Late 1987 - Early 1990 Bill Lawrence "the Original" Hb-r/hb-l Pickups: Share Your Experiences

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3,738
When I walked into Friends Music yeeears .. Ok .. No .. Wait .. . Decaaades ago .. I just basically went I picked up some reeds cork grease and tenor and alto sax supplies .. they were plenty of shops to visit along the way but this one was different .. a former coworker and friend bought this place and my father and I were quite fond of its new owner (RIP David Sandler) .. he was a great guy .. A highly skilled repair tech . .. and I had bought a number of horns off of him .. and he got me a killer deal on my 78 Washburn Falcon

When we went in Dave was busy in the phone .. so I checked out his guitar selection ... I was checking out a used 81 LP Custom .. I plugged it into a really cool Mesa Mark IIB (nice!!) .. The guitar played great .. I was half considering leaving with that guitar as I put it back on it's hanger in the cabinet I noticed a GORGEOUS brandy new Alpine White 89 Gibson Les Paul Standard with gold hardware and cream binding .. I took it down .. Gave it an inspection .. And i remember thinking: "oooooo .. Perty" .. I plugged it into the Mesa and .. I mean, Whoa! .. This angelic looking guitar was a sleeeper .. A wolf in sheep's clothing .. It screamed .. SCREAMED .. But it cleaned up really nicely .. I liked it better than the Custom .. I began to wonder which pickups are in this guitar .. I like 'em .. David got off the phone .. Greeted Dad and I .. and asked me if I liked the Mesa .. I assured him i did but im really wanting to know more about the guitar

He told me it's a limited run .. Only X number will be produced .. Made in the Custom Shop .. Gold hardware .. I interrupted to inquire about the pickups .. He asked "why? .. Like 'em? .. Whaddaya think? .. Different, right?" .. I told him I was pretty impressed with them .. they are really hot but they sure clean up nice .. and that's when he told me it has those very new BillLawrence HB-R/HB-L set ..

I have heard bad things about those circuit board pickups through the rumor mill ... but I didn't find them to be bad like some people .. I found them to be hot .. Phenomenal sustain .. Dave assured me that im right .. Neck is 9.1K .. Bridge just shy of 14k .. His tech checked because he was curious .. Lol .. I felt a click .. Like a switch was flicked .. I had the thought "buy this pig .. Or you'll be sorry" .. I was playing in a metal/ classic rock band and this guitar would serve me well now I just had to arrive at the price

I knew David would treat me well .. That wasnt even a concern .. I can leave his shop with any guitars in stock with just a handshake .. My word that i would pay him was currency enough .. I didnt go there with any notion of buying a guitar .. So i couldnt really dicker .. he said "look I'll give it to you for cost .. you sent a lot of business my way over the years and you bought a lot of horns from me .. I appreciate it and it's my turn to help you out" ...i was STOKED .. whenever he said give me $800 even .. All in .. I nodded and he scurried off to get the case .. he offered to throw in a setup .. Sweet .. His tech was AWESOME .. Real meticulous guy .. But i said actually it's fine it just needs a little tweak .. it's right in my wheelhouse already

Best money i ever spent on a guitar .. For over a decade it served as my number one ...now it shares the #1 slot with my S-500 .. I just love how that guitar brings the thunder .. sometimes I feel it can bring the rain

I know there is bad press out there about these pickups .. personal preference often renders some of the best equipment to be seen as junk .. and I know a lot of people that pulled these pickups out of their guitar because they didn't like the idea of a circuit board .. They felt it lacked purity .. Genuinity .. Rawness .. I get it .. I understand purists .. in many instances I have been one .. I didn't know what these pickups were and after I heard them I didn't care .. I liked everything about them .. and I really put them through their Paces before I decided to buy this guitar .. now decades later .. This guitar's sound is STILL relevant .. Friends just love to play it .. So that tells me a lot ..

Please, share your experiences with the community
 
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stonem

Member
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2,865
I have had a few sets I still have some in my 89 sg custom. I really like the neck PU. the bridge is ok, seems to hot for classic stuff and too weak for metal. I change it out alot for various PUs. Depending on what I'm recording.
 

colinesquire

Member
Messages
1,121
I had one of these in bridge position of an old sg in the mid nineties. Never loved the tone. Found it harsh and mid scooped. Eventually replaced with a paf clone and there was that smoother creamy vintage tone I was after. Ymmv!
 

Laurence

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
10,243
That '89 white LPS has mellowed into a very attractive creme color. I still have the Lawrence PUs but they're not in the guitar. A little too hot for my tastes, even with the PUs set very low. I'm a volume control rider as well. I don't think I'll ever sell the guitar, I've had it since '99, but I'm keeping the BL PUs just in case.
 
Messages
3,738
I have had a few sets I still have some in my 89 sg custom. I really like the neck PU. the bridge is ok, seems to hot for classic stuff and too weak for metal. I change it out alot for various PUs. Depending on what I'm recording.
Neck pickup is great .. Silky smooth .. I use it a lot .. I rarely use the bridge alone .. 99% of the time when i do use it it is in conjunction with the neck .. It trims a good amount of the harshness with a little rollback of bridge vol and tone .. So much more usable
 

bugzapper

Member
Messages
2,252
Don't know exactly what model, but, in 1987, I had Bill Lawrence humbucker installed in the bridge position of a Strat copy. I played that guitar a ton, and I did my first gigs on it.

I regret leaving the pickup in when I sold the guitar.
 
