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Repair: Make a cheap Chinese pickup sound like a PAF

This is a letter I got from the owner of this pickup:

"I bought these *Brand Name Deleted* pickups mounted in a pickguard that I liked on Ebay..cheap, cheap. I was very disappointed in them as they sounded thin and lifeless...I do like the pickguard though...After you had refurbished the neck pickup to proper specs they sounded as good or better than any humbuckers I have ever heard...I asked you for the mid 60's Gibson ES 335 sound (Johnny Rivers) and that's exactly what I got. The pickup was mounted in an Ibanez Artstar AS 180 (ES 335 clone) and I couldn't be happier with it. I'm now looking forward to you doing the same to the bridge pickup."

I have had other inquire about these pickups and how to improve their tone, so I decided for this repair I would do like many of my other repairs and do a pictorial of the repair.

Post repair notes

  • The Bar magnet is woefully inadequate. I am not sure of its material but was rather weak and of a non metal material. This is likely one of the biggest failings with this pickup.
  • The pickups was a little over wound 9.75k, I assume it was to makeup for the weak magnet I rewound them to Vintage specs.
  • The pickup was potted in what appeared to be straight paraffin wax. Most PAFs type pickups are not potted because it will effect the tone. If they are potted the wax should be mixed with bees wax to make not so hard and brittle. Potting is a fast cheap way to address the problem of microphonics and squeal. There are other, and better methods to stop the microphonics with out potting the bobbins.
  • Seeing the quality of the magnet, the potting, and the fact that the bobbins were overwound, I assumed it best to just cut the coil and rewind with a hand guided scatter pattern.
  • I replaced the cheap lead wire with a heavy vintage style bradded wire.
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As I received it

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All looks like a PAF

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Cover removed appears to be potted in just paraffin wax

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Removed from base and turned upside down

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The cheap magnet below and a proper ALNICO found in most PAF style pickups on top

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Bobbin isolated and tape removed

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Coil cut

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After the rewind and taped back up

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You can see the base legs are much shorter

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Both coils rewound and a proper Alnico5 bar magnet installed

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Fitted back on the base

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Cover on and you can see the braided wire used

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Completed 

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