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Thread: Bill Lawrence Pickups for ESB-4 bass builder (EB-50 pickups)

  1. #1
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    Bill Lawrence Pickups for ESB-4 bass builder (EB-50 pickups)

    I just saw that there are some Bill Lawrence EB-50 pickups for sale on eBay:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/26495019341...8AAOSwTcdfvE2u

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/23379418823...8AAOSwcbhfvE3O

    These are a drop-in fit for ES4-B basses, and they are awesome pickups. I have a set and really love how they sound:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Although the two listings appear to be from different sellers, the pics are identical in the two listings and both are from National City, California. I don't think that either of the companies that make Bill Lawrence branded stuff is making them anymore, so I am guessing they are NOS that somebody found on the back of a shelf. In spite of the pic on the box, you can tell that these are the genuine bass pickups because the blades go all the way to the edge of the coils. The blades are shorter on BL guitar pickups.

    In whatever case, these are fairly rare. I snapped up the only two I could find when I was doing my build three years ago, and I haven't seen any more since then. There are not many BASS pickups that fit a standard Humbucker route. The alternatives I could find were at least twice the price of these. While I could not find anyone selling these new, I did find the specs from an article by Bill Lawrence, and mine had the right resistance and inductance--which is different than his specs for similar guitar pups, so these seem right.

    At the time I got mine the only two I could find had cream bobbins. These are the more popular black ones. Would have completely changed my color scheme ;-)
    Last edited by fender3x; 13-09-2021 at 02:26 AM.

  2. #2
    Overlord of Music McCreed's Avatar
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    ...I don't think that either of the companies that make Bill Lawrence branded stuff is making them anymore...
    Just be aware the Bill Lawrence USA pickups are not made by Bill Lawrence (????). If you want BL pickups that were designed and manufactured himself, you need to to buy them from Wilde Pickups. Bill passed away some years ago, but his wife and daughter have continued to manufacture his pickup designs still.

    There is a whole sordid story involving a lawsuit between Bill and his original business partner that resulted in the partner getting the designs etc (I don't know the entire story, but BL got the sh*t end of the stick).

    From what I've heard, the Bill Lawrence USA pickups are inferior to the Wilde produced ones. FWIW, I've not played either.


    edit to add:

    re: the cream pickups on the blue guitar, I reckon a set of cream MXR-style knobs would pull it together just fine.
    That'll be 2 cents please...
    Last edited by McCreed; 13-09-2021 at 06:34 AM.
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

  3. #3
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    Ha! Yes that is a weird part of the Bill Lawrence story. In some ways it doesn't matter which company you buy from. Bill Lawrence won't be making your pickups. Sadly, he passed away in 2013. If you buy new BL pups they'll either be from Bill Lawrence USA, which the actual Bill Lawrence has not been associated with since 1984. Or you can get them from his widowed wife Becky. There are some slight differences in the looks, but as far as I know Bill Lawrence designed the pickups that both companies make...if "company" is really the word I am after. Both shops seem to be tiny and barely breathing. Becky (Wilde) makes makes copies that she and her daughter sell on their website. The Bill Lawrence USA pups are sold by Guitar Center (a big national chain)...and even they have just a couple of models.

    The Bass humbuckers are not made by either company anymore. I asked both if they sold them. From Bill Lawrence USA I got no answer. Becky told me to just get a set of the guitar pickups and they'd work fine. Maybe, but the specs are different.

    The ones on eBay (and mine) pre-date the Wilde company, but I don't know if Bill Lawrence was still with Bill Lawrence USA when they were made. All I can tell you is that I found a document authored by Bill Lawrence that talked about how they should spec (inductance and resistance) and mine were dead on. They also sound good, so what the heck.

    It'd be worth the 2 cents plus shipping to find knobs that match the cream pickup rings and bobbins. The knobs that it has on it are supposed to be cream MXR knobs. Like all the other cream knobs I have found so far, they seem closer to white. In my knob collection you will find a bunch of not-quite-the-right-cream-colored-knobs.

    Now, if you can point me to someplace that has the right colored MXR knobs, I'll send you $2 ;-)
    Last edited by fender3x; 13-09-2021 at 11:42 AM.

  4. #4
    Overlord of Music McCreed's Avatar
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    It'd be worth the 2 cents plus shipping to find knobs that match the cream pickup rings and bobbins. The knobs that it has on it are supposed to be cream MXR knobs. Like all the other cream knobs I have found so far, they seem closer to white. In my knob collection you will find a bunch of not-quite-the-right-cream-colored-knobs.
    Funny you should say that. I have a set of four in my parts drawer that my "mind's eye" recalled being the right shade of that darker cream... I just looked at them... nuh, same as the ones you have on your guitar!

    You'd think after all this time on planet Earth, I'd know better than to trust my brain!
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

  5. #5
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    I'd like to think that you are in good company. Heart's in the right place at least ;-)

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