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Bill Lawrence 70s-Era L-90XL Pickup_Project

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Random1643, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Meister

    404
    Mar 11, 2015
    Upper Midwest
    I just bought one of these on eBay.

    A couple of years ago, I had a real deal '72 Tele Thinline on layaway where the orig owner had replaced the Wide Range Humbuckers with these 70s-era Bill Lawrence L-90 humbuckers. A closer look at the Tele revealed a warped neck, the price got pricier, and I moved on. In the meantime tho I got to play those amazing pickups and I've never quite gotten that sound of those p/us out of my head. Kinda weird looking Alnico-5, twin-blade, 6 Henry things. Clarity, fullness, richness, some kind of sonic wonderfulness I can't define. I made an offer on the pickups as I let go of the Thinline, but no go.

    So, now my thought is to install the L-90XL - just one this time - in a playable, single p/u used guitar. The pickup is 2 3/4" by 1.5" & the mounting bracket is 3 1/4." I'm not in a hurry. Just thinking about guitars - probably maple neck/fretboard, maybe semi-hollow to keep things light. I imagine I'm limited by what this p/u will fit into. Open to ideas from folks who're more project-minded than I am.

    upload_2017-12-27_16-10-21.png

    upload_2017-12-27_16-10-34.png

    upload_2017-12-27_16-10-52.png
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    It will fit anything a PAF would.
     
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  3. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 6, 2014
    UK
    My first major mod to a strat as a kid was putting one of those in. I believe and assumed it was standard humbucker size.

    Amazing pickup, my memories are of a fantastic, bright edginess and presence.

    I swapped it later for an SD Full Shred but wanted to put the BL L90 back in but can’t find it. it may turn up in a box at my parents one day I hope.
     
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  4. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Holic

    599
    May 28, 2008
    netherlands
    double_a, LowThudd and Random1643 like this.

  5. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

    i wonder how different (or not) the ones being made today are as compared to these? i was looking at the Wilde site last night trying to decide what to do with a bullet strat i'm messing with, and am considering the strat/single sized doohickeys.
     
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  6. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    89
    Jun 30, 2007
    Swanton Ohio
    I once had a set of those pickups..One was white and the other was black..I sold the guitar that I had them in and have regretted it..
    I still have a set of Strat pickups from the 70s that are amazing sounding pickups..Not gonna let these leave home ever..
     
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  7. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Meister

    404
    Mar 11, 2015
    Upper Midwest
    That's a good question, popthree. Others will understand better'n me any differences (or not) between the current Wilde products and the 70s-era L90s. I'm obsessed with the early ones based only on my experience playing the '72 Thinline. Good luck with your project.

    I thought briefly about adding the L-90XL to my Gretsch G5620T-CB, but this feels like it'll happen in a another guitar.

    Thanks, folks, for your ideas. Keep em coming.
     

  8. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Holic

    599
    May 28, 2008
    netherlands
    i think that Bill Lawrence had the knowledge to recreate the sound with newer material. it is just what you want soundwise to decide what henry type you need.
    but in looks, the old ones are way cooler
     

  9. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Holic

    599
    May 28, 2008
    netherlands
    i would go for that esquire wring
    if you would have a new one with 4 wires that with a series parallel switch added
     

  10. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Meister

    404
    Mar 11, 2015
    Upper Midwest
    Thanks, hopdybob. I did read that thread but am not technical enough in this area* to follow the details. I try to absorb the ideas and, to the extent I can understand how this would affect playing the project guitar/L-90XL and what it might sound like, then I might pursue that aspect. What does it mean, to play a guitar with sound coming out of my tube amp, to use "esquire wiring if you would have a new one with 4 wires that with a series parallel switch added"?

    *My technical expertise areas have nothing to do with electric guitars.
     

  11. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Holic

    599
    May 28, 2008
    netherlands
    my knowledge istn't great eather ;-) but maybe this helps
    this would be the wiring
    [​IMG]
    and when you would have the new L90, you have 5 wires, 1 extra ground and the 2 wires of both coils.
    in series will say one wire of one coil will connect to one of the second coil.
    so the signal passes both coils like 2 train wagons one after the other.
    it will double the ohms value so 2 coils of 4 Ohm will be 8 in serie
    but parallel will connect them both starts and ends together
    this will decrease the Ohm to 2 Ohm
    with a pushpull pot ore mini switch you would get 6 options with 1 pickup

    what the sound differences would be, i hope someone else can explain that
     

  12. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    How many wires are coming out of the L90? It seems like the single pickup guitar idea might be best if there aren't five, which would allow you to drop the pickup down to around 1.5H for the neck position.
     

  13. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Meister

    404
    Mar 11, 2015
    Upper Midwest
    Sorry, hopdybob, you went all technical on me. Again I relate to all of this on a What Will the L-90XL Sound Like Coming Out of My Amp Once I Get it Installed in a Yet-To-Be-Identified-Guitar? level. But, because for sure a guitar tech/luthier in a nearby city will be doing the design/installation work on this project, this diagram may come in handy.

    Derek, thanks for your earlier info that this pickup will fit anywhere a PAF would. (I had written to the Wilde shop to ask the same question and that was Becky Lawrence's response as well.)