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3,738
I wonder... why... people write with these ellipses... like... this...

Makes it soooo much... harder..... to.... read. :)
Most of the time i use 2 ..
Not an ellipsis, but, to satisfy your curiosity, it is deliberate. I am deliberately forcing a caesura upon readers. It imposes a particular cadence; you must read it as intended. I find that in so doing i am less often misunderstood. I do it all the time and will continue to do so despite complaints.

Thank you for your criticism, and thanks for stopping by and offering nothing to the conversation whose title drew you. No apologies though. Since i do it all the time - and will never stop - especially for the likes of someone who is so distracted by form as to offer nothing save for criticism, i suggest ignoring me. Im not here to ruin your experience, and i can assure you that you will not ruin mine
 
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3,738
I couldn’t pull them out of my 2 335’s fast enough.
That makes sense ; i can understand that. of all the places for Gibson to put them that wouldn't be the smartest place.. lower output pickups really bring out the sweetness and best tones out of a 335.. they really only belong in a solid body and some people aren't going to like them there. Thank God for personal preference or we'd all sound the same.
 
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3,738
The original post reads like an ee cummings poem about gear.
Lol .. Im sure it wasnt intended to be complimentary .. But i always appreciated cummings' forcing upon readers his brand of idiosyncratic syntax .. However, i wrote in prose .. Thanks for offering nothing to the thread save for criticism .. You rock.
 
Messages
3,738
Don't know exactly what model, but, in 1987, I had Bill Lawrence humbucker installed in the bridge position of a Strat copy. I played that guitar a ton, and I did my first gigs on it.

I regret leaving the pickup in when I sold the guitar.
Wow .. Interesting choice. That had to have been cool in a S body. I would have liked to have heard that. Very interesting. Im curious as to what you used for caps and pots
 

Mig Guv

Member
Messages
2
Not sure if this is considered a Zombie thread yet, but I was trying to find some more info on these as well and found this thread. I have an '89 Les Paul Custom Ive had since 1996. The Circuit Board pickups are pretty interesting. I used the guitar in Smashing Pumpkins-influenced bands in the past and lastly, I used it when I played with an R&B/Hip Hip group(i.e. no distortion). I find the cleans to be transparent and jazzy and with distortion, they compress real early. I think they sound full, even EQ, with a lot of mids, maybe too much bass, in my case. I rarely ever ran them fully open.

I have to admit, I can't blame anyone for not liking them, as they sound *nothing* like an open, chimey PAF, if that is what you're looking for. But if you like using a lot of effects and gain, or want a flat jazzy tone, they are pretty damn good.

Does anyone even know what kind of magnets are in these? The design is weird and looks kind of flimsy to me.
 

philiprst

Member
Messages
755
I have a 89 LPC with these pickups and the OPs impression of how they sound is very similar to mine. I also own a 73 LPC with more traditional original pickups so I have had the opportunity to compare. The circuit board pickups do sound distinctively different which is actually why I have kept them in the 89. If the 89 was my only LPC then I might consider swapping out the pickups for something more traditional. They work really well in higher gain situations and also have very nice cleans. Where they seem to differ most is for low to medium gain and for those situations my preference is for the pickups in the 73.
 

Mig Guv

Member
Messages
2
Good description. I would say the CB pickups are good for extremes in tone application, but lower output pickups are better with all the nuances. I did briefly own a LP Trad with the 59 Tributes and it was totally different to the '89 Custom!

I have a 89 LPC with these pickups and the OPs impression of how they sound is very similar to mine. I also own a 73 LPC with more traditional original pickups so I have had the opportunity to compare. The circuit board pickups do sound distinctively different which is actually why I have kept them in the 89. If the 89 was my only LPC then I might consider swapping out the pickups for something more traditional. They work really well in higher gain situations and also have very nice cleans. Where they seem to differ most is for low to medium gain and for those situations my preference is for the pickups in the 73.
 

Dazza

Member
Messages
70
I'd think they're ceramic magnets and believe there are 2 versions of these BL design pickups with different outputs. I'm unsure if they were intentionally designated to particular guitars. I've owned an '89 Custom since new which has the high output version, in the 12-14K range if I recall. As the BL pickups came in ES335 models as well I'd assume they got the lower, more contemporary output version ? 30+ years ago I was happy riffing away with high gain rack gear, but now I'm much older preferring Gibson Historics with PAF type pickups through non master amps in a 60's-70's style. My ear for tone has grown a world away from metal and those BL pickups. Good guitar with much sentimental value. I just never play it.

Daz
 

Dazza

Member
Messages
70
If the 89 was my only LPC then I might consider swapping out the pickups for something more traditional. They work really well in higher gain situations and also have very nice cleans. Where they seem to differ most is for low to medium gain and for those situations my preference is for the pickups in the 73.

After many years playing Historics and PAF types I experimented on my '89 Custom to see if I could achieve a more vintage vibe. This included swaps in hardware, pots / caps and PAF types - all known to increase airy / woody / chimey character. It just got bright and anemic. Pickups with unbalanced coils, OX4 / Wizz / Custombuckers that all sound great in Historic bursts, simply sounded thin. It worked best with the original 300k pots and BL pickups - despite my tastes being otherwise. it was a fun experiment regardless. Perhaps balanced coil pickups like your 70's T Tops would suit better ? I have a mid 70's EDS1275 and the T Tops sound fantastic in that guitar.

Daz
 




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