Bill Lawrence pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by SpinWheelz, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    Hi Guys,
    I'm not too familiar with those particular pickups: I haven't owned any myself, though I've played a few and loved them.

    From talking with Bill about it, I do know that he was tasked with building a higher-output set of pickups for the rock styles of the day, and that Gibson was really behind the project, giving it a fairly large budget and not tying his hands. They were trying to repair their damaged reputation, so they wanted the best pickup available.
    His assistant at Gibson was none other than Tom Holmes, so those pickups were made by 2 of the most legendary pickup makers of all time- pretty cool, huh?

    It was designed to be very versatile, so that it sounds great tapped, or out-of phase, or in parallel (for a low output 'bucker tone.)

    I know a lot of guys love these pickups, and they're becoming a bit collectible in their own right.

    I wish I knew more to tell you guys, but maybe someone else has the info?
     
  2. needlespauls

    needlespauls V.I.P. Member

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    Ok gmac..........
    You got me. Sold. I have been doing research lately, and the easy part was that I wanted to go with uncovered, and double creme, maybe zebra's.
    So, believe it or not, the Dimarzio Super Distortions I mentioned (Double C of course) were amongst the best rated out of anything I've seen. Not many good demos though, and not viewed as versatile at all. And there are quite a few that say not so great.
    So, JB/59 from Seymour in zebra it was! Very popular, lots of good reviews. good price also. Seems like there are a bunch of not so good reviews though as well, especially on the JB. Kind of a mixed bag, and I don't want to deal with that. I don't like the same ole same ole, and I want what I want. Hell I've got the balls to love and play an Elitist LP instead of a Gibson, and I like it more, no shame.

    Anyway, price is important to me, QUALITY is most important to me, and customer service is HUGE to me as well. No offense to anyone here, but I'm sorry, when it comes to letting cash go thru my cold tight fingers lol, I don't like to screw around. I don't want to wait 1-3 months for pickups that I can get similar/equal/etc. elsewhere, when I might be told only 2 weeks in the first place. I understand when companies get busy and stuff, but clear and underpromising communication is HUGE to me, and I don't want to deal with any potential string-alongs. And, I'm straight outta Low-Cash, I can't be spending huge dough on anything, expecially not pickups. Many more guitar related things I'd rather spend my money on.
    So, with what I've heard of the excellent customer service, the excellent quality, amazing price, and of course excellent sound/tone/versatility, I'm going with Bill Lawrence's Wilde pickups. I can't wait to get these things in my LP. And where I never even considered going with a pickup with the looks of the L500XL and such, I looked into the benefits that this pickup can give, the practicalities, the versatility. The flexible options you have to work with the actual makers of the pickup you're ordering, made in the USA by pretty much historic legends in the field. Getting what I want, when I want, pleasantly, and with a quality end result. I love supporting companies like this.

    Thanks for bringing this company to light gmac. I've always seen the "Bill Lawrence" pickups in stores or catelogs and thought, meh. But now I know the benefits of them, and that you can buy them from the "real" Bill Lawrence, and they're great quality and performing, I'm stoked. And the funny to me looks have big time grown on me.

    So gmac, I love the RS kit in my Jr., whats my best bet of wiring kit and caps from RS to go with a L500XL/R500(I think?) in my LP, if you don't mind me asking?
     
  3. Shai`tan

    Shai`tan Senior Member

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    Many thx for the info.... gmacdonnell.
     
  4. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    you're very welcome! :thumb:

    Needlespauls,
    That's great! Even though I have no professional connection with Bill & Becky, (other than that I use their pickups professionally, of course!) I'm very happy to hear that. They're great people, and make a fantastic product. And like you said, Bill's a legend, and his stuff is affordable: how often does that happen. I'm with you: quality over name. Elitists are great guitars, and I'd proudly play any of them. I wanted to buy an Elitist Casino last year, but was beaten to the punch at the last moment...

