Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

disenchanted with Bill Lawrence

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Clucker, May 7, 2007.

  1. Clucker

    Clucker Tele-Meister

    Nov 8, 2005
    I am wondering if anybody else has had this problem? I have purchased two sets of Bill Lawrence tele pickups. A set of 280's for my tele and a set of 280/298. Well both of these sets get rid of the 60 cycle hum, but they both squeal to the point of practically knocking my fillings out of my teeth. They are great clean, but as soon as you add even a less moderate amount amount of gain, they just scream with feedback. I talked to Becky and she said that it was to do with the the tele not being sufficiently tight.(as in there may have been places that weren't tightened down enough around the bridge pickup) Well I tried that and it didn't work. I am wondering now if anyone else has ever had this trouble. It seems everybody else thinks these are (next to EMG's) the quietest single coils around.
    I am also a bit cheesed because the price on the website was incorrect. They charge more for the 298 than they do the 290 or 280 but when I called up Becky said, "Oh no we charge more for the 298" but I thought,oh well these folks are professionals, they are probably worth the extra money. I am beginning to think otherwise.

  2. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Memphis TN

    I tried both the 290 and 298 Tele bridge pu's, both of them squealed when used with moderate levels of gain or distortion.
    I've read of others having this problem too, some have suggested that the vintage style bridge plate is the problem, but one guy I talked to said he tried all kinds of things and never resolved the issue on his.

    I thought the pickups sounded good and it's not like I play with a lot of amp distortion or pedal distortion all the time but the squeal didn't work for me so I moved on to other things.

    FWIW I have used the Dimarzio Virtual Vintage and Hot VV Tele bridge pu's, which did NOT have this problem.
    Of those two pickups I prefered the std Virtual Vintage Tele bridge pu.

  3. genny

    genny Banned

    Apr 9, 2007
    i returned that set because the bridge squeeled with ANY gain.
    check this out:

    my tech sealed the bridge down with wax. still squeeled. he sealed the control plate, and it still squeeled.

    i traded them for keystones.

  4. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Memphis TN
    re Keystones

    So the Keystones don't squeal ? I've been tempted to try a set or at least a bridge pu, but I have been hesitant after my experiences with the BL bridge pu's.

  5. Clucker

    Clucker Tele-Meister

    Nov 8, 2005
    Hmm interesting. Well now I am officially pissed off. What is the point of removing 60 cycle hum if you are going to get horrendous feedback? Maybe that is why B.L's are so inexpensive. I bought these for my wife for Christmas and just got them installed recently and I told her how great they are suppose to be. We played a gig Saturday night and they squealed all night long. She had to adjust her amp so the distrotion channel was just barely breaking up, kinda like when a tube screamer is on about 1/3 of the way and it was still on the verge of squealing. If she forgot and turned to face her amp, it would make that horrible howl.
    The other thing that pisses me off is the 298 is still listed as being $48.00 when in reality they are charging $68.00. You would think they could at least make the price right on their own website. Technically that is false advertising and they have had more than enough time to change it.

    Well, any suggestions for GOOD NOISEFREE pickups?

    Oh by the way. I had the same problem with my B.L's and this local guitar wiz did a massive shielding job etc (Which he charged a pretty penny for) and although they don't squeal they are not what they are made out to be.

  6. Becky Lawrence

    Becky Lawrence Tele-Meister Vendor Member

    From Becky

    Hi Everyone and thought it very important for me to write here.

    First of all, Clucker, our standard L-200TL, L-280TL, L-290TL pickups for Telecaster bridge replacement are available for only $48.00. The L-298TL is priced a bit higher at $56.00 since we introduced it because we are using a high coercive precision cut Alnico 8 magnet, very unusual in the pickup industry. Please e-mail me your name and when you ordered so I can pull it up and review the order

    Our noisefree singles for Telecaster work best with a modern “non-magnetic” chrome-plated brass bridge. (It’s easy to see if your bridge is magnetic, just put a pickup next to it and if it attracts, then it’s definitely magnetic!) We don’t encourage using the old ashtray bridge with our noisefree singles for many reasons.

    The following e-mails are from one of our customers :

    1. Becky, I'm very impressed with the L-280TN/L-290TL pickup set I installed in my standard Tele, but I'm finding that the L-290TL is very microphonic, it picks up everything and after a certain volume level feeds back uncontrollably.

