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Likely a replacement with a chrome cover. The "aging" hardware is nickel, which tarnishes much more quickly and noticeably than nickel. I think it's unlikely that Gibson made a mistake, while pickup swaps are pretty common.

 

It's possible that the original died and when it was replaced, one with a different cover was installed.

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Ditto. Easiest way to check, next time you change strings remove them all, then lift off the pickup rings and take a look underneath. Around that time Gibson was using their own 490/498 combination and also still used a Bill Lawrence PAF clone, which has a printed circuit on the bottom plate and four connector leads. IIRC, the 57 Classics were first released in late '91 or early '92 so someone may have swapped one of the pickups out for one of those. Without ripping everything apart you can lower a small dental mirror in the lower "F" hole and check the solder joints on the switch & pots. Nice guitar!

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If you like the sound but the shine bugs you, you can probably find pre-aged nickel covers. Sure looks like a chrome cover on a guitar that has nickel everywhere else.

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Those are the Bill Lawrence pickups Gibson was using in the late 80s. Those are very likely original and possibly some of the last ones they used. My guess is they put one w/chrome & one w/nickel cover on just to use up their remaining stocks. If it's any consolation, in '90 I bought a new, '89 build, '59 Reissue Les Paul and it came stock with those pickups. When the 57 Classic PAF reissue pickups were released in '91 I put a set in the guitar, but ended up swapping them back out as I felt the Bll Lawrences sounded much better on that particular guitar.

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I would remove the 2 loose circular metal washers from the bottom of the Bridge PU - they are stuck to the magnets, and potentially shorting out the electrical connections.

 

 

11m3mvm.jpg

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Oh, and that too. I thought maybe the OP might have rested those washers on there for some reason. If not, do as the man says.

 

BTW, just thought I'd add for anyone with a mid-late 80s era Gibson, when you see pickup adjusting screws with the larger heads, as on this 335, it's most likely the guitar in question has these Lawrence pickups. Not always, but most often I've found that is the case.

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Lol! (Sorry, can't help it.) Yes, I think those may be from the pots. Look under the knobs & see if they have washers.

Most likely on that 335 you remove the pots, jack & switch through the bridge pickup routings. Gibson's original 335s had a completely solid block from neck heel to end pin. The pots & jack, etc were soldered together with the pickup leads and then and fed through the "F" hole. Gibson did some reissues that way, I can't recall the dates but IIRC around your guitar's vintage, but they stopped due to the build hassles. I don't think it would be worth the effort to pull the pots to check them. Just lift the washers off the pickup & you should be good to go. Who knows, those may have been there from day one!

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The washers may very well be an artifact of a pickup swap -- the guy didn't notice the difference between nickel and chrome and didn't see the washers that stuck to the magnets as he was working on it.

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Who knows, could be. It will be interesting to hear if it sounds different without the washers.

 

This could start a fad, y'know, with everyone running around trying different washers on their bridge pickups. "Eric Johnson uses pre-1961 hand stamped nickle plated washers from an old plant in Gary, IN. A craze has erupted, with collectors paying mad prices for vintage Gary, IN washers." (Sorry, I get carried away.....)

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Who knows' date=' could be. It will be interesting to hear if it sounds different without the washers.

 

This could start a fad, y'know, with everyone running around trying different washers on their bridge pickups. "Eric Johnson uses pre-1961 hand stamped nickle plated washers from an old plant in Gary, IN. A craze has erupted, with collectors paying mad prices for vintage Gary, IN washers." (Sorry, I get carried away.....) [/quote']

 

Considering how insane collectors are, there's probably already a cult started.

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Those are the Bill Lawrence pickups Gibson was using in the late 80s. Those are very likely original and possibly some of the last ones they used. My guess is they put one w/chrome & one w/nickel cover on just to use up their remaining stocks. If it's any consolation' date=' in '90 I bought a new, '89 build, '59 Reissue Les Paul and it came stock with those pickups. When the 57 Classic PAF reissue pickups were released in '91 I put a set in the guitar, but ended up swapping them back out as I felt the Bll Lawrences sounded much better on that particular guitar. [/quote']

 

sok66 - I just posted a new topic in the Les Paul section regarding these pups. Interesting that you put the BL's back in your '59 RI, and as I stated there, I think they sound perfect for my '88 built '59 RI. A couple questions regarding yours. Do you have a 5 digit S/N and does it begin with an 8 or a 9? My understanding from Gibson is that if it was built in '88 the S/N should begin with 8, (which mine does) and following suit if built in '89 the S/N should begin with 9. How do you like yours BTW? I don't play mine all that much lately 'cuz I'm practicing on acoustic. Mine is the one on the right in my avatar but the color is actually more like an Ice Tea. Can you post a picture or pictures for me. One other thought - I wonder how these '59 RI's match up with the 50th anniversary issues. Obviously the pups are different but also think that the '59 RI's weren't necessarily VOS. Maybe with the 50th out now it will enhance the value of the '59 RI's being that they are afterall considered "The Holy Grail". ................Thanks........J

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sok66 - I just posted a new topic in the Les Paul section regarding these pups. Interesting that you put the BL's back in your '59 RI' date=' and as I stated there, I think they sound perfect for my '88 built '59 RI. A couple questions regarding yours. Do you have a 5 digit S/N and does it begin with an 8 or a 9? My understanding from Gibson is that if it was built in '88 the S/N should begin with 8, (which mine does) and following suit if built in '89 the S/N should begin with 9. How do you like yours BTW? I don't play mine all that much lately 'cuz I'm practicing on acoustic. Mine is the one on the right in my avatar but the color is actually more like an Ice Tea. Can you post a picture or pictures for me. One other thought - I wonder how these '59 RI's match up with the 50th anniversary issues. Obviously the pups are different but also think that the '59 RI's weren't necessarily VOS. Maybe with the 50th out now it will enhance the value of the '59 RI's being that they are afterall considered "The Holy Grail". ................Thanks........J[/quote']

 

Well, I sold mine back in the 90s but I remember it quite well. It did have a 5 digit number starting with 9. IIRC on the "Pre Historic" 59 RIs the first number was still the build year. I know I have a picture around here somewhere of it and if I find it I'll post. It was a rather darkish cherry sunburst with a very nice tiger striped flame top. It was very light, like in the low 8 lbs range. It was pretty much the same as a Standard of that period (had one of those at the same time) but had different pickups nicer woods and some more accurate cosmetic touches, like thin fretboard binding, thin binding on the body & in the cutaway, and a tall bridge pickup surround. Came without the pickguard attached or the holes for it drilled. Still had the larger headstock & threaded bushing Kluson copies of the Standard, so wasn't as accurate to the originals as later reissues became. Still, a great guitar. Seems these are gathering their own following, hence the term "Pre Historics" has been coined.

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