    Not to confuse you further, but there are a few more Bill Lawrence pickups to choose from besides the rails. (I know what you mean about the look growing on you- I never hated them, but didn't love them at first, but now I think they look awesome. Somewhere I have a cool old photo of Joe Perry and Brad Whitford back in the 70's, both rockin' the Lawrence pickups! They both still use them, but not in every guitar, obviously.)

    There are 4 basic Bill Lawrence humbucker-sized pickups, and each of those come in the 4 outputs (mentioned above ): Clean, Regular, Lead, and eXtra- Hot Lead.

    The 4 humbuckers are:

    L-90: Dual-rail design, with a wide aperture, almost like 2 single-coils. A very "open" sounding pickup, sensitive, articulate, with great clarity. Vintage units were becoming very expensive, so Bill (thankfully) brought it back. This one was a favorite of classic rock players, jazzers and r&b guys. It also works great for country, since its brighter with much more presence than most humbuckers. In Black or Cream:[​IMG]

    L-500: Original this replaced the L-90, but it's a very different design. It has a narrower aperture, so it's a more focused sound, closer, (but still very different from,) a regular humbucker. It's a more driving sounding pickup, (even the low-output versions,) and has more punch in the mids. Like the L-90 it's very sensitive, articulate and clear-sounding, but maybe better capable of a compressed, smooth lead tone. This is the most famous Lawrence humbucker, and though all kinds of players use it and love it, is most associated with Dimebag Darrell and Nuno Bettencourt, (in its XL version.) This one comes in any combination of black, white or cream, and has an optional shielding ring. [​IMG]

    L-600: This is one of Bill's earlier humbucker designs, and is a classic to this day. It uses 12 polepieces instead of rails, and has a sound all its own. While these are more "traditional" sounding, they're more snappy & percussive, with a great range of freq. and dynamics than standard PAF-style humbuckers. Again, they're very sensitive and articulate, and while they can be very warm and fat, they always stay clear sounding. In their high-output forms, they're a great classic or modern rock pickup. The lower-output versions are what Bill made for jazz legends Wes Montgomery and Grant Green. Like all of his pickups, the colors are optional, and the shielding ring is optional, too.[​IMG]

    L-609/610: This is one of Bill's newer designs. Bill was the first designer to create a pickup that captured the sound and feel of a single-coil, without hum. After doing that for Strat and Tele pickups, Bill sought to make a single-coil sounding pickup for humbucker guitars. The L-609 is just that. It's a unique sound, that, while not a copy, will be instantly familiar to fans of classic fat single coils, like the P-90, Alnico V "Staple" pickup, Jazzmaster or DeArmonds. It doesn't sound exactly like any of those pickups: it's got a wider freq. range, and no noise, for starters, it does have a "classic" sound. I love this pickup. You can ask Bill & Becky for more specific tonal requirements. The L-610 is raunchier and rawer like a P-90, with adjustable polepieces. Both match well with any of the other Lawrence pickups as a neck position unit, and in the bridge, can get a great twang. Two of them together get a beautiful "quack" sound, that I just love. [​IMG]


    On the Lawrence forum, this member has a lot of great info that I couldn't possibly improve upon, so here are the links:

    On L-600's
    L-600s: options and characteristics - Bill Lawrence Wilde-Gate - Gear Discussion - Fender Info-Baseâ„¢ (F.I.B.â„¢) - Message Board - Yuku

    On L609's:http://guitarsbyfender.yuku.com/topic/3046

    On L-500's:
    L-500s: options and characteristics - Bill Lawrence Wilde-Gate - Gear Discussion - Fender Info-Baseâ„¢ (F.I.B.â„¢) - Message Board - Yuku


    And lot's of soundclips, (some good, others not so great,) posted here:http://guitarsbyfender.yuku.com/forums/12
     
  5. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    Sorry I forgot to answer this in my other post.
    I love the RS stuff, too. Best controls I've ever used- I don't use anything else now. Buy good stuff and buy once, and live happy.

