Looking for Advice/Thoughts Regarding Tim Shaw Pickup Output

Saiko

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Hello everyone, I have a quick question for anyone here with experience with the 80's Tim Shaw humbuckers. I have recently acquired an '84 Les Paul Custom, completely stock. The Shaw in the neck measures 7.47 and the bridge is 7.15. As is common with these, the neck is significantly louder and the bridge pickup is weak in comparison. I love the guitar and I want to keep it stock and I have no complaint about the actual tone of the pickups. I have adjusted the pickups to where the neck is even with the ring and the bridge is closer to the strings than I would like and there is still a big difference. I am just not getting what I want out of the bridge pickup in comparison.

My question: Would swapping the bridge and neck pickups make a significant difference? I know DCR isn't necessarily indicative of output but I also know that Shaws don't have a neck/bridge model so I am thinking that I could just switch them and have a better balance. I really don't want to make the change to the guitar without knowing if it will even help. I have an '83 ES-335 with similar output shaws but the "hotter" pickup is in the bridge and they balance nicely.

So... thoughts? Does anyone have experience with this scenario? If so, what was your solution? Would it be better to replace the bridge pickup with something else (I would still keep the Shaw) or try swapping them?

I guess this is not just a question but also could be a discussion for others to reference as far as keeping a guitar stock compared to living with a very minor "issue".
 

kakerlak

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I'd say it's worth a try, particularly if you're unhappy enough with the current setup that you'll eventually replace one/both pickups to solve it. If the latter is true, then this is a sensible first step to try.

I don't think you'll hurt the value any, really, and I would expect them to balance at least a little better than they do currently.
 

Tone deaf

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Before swapping the pups, take the cover off the bridge pup and try that (some people may not think that this makes a difference, I do*). Be careful that you don't get the pup too close to the strings (the magnets will stifle the string vibration). Start with the neck pup low and out of the way and the bridge pup away from the strings and gradually move it closer. Deal with the neck pup after you are satisfied with the bridge pup.



*Doesn't make me right, but with my guitars, I do what I want/like.
 

Saiko

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Yeah, having the bridge pickup too close to the strings is part of what I want to avoid. I would rather not remove the cover. I don't intend on using this guitar for high-gain stuff.

I know I could easily just try the swap but I am trying to weigh the value of the guitar being stock (although I don't expect to ever sell it) versus having it "just right" and therefore I just want some other opinions on the matter. I know an 80's Custom is hardly at the top of the rare Les Paul list but for me it's one I have always wanted.

I find that when one start's changing pickups and components, you lose what makes that individual guitar special and that is why I am trying to avoid changing it too much and I want to try and keep the original pickups.

I guess it comes down to: Will it make a major difference and is it worth it?

Many people in my position would say "don't change anything" and many would say "change everything."
 

kakerlak

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I don't think you really lose any value in swapping the pickups -- the guitar still retains all its original components and can just as easily be reversed. You're not making holes or selling off parts. Would you expect to pay less for a guitar because it's original pickups had been swapped for each other?
 

Saiko

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True. It's really not a value thing as much as my irrationally wanting to keep the guitar as original as possible.

This guitar was made the same month and year I was born so I don't ever see myself selling it. When I say "value" I meant some abstract idea of the guitar being original, not resale.
 
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dmac in SC

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*Doesn't make me right, but with my guitars, I do what I want/like.
I like a man that thinks the same as I do. I started playing as a pre-teen in the late sixty's, and in old times, we didn't have precision set-up shops, especially in small-town USA..I learned to do it myself at an early age, and I'll admit that my methods are unorthodox, but my guitars are perfect...every one of them.

Swapping the position of the original PUP's is a good, zero cost, suggestion. But if the originals don't deliver the sound you want, put something else in. The possibilities are numerous....and raising pickups can do more harm than deadening sustain, I have seen more than once where it can make the guitar impossible keep in tune.

I buy my guitars to play them and keep them...I have never, and will never, understand the mindset of making resale value the primary consideration in purchasing a piece of musical gear.
 

cooljuk

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I doubt swapping the two pickups will make the difference you want.

If you're unhappy with the sound to the point that you are considering swapping the pickups, even though you obviously have serious reservations about altering the originality of your guitar, you won't get the significant change you are probably after. You will get a "barely, if at all, audible" change and that change may not even be about actual output.

You're not talking about an A3 Telecaster bridge pickup with a big coil and tons of turns with some little weak magnets, where the coil has more to do with the output of the pickup. The coils don't account for much regarding the output in Shaws. The magnets have more to do with it, but the physical position under the strings has MUCH more to do with output at the jack.

.32 k Ohms of a coil difference (IF that difference is even a result of turn counts and not just wire tolerance) is a drop in the ocean compared to the magnets, the location of the pickups under the strings, and the pickup heights.
 

Saiko

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That's kind of what I figured and I guess if I get to the point of trying to switch them I would be better off in the end to just pull the bridge pickup out and put a different bridge pickup in.

