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PAF history - this needs repeating, again, and again...

AlienVintage

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Sep 10, 2015
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317
I’ve said this in many different posts over the years, but I think it needs repeating.

I can’t stand reading this incorrect fact anymore.

I’m not talking about prototype pickups when I say the following - I’m talking about regular production pickups:

Virtually every written history you will read about PAFs makes the claim that PAFs first appeared in “certain Gibson lap steel models” in 1956.

Dead wrong.

Just flat-out incorrect.

Yes, the first production Gibson “humbucker” first appeared in 1956.

But it wasn’t in a lap steel. It was in certain Gibson console steel and pedal steel models.

And, although it was a “humbucker,” it isn’t the six-string humbucker we would recognize today. It was an eight-string model, with individual magnetized poles, as opposed to a bar magnet running the length underneath. The bobbins look similar to a PAF bobbin, but for eight strings instead of six. The base plate was totally different, as was the cover etc.

The very earliest appearance of the six-string Gibson humbucker we would recognize today (we would call it a “pre decal PAF”) was February 1957.

No Gibson model of any kind (six-string Electric “Spanish” guitar, lap steel guitar, pedal steel guitar) got a regular production six-string humbucker until February 1957.

End of story.

(Again, putting prototype pickups aside for this history)
 

AlienVintage

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Sep 10, 2015
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317
Also, don’t let these two Gibson models confuse you, when it comes to the accurate account of PAF history:

1. Ultratone lap steel
2. EH-610 pedal steel

You’ll perhaps get some bonus points for being correct that these are the only two Gibson steel guitar models that ever got (six-string humbucker) PAFs (across all Gibson steel guitars of the three varieties: lap, pedal, and console) - BUT, this wasn’t until AFTER February 1957.

Again, when it comes to regular production model six-string Gibson humbuckers: nothing before February 1957.
 

AlienVintage

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Sep 10, 2015
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317
Is that enough PAF historical controversy for one thread?

Here’s some more.

The guys who have *really* opened up a ton of humbuckers don’t want you to know what I’m about to write here.

They’d rather continue to take these pickups out of guitars and replace them with other pickups (basically, T-Tops) that the public still thinks are historically correct.

*Plain enamel wire and double black leads continued well into 1965.*

I’m not talking about gold-covered humbuckers here. I’m talking about nickel, and later, chrome-covered humbuckers.

If you’ve got a guitar with original pot codes up through mid-1965 - it could have chrome covers - but it will have plain enamel wire and double black leads.

All this stuff about poly wire starting in 1964, or 1963 (ha!), is trash info.

Had enough PAF historical insanity for one day?

Here’s another fact:

*Plain enamel wire reappeared for a time, in 1967.*

There was a stretch of time, in 1967, when plain enamel wire reappeared, even though white and black leads continued during this same stretch.

T-Tops? Not until around 1968. Maybe late 1967, but I still think around 1968 to be as realistic and accurate as possible.
 

AlienVintage

Active member
Joined
Sep 10, 2015
Messages
317
Is that enough PAF historical controversy for one thread?

Here’s some more.

The guys who have *really* opened up a ton of humbuckers don’t want you to know what I’m about to write here.

They’d rather continue to take these pickups out of guitars and replace them with other pickups (basically, T-Tops) that the public still thinks are historically correct.

*Plain enamel wire and double black leads continued well into 1965.*

I’m not talking about gold-covered humbuckers here. I’m talking about nickel, and later, chrome-covered humbuckers.

If you’ve got a guitar with original pot codes up through mid-1965 - it could have chrome covers - but it will have plain enamel wire and double black leads.

All this stuff about poly wire starting in 1964, or 1963 (ha!), is trash info.

Had enough PAF historical insanity for one day?

Here’s another fact:

*Plain enamel wire reappeared for a time, in 1967.*

There was a stretch of time, in 1967, when plain enamel wire reappeared, even though white and black leads continued during this same stretch.

T-Tops? Not until around 1968. Maybe late 1967, but I still think around 1968 to be as realistic and accurate as possible.

There’s a ‘60s pickup dealer niche that relies on you not really understanding the above historical timeline. Do yourself a favor and read all of this a few times - my hope is that it not only sets forth a more accurate historical PAF/patent number humbucker timeline, but also makes you a much more informed buyer, going forward.
 

El Gringo

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Apr 8, 2015
Messages
4,810
Thanks for the tutorial as this is most helpful knowledge to have and retain . Thank You Very Kindly !
 

C-4

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Jan 5, 2005
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1,761
Thank you for the info!
Wow! Do you know your stuff. :)
 

deytookerjaabs

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Nov 6, 2016
Messages
1,504
Thanks for the info, the wire color thing makes sense from what little I've seen.

About the steels, most folks don't pay attention to the difference between lap/console/pedal designations from my observations, to them it's just not a guitar.
 

marshall1987

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Joined
Jan 30, 2005
Messages
3,233
Is that enough PAF historical controversy for one thread?

Here’s some more.