    With the Bill Lawrence pickups, most of the time a 500k ohm pots is the way to go, and is what I personally like best. I know a couple jazzers who use the "C" pickups, (L-90, and L-600) who like the 250k ohms, but they usually want a warmer sound, and are using hollowbodies. Some guys who use the L-609's also use 250k ohm, but for all-around versatility, the 500k ohms are my choice.

    That way, you'll have plenty of treble, as well as warmth, and with RS pots, a perfect taper as well.


    Now, with the XL's, I know some guys like to use 1 meg pots, but I've never liked them, personally. While with the Lawrence's, I don't think they sound harsh like they do with other pickups, they never have a very good taper, and IMHO, they reduce the versatility of the pickup.


    As far as caps, it depends on the sort of sounds you want. The RS GuitarCap with Polypropylene and metal foil is a favorite of mine for versatility and clarity. They're really transparent and dynamic, and as a result they're a great match with the Lawrence pickups. They get many shades of different tones, with clear highs and tight lows.


    But I really love Paper in Oil caps. There are plenty of good ones. There's the more expensive vintage Sprague Bumbles Bees, Vitamin Q's and Jensens. But for value, it's' tough to beat the Russian military K42Y-2's (green) and K40Y-9's(silver). Jonesy sells them, and they sound fantastic.
    They're very vintage sounding, with a great "woman" tone, jazz and blues tones. They don't get muddy or harsh, and they're full without being muddy.

    I personally don't like the .022's caps very much, since I think they get too muddy towards the bottom of the taper.

    Instead, I like .015's on the bridge pickup, and .01's on the neck pickup, but that's just my thing,- lot's of guys like the 22's. (I actually might post up a few 10's and 15's in the Trading Post soon, sense I'm doing some spring cleaning and I bought a lot of them awhile back...

    (Don did a nice write up of them here:
    http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/tonefreaks/28353-kgb-kaps-test-jonesys-new-russian-caps.html)
     
  6. SpinWheelz

    SpinWheelz Senior Member

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    It's ridiculous how many products and options Bill Lawrence offer, it's actually a bit frustrating that these aren't listed comprehensively on their website. I mean, check this out:
    [​IMG]
     
  7. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    I know what you mean. I think they figure that since you talk to them 1st, they'll guide you to the right choice. But there should be a better list.

    That pickup you have a picture of is an early L-490, which became the L-609, (more confusion.) The slanted polepieces were an option, but I don't think they make them that way anymore .
     
  8. SpinWheelz

    SpinWheelz Senior Member

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    gmacdonnell, you feel up for another Bill Lawrence reco? TWANG's helping me build a Esquire. I had previously had my heart set on a DiMarzio Twang King based on the sound clips I'd heard on their website (and on several recos from TDPRI). But the Bill Lawrence Tele pickups have also been rated quite well.

    The main Bill Lawrence site lists L-200, L-290, and L-298. But there's a separate link to Keystone pickups (which are often discussed at TDPRI) - are they one and the same, or is there a different range of products under the Keystone sub-brand?
     
  9. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    That Twang King is a great pickup, no doubt. Sounds fantastic.

    At one point or another, I've owned, played, and installed all of these pickups. I sold my Strat, but had the Lawrence pickups in there for years, and have built quite a few Teles using their pickups.

    With Tele and Strat pickups, the NF (Noise Free) pickups break down like this:

    200 Series:
    Vintage Fender style sound. Sparkly highs, tight bottom, slightly scooped low-mids. Very classic sounding. Sounds and feels like a great vintage single-coil. For "classic" Fender tones, this is the one.

    280 Series: "Modern" Fender-style sound. More balanced, more full-spectrum sound. Very rich sounding pickup. Can do almost any style of music, since they're a bit fuller sounding than traditional single-coils, but retain the presence and clarity of a great Fender pickup. With the treble rolled off a little, it's more of a traditional output and sound.

