Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups darrenriley.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

Bill Lawrence no-noise Tele pickups - can someone summarize these?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by DHart, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. PCollen

    PCollen Tele-Afflicted

    May 7, 2010
    Man of the World
    I've never used his Tele pickups, but I have his L280 set in one of my Stratocasters, and the SCN's that he designed for Fender in another. Both are very good sounding, noiseless, but more modern sounding than vintage pickups. You can call the Wilde office and talk to Becky and you can also Google reviews.
     
    DHart likes this.
  2. PCollen

    PCollen Tele-Afflicted

    May 7, 2010
    Man of the World
    Although I have never used these pickups, I find it hard to believe that Bill would design and sell pickups with these limitations, given the breadth of his pickup design experience and the characteristics of the guitar that they are targeted for. It just doesn't make sense, and would certainly limit sales.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  3. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    The L280/L290 use permanent magnets mounted to the side, as does the L298, which gives it a much wider return path than a standard Fender single since the poles are long. With a magnetic plate such as the traditional bent steel plates, the plate will definitely be magnetized, which can bring out even more of that "classic Tele twang" since it's partially about the phase relationship between the signal generated by the string and what's picked up from the plate / pickup base. You can consider them "omni-directional" designs.

    The problem isn't inherently that you need a non-magnetic plate, but that many magnetic plates don't sit flat since they're bent around the edges, especially when they're manufactured as cheaply as possible. If it's vibrating like a diaphragm and not flat, it could easily create feedback since the pickups are so sensitive to what the plate is doing. That said, I've used a few different Japanese and Mexican guitars with the stock bridge and the L290, and the results were fantastic -- they were just a bit darker than what you would get with a stainless plate, but I never ran into the feedback issues personally. I wouldn't deny that it's a risk of the design, but I don't think it's a "fault" of the design either, just a possible limitation in a replacement market where they're dropped into every guitar imaginable. It does limit sales to an extent, but that's how we ended up with the L200TL, the L48TL and the Keystones, with the Keystones and the L200s being the most conservative change, and the L48TL being the "high performance pickup" most immune -- the return path from each blade is literally to the other blade, so it's the safest you could possibly be with a bridge that might otherwise have issues. The L298 reportedly is less vulnerable than the L280/L290, but I've only ever used it in a stainless bridge. The microcoils are likely less vulnerable to issues than the classic Tele bridge pickup since the base plate on the pickup can create a similar range of issues. The Keystones avoid possible base plate issues by using a single aluminum plate pressure-fit to the poles etc rather than glued on to the bottom.
     
  4. jamieorc

    jamieorc Tele-Holic

    566
    Apr 22, 2011
    Virginia
    It's not so much that it has lots of treble, but that it has a broad range, with very sweet highs. BL went for a full-spectrum in his pickup designs. The L-48/45s are his best achievement for that in noiseless pickups and the Microcoils are his best achievement of any of his pickups. He actually considered ending production of all of his other offerings when he got the Microcoils where he wanted them. The basic idea is that if you have a full-range pickup, you can adjust your amp to get the sound you want.

    The L-200/202 (noiseless) and the Keystones are for the players who just want the classic Fender single-coil sound with scooped mids.
     
  5. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ

    Yeah, it doesn't have a strong resonance / spiky accentuation of a limited range, just good extension. The treble a lot of people talk about is through that accentuation that is changed by pot value or control settings, often spiking somewhere between 3-4 kHz, which doesn't sound very good but is used to compensate for limited range above. The twin blades give everything the best early 60s Fender pickups would but with a smoother attack quality and more sensitivity.
     
  6. jamieorc

    jamieorc Tele-Holic

    566
    Apr 22, 2011
    Virginia
    BTW, I've currently got the L-48TL and L-45 in my Tele and really like that combination. I've got an L-200TN that lasted about an afternoon in the neck. I just am not interested in the scooped traditional sound.