The guys who have *really* opened up a ton of humbuckers don’t want you to know what I’m about to write here.

They’d rather continue to take these pickups out of guitars and replace them with other pickups (basically, T-Tops) that the public still thinks are historically correct.

*Plain enamel wire and double black leads continued well into 1965.*

I’m not talking about gold-covered humbuckers here. I’m talking about nickel, and later, chrome-covered humbuckers.

If you’ve got a guitar with original pot codes up through mid-1965 - it could have chrome covers - but it will have plain enamel wire and double black leads.

All this stuff about poly wire starting in 1964, or 1963 (ha!), is trash info.

Had enough PAF historical insanity for one day?

Here’s another fact:

*Plain enamel wire reappeared for a time, in 1967.*

There was a stretch of time, in 1967, when plain enamel wire reappeared, even though white and black leads continued during this same stretch.

T-Tops? Not until around 1968. Maybe late 1967, but I still think around 1968 to be as realistic and accurate as possible.

Interesting.....:eek:la.

.....can I ask you what your source is for this information? Thanks.
 

el84ster

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Sep 10, 2001
Messages
1,392
Hmm. The double black leads into 1965 I find hard to believe. There would have to be an awful lot of people in on that conspiracy to be true. Including several books and many winders.
 

AlienVintage

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Sep 10, 2015
Messages
317
Hey guys - sorry, haven’t checked back in until just now.

My source on this timeline is: myself.

If you ranked people who have removed the covers on the most ‘63 to ‘68 Gibson humbuckers, ever, I’m guessing I probably rank in the top few individuals in history.

I’ve kept some very good personal notes on these things. I am 100% confident.

I don’t necessarily say this out of personal pride. It is just a matter of fact. I’ve messed with more original ‘60s Gibsons than all but a few individuals across the world, most likely.

“PAF specs” (plain enamel; double black leads) continued well into 1965.

I’m talking original pot codes into the 20+ week of 1965. Chrome covers by that point - but still plain enamel.

Separately, as I mentioned, there was another reasonably brief window of time, in the later part of 1967, when Gibson again resumed using plain enamel wire, although the leads had changed to, and continued to be, white and black for a while by then (all of 1966 and into early portion of ‘67 was poly wire and white and black leads).

As for the answer to: why would there be so much misinformation about this timeline? The answer is: a combination of innocent misunderstanding, plus (I believe) a deliberate attempt by ‘60s pickup niche dealers to keep this misinformation out there (so that they could continue to poach pickups and also install T-Tops into ‘65/66/67 Gibsons with nobody knowing any better).
 

AlienVintage

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Sep 10, 2015
Messages
317
Here’s the PAF/Patent number pickup timeline as I have personally experienced it:

For nickel and chrome covered humbuckers (not gold):


Pre-decal PAFs: February 1957 through mid/late 1957

PAFs: Mid/late 1957 through late 1962 (obviously first were long magnet, then short magnet change occurred around the second half of 1960).

Patent number humbuckers with “PAF specs” (plain enamel wire and double black leads): late 1962 through mid 1965

Patent number pickups with poly wire and white and black leads: later part of 1965 through early/mid 1967.

Patent number pickups with plain enamel wire and white and black leads: second half of 1967.

T-Tops: late 1967 or early 1968.
 

el84ster

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Sep 10, 2001
Messages
1,392
So you’re saying there are no enamel wired pickups with black and white leads? I’ve owned 7 such pickups, they weren’t poly.
 

AlienVintage

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Joined
Sep 10, 2015
Messages
317
Here is my timeline from above.

There will absolutely be exceptions and some minor discrepancies.

But I stand behind this timeline as being much more accurate than any other website, book, or other source:

Here’s the PAF/Patent number pickup timeline as I have personally experienced it:

For nickel and chrome covered humbuckers (not gold):


Pre-decal PAFs: February 1957 through mid/late 1957

PAFs: Mid/late 1957 through late 1962 (obviously first were long magnet, then short magnet change occurred around the second half of 1960).

Patent number humbuckers with “PAF specs” (plain enamel wire and double black leads): late 1962 through mid 1965

Patent number pickups with poly wire and white and black leads: later part of 1965 through early/mid 1967.

Patent number pickups with plain enamel wire and white and black leads: second half of 1967.

T-Tops: late 1967 or early 1968.
 

DucRyder

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Oct 19, 2005
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2,122
I own a gold patent sticker with purple enamel wire and black and white leads. Low wind 7.3k
 

Sol

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Oct 26, 2001
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"Not gold", is a phrase you've used in your posts. What is the significance?
 

tooold

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Jul 31, 2006
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"Not gold", is a phrase you've used in your posts. What is the significance?


Some higher-end guitars used humbucking pickups with gold-colored cover plating - LP Customs, ES-345/355, et al.

The general theory is that, because these guitars tended to be made in smaller numbers, PAF pickups continued to be found in these humbuckers with gold covers well past the ones with nickel, and then chrome, plating.

Make sense?
 
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