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Thread: Specs for the Bill Lawrence L-500

  1. #1
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    Specs for the Bill Lawrence L-500

    Does anyone have specs for this pickup? Can't seem to find any anywhere.

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    Member eggman6's Avatar
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    You'll have a hard time cloning them without taking one apart since they dont use stanard bobbins, and the shape and size of these pickups obviously contributes alot, i think theres a chance the blades are actually the magnets aswell, although i could be wrong since i've never opened one up.

    His L450 (now L600) humbuckers used polepeice magnets and it has been said similar sounds to the L500 can be achieved with them.

    here are some of the specs

    Clean = 2.8 Henry
    Rhythm = 4.8 Henry
    Lead = 6.8 Henry
    XL (extra lead?) = 9.2 Henry

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

    Bill Lawrence L-500/L-510/L-6xx humbucker = 1.350"/~34mm Width x 2.80"/~71mm Length
    (~3.35"/~85mm long inclusive of the screw tags)

    Cant seem to find the resistence right now, but an ebay seller claims the reading got from an L-500 lead to be 14.97k which sounds about right. Although at one point this changed (lowered i think by a few 100 ohm) to compensate for different magnets used, when alnico was used instead of ceramic due to availability.

    you should be able to find out more here

    http://guitarsbyfender.yuku.com/forum/view/id/11

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    I have an L-500. The regular L-500 reads 7.64K. The notes I have say 5000 turns of either 42 or 42.5 wire. A few aspects of the pickups are the narrower coils, thin stainless steel blades, and a big honkin' ceramic magnet! The aluminum plated plastic cover is supposed to affect the tone also.

    The L-500XL is the hot one.

    You can look up the patent on the pickup: 4364295

    I also had a closed cover Lawrence pickup I got when I worked at American Showster. We used to get prototypes all the time. I never saw this pickup in production. It looked like an EMG. It was passive and had the cleanest brightest tone I've ever heard on a humbucker. The top end was very glassy.

    I had it in one of my guitars for years, and then one coil went dead. Later I chipped off the case and all the polyester resin. it had the same bobbins as the L-500, slightly thinner blades and the same big magnet.

    Here's some photos of an L-500 clone I picked up somewhere years ago. I looks like they made exact copies of Lawrence's bobbins and stuff, but they didn't include the solder terminals on the bobbins, or the PC board under the magnet. It even has screw holes in the cover that they didn't use. It sounds pretty much like the real thing.
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    Member eggman6's Avatar
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    L-500 C 4,5 K
    L-500 R 7,1 K
    L-500 L 11,8 K
    L-500XL 13,3 K

    I'm guessing the 14,1K was for the alnico version of the XL

    http://guitarsbyfender.yuku.com/topic/9254

    Would be good if you could give us the dimentions of the bobbins.

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    Last edited by eggman6; 04-08-2009 at 02:18 PM.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Bobbins are 66.25mm X 15.15mm X 10.13mm high. The space for the wire is 6.39mm high. The blade is 1.6mm thick, 54.45mm long, and 18.85mm high at the center of the arch.

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    Member eggman6's Avatar
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    Thanks for that

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  7. #7
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    Cool. Thanks.

    This is what I was looking for.

    You're right, that is a BIG magnet. Wonder if Shea can get a magnet like this.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevinT View Post
    Cool. Thanks.

    This is what I was looking for.

    You're right, that is a BIG magnet. Wonder if Shea can get a magnet like this.
    I'm not sure if the real L-500 has such a large magnet, because there's supposed to be a PC board type of thing under the magnet, and that would never fit in this case. You can't open a real L-500. The patent shows a smaller magnet.

    But the broken lawrence pickup I chipped apart had the same bobbins, but in black, a flat top blade, and an almost as large ceramic magnet. Just not quite as thick, but pretty big.