    I'd appreciate your or Bill's thoughts about this, because I really do like the tone of these pickups, they've got that crisp definition and sharp snappy attack that love about Teles, but with a piano-like quality that traditional Tele pickups lack. I've got to figure out the microphonic problem however, because at present the guitar is unusable except at home.

    After several e-mails and conversations, he e-mailed me back his results:

    2. Hi Becky,

    I wanted to write to let you know that I purchased a non-magnetic Tele bridge from Glendale Guitars, who specialize in high quality Tele parts, and the non-magnetic bridge resolved the feedback problem with the L-290T bridge pickup, as you said it would.

    I built an entirely new Tele from a bunch of hand selected parts, and the end product is an absolutely stunning instrument, it looks and plays great and sounds terrific. Over the past two months I've become a huge fan of the L-280/L-290 pickups. I purchased a used Strat with a set of L-280/L-290L pickups, and purchased a set of L-200S from you directly along with the L-280/L-290T set. After several months of comparison, I've decided that the L-280/L-290L are the best sounding set of Strat pickups I've ever heard, even conpared to the L-200S. I'm now coming to the same conclusion about the L-280/L-290T set. They also are simply the most toneful Tele pickups I have ever played. There is still plenty of sharp attack and punch, but as with the Strat L-280s there is this rich, pianistic tone that is unlike any other pickup I have ever heard. I understand why they are Bill's favorite Strat and Tele pickups.

    Any questions, please let me know.

    All the best,


  7. cbnutt

    cbnutt Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 7, 2006
    lebanon missouri
    ive never used the bridge pu,s from Bill, but i have a neck 280, best neck tele pick up ive ever used.

  8. bobthecanadian

    bobthecanadian Tele-Afflicted


    This is cool. Somebody is unhappy with a company's product and the next thing you know someone from the company is replying to the post and trying to make things workable. Sweet! I love TDPRI!

    Cheers, all!


  9. tdu

    tdu Friend of Leo's

    Jan 4, 2005
    Ontario, Canada
    It's nice that the company is replying, but this seems like an issue that people should definitely be made aware of BEFORE they buy the product. It's not exactly convenient to find out you need a new bridge AFTER getting new pickups installed. I know I would be pretty upset.

  10. Clucker

    Clucker Tele-Meister

    Nov 8, 2005
    Exactly TDU

    Becky. I will send you an email later today. Right now I am off to deliver a hot tub.

    To be fair, I must say that Becky has always been nothing less than a very sweet,knowledgable and cordial on the phone and I am sure she and Bill are nice people, and I also agree that their pickups are the most pianistic I have ever played. They have many things working in their favor, but this really is an issue that should be addressed. I think they could be an even more popular company if they addressed this one issue.
    Last edited: May 8, 2007

  11. david henman

    david henman Tele-Holic

    Aug 2, 2006
    bolton, ontario
    ...i've spent considerable time on the phone with bill discussing this very topic (among others). bill is absolutely adamant about the bridge. as becky says:

    "Our noisefree singles for Telecaster work best with a modern “non-magnetic” chrome-plated brass bridge. (It’s easy to see if your bridge is magnetic, just put a pickup next to it and if it attracts, then it’s definitely magnetic!) We don’t encourage using the old ashtray bridge with our noisefree singles for many reasons."

    i agree that this should be stated clearly on the web site, as a caveat (perhaps it is, i haven't looked for it).

    if any of you ARE able to understand the technology, give bill a call. he's a bit gruff, but its not difficult to tell that he loves to discuss this stuff. his knowledge and experience are truly astounding.


  12. Joe Harris

    Joe Harris Tele-Meister

    Oct 23, 2004
    How upset are you with Fender for selling you a noisy pickup ? How upset are you with Fender for making you spend more $$$ to replace that noisy pup ? Does Fender make you aware of their noisy pickups before via their website or catalog before you purchase one of their guitars ? My '75 Fender Custom squealed ad infinitum until I changed the bridge. I never received a disclaimer from Fender before my purchase but I did what I had to do in order to make the Custom playable.

    You had to invest money to get that Fender in order ... now you have to invest money to get the Lawrence pickup in order. One thing leads to another , it's the nature of the beast.The vast majority of the topics here concern modifications and upgrades to make your Tele function optimally. You can't can't paint Bill & Becky as being negligent or deceitful. I see no variation from other manufactures in regards to the standard of service or advertising.

    BTW - My James Burton has the 280/290 combo WITH the magnetic bridge and it works perfectly sans microphonics. Ya win some ya lose some.
    Last edited: May 11, 2007

  13. tpaul

    tpaul Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 18, 2003

    I have L280s in my esquire '62 RI and love them. I've never noticed any squealing, and I'm pretty sure the bridge is magnetic. Then again, I haven't used them in extremely high gain situations, so maybe I should swap the bridge anyway.

