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Bill Lawrence (Wilde) L500's

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by GreekGuru74, Jan 13, 2019.

  1. GreekGuru74

    GreekGuru74 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    21
    5
    Jan 13, 2019
    Chicago
    I have a set of L500's in my Les Paul that are the USA version (XL in bridge, R in the neck) and absolutely love them. I have them wired up to 500K pots. For my new guitar (Gibson SG Supreme), I will be ordering another set of L500's but this time from Wilde pickups aka Bill and Becky.

    What is the difference between the shielded and unshielded versions of the L500's? I really like the sharp top end attack of the current L500's I have in my Les Paul. I have read that the shielded ones with the chrome ring are a little softer in their attack and not as strong in the top end? Is this true? Or is the difference between the two so small that it's barely noticeable? Are the shielded ones that much quieter than the regular ones? The regular ones are already very silent and hum free. I much prefer the look of the shielded ones (I think the chrome housing matches the blades really nicely and looks cool), however, I don't want to loose that strong/sharp top end attack my current L500's have(which are the none shielded ones from USA not Wilde).

    What is the difference between the L500L and the L500XL? I have read conflicting info about the two. I have read from Bill Lawrence's Pickupology write up and as well from other people that as you increase inductance/output you lose high end. Some people have written that the XL is compressed while the L is more dynamic and has more top end and others have written that the XL is brighter and punchier and very dynamic. I have never played the L500L, but my L500xl seems pretty dynamic for a high output pickup. What exactly is the difference between these two models?

    On the website under wiring and tech info it states that models over a certain inductance range (like the L500XL) should be used with 500K pots or higher. For the L500XL, would it be better to use a 1 meg pot instead of a 500k pot? What would a 1 Meg pot sound like with the R in the neck position?

    I understand as you increase inductance you gain output but also lose top end. I want to retain as much top end as possible. Would a L500XL with 1 Meg pots sound similar to a L500L with 500K pots if the L500L is indeed brighter?

    There are a lot of questions here as there is not that much info or videos about these pickups. I have read almost every thread from every forum I have found about these pickups.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    I wouldn't use a 1 meg pot with it, but that's personal preference. The exceptionally high inductance makes it impossible to have the same highend, but it's not muddy. Higher pot values don't make up for loss of highend extension, only a lack of accentuation for the resonance, and the L500 is free of the traditional sources of interference such as metal covers and base plates, etc.

    The shielded versions have a slightly sweeter tonal character, but it's more towards the "barely noticeable" range. The quality from the copyist isn't up to Bill's standards at all, so all the difference you hear is from quality production and sticking to the design.


    What are you trying to achieve if you're considering the XL if you're already happy with the L? The dominant change with the inductance options is going to be a shifting resonance as the pickup interacts with the cable capacitance, and not anything special about "the voicing" of the pickup. Honestly, I can probably get a much wider tonal range with the L500C in a bridge position with a couple wiring options than what others get with the XL, because there's less to fight against if the inductance is lower. I don't recommend always trying to go higher to "get more" and find usually the opposite happens.
     
  3. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Holic

    718
    May 28, 2008
    netherlands
    this is a hard one.
    you like the USA with smaller blades than the Wilde Lawrence.

    so if it that is what you are looking for, go for them because you will be disappointed.
    but the change is greatly there that when you try the B&B L500 you have tot change your current guitar to :lol:

    but i can only say that the l500 from Bill and Becky did never disappoint me, they got something that i did not ever find in other pickups.

    but all depends on what kind of music you want to play.
    maybe a C&R combo would bring you even more than a R&XL combo
     
  4. GreekGuru74

    GreekGuru74 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    21
    5
    Jan 13, 2019
    Chicago

    Just curious, why do you say you wouldn't use a 1 meg pot with the XL?

    And regarding the shielded versions top end vs non shielded versions top end, if it is not that noticeable then I guess I would go with the shielded as I really like the look of that extra chrome surround.

    Regarding the quality from the other 'copyist'( I'm assuming you mean the Bill Lawrence USA company), what do you mean the difference in sound is from the quality production? Are you saying the USA companies L500's have flaws in them that give them a different sound? The set that I have in my Les Paul sound very good, although I have never played the Wilde version so I can't compare them. From what I understand and have read the Bill Lawrence USA L500's are basically the same design as the original ones from the 80's as the person making the pickups (Jzchak Wajcman) is not a pickup designer and only knows how to make them the same way they were made when him and Bill were still working together, whereas the Wilde/Bill&Becky model L500's are slightly different in that Bill continued to refine the design and improve on it over the years. Someone on another forum explained to me that the two different companies L500's basically sound the same however, the USA has a sharper top end attack while the Wilde pickups have a sweeter top end.

    I think you misread my original post. I currently have the R(neck) and XL(bridge) combo in my Les Paul. I was considering stepping down the to L as I heard the L is more dynamic than the XL but not quite as punchy. I have never played the L and there's not any video on YouTube comparing the two inductance models.
     