    In this Tele I've had:

    • Microcoils
    • L48/45
    • L290TL/L280TN
    • L298TL/L290TN (and later L280TN)
    • L290TLE/L290TN
    All have sounded great and I can't say which I like the best. The Microcoils and the L48/45s have the most output and broadest dynamic range, but I love the 290/280s too.

    With the L48TL and Microcoils, I prefer a ~200Kohm resister on the bridge pickup to lessen the highs. This isn't needed on the Strat version. I don't don't if it's a function of the Tele bridge (Gotoh 6 saddle) or something else.

    (Note that the 290TN is no longer available. Too bad, as it matches wonderfully to the L298TL.)
     
  7. DHart

    DHart Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    There are so many varied possibilities with BL pickups that someone new to them can easily be confused.

    You guys have really helped me with this discussion. Probably helped a lot of other potential BL pickup buyers, as well.

    While I’m sure Becky can be helpful on the phone... there is a LOT more being discussed here than would likely take place over a phone call. That’s why I wanted to learn what I could from your collective experience before calling to talk with Becky.
     
    eallen likes this.
  8. srolfeca

    srolfeca Tele-Meister

    Sales weren't Bill's primary concern- he was chasing perfection.

    I suspect that from his POV, negative interactions caused by using the wrong bridge plate were your problem, not his.

    I found it helpful to read some of his technical papers, and see just how thoroughly he had studied the science behind controlling magnetic fields, especially eddy currents.

    He was not just a pickup winder- he was deeply involved in every aspect of guitar design. Here's a sample from his Pickupology series:

    http://www.billlawrence.com/Pages/Pickupology/External Interference.htm

    He specifically mentioned the negative impact of steel hardware, and had definite ideas about the types of alloys that should be used for bridge plates, shielding, covers, etc.

    If you look at the website, you'll see that he even went to the extent of sourcing optional chrome-plated plastic covers for the L-202TN, in order to satisfy people who insisted on a traditional appearance for the neck position.
     
  9. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 20, 2014
    Canada
    Bill was a brilliant designer, but I don't think science was a strong point with him. He had an assiduous mind for how things fit together, how significant observations lead to certain conclusions. He was a fount of practical knowledge. But AFIAK he never conducted scientific experiments and never wrote anything like a "paper" - a scholarly investigation of fundamentals. In other words, he was not doing physics (and possibly didn't have the background to). Let's not get carried away.
     
  10. DHart

    DHart Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    I've tried to summarize the comments of everyone in this thread below:

    Please feel free to amend or append as appropriate!

    NOISELESS NECK MODELS


    L-280TN - full body, more sensitivity than 200/202, ceramic magnet, broad & linear response curve - not scooped.

    L-200TN - scooped in the mids, AlNiCo 2 poles, classic “vintage ‘50s” Stratty scooped-mids tone

    L-202TN - same as 200, covered, slightly less inductance, AlNiCo 2 poles, classic “vintage ‘50s” Stratty scooped-mids tone

    L-45 highest output, broadest dynamic range, very present ‘highs’


    NOISELESS BRIDGE MODELS

    L-200TL - scooped in the mids, more “Stratty” sounding, AlNiCo 2 poles, classic “vintage ‘50s” Stratty scooped-mids tone, no baseplate issues

    L-290TL - same as 280, but more inductance, ceramic magnet, broad & linear response curve - not scooped.

    L-298TL - even higher inductance than 290, stronger lows, Alnico 8 magnet, no baseplate issues

    L-48TL highest output, broadest dynamic range, very present ‘highs’, no baseplate issues


    REDUCED NOISE MODELS

    Microcoils, Alnico (non-adjustable) or Neo (adjustable poles) magnet choices, are single coil, lower noise than Keystones, but won’t cancel 60hz hum, “bell-like clarity, singing single coil tone” (highest output, broadest dynamic range, “bright”, some prefer a resistor to reduce highs a tad?)