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    500L anatomy

    Hi all, especially David. I recently got one Bill Lawrence with one open coil. There is really no reasonable disassembly, so at least I tried to cut the base off. The plastic is very sturdy, chrome coating heavy duty. It uses shielded solid wires for the leads. Only the bottom is epoxied, not the whole coils.
    Now you see four little ceramic magnets, separated from the blades with a grounded copper foil.
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    Member eggman6's Avatar
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    If you wanted to completely disassemble the pickup you might be able to remove that epoxy with vinegar but apparently it takes a very long time.

    Acetone works nicely but it wouldn't stop with the epoxy and would bugger up those bobbins if they are abs.

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    Vinegar to remove set epoxy

    Thanks for that vinegar tip. It works, softening the epoxy into a hard jelly, that can be cut off easily. But it takes about 1mm/day. I suppose vinegar will corrode the copper windings to death.
    Does anyone have dead EMG to try it on their epoxy?

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    I just thought about this... every Lawrence pickup I've seen was encapsulated with polyester resin, not epoxy. You can tell by the styrene smell.

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    Member eggman6's Avatar
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    No chance removing that then if thats the case, not without ruining the pickup.

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    lawrence repair

    After two weeks in vinegar, once a day scraping softened ressin off, I saved the coils and the magnets. Luckily the good coil was still OK, and I repaired the open coil. The demage was done on the outside windings. No wonder, there was only a little piece of tape, not covering all the coil surface against the pickup tub. The coils were not potted, only a little dirty with that ressin. The pickup was probably preassembled, coils glued together, the bottom taped with the copper foil, magnets glued, then some ressin was poured into the "pickup tub" and all the parts pressed in.
    The bad thing is that the ressin swells in vinegar, and the pressure made one bobbin crack a little. But it is back, working again. The repair is not visible from the front.

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    Good save. And Eggman, a great tip on the vinegar. Gonna keep that in my store of "one o' these days" tricks. Could come in very, very handy. Thanks.

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  16. #16
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmensik View Post
    ...then some ressin was poured into the "pickup tub" and all the parts pressed in.
    The patent shows it's done this way. "80" is the resin. The bobbins are supposed to be attached with screws through the bottom of the cover. But I've seen them without the screws.
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    I have an L-500. The regular L-500 reads 7.64K. The notes I have say 5000 turns of either 42 or 42.5 wire. A few aspects of the pickups are the narrower coils, thin stainless steel blades, and a big honkin' ceramic magnet! The aluminum plated plastic cover is supposed to affect the tone also.

    The L-500XL is the hot one.

    You can look up the patent on the pickup: 4364295

    I also had a closed cover Lawrence pickup I got when I worked at American Showster. We used to get prototypes all the time. I never saw this pickup in production. It looked like an EMG. It was passive and had the cleanest brightest tone I've ever heard on a humbucker. The top end was very glassy.

    I had it in one of my guitars for years, and then one coil went dead. Later I chipped off the case and all the polyester resin. it had the same bobbins as the L-500, slightly thinner blades and the same big magnet.

    Here's some photos of an L-500 clone I picked up somewhere years ago. I looks like they made exact copies of Lawrence's bobbins and stuff, but they didn't include the solder terminals on the bobbins, or the PC board under the magnet. It even has screw holes in the cover that they didn't use. It sounds pretty much like the real thing.
    I have a set of those repros in an old Korean made electric- They do sound good! The weird thing about "Bill Lawrence" pickups is that there are at least three different "Bills". There's the company that bears his name, then there's the man himself, and there's OBL or "Original Bill Lawrence". Then you have the Duncan Dimebucker. It would be interesting if someone were to tear apart a sampling and see exactly what the differences and similarities are between the different makers.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    I have a set of those repros in an old Korean made electric- They do sound good!
    I just have the one pickup, wish I had a set.