    In any case, Bill and Becky have been great to deal with, and (as evidenced here) are always willing to try to resolve an issue.

  14. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

    Feb 19, 2004
    trumansburg, ny
    i would think that most bridge pups, especially standard tele bridge pups, are susceptible to feedback in high volume/high gain situations. especially related to the guitars proximity to the amp.

    at least thats been my experience.


    rand z

  15. Arlo

    Arlo Friend of Leo's

    Jul 22, 2006
    Upta Camp
    I don't think that the squealing problem (micro-phonic is a better term) is something exclusive to BL's pups. I have a set of Seymour 5/2's and at a louder volume with distortion they too can get away from ya.

    I have had plenty of Fender pups that also do the same darn thing. Is it frustrating? Yep. Is 60 cycle hum frustrating? Yep.

    These problems have plagued Tele's and Strat's for years. Imagine the noise Jimi Hendrix had to deal with??

    Depending on the player it sometimes makes sense to try and work around the problem by understanding the reason and the remedy when you use this type of pup. In my experience I find it easy to only use certain guitars for certain songs. This can't possibly work for everyone especially if all you own is one.

    The EMG Tele pups are the quietest and the ugliest pups I have ever used in a Tele. The sound is more than superb it is outstanding but it makes me wince when I look at them. If they would apply the technology that they employ in the EMG SAV style I would be buying some in a heart beat.

    Problem with EMG is they think the Tele T and TC pups they make look fine. They look like crap in my opinion but they cancel noise and sound really great.

    The other choice I would recommend are the BL Keystones. They are superb looking and sounding. My only problem with them is that the coil is too fragile and not well enough protected. I have killed at least 4 of them and I can't see buying more until they get that little problem straightened out. That is my only complaint about the Keystones. If you want to hear them in action go check out my You Tube video for Cowboy Song.
    They smoke at a high volume and sound just as clean pretty at a low volume.
    The Keystones are prone to 60 cycle and that is something that is not easily fixed by any company. At least not yet.

    Just my 10 cents, inflation ya know ;)

  16. tpaul

    tpaul Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 18, 2003
    Does Fender make non-magnetic, old-style (3-barrel ashtray) bridges?

    I was thinking about this... if I have to change the bridge, which I really don't want to do, do I have to go aftermarket, or does Fender make a drop-in non-magnetic replacement?

    What are the choices? I use threaded steel bridge saddles ... are they going to be a problem too? (they're magnetic, right?)

    I don't have anything against Glendale, never having dealt with them, but I don't really want to put a new-looking bridge on my old-looking guitar, if you know what I mean.

  17. Clucker

    Clucker Tele-Meister

    Nov 8, 2005
    So it would appear that these glendale replacement bridges are about $125.00. So in the end, I will have spent about $225.00 for this whole deal. That is just ridicuous and I don't see the big announcement that Becky promised either.
    I am now VERY disenchanted

  18. Becky Lawrence

    Becky Lawrence Tele-Meister Vendor Member

    Thanks everyone. We do include a sheet with the pickups explaining what I basically posted before plus more. However, literally thousands of customers have used various types of bridges with our noisefree pickups over the years, including the old-style ashtray bridge, but that particular combination of the "vintage" bridge and a modern noisefree pickup occasionally requires some extra attention to setup or some minor modifications like adding extra mounting holes and screws to the front of the bridge plate -- and, even with a traditional single-coil, those ferrous bridges aren't ideal for high gain and/or distorted playing. Historically, that's one the chief reasons brass Tele bridges became such a frequent mod as that sort of playing started to become more popular. (Btw, Glendale is the choice of our customer in the e-mails I posted above. There are many other makers of non-magnetic bridges, including Fender too.)

    The Telecaster is a wonderful, historic instrument and many love it so much they want to keep theirs much like the original from the '50s which is just fine, but it's also a lot like going into a Chevy dealership and insisting on a car built just like the Chevys of 1952 -- then expecting it to perform under 2007 driving conditions! Can you imagine thousands of heavy, awkward '52 Chevys, however gorgeous, on the California freeways trying to keep up with all the cars designed and built fifty years later?

    The original Tele design is an enduring classic and will always have its respected place in music history, but the improvements made over the years to bring the Tele into our "modern, high-volume, effects-heavy stage environment" are also worth serious consideration. The Tele simply wasn't designed with those factors in mind -- they didn't even exist back in 1952!