    Also, to your question about the number of wires coming out of the L-90, the pickup is in transit arriving on January 4, and the 5 pics posted on ebay - 3 of em are in the orig post above - don't offer that level of detail. I'll post the number of wires as soon as I have more data.
     

  14. LowThudd

    LowThudd Friend of Leo's

    Feb 11, 2014
    Sherman Oaks, Ca
    Not referring to the diagram above.

    IF it has four(or five) wires, having the ability to run in parallel will be closer to a tele in the middle position. A baja Tele also has a series position, which makes it sound more like a Humbucker. Running the coils half out of phase is more of a "scooped" sound than running parallel. It will be more scooped but louder running in series out of phase.

    Basically, you could use a push pull vol pot to split the coils, and that will give you a more single coil sound. A push pull tone pot could reverse phase, then a switch will allow you to run the coils in either series or parallel.

    Can't find an exact diagram online. But, here is the diagram I use. Just imagine that the two pickups are in fact two coils of a humbucker. This is very similar to a baja wiring, but I added a TBX tone control(ignor that if you want to).

    [​IMG]

    You could also use a rotary switch and achieve most of that, like in this diagram.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    The pickup will basically be clear, dynamic, strong lows, sweet highs, have strong sensitivity to playing changes (especially for a humbucker), but have a smooth attack character due to the blades and the evenness of the magnetic field. 6H is great for a bridge position, but if you match it with the same inductance in the neck, the neck becomes very hard to manage because of the abundance of lowend and the reduced sparkle etc in the highend.
     
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  16. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Meister

    404
    Mar 11, 2015
    Upper Midwest
    Thanks for these posts! I can't follow the technical stuff but, again, it might come in handy when I get the pickup and a guitar into the shop. I'm excited about the idea of a coil tap option.

    Derek, the sound qualities you describe match my initial experience with the L-90XLs back in 2015. Just amazing. Very helpful that you mention putting the 6h model in the bridge position. Assuming I can find a workable single-pickup instrument*, I would then want to locate the pickup at/near the bridge.

    *Which as I'm sure you're aware are a lot less common that dual-pickup models. If I wind up with a 2-pickup guitar, all y'all can help me figure what might work best for the neck pickup.
     

  17. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

    Just explaining the basic technical stuff for the OP:

    A humbucker has two coils wired together.

    If the pickup has 4 wires, it can be wired in series, in parallel, or split.

    in series = both coils active in standard HB mode. This is what you heard when you played the thinline and what you hear with pretty much every humbucker.

    in parallel = both coils active and still humbucking, but a bit less output and not so much thickness to the sound. Leaner and brighter sounding.

    split = only one coil active, no longer humbucking. Brighter thinner sound, like a Fender single coil pickup (because it is a single coil). A lot less output. May or may not sound like a good single coil because a humbucker is typically wound to sound best in HB mode and when split the single coil is often under-powered. However, the L90 may work fine split. Derek would know for sure.


    In a single pickup guitar it would probably be useful to be able to switch between series and parallel, or between series a split coil, just to have a bit of variety.

    You would obviously want the series mode. It is a simple matter to wire up a switch to go from series to parallel or split coil or both.

    But I think the better option is just to buy a new L90 for the neck and get a normal 2 x HB guitar like a Les Paul or SG and drop them in with standard two pickup wiring. The modern L90 should be pretty similar and easy to match with the old pickup.
     
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  18. LowThudd

    LowThudd Friend of Leo's

    Feb 11, 2014
    Sherman Oaks, Ca

    This is a great deal on a Gibson with a single HB. That would be my first choice. http://www.samash.com/limited-run-les-paul-cm-2015-electric-guitar-glpcm15se?cm_mmc=GoogleShopping-_-Outlet Center-_-Channeladvisor-_-Gibson+Les+Paul+CM+2015+Electric+Guitar&utm_source=GSH&utm_medium=CSE&utm_campaign=Channeladvisor&CAWELAID=500002510000040559&CAGPSPN=pla&CAAGID=28120526597&CATCI=aud-96383252717:pla-254344368797&catargetid=500002510000063604&cadevice=c&gclid=CjwKCAiA7JfSBRBrEiwA1DWSG-lrCDuSGYyjXCdNJDQUEgMSqnCYq7fEagHYI-AThBdn6AhlNwiaCRoC8GkQAvD_BwE

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Meister

    404
    Mar 11, 2015
    Upper Midwest
    Yah, thanks for that little primer, kiwi blue. It's not for lack of reading about guitar-related technology over the years, or for lack of a technical mind - in my day job I do quantitative research for a university, it's just my mind on music is kind of dreamy, intuitive. (And I'm 64 y.o. and been like this since at least the age of 12.) This tendency is a drawback for more music-related technical projects like this, but I know with smart, informed input from all y'all I'll wind up with a good outcome.

    Thanks for posting the Gibson, LowThudd. I'm really open to ideas about best guitar for the project.
     
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  20. Jakeboy

    Jakeboy Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 26, 2008
    Sedalia, MO
    I have one that is currently excess. It is on Reverb. I love these pickups but sadly have no home for this one now....my last one. The sound of Aerosmith in the late 70s....
     
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