    The weird thing about "Bill Lawrence" pickups is that there are at least three different "Bills". There's the company that bears his name, then there's the man himself, and there's OBL or "Original Bill Lawrence". Then you have the Duncan Dimebucker. It would be interesting if someone were to tear apart a sampling and see exactly what the differences and similarities are between the different makers.
    The way I figured it was Bill the man had the original Lawrence Sound pickup company with that other guy. Then something must have happened between them and Bill went back to Germany and started OBL. I assume the other guy was the money guy, since he ended up with the patents. Then Bill had that bad deal with Gibson over the OBL pickups. They licensed them and started sticking cheap imports in their guitars with the OBL logo on them. Then the former partner started making the Bill Lawrence Research/USA pickups and sold them through Stew-Mac. I bought one of those. It was a L-250T Tele bridge pickup to go with the two old L-250s I had in my Tele style guitar. It was weaker in output and microphonic (the bad kind). So even though he says they are made the same, clearly they are not.

    I've installed a few new Wylde/Lawrence pickups (from the man) recently for some customers, and they sound very nice.

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    Bill(the man) split from the company very early on IIRC. About 1980? The legal rights were assigned in 1984. All the classic "Bill Lawrence" pickups from the company, Stew Mac, and dealers, have been from that company. It has only been in the last maybe 15? years that Bill(the man) has been doing small production. There's a timeline somewhere on the web and there's a legal disclaimer on the BL site
    *Bill Lawrence USA
    Here is an independent site with more info:
    http://www.billlawrencereview.com
    /BillLawrence_Timeline

    I still couldn't find the article I read. It may have been dead tree technology.

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  20. #20
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Yeah, the legal disclaimer was due to a lawsuit.

    I'm aware that the pickup are made in the same facility and on the same equipment as they were when Bill was with the company, but my experience was the pickups were not quite the same somehow. I know other had complained about them as well when Stew-mac offered them, which is why they stopped selling them.

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    this is a real original l500l
    11.9 dc i have 6 11.9 Exactly
    1 Small ceramic magnet
    L2.5CM W1.4CM T0.3CM

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  22. #22
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dor baruch View Post
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    this is a real original l500l
    11.9 dc i have 6 11.9 Exactly
    1 Small ceramic magnet
    L2.5CM W1.4CM T0.3CM
    As we discovered in the other thread, that's not a typical L-500L. Most use larger magnets. It seems Bill changed things around from time to time. The photo I posted above is a copy, but I have taken dead ones apart and they had a very large ceramic magnet in them.

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    ok
    my old one and this have small magnet
    My mistake you have a read on the power of the magnet in gauss?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kmensik View Post
    Hi all, especially David. I recently got one Bill Lawrence with one open coil. There is really no reasonable disassembly, so at least I tried to cut the base off. The plastic is very sturdy, chrome coating heavy duty. It uses shielded solid wires for the leads. Only the bottom is epoxied, not the whole coils.
    Now you see four little ceramic magnets, separated from the blades with a grounded copper foil.
    My guess is that this is not an original Bill Lawrence (given name: Willi L Stich, European stage name: Billy Lorento) design. I don't think he would have used the magnets in that manner.

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  25. #25
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fluoroscope 5000 View Post
    My guess is that this is not an original Bill Lawrence (given name: Willi L Stich, European stage name: Billy Lorento) design. I don't think he would have used the magnets in that manner.
    It looks real to me. He has changed things over the years. You can see another versions with the 4 magnets here. I have an L-500 copy, and while everything is made the same, including the bobbins with the tabs for the solder terminals, it lacks the terminals and wasn't potted with polyester resin.

    I also used to have a real Lawrence humbucker that looked like an EMG without exposed blades. It had a clean bright glassy tone. Unfortunately one coil went bad, so I took the thing apart. That had a huge ceramic magnet in it. The parts were the same as an L-500 except the blades were flat on the top.

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    Maybe it's original, but Bill may have been back in Germany in '86, so? I know Bill refines things a lot, but I'd still be surprised if he switched to that magnet configuration, unless there was a problem with getting large magnets?