    STANDARD MODELS

    Keystones are pure single coil, low noise, but won’t cancel 60hz hum, classic “vintage ‘50s” Stratty scooped-mids tone, no baseplate issues


    MODERN MODELS

    Twin Blades - similar tone to early ‘60s Fender pickups with a smoother attack and more sensitivity
     
    NWinther likes this.
  11. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI
    .

    Any videos of him or the pickup designs it seems Bill tended to favor bright pickups instead of darker versions. I haven't tested all his pickups but the impression I have gotten is that that was where he liked to focus.

    I do have some experience with the Gibson L6-S that has his humbucker pickups and circuit and it's a brighter sounding circuit well matching the target as a Strat chaser. I have some Tele Keystones and haven't put them in a guitar yet.

    .
     
  12. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Holic

    654
    May 28, 2008
    netherlands
    if your pickups are bassy sounding, you don't always can tweak that with an amp turning the bass down.
    its easier, in my opinion, to add bass and loose brightness, with amp and guitar
     
    NWinther and Derek Kiernan like this.
  13. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    I don’t agree that the L48TL (twin blade) is the “highest output”, and the inductance is certainly lower than any of the other noisefree single bridge positions. Clarity and versatility were definitely the highest priorities rather than output, which the L298 really delivers while retaining as much clarity as it can as a higher inductance pickup. I also want to clarify the L48 is functionally immune to bridge plate issues. The L280/290/298 magnetize the bridge plate directly to replace the tonal effects sometimes brought by baseplates, but none of them use a base plate that affects tone.
     
  14. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Holic

    654
    May 28, 2008
    netherlands
    i think he was a man that understood what was happening with the materials he was working with and could translate that in wonderful designs.
    but also a man that would share his discoverys with us and charge a more than reasonable price instead off a lot of other builders that pack there pickups in a lot of BS and cash high $ for that.

    if guitar were only a som off physics than why isn't there already the perfect guitar. computer technology could easily render all kind of perfect models with all the pro's and no con's.
    but there is something like "Fingerspitzen Gefühl".
    a German saying that says that you also have to have a gentle touch/feeling, a knowing that is not always as obvious, but has influence.
    and that was what Bill had, hiss live was about making pickups, guitars that would deliver what we want.
    and in my opinion he did
     
  15. KyAnne

    KyAnne Tele-Afflicted

    I got a Keystone "Deluxe" (?)(no cover) for my neck and it has extremely little hum..........extremely little ('69 thinline MIM)
     
  16. DHart

    DHart Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    Derek, and others, I’ve incorporated your comments below. Feel free to amend/append as needed.

    NOISELESS NECK MODELS


    L-280TN - full body, more sensitivity than 200/202, ceramic magnet, broad & linear response curve - not scooped.

    L-200TN - scooped in the mids, AlNiCo 2 poles, classic “vintage ‘50s” Stratty scooped-mids tone

    L-202TN - same as 200, covered, slightly less inductance, AlNiCo 2 poles, classic “vintage ‘50s” Stratty scooped-mids tone

    L-45 highest output, broadest dynamic range, very present ‘highs’


    NOISELESS BRIDGE MODELS

    L-200TL - scooped in the mids, more “Stratty” sounding, AlNiCo 2 poles, classic “vintage ‘50s” Stratty scooped-mids tone, no baseplate issues

    L-290TL - same as 280, but more inductance, ceramic magnet, broad & linear response curve - not scooped.

    L-298TL - very high output yet retains some clarity for being higher inductance than 290, stronger lows, Alnico 8 magnet, no baseplate issues

    L-48TL lower inductance, clarity & versatility emphasized, broadest dynamic range, very present ‘highs’, no bridge plate issues


    REDUCED NOISE MODELS

    Microcoils, Alnico (non-adjustable) or Neo (adjustable poles) magnet choices, are single coil, lower noise than Keystones, but won’t cancel 60hz hum, “bell-like clarity, singing single coil tone” (highest output, broadest dynamic range, “bright”, some prefer a resistor to reduce highs a tad?)


