Ebay ES of the Week #8

The font is wrong on this if it wants to be the real thing. There also aren't any tooling marks on the feet. Would you buy this pickup?

Instead of looking at an ES model this week, I’m going to go after something that bugs me  more than perhaps it should. This vintage stuff is pretty esoteric but given the cost of some of these things, it cannot be ignored. I can go out and buy a used Burstbucker-the pickup Gibson uses in its Les Paul models-for $50. It’s an excellent pickup and will serve you well in whatever you ask it to do. They put a “Patent Applied For” sticker on them to remind you that its a copy of the pickups used from 1957 to 1963 or so. There are a lot of physical differences that allow you to tell a Burstbucker from a real PAF but, apparently, not everyone gets it. I don’t expect Joe the Plumber to get it but I do expect a Music Store to take the time to learn these things. Especially when a real PAF pickup costs as much as $4,000. This week I’m looking at a single PAF. The first thing I look at is the seller. Then I look at the label. Then the feet and the cover if it has one. If any of these things look suspicious, then I usually don’t buy. I’m sure I’ve missed one or two real PAFs but I have only been burned once and that was for $720 by a pickup that was a fake but was built on a real PAF base with a real sticker. There are some pretty good fake stickers out there now but that’s for another day.   Here’s the Ebay auction in question. The label on a real PAF is a rather condensed font and the closed letters (P,A and R) are usually filled or partially filled. Use the photos as a guide. Also, the

Here's what the PAF label is supposed to look like. If it looks the same to you as the one at the top of the post, then you shouldn't be looking at vintage pickups.

lettering is slightly raised-hard to see in a photo, easier in person. Can I say without question that this supposed PAF is a fake? Well, no I can’t. Perhaps someone had a real PAF that the label fell off of and they wanted folks to know it was a PAF and they got a reproduction label and stuck it on. Likely? No. Possible? Barely but possible. My problem is actually not just that the music store whose listing this is says it’s a PAF-it’s that even if it is a PAF, they should clearly state that the label is wrong. Then the buyer can move on to all the other stuff that tells me this isn’t for real. Like the tooling marks on the feet. I emailed the seller and got the following reply we have researched this product and the spacing is just under 2 inches from center to center as 1 15/16 to be exact all vintage paf websites say that it should be and the sticker is yellowed at the borders and font is less clear and raised as all websites say that it should be. we have also brought it to several local vintage shops that also verified its being legit. that you for your concern and have a great day”

Oh, now I get it. If it’s the same size as a PAF, it must be a PAF. Oh, and the border is yellowed.
Compare the PAF in the auction to the PAF in this other auction. If you can’t see the difference, maybe you should open a music store. Just don’t sell any vintage stuff.

Look closely. You'll see an "L" shaped mark on either side of the adjustment screw hole. If you don't see that mark, don't buy the pickup unless you're looking for something other than a real PAF.

Here's a close up comparison of a real and a repro label. The real one is on top.

2 Responses to “Ebay ES of the Week #8”

  1. Mike says:

    Uhhhh….looks like a nicely aged ’57 Classic to me.

  2. OK Guitars says:

    Kind of looks that way, doesn’t it?

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