    That other BL pickup you have sounds like it was from an L-6S. Relatively low wind, I believe. Those were fine guitars, but Gibson marketing changed some of Bill's design stipulations for the ones they produced. The new L-6S RI is little like the original. Bill used a pressure finishing process, taken from wooden water skis, that forced lacquer ~1/8" into the wood. It crystallized and formed a very rigid neck that never needed refinishing. Not sure they used that method. A deal was almost sealed for a shipment of such pressure finish treated water ski wood (Cyprus?) to use for the original Fender necks in the 50's, but it fell through for some reason. Those would have been some very stable, reliable and tone enhancing necks. Now, baked Maple is all the rage.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fluoroscope 5000 View Post
    Maybe it's original, but Bill may have been back in Germany in '86, so? I know Bill refines things a lot, but I'd still be surprised if he switched to that magnet configuration, unless there was a problem with getting large magnets?
    He might have been. When was he doing the OBL pickups?

    That other BL pickup you have sounds like it was from an L-6S. Relatively low wind, I believe. Those were fine guitars, but Gibson marketing changed some of Bill's design stipulations for the ones they produced. The new L-6S RI is little like the original. Bill used a pressure finishing process, taken from wooden water skis, that forced lacquer ~1/8" into the wood. It crystallized and formed a very rigid neck that never needed refinishing. Not sure they used that method. A deal was almost sealed for a shipment of such pressure finish treated water ski wood (Cyprus?) to use for the original Fender necks in the 50's, but it fell through for some reason. Those would have been some very stable, reliable and tone enhancing necks. Now, baked Maple is all the rage.
    The L6-S had metal covers. They had pole pieces and the three magnets like the rest of the "Super Humbuckers." It's also a bit like a Lawrence L-450/600.

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    This was a plastic cover like an EMG. It was in the mid 80s, so it might have been made by Lawrence USA. But I can't imagine Wajcman designing new pickups. We got it as a sample wen I worked at American Showster. It was much brighter than the L6-S pickups, and it wasn't particularly low output either. I have the notes somewhere, but I believe it was about 8k. There was an OBL that looked like an EMG. So maybe this was from right before Bill went to Germany? I have no idea. I have the bobbins around somewhere.

    I always liked those Lawrence designed Gibson guitars. It's a shame that the reissues that Gibson came out are all lacking in the electronics department. I know some people didn't like the rotary switch on the L6-S. but that's what was unique about it. The Ripper is the only one with correct pickups because Duncan already was making them. That and the L6-S is lacking the original wiring and midrange choke. The RD bass is embarrassing because it has jazz bass pickups in it. That's like Gibson saying "Our bass pickups suck so we will use fender designs."

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  28. #28
    Senior Member Electricdaveyboy's Avatar
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    Hello Folks,
    I just lookes up the thread while searchnig for info on the Lawrence Pickups.
    Long time ago I diasembled an OBL- all that is left for now are the two blades and the alnico magnet.
    Id route a set of forbon bobbins and now I would like to know wich wire will be used to rewind that thing.
    Can you help me on wire and turs?
    tx
    db

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    Reupload of the lost images
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    Another pre 1983 L500, two thin rough cast alnico magnets, both coils dead.
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    Supporting Member Tone Meister's Avatar
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    Old thread for sure, but my question seems relevant enough. First, a short back story: I've used Bill Lawrence pickups off and on since 1979 or so. First the L-500C, then later other iterations like the L-500XL, etc.

    Pulled this one from my 1966 Fender Duosonic in order to do some swapping around. I plan to install a more "vintage" humbucker set into the obviously-modded Duosonic and use this Lawrence in another guitar. First, I'd like to try and identify it. I'm not willing to disassemble it because I simply don't have the chops or the inclination, nor do I want to run the risk of screwing up a killer vintage, ORIGINAL Bill Lawrence piece.

    The DCR is exactly 14.00Kohms and one coil measures 6.97K and the other 7.03K, if that matters.

    Now for a couple of pictures:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Any idea what I have here? (L500C, L500XL). Would the magnet be ceramic or alnico 5?

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    Quote Originally Posted by km6xz View Post
    "I have come to the conclusion that the biggest risk to amp performance/reliability and "tone" is players reading the internet, not bad tube brands, and certainly not the often argued over capacitors."

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