    When you make the move to noisefree pickups, you've taken the first step toward modernization of your Tele. Going back to the Chevy analogy, putting a modern engine in a '52 Chevy is problematic because a transmission designed a 50 years ago isn't going to just bolt up to the new powerplant and give you all the performance that engine can deliver -- the modification process has to be completed to get that sort of result. The same goes for "dropping" noisefrees into an otherwise "vintage" guitar -- depending on your playing habits and requirements, other changes may very well be needed. (Our Keystone Singles bridge pickup for Teles is a less radical "engine swap" and offers considerably lower hum levels than standard single coils.)

    That brings up another issue: our industry's guitar techs. There are many knowledgeable people who work on guitars -- after all, Bill's initial American reputation was largely based on the meticulous setup and modification work he did back in his New York days. Our best techs do a great service, really helping players get the most from their instruments. Unfortunately, unlike the building and automotive trades, the guitar industry has not established any real criteria for the title "guitar tech" -- in fact, anyone can simply buy a bunch of tools and declare himself a guitar tech. Even a sushi chef has to meet rigorous knowledge and experience requirements before he can assume the title of “master” sushi chef! I wish our industry could offer that level of assurance to guitar players too, but for now that is simply not the case. In practical terms, that means that the knowledge and skill levels of those who call themselves "guitar techs" are pretty much all over the map -- some are genuinely great, some perfectly adequate, and others are just glorified string changers.

    Any questions, please let me know.

    All the best,


  19. JonesKY

    JonesKY Tele-Meister

    Dec 3, 2003
    In The Bluegrass KY
    "The original Tele design is an enduring classic and will always have its respected place in music history, but the improvements made over the years to bring the Tele into our "modern, high-volume, effects-heavy stage environment" are also worth serious consideration. The Tele simply wasn't designed with those factors in mind -- they didn't even exist back in 1952!"

    Wasn't it Socrates who said "Necessity is the mother of invention..."?

    Just because the Tele was designed 50 years ago around different musical styles shouldn't be a reason for not exploring solutions which would retain the original characteristics of the instrument! However, the answer begins with 1) defining the fundamental "Tele characteristics" sought, then 2) addressing details which may include a combination of changes instead of a single element to arrive at a desired conclusion.

    For some, the "Tele" is characterized simply by body shape. For others, it comes down to the details of era-correct woods, pickups, & bridge design. And for the OCD-types, it even comes down to finishes, pickguard materials, capacitors types, 60Hz hum in all positions, etc.

    IMHO... much of what makes a Tele tonally unique is the interaction between the bridge design & the pickup; moreso than even the body & fingerboard wood differences. The hardtail, barrel saddles, and diving-board design of being anchored at one end and floating on the other significantly contribute to the harmonic structure of a "Tele". That's a lot of the reason why a hardtail strat w/a baseplated bridge pickup (or even an Anderson Tele) falls short of yielding "that tone" (not that the others are necessarily "bad"...).

    That said, my journey...
    1) "noiseless" pups (by duncan, dimarzio, lawrence, kinman) that were noisey & microphonic because of a ferrous bridge interferring with the magnetic flux of the pickup.
    2) non-ferrous Gotoh & Fender bridges w/noiseless pups for good sound, but "too solid" and harmonically "duller" - goodbye tele-tone (sounded more like my Robert Cray strat; good, but not a Tele).
    3) back to std single-coil pup (many varieties & impedances) w/std bridge, for consistently good, "Tele" tone, but w/60-hz hum (all were better than 1 & 2).
    4) Non-ferrous vintage-style bridge (ala Glendale) with modern stacked pup (Dimarzio, Lawrence, Kinman, etc) = "Tele" tone w/o hum. This combo (non-ferrous "vintage style" bridge + stacked pup) offers the best of both worlds, sans OCD. Can get clean twang to Dumble gain without 60hz hum.

    Hope this helps a bit, and incidently... My Disclaimer: I have no endorsement with Glendale or Dimarzio.

  20. StuH

    StuH Friend of Leo's

    May 12, 2006
    Yukon, Canada
    Man you nailed that one. If you are into uber modern looking guitars they look fine. I bought a Cort G290 not that long ago and initially laughed at these little plastic pads. (mine are SA's and an 89) Man but they sound great and totally void of noise but there's not a chance I'd put something that ugly in a tele unless it was an all white tele with black accessories.


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