  5. GreekGuru74

    GreekGuru74 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    21
    5
    Jan 13, 2019
    Chicago
    I don't know which one I'll like more as I've never played the Wilde version. From the way someone else explained it to me, the Wilde has a sweeter top end while the USA has a sharper more pronounced attack in the top end.

    How would you compare the USA to the Wilde? I'm happy with my current set, but seeing as I have a new guitar and want another L500 set, I'm going to buy this set from Wilde pickups.

    The type of music I play is blues, rock, and heavy metal. Pretty much anything from the 70's through the late 80's. I use a 100w Marshall and typically put an overdrive pedal in the front of it to boost it. I want maximum clarity, articulation, versatility and a balanced EQ. I like bright tones. A C&R combo would probably be more shimmery/chimmey in the top end but would it drive the amp/deliver enough output for heavy classic rock/classic metal? So anything from Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to, the heaviest I go being old Metallica/Megadeth. There's a few videos of people playing Van Halen licks with the L and XL but nobody playing that style of rock using a C or R.

    What would you recommend?
     
  6. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Holic

    718
    May 28, 2008
    netherlands
    Bill always mentioned that a pickup is a part of a chain, and if at the start of that chain (pickups/strings) the 'tone' is set (say pickup is bassy, muddy) you almost can't dial it out with the amp.

    i have no experience in metal music, but if you search for the guitarbrand Futhark from norway, they used L90 and L500 in their guitars that are used in the metal but also jazz music
    http://norskegitarer.no/?page_id=2204
    https://nb-no.facebook.com/futharkguitars/

    the facebook page has some video links so maybe you can hear more what you are looking for

    about the difference with the USA 'copy' brand.
    Bill could calculate that when material, say magnets, changed in production how he could let his pickups sound as they ment/designed to be.
    he has had some disappointments with some manufactures where he designed something and they changed it structurally. like with his design for the gibson L6s, and i also recal the SCN from Fender.
    if you look at pictures of the old L500, also the OBL time you see wider/thicker blades than in the models produced with his former partner.
    [​IMG]

    so what went wrong their, i don't know but i have old pickups from the 70/80 era with the curved thick blades and i have the new ones, and i hear they are family, its in their DNA and i love them
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    The copyist doesn't have NOS for all the parts and doesn't know how to wind or wax a coil, so even doing the same design doesn't really get you the same thing. If the core material isn't right or you have shorts in the coil, the sound becomes inconsistent pickup to pickup with distortions to the clear tone it would otherwise produce. Bill had a patent for the L500, so even though everything is sealed up, it's quite easy to have a look at what's inside.

    https://patents.google.com/patent/US4364295

    You're right that I misread, sort of a "no coffee" situation. I would recommend trying the L and the C if you appreciate the highend extension you already have but want greater versatility. They were sort of the "default" pair for Bill. If you use a Q-filter with the L500L, you'll find an incredible range of useable tones for the bridge position, so try it out if you have any interest. The filter was part of how Bill set up all of his guitars even prior to the L500 era.
     
  8. GreekGuru74

    GreekGuru74 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    21
    5
    Jan 13, 2019
    Chicago
    The clean tone is very important to me too as I don't only play metal. Again my current R XL combo sounds very good but the Wilde version will sound a bit different. Yes your tone should be clear and not muddy at all. But I don't think that would be a problem with any of Bills pickups as they are all designed to be clear .

    What inductance models have you played of the L500? If you've played multiple models how would you describe the sound of say the C vs the L or the R vs the XL etc? I know they are all tonally similar, but are the differences between them small or easily heard? Do the lower inductance models really have that much more top end?

    Also I was wondering about the blades myself. Is there a difference in sound between the thicker Wilde blades and thinner USA blades? Someone explained the thicker blade gives a thicker tone as it picks more of the string up but I'm not sure how true that is. Again, I've seen a few videos and the USA and Wilde seem to sound close except for the high end response of the USA is much sharper and I guess you could say 'piercing'.

    Is there a difference between the curved blades of the old Bill Lawrence pickups and flat blades of the new ones? The way I set up traditional humbuckers with pole pieces is I radius the pole pieces to the finger board to allow each string to ring out in equal volume. This way when I play a chord each string is easily heard and has equal volume. The outside strings don't overpower the inside strings in a chord. I've never played the old Bill Lawrence pickups with the curved blades so I don't know if that makes a difference. There's not much information about that on the web.

    Also I see you have an L90 in that pic. How do you compare it to the l500? I've read it's supposed to have a more subdued low end and more open top end. Not as tight or focused sounding as the L500. I know that is the humbucker Aerosmith used in the 70's when they were endorsed by Bill Lawrence .
     
  9. GreekGuru74

    GreekGuru74 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    21
    5
    Jan 13, 2019
    Chicago
    I see. I didn't know all of that. My current set in my Les Paul sound very good but reading that makes me wonder if I should switch out my current USA's for the Wilde's.