    290 Series:
    These pickups are almost like P-90/Fender hybrids, or an overwound early 50's Tele bridge pickup. A very rich sounding pickup, with a nice kick in the mid-lows. This one will push an amp a bit harder, but still cleans up really well. Makes a great bridge pickup if you're looking for more versatility, or more of a rock edge in the bridge position. (Works really well with the Q-Filter.)
    The L-298 adds a little fuel to the fire. I never tested it side-by-side with a L-290, but it seems to me it has less presence, more kick, and a bit more mids. It's more of a rock bridge pickup, and sounds great for that.


    The Keystones are Bill's line of true single-coils. These ones have a very classic Fender sound, and they compare with boutique pickups that cost twice as much. (The regular Tele set is $57!)
    If you want a more traditional pickup, and don't mind 60-cycle hum, these pickups are a great choice.


    Since you were leaning towards the Twang King, I have a feeling you like classic Tele sounds, without too much extra output- is that about right?

    What I did in my Esquire, (great guitar, stolen last year with a bunch of stuff...) that I loved, was recommended to me by Bill himself,
    A L-290TL-E paired with a Q-Filter instead of a tone control.
    With that setup, by careful pick attack and control, and by using the Q-Filter, you can get a huge variety of great tones:

    LP Jr.-style sounds, that Jimmy Page, "Sounds like a Les Paul," tele sound, or you can turn the Q-Filter partly down and get a classic Tele twang and snap. Turn it down further and pick over the neck and it almost sounds like you've got a neck pickup. When it's rolled all the way off, you get almost "acoustic" guitar sounds, with scooped mids and increased sparkle.


    I think you could use the L-298 and get similar results, but the 290 did it really well for me. Bill and Becky could help you pick which one would be perfect for your setup.
    I still miss that setup. It's so simple, with only 1 pickup, but the amount of tones available is huge!
    And the best part is, they tones are rich, and balanced, and completely noise-free.
     
  10. chrisrock

    chrisrock Member

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    On the Dean Dime guitars (Dean From Hell) : the pickups are not the "real" Bill Lawrence L500XL ?
     
  11. SpinWheelz

    SpinWheelz Senior Member

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    Thanks again for the guidance, gmacdonnell. Now I'm ready to jump out the window! Only last night, I got done in an exchange with the great TWANG, who's helping me wire up the Esquire, and all I thought I'd do was order a bridge pickup, wire that in myself and I'm all set.

    Now I got the Q-filter to consider?! I'm still trying to come to grips with the Q-filter device itself. I can't tell if it replaces a cap or if it works in adjacent to a cap. Is it a device that replaces the tone pot? Or does it re-purpose the tone pot to function as something different? I've been trying to follow the discussion at the Bill Lawrence forum, but I'm afraid I'm lacking the faculty to fully understand where it fits into the whole setup and how one really uses it:
    Perm Links - Yuku

    I originally chose the Twang King because it seemed to live up to its name: strong enough plenty of twangalicious tone without sounding too much "bite" (as I've heard from some of the hotter pickups from sites like GFS, etc.). I'm happy to try your reco, gmacdonnell, though I do want to try and get a better handle on this Q-filter.
     
  12. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    The Q-Filter replaces the cap, so it makes your tone control more of a "pickup" control.
    Some guys use a push/pull to wire a Q-Filter in the 1 position, and a regular tone control in the other, to get both options.

    Basically, the Q-Filter adjusts the output and thus the tonal shape of the pickup by changing its impedance. All the way up, it's normal. But as you turn down, the tone gets springier, and softer, with more presence and less mids.

    It's actually quite similar to this: THD Electronics

    except it's onboard your guitar, (which allows the best interaction with the pickups.)

    If you want to get extra versatility out of your Esquire, it's a great way to go. ;)
     
  13. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    The Q-Filter replaces the cap, so it makes your tone control more of a "pickup" control.
    Some guys use a push/pull to wire a Q-Filter in the 1 position, and a regular tone control in the other, to get both options.

