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The elusive PAF tone, covers??

jamisonlps

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May 30, 2005
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I am very familiar with the sonic differences of a cover vs. no cover. I've a/b'd this with many pickups over the last several years and almost always prefer them with no cover.

However, I know not all PAF's came with covers, some did not. Just curious your thoughts on this and if the best PAF's were covered pickups? Do you think the slight darkening and attenuation, slight compression and fatness of having a cover combined with a weaker wind is part of the "magic" combination??

Would love to hear some feedback from winders as well (Throbak, Zhangbucker???)
 

Black58

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Oct 28, 2005
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I've heard of people removing the covers; I've heard of people receiving guitars with PAFs, or just a set of PAFs, that had they're covers removed; But I've never heard of a PAF that originally came without one! :wah ... :hmm
 
B

bigsby'd

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Never heard of a PAF not originally equipped with a cover.
 

Calgary Flametop

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May 11, 2010
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Ye old cover no cover question. Pickups create their sound via magnets, wound bobbins and poles. The magnets in this equation will change with their surrounding. All metal objects touching or in a near by vicinity to a magnet will have an affect on it over time. In the reverse sense I have taken covers off of old pickups and had metal fillings from previous fretwork remain stuck to the cover.

What I am getting at here is that all the metal parts on a pickup actually do play a part in that pickups sound. On a newer pickup I find that removing the cover can open up the sound. Its like the cover hasn't worked itself into the field and is still more of a hinderance than help. On older pickups however, where all the metal parts have been playing on each other for decades, I find removing the covers to generally be a bad thing. It is like taking a part that has become integral out of the equation.

I have another example not involving covers, but still relative. Years ago I took a PAF that I really liked and added a new magnet to it. I thought if it sounded so good with the old magnet that it would sound even better with a new one. Boy was I wrong. The new magnet made it sound like a new pickup and not a very good one at that. The poles, covers and frame must have become magnetized in a certain way that didn't jive with the new magnet. When I put the original magnet back in it was back to its old beautiful smooth self.

Anyways, what I am trying to say here is that over time all the parts on a pickup become integral and I wouldn't recommend changing or removing anything from them. Especially if they are sounding good to begin with. A couple years back a friend asked me to help him remove the covers on the pickups of his 62 SG. He had just read the bit on Eric Clapton where he said how great things were when he removed the covers on his pickups. The only problem is that when he said this his pickups were not that old. After explaining what I just talked about here he decided to keep the covers on.
 

jamisonlps

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What I am getting at here is that all the metal parts on a pickup actually do play a part in that pickups sound. On a newer pickup I find that removing the cover can open up the sound. Its like the cover hasn't worked itself into the field and is still more of a hinderance than help. On older pickups however, where all the metal parts have been playing on each other for decades, I find removing the covers to generally be a bad thing. It is like taking a part that has become integral out of the equation.

Anyways, what I am trying to say here is that over time all the parts on a pickup become integral and I wouldn't recommend changing or removing anything from them.

Good discussion, exactly why I wanted to post this. It wasn't intended to be just another "cover on" vs. "cover off" thread; we've all experienced that and have our own preference. Was just curious what some thoughts were on how the cover contributed to the vintage PAF mojo.
 

Gold Tone

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...people started hating PAF pickups right around 72-73, when Marshalls got a lot brighter and edgier sounding.

Really? Who started hating them?

I see many, many pics of PAF players and early metal panel Marshalls around that time and later.

Not sure that a single coil would be thicker sounding, less bright, than a PAF.

Intersting...
 
B

bigsby'd

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People can raise the pickups a little more with the covers off...I think this lends to the idea that covers-off makes a bigger difference than just the absence of the material. I've never felt compelled to gank a cover off though, so I'm probably just talking out of my nether-hole. Like guitars...its the sum of the parts is more important than blah blah blah.
 

TM1

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Really? Who started hating them?

I see many, many pics of PAF players and early metal panel Marshalls around that time and later.
Intersting...

Bollocks! In that time period we all wanted PAF's and Marshalls and old tweed covered Fenders.. At least here in L.A. that's what was popular.
 

Gold Tone

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Bollocks! In that time period we all wanted PAF's and Marshalls and old tweed covered Fenders.. At least here in L.A. that's what was popular.

Exactly, this is my observation and experience also.
 

Zhangliqun

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Jul 16, 2001
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The material in the cover definitely makes a difference, some alloys more than others. It's usually that layer of copper that's the killer and why I usually try to talk customers out of ordering with covers.
 

Monroe

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Mar 11, 2008
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Someone above made reference to metal filings stuck on a cover when it was removed... can the materials used for some pickup covers become magnetized? Wouldn't a cover made with ferrous material be a huge tone sucker?
 

BrazenPicker

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Oct 31, 2010
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The material in the cover definitely makes a difference, some alloys more than others. It's usually that layer of copper that's the killer and why I usually try to talk customers out of ordering with covers.

Isn't that only low quality covers though? I thought the better ones don't have the copper layer?
 
B

bigsby'd

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I'm not sure if this thread is really about PAFs, or just about humbuckers in general.
 

cryptozoo

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Take a vintage PAF cover and a 60s chrome PAT # cover and touch each with a magnet. See what happens there?
 
B

bigsby'd

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It was meant to be specifiaclly about PAF's and how the cover is an integral part of that tone.


Understood, but, even starting with the first post, a lot of the information posted is not true about PAFs, but is true if we're speaking of Gibson pickups in general.
 
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