Pickups Part 2 Pat# to T-Top

Of course we are only covering the Gibson humbucking pickups that are found in the ES 335, 345 and 355. We’ll look at the P90 found on the ES 330 another time. We covered the transition from short magnet PAF to the early Patent number pickups which were exactly the same. Details included a 2.25″ Alnico magnet, purplish windings and 2 black leads. At some point a transition was made to a more reddish/copper colored wire-probably between 63 and 64. Again, nothing at Gibson happened overnight.  And at around the same time, the lead wires went from both being black to one being white and one black. All this is great for identifying when (approximately) your pickup was made but all of these things are only visible if you open up the pickup. Well don’t. Having original solder is much more important than knowing what color the wires are. They sound pretty much the same and are worth around the same in the marketplace. In fact, your virgin solder pickup is worth more than knowing the color of the wires, so once again-don’t open it up unless someone has already done so.  Also keep in mind that since Gibson used more nickel covered pickups than gold plated ones, that the dates for these transitions among the gold pickup equipped guitars occurred later. PAFs can be found until around 65. Early patents into 67. After 65, the pickups switched from nickel covers to chrome covers and, while the wiring didn’t change, the process did and a higher level of consistency was found in the resistance readings. While PAFs and early patent numbers can run from 6.9K ohms to around 9K, the chrome covered ones show up ,more often than not at 7.5K. I’ve never been  convinced that a 9K is any “hotter” than a 7K but there are tonal differences. I think its more important that the match between the neck and bridge pickup suit you and that doesn’t necessarily mean that they be the same or even close. I like a medium (7.65K or so) neck pickup and a high bridge (8.25 or more). The frequency response seems right to me in these and the difference between them works for the type of music I play. Your mileage will most certainly vary. If you like the way your guitar sounds, don’t worry about the resistance of the pickups. Following the chrome patent number pickup was what’s called the T-top which began showing up in late 65. I have seen the older type as late as 1969, so the transition was very long indeed. We’ll cover T-tops next time. I’d show you more photos but they all look the same as the Patent number I showed you in the earlier post.

3 Responses to “Pickups Part 2 Pat# to T-Top”

  1. […] topics since Gibson had so much variation but this gives a pretty good overview of the transition. Pickups Part 2 Pat# to T-Top | The Gibson ES-335 Pickups Part 3: T-Tops | The Gibson ES-335 __________________ 1989 Epiphone Emperor 1994 […]

  2. delmer loy says:

    This is a question on an old post about PAF pickups…I hope you get it. Please respond.

    I have a 1961 ES 355 which is supposed to be all original. I took a look at the bottom of the pickups.The solder is clean and the covers do not appear to have been removed. Neither pickup has a Patent Applied For sticker. The neck pickup has slotted base plate screws and the bridge has Phillips head screws. I have read where some folks have found this on their 355’s, though it is rare. I really don’t want to pull the covers. Everything else on the guitar checks out as true to the year of the guitar. I don’t want to pull the wiring and check the pots as this is a nightmare to re-install. Any views on whether these are true PAF’s? Thanks!

  3. okguitars says:

    Email sent

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