appears to be a Gibson pickup judging by the stamp and construction.

I may just leave the neck pickup alone given the fact that I am almost positive as to what it is and I really like the tone. As far as the bridge pickup, my curiosity is going to win out, of this I am certain lol.

I am still at work but I am going to at least measure the bridge pickup tonight and will probably pull the cover when I have some free time over the next few days.
 

DarrellV

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There is also the fact that the bridge pickup is as you say any type of Gibson pickup and as such it would not be a big deal to remove the cover and take a peek.

Pretty sure it's not a vintage pickup and minimal damage to value would be the case here.

You could check out the Shaw too, since it was already buggered with.
 

Saiko

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Update; the bridge pickup measures 7.5 k and the neck 7.2 k. I measured them in circuit at 70 degrees room temperature, so pretty much what would be expected as far as resistance. I'm not going to pull any covers off tonight but I will let you guys know when I do.
 
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Saiko

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So, in a rather anti-climactic moment of truth... It's a T-top. Wouldn't have anticipated it to match the neck so well but there you go. I guess if it worked for Jimmy Page LOL. It does explain the Chrome cover and why the pole screws were pulled out so far.

I guess something happened with the original bridge pickup and they just stuck another Gibson pickup in there that they had laying around.

I think I'm going to keep the cover off until I can get an aged nickel cover to replace the Chrome one since I already removed it. Still though, it's a great sounding T-top so I'm just going to leave it in there!

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