    Basically, the Q-Filter adjusts the output and thus the tonal shape of the pickup by changing its impedance. All the way up, it's normal. But as you turn down, the tone gets springier, and softer, with more presence and less mids.

    It's actually quite similar to this: THD Electronics

    except it's onboard your guitar, (which allows the best interaction with the pickups.)

    If you want to get extra versatility out of your Esquire, it's a great way to go. ;)
     
  14. SpinWheelz

    SpinWheelz Senior Member

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    Thanks for the lesson on the Q-filter. I'm gonna need to keep this option in mind - right now, TWANG's got something mental in mind for this Esquire.
     
  15. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    The great thing about Esquires is how many options there are.

    With that 3 way switch, you can wire up lots of interesting choices.

    The Q-Filter on a push/pull is definitely a nice way to go. You get the traditional sounds, and a lot extra, for no extra knobs or switches.
     
  16. azimuth

    azimuth Senior Member

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    I know one thing about Bill Lawrence pickups. Alex Lifeson used the L-500 in the early 80s in his strats.
     
  17. SpinWheelz

    SpinWheelz Senior Member

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    gmac, I'm gonna continue draining you of your smarts 'til you tell me to bugger off!

    I'm not entirely happy with my Riviera P93 which sports three dogeared P90s. I've been trying to peruse the Bill Lawrence site and their forum trying to see if they have dogeared P90s, but to no avail. I e-mailed the Lawrences, but I understand that they're not quite as responsive on e-mail.

    You know of any P90 gems they might have that aren't listed readily on their website?
     
  18. pimphat

    pimphat Senior Member

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    Well i finally got around to installing everything the other day. I'll will post some better pics soon but here a a few. Bill Lawrence l500-xl and GFS Crunchy PAT with push pull coil cut for both pickups. Also with CTS pots and OD caps. I am really blown away by the versatility. I am able to get real single coils sounds and almost a tele type sound as well. Just great. Oh yeah, i changed the tuners to Grovers. They work great.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    My camera really sucks but i'm hoping to get some better pics soon.
     
  19. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    Beautiful guitar, stunning really. From a couple feet away you can't tell it's not a regular humbucker in the bridge. But it's like having a James Bond-style hidden flamethrower in the rear slot. ;)
     
  20. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    :hmm:

    I'm pretty sure that the regular Bill Lawrence "humbucker-sized" pickups will fit into the P-90 slot. I've seen this done on old LP Deluxe's and some jazz guitars with P-90 slots.

    I think Bill makes a special mounting ring to retrofit whatever pickup into the P-90 space.

    His pickups are a bit smaller than usually, which is why they have custom cut mounting rings. I think you could just ask Becky for P-90 mounts in whatever color fits your guitar.

    The 409 or 410 would be a good choice if you wanted to keep a single-coil sound, but without hum.

    From L-500s: options and characteristics - Bill Lawrence Wilde-Gate - Gear Discussion - Fender Info-Baseâ„¢ (F.I.B.â„¢) - Message Board - Yuku


    The L-500/L-409 pickup is smaller than the soapbar (P-90) pickup, but when installed with its custom mounting ring, the gaps will be covered for a finished appearance.

    Total Depth (incl. rails/pole pieces): ~0.85"/~21.5mm

    Gibson humbucker = 1.50" Width x 2.75" Length

    Bill Lawrence L-500/L-409 humbucker = 1.350"/~34mm Width x 2.80"/~71mm Length
    (~3.35"/~85mm long inclusive of the screw tags)

    Gibson humbucker with mounting ring = 1.760" Width x 3.50" Length

    L-500/L-409 with its custom mounting ring = 1.760"/~44.75mm Width x 3.50"/~89mm Length

    Gibson P-90 Soapbar = 1.375" Width x 3.375" Length

    Bill Lawrence L-500/L-409 humbucker = 1.350"/~34mm Width x 2.80"/~71mm Length
    (~3.35"/~85mm long inclusive of the screw tags)
     

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