    STANDARD MODELS

    Keystones are pure single coil, low noise, but won’t cancel 60hz hum, classic “vintage ‘50s” Stratty scooped-mids tone, no baseplate issues


    MODERN MODELS

    Twin Blades - similar tone to early ‘60s Fender pickups with a smoother attack and more sensitivity
     
  17. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 20, 2014
    Canada
    Well, there actually is the perfect guitar - or almost anyway. The real design problems that remain are few. I count noise cancellation as a big one, because of the compromises that go along with a lot of the solutions.

    When it comes to tone, the true definition of perfection would be to enable a range of tones, and to provide a system of reliable and honest guidance that would help the player in the selection process. That's because tone is a matter of personal preference.

    But it's not fair to physics to blame it for the lack of useful innovation, when it has in fact been underutilized by designers. Instead, the tendency has been to dress physics up as technology and exploit the modern palate for gadgetry. In fact there is little reward in making incremental improvements in fundamental pickup design. When it reaches the marketing stage, the proponents realize that the marketing has more effect than anything they have done inside the pickup. Either that, or they realize that they might be able to collect blocking patents that could stifle competition (whether or not the inventions actually work).

    Yes, the technology today is way beyond what was available in the 1940's. But it is not necessarily directly applicable to the guitar. For example, many people balk at putting batteries or connecting special cables to their electric guitar. Really, why should you have to? Yet it is necessary for some active system. But active systems, in spite of the obvious advantages, have not run rampant over the market. One has to see the advantages as part of a whole system, where disadvantages might cancel them out.

    Bill did have the "magic touch" and the familiarity with materials that you speak of. But he and I think none of the other designers of his era really had a chance (or undertook) to refine the knowledge, and especially as a transparent, global, competitive undertaking. Really, the small number of designers and the limited rewards are obvious reasons. But I think that the internet could change that, allowing many decades for the different disciplines to learn how to talk to each other.
     
  18. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Holic

    654
    May 28, 2008
    netherlands
    reply on 1: i think the microcoil design with use of resistors and cap was a kind op system that was hunting for the pickup for every flavor, although you have to understand what you have to do to get the sound you want.
    if you don't, like i do, you get some disappointment when you don't get the sound you are looking for, but is in those pickups.
    i think they needed a group off fans that guide you through but sadly it end in talking frequencies but not in layouts that a novice can use to solder everything in place
    Bill understood that and made drawings/diagrams that you could replicate in your guitar .
    it would have been so simple.
    if you want to go P90 use ..... and solder it there
    if you want twangy single coil us .... and solder it there.



    reply on 2 Where Universities can research without the first goal to earn money, at least i think ;-) as a compagnie, great ore small, have to earn there livelihood.
    the most of the guitarist are conservative. so new things are not like the things made in the early day of, say, Fender and Gibson

    even if they had made crappy handwound pickups because there where no computer controlled winding machines, used materials that we would call inferior today, but at that time there wasn't any better, they still we be the holy grail for most of the players.

    so we are those that make that innovations don't come to the surface cause they won't be sold .

    but thats my opinion ;-)
     
    srolfeca likes this.
  19. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 20, 2014
    Canada
    reply on 1...
    I agree but Bill's technical documentation is not well presented even if the content is useful. You would think that after so many years and so many customers who depend on the customizations such as you mentioned regarding the microcoils, he would produce something that looks less like a pencil sketch on the back of a utility bill. :)

    reply on 2...

    It is a chicken and egg situation. Guitarists don't expect innovation and do worship nostalgic idols because that is mainly what is available and known. Major manufacturers don't innovate and do flog nostalgic products instead because that is what sells. Especially manufacturers that are embracing bottom line economics (for example by dabbling in diversification and brand flogging) and struggling with a changing customer demographic.
     
  20. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    The L45 and L48TL are the same pickup with a different mount and inductance. I guess I should have pointed out the L45s are not “high output”, etc, with the L45 being an even 2H inductance and overall not in the same range of others Bill has and had offered such as the original micros, the L290 and L298, due to differences in magnetic design.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.