PAF Guts (Covers, Decals, Bobbins, Tooling Marks, etc)

Photo by Kim LaFleur Vintage Checkout

First and foremost, never ever remove the cover from an original PAF pickup, unless you have a darn good reason. There is just no need for this, and it really makes the pickup “unoriginal” if you remove the metal cover. If you are dying to see the color of the pickup bobbins, just remove one of the underside bottom mounting screws and look in the hole, instead of removing the pickup cover.

Photo by Kim LaFleur Vintage Checkout

Early P.A.F. pickups as used on the 1956 lapsteels and 1957 Les Paul Standard had brushed stainless steel pickup covers (brushed to make them look nickel plated). This quickly changed to brass covers with a nickel plating. If the cover was gold, the brass was first nickel plated and then gold plated. Early PAFs also have four brass bobbin attachment screws, instead of steel screws. Also the early PAFs with stainless covers often did *not* have a PAF decal on the bottom (so some 1957 Gibson guitars will have unlabeled PAF pickups with brushed stainless covers).

Here is a pre-PAF sticker 1957 Les Paul goldtop pickup. Notice the lack of a PAF sticker, which is common for many 1957 PAF guitars.

Photo by Kim LaFleur Vintage Checkout

Photo by Kim LaFleur Vintage Checkout

With that in mind, the first picture shows the bottom side of the PAF pickup, and the decal that declares the humbucker is “Patent Applied For” (PAF). Note the lettering and style of the decals. The lettering is gold, and sometimes the gold does turn green just a bit. The clear edge decal border around the black PAF decal has a slight green tint to it. Again remember very early stainless steel covered PAF pickups will not have any decal on the bottom. Also note the untouched solder joints holding the pickup cover to the pickup base plate. And the single stranded black cloth-covered lead wire, which is shielded with a braided metal wrap.

The “L” shaped tooling marks can be clearly seen on the feet of these PAFs.

Photo by Kim LaFleur Vintage Checkout

Photo by Kim LaFleur Vintage Checkout

Zebra PAF. Note the “circle around the square” tooling hole at the top of both bobbins. Notice the hole on the adjustable pole piece side has a smaller circle around it. The non-adjustable side always has a slightly larger circle. Reissue pickups copy this somewhat but don’t copy it just right. Also on newer pickups the circle and square is very clean and crisp. On original PAFs they are less perfect. Also look inside the bobbin holes for the bobbin wire color. It should be a copper wire with a purplish hue. The color of the wire is very important, and it shouldn’t look too clean (the pickup is 40+ years old!)

One bobbin removed on an late PAF pickup, showing the magnet.
The length of this magnet changed in summer 1961 from 2.5″ to around 2.25″
(decreased in length 1/8 to 1/4″).

Photo courtesy of vintage guitar info

Enjoy this great clip from Snowy White with his PAF equipped 1957 Goldtop:

Published in: on June 24, 2009 at 11:54 am  Leave a Comment  

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