    That's interesting that the C and L combo was Bill's preferred set. Did he find this set to be the most versatile?

    Regarding the Q filter, how would you describe it? I know it's supposed to work better with high inductance models like the L and especially XL to allow the most amount of versatility and bandwidth to operate on and that it's supposed to reduce inductance. From the videos I have heard of it, it sounds opposite of a tone control. Where a traditional tone knob would attenuate top end and upper mids resulting in a darker warmer sound as you turn the tone knob down, the Q filter sounded to me like it kept the top end and upper mid-range and attenuated the bass and lower mids resulting in a thinner sound. Almost sounded like if you had a series/parallel switch to thin out the sound or almost like a coil split. How would you describe it?
     
  10. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    It's an inductor with no resistance, or nearly none, so it has an inductance close to a Fender-style pickup but around 30 Ohms DC resistance. What that means is that in isolation, it is sort of the opposite of the capacitor on the traditional tone control. The cap on the tone control creates a resonance (with the pickup's inductance) and drops everything above it in the low ranges of the taper. Conversely, the Q-filter has no resistance anywhere, but its inductive reactance increases with frequency (inductance is a nominal reading of this trend), so it sort of functions like a resistor that "blocks" the highs from going to ground as frequency increases. If you put them together, a traditional tone cap (22 nF) will give you your sub-1kHz resonance (depends on the pickup), rolls off the frequencies above, and then the Q-filter intervenes to save and extend the highs (and some upper-mids) from going to ground. The result is a de-emphasis of some of those mid to upper-mid frequencies that the bridge pickup strongly delivers, so in the end, you're getting something like what the neck pickup does, but with the much more even lower harmonics of the bridge position (because the nodes for those low harmonics aren't landing there).

    Lots of people just stick the Q-filter in their guitar with the cap and resistor thinking it will get them the most optimal results, but Bill recommended playing with an added resistor when the lowend is too much at the bottom of the control's taper -- such as what would happen with the L500XL. The resistor sends some of the general response to the inductor (which can't block lows), bypassing the capacitor (which does block the lows), so the sound thins out considerably and doesn't flatter a pickup that doesn't need it. Without the resistor, the reduction of upper-mids will actually make a pickup sound substantially less bright and more lowend heavy, even though sweet highs are more present.

    I use a Q-filter in part because I don't really want the bass reduced like a parallel wiring or coil split. The Q-filter helps give versatility to pickups that are otherwise well matched already. Parallel and split mods typically indicate to me that the pickups are not well matched. I always start with a capacitor I want to use for the pickup paired with the Q-filter and then make modifications from there.
     
  11. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Holic

    718
    May 28, 2008
    netherlands
    curved blades would benefit a guitar with a 7,5 ore 9,5 radius more i think.
    sound wise, like already mentioned, they sound, in my ears, the same as the flat magnets although the L500 and the old L90 with curved blade i don't know what H values they have.

    now i have played 1 speaker amps with 10 and 12 inch speaker, never a 4x12 but i find that both growl wen needed, never to harsh (ore the problem is the setup of the amp) and think that the attack of the l500 is slightly softer than the l90
    but i am honest, the most off the pickups i have are bought second hand ore were in second hand guitars i bought.

    you have the pro living in the US and have much less shipping cost then outside the US
    why not try the C&L like Derek suggested and see what it will bring you?
    he knows a lot more about the sonic differences than i do and how to tweak them if needed.

    but i warn you, if you get the Lawrence DNA fever, nothing else matters :lol: anymore
     
  12. Drak

    Drak Tele-Holic

    Age:
    57
    649
    Mar 21, 2003
    DC 'Burbs
    Lawrence Fever.
    Indeed :).
    Top: L490 neck 3.6h, original Mt. Juliet L-500R in bridge
    Bottom: a pair of Mt. Juliet L-550's.
    Yes, I airbrushed the rails red and I love it.
    Both my builds.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Holic

    718
    May 28, 2008
    netherlands
    looking great.
    what kind if wiring/diagram did you use on the upper guitar?
     
  14. Drak

    Drak Tele-Holic

    Age:
    57
    649
    Mar 21, 2003
    DC 'Burbs
    Thanks!
    It's a hybridized EMG passive/active harness.
    Using standard passive pickups and passive volume/tone controls.
    Which then feed the EMG controls then > out.
    Top row front to back:
    (standard 500K) volume, (standard 500k) tone, EMG Afterburner pre-amp.
    Bottom Row front to back:
    EMG EXG, EMG SPC.

    I understand now, you don't have to use the Afterburner when using an EXG or SPC.
    But back when I built it, you had to use the pre-amp in order to use the other controls.
    I rarely, if ever, actually use the pre-amp itself, but it was needed at the time.
    I use the EXG and SPC all the time tho.
     
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