I'm kind of seeing a pattern here where what everybody's saying is lining up with what I was already thinking but I appreciate the input nonetheless as it's sometimes easier to bounce ideas off of other people even if you just come to the same conclusion.

I've only had the guitar a few weeks and I certainly have other guitars that are useful for different styles and have different pickups so I think I'm going to just play with it some more before deciding on a course of action. If I do decide a different bridge pickup is an order I'm sure one of the winders here can certainly accommodate. :)
 

Tone deaf

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The other thing I do to all my guitars is put in a '50s wiring harness with CTS 500-ohm pots. If it was my guitar, I'd do that (and take the cover off the bridge pup), before doing anything else, If I still didn't like the Shaws, I'd pull them and replace with SD APH-1 pups. Then, I'd sell the Shaws and buy another guitar.
 

Saiko

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I have other Les Pauls with 50's wiring so I am leaving that as-is. I do like the Shaws, I just feel like the bridge is slightly lacking compared to the neck, moreso than what I am used to in a Les Paul.
 

Tone deaf

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I have other Les Pauls with 50's wiring so I am leaving that as-is. I do like the Shaws, I just feel like the bridge is slightly lacking compared to the neck, moreso than what I am used to in a Les Paul.
What strings do you use?
 

cooljuk

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I have other Les Pauls with 50's wiring so I am leaving that as-is. I do like the Shaws, I just feel like the bridge is slightly lacking compared to the neck, moreso than what I am used to in a Les Paul.

Shaws, which are hardly at all different from the T-Tops of the late 70's, are pretty weak humbuckers, in the big picture. The louder and more bass heavy acoustic location of the neck pickup is likely making the bridge (which is basically an identical pickup, most likely, but located up against the end of the strings) seem weak and thin, by comparison. One out of every so many Les Pauls (and the ratio may even be a little higher in some times like the late 70's and 80's?) also seems to have a particularly warm and dark neck position, where a pickup set that balances well in most other guitars sounds warm or dark in the neck and thin in the bridge of these Les Pauls. Wood will be wood. Maybe you've got a little of some/all of these things happening. It's not uncommon.

You can swap harness parts, swap magnets, etc. but, at that point, you are breaking solder joints and you might as well put in exactly what you want for both pickups and electronics. If you're going to take one step in that direction, you might as well walk all the way to your goal. ...or, just leave the guitar as-is, move it along, save it for later, whatever.
 

el84ster

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Man, the neck pickup battle! How I hate it! How seldom I can make it work!
sorry, nothing to add except I feel the pain my les Paul brother. Ugh.:facepalm::run:
 

Saiko

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What strings do you use?
Ernie Ball 10-46 on this guitar...

I'm starting to feel like I need to leave the guitar alone for a while and just keep playing it and fiddle with the pickup/pole heights. I love the feel and tone of the guitar so perhaps it's best for me to try and adapt before I start swapping components out.

At least the consensus seems to be that merely switching the pickup positions isn't a viable solution so I won't be pulling anything out until I'm sure I want to go all the way.
 

ARandall

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Sometimes you can find the oddest things happening.
Like pickups of lower K being better for the bridge than one of higher K. This has happened on a few occasions with both vintage and aftermarket boutique pickups.
On occasion tiny differences the other way in close K pickups might be a bigger difference in tone and output....as we know K isn't the be-all or end-all.

In this case the fractional difference might just help.....depending on the guitar. The only way you'll know is trying.
 

Tone deaf

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I like playing lead with the selector switch in the middle and both pups working. I rarely play with just the bridge pup (16 year old me shakes head in shame).
 

JeffH66

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I know I’m in the minority here, but if it were my guitar, first thing I would do is switch the damn pickups and put the neck pup in the bridge spot. I think it may make more of a difference than you think. This will still preserve the originality of your guitar as well, at least in my opinion. Yes, you will break the solder joints but this is not a 1950’s burst we are talking about here.

Listen, you buy a guitar to play and enjoy. It’s a musical instrument and you should do what is necessary to make it the best instrument it can be. People have the right to do whatever they want with their property, and I will never deny them that right, but I will never understand buying a guitar and worrying more about preserving its originality vs. making it the best sounding and playing guitar it can be.

We’re not talking about chopping a hole into it, putting in a Floyd Rose and EMG’s for gosh sakes. Do what it takes to make it right for you man, or at least try.
 

hamerfan

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First of all check the pots:
The lowest reading pot on my '82 was 265k. If a higher volume on the bridge is your only concern, a new 550k volume pot will make your day.
 

RJ Lane

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I have an 84 LP Custom that I’ve owned since ~1988 and it had the Shaw pickups in it. I ended up putting Alnico IIs in it around 1990 and never looked back. I considered other Duncan’s at the time (JB in the bridge, maybe a 59 in the neck) so find something else that works for you and sell the Shaws. if your 84 is anything like mine, it needed a warmer tone and the Shaws were too harsh
 


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