Don’t Get Taken for a Sucker

You can crap it up all you want but it's still a fake. The font is too wide, the loops are too open and the whole thing is too flat. Also, the yellow around the edges looks like it has always been yellow-it doesn't look old at all. You can see the difference, right? If not, don't buy any PAFs.

I’ve written this up before but I think it’s time to get a lot more specific. Listen up. I’m only going to say this as many times as it takes to get you to listen: Don’t buy PAF pickups over the internet unless you know what to look for. I was on the phone with my friend Renzo in LA and he was looking for some Patent number pickups for one of his guitars. He’s a pro player and treats his guitars they way I treat my editing system. It’s my tool of my trade. He pointed me to two listings on Ebay and one disappeared before our eyes. It was a listing for a pair of PAFs and the price was great-$2699. The listing was from a Nashville music store so you would think these guys would know what they’re selling. I hope they pulled the auction because someone told them the stickers were fake and not because someone got taken for a ride. I can’t always tell when a PAF is real-especially when the cover is still on but I can sure as hell tell you when one is fake. Or, I can at least tell when the sticker is fake. I’ve been a graphic artist for a very long time and I spend way too much time trying to match fonts, so I know a right font from a wrong font and right spacing (kerning) from wrong. So, one more time…The font is a condensed font-kind of narrow but well spaced, not the big wide font of the top photo. Next, the loops of the Ps and the R and the top of the A are partially or totally  filled in. There’s a pretty broad range of just how filled in but they are never perfectly clean. The two at the bottom are pretty different but both show some of what I’m talking about.  Next, the font is slightly raised-it looks embossed and has dimension. Next, the clear surrounding part should be yellow or greenish because they are lacquered over -at least I think that’s why they turn yellow. I can’t guarantee you that somebody didn’t put a fake sticker on a real PAF-I’m sure it has happened. But I’ll go with the odds here. If the sticker is fake, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the pickup is probably fake too. It’s crazy enough to pay $2000 for a real PAF but to pay $2000 for a fake one is heartbreaking-or at least bank breaking. There are other things to look for to help you make a determination but your first line of questioning is the label. If the label is wrong, then walk away.

This one's the real deal. It looks like it may have been opened but maybe not. The sticker shows completely closed loops but pretty clear dimension and a lot of grungy yellow surround..

Here's a real good example of a relatively clean PAF label. Even though there isn't much fill in the loops and not much yellow surround, the font is correct and the letters are raised.

Here's a really good closeup sent to me by Thierry, a reader in France. It shows pretty clearly everything I talked about in the post. Compare this to the photo at the top of the post. You can be half blind and font illiterate and still see the difference. Take a mental photo right now. It will save you lots of aggravation later.Thanks T.

7 Responses to “Don’t Get Taken for a Sucker”

  1. Chris W. says:

    That sticker is sooooooo fake! But…. Looking at the pickup, it’s clearly been potted. Look at all the wax around the pole pieces and bobbin screws. I wonder if it isn’t a real PAF that went for a dip and lost its sticker. Personally, if I were trying to fake a PAF, I’d make dang sure that I cleaned the potting wax off before trying to pass it off.

  2. OK Guitars says:

    Everybody knows that all the tone comes from the sticker. Even if you have a real PAF, a fake sticker will kill your tone faster than than a speeding Varitone 🙂

  3. Thierry says:

    I am glad having sent my 2 cents to your so useful website. And thanks again for the informations and advises. Please, keep on it !!!

  4. Hugh Hardy says:

    CG, Love reading your posts… you are a National Treasure! Well, not my National Treasure – I’m from Canada – but another nation’s treasure nonetheless! Will take your hint on Pyramid Strings… still watching your site for that ‘no issues’ 58 or 59 Sunburst Dot Neck 335. Cheers, Hugh H.

  5. OK Guitars says:

    Hey Hugh, you haven’t bought anything or sold me anything lately. Slowing down, are we? I think you need an SG. No guitar player should be without one.

  6. ADRIAN says:

    Hi Hugh
    I have a guitar ( 1975 artisan) fitted with Pafs from a 1962 gibson les paul ( SG shape) up for sale

  7. OK Guitars says:

    Send me a photo at and please include a photo of the backs of the pickups.

Leave a Reply

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)