The "Real" Bill Lawrence Pickups?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Tele71, Apr 11, 2008.

  1. Tele71

    Tele71 Gold Supporting Member

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    Are there 2 manufacturers of Bill Lawrence pickups? If so which are the "real" ones?
    Thanks in advance......
    Paul
     
  2. riggergreg

    riggergreg Member

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  3. Mike9

    Mike9 Supporting Member

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    Bill and Becky make the "real" Bill Lawrence pickups - Bill Lawrence USA (Wjacman)and the real Bill Lawrence were partners once upon a time. It's a pretty sordid tale, but an interesting bit of history.
     
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  4. fyrwyr

    fyrwyr Member

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    I was disturbed when I found out the history between those guys, hard to know who to side with...
     
  5. Tele71

    Tele71 Gold Supporting Member

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    Is this a "real" One?[​IMG]
     
  6. DonM

    DonM Member

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    Swampkaster USA = EZ Wacjman
    Bill & Becky = Bill & Becky

    both companies make "Real" Bill Lawrence pickups - Both makers pickups sound great to me..
     
  7. rooster

    rooster Member

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    Bill was the Designer, Wacjman was the businessman. Bill & Becky's stuff continues to evolve and "push the envelope", and he is putting his heart into new designs every day. Wacjman continues to make the same stuff he's been selling for the last 20 years or so.

    I use Bill & Becky's stuff, and haven't yet heard/played better out of any pickup for what they do. So far, I have a dozen of their pickups in various guitars, and I'm happy with all of them.

    rooster.
     
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  8. rooster

    rooster Member

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  9. fyrwyr

    fyrwyr Member

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    I played a '59 reissue strat the other day that was loaded with Bill's Pup's, very nice tone all around!
     
  10. guitarmook

    guitarmook Member

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    That pickup is not made by Willie Stich, aka "Bill Lawrence", it's made by the Wajcman company. But to my knowledge, they're still being made to the specs that Bill designed when they were working together.

    I have that pickup in 2 different guitars and love it. At this time, I don't believe billlawrence.com is manufacturing a single-coil sized blade pickup, unless it's been very recently returned to production.
     
  11. Grenville

    Grenville Member

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    Sad to read the story.

    It seems "Bill Lawrence" was a trade name for the work of Wajczman and Stich, who were business partners.

    When the partnership broke up, one said "it's mine" and the other said "it's me!"
     
  12. Tele71

    Tele71 Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks for all the great info. This place rules. I have the pick up shown above in one of my parts casters and it sounds pretty darn good and it's fairly quiet too. I was only asking to get the back ground / history and to clear up my own confusion. Thanks again for all the insight.
    Back in the day, (the late 60s early 70s) I owned a 1961 tele and I never did any tinkering or changing parts and I didn't even know there was an after market parts market. We would just play what our parents would buy us. Ahh "Giant Music" those were the days.
    Thanks again All.
    P
     
  13. Metalhead Mike

    Metalhead Mike Member

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    The "Bill Lawrence" story is definitely one of the most convoluted and frustrating ones in the guitar world. Worse than that, though, is "Bill" and Becky's website. Wow. I've always been intrigued by their L-500 series, but the lack of information on them is disconcerting. What is the difference between the L-500C, the L-500R, the L-500L and the L-500XL.models? How much are they? What are the options on them? What do they sound like (finding sound clips is next to impossible and changing pickups like clockwork isn't something I can do). I know I can just email or call, but would it kill them to put an FAQ or ANYTHING up to help potential buyers?
     
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  14. rwijaya

    rwijaya Supporting Member

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    Drop them an Email or call them, they will happy to help, Becky is very nice and i talked to bill once over the phone, and the explanation is very clear.

    his pups is the best in term of noiseless, kick kinman in my opinion on price and value.
     
  15. carltonh

    carltonh Member

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    Here is the short of the legal story, though I haven't kept up if anything has changed in the last year or so. While Bill was in Germany ~1984 and his company was in trouble, Wacjman, a partner in the company "allegedly" got the bank to foreclose on it and sell the assets to him personally. (Indirectly of course, by Wacjman using a proxy company he started in a foreign country.) This is "allegedly" an extreme case of violation of fiduciary duty, and a real life example of the principal-agent problem.

    But to further corrupt the problem: Bill was careful not to have his whole "Bill Lawrence" name as part of the company assets. Yes, "Lawrence" was but not "Bill Lawrence". But the chief thing that Wajcman "allegedly" wanted to exploit was the "Bill Lawrence" name and reputation. So now that "Bill" was not part of Wajcman's new company, he changed the company and product names to "Bill Lawrence." And although everyone including Wajcman referred to Bill as Bill Lawrence up to that point, Wajcman no longer called him by that name in an attempt to try to claim a trademark on the name as something different than a personal name.

    Wajcman was caught passing an "alleged" (I use that term only because of the strictness of TGP to avoid law suits) fraudulently altered document to a court. Wajcman's copy had a last sentence not there and was just empty white space on the paper. But Bill Lawrence still had the original which showed that the "Bill Lawrence" name was only on loan to the original company and not its property. Wacjman claims that his copy was as he originally received it and "allegedly" blamed Bill's now deceased wife from that time since she supposedly handed it to him and is not alive to answer.

    But in short, a trademark in US law is something that must be in use and defended against other uses or it ceases to be an enforceable trademark. Bill Lawrence did not sue Wajcman to stop Wajcman from using the Bill Lawrence name with any urgency because Bill is anti-litigious by personality. Because Wajcman used the trademark without legal opposition from Bill for 15 years or so, Wajcman was able to legally secure the "trademark" only. Not, "allegedly" because he acquired it in a legitimate fashion from Bill.

    HOWEVER, Bill Lawrence retains the Bill Lawrence "service mark" name, and among 99% of the guitar community, Bill "the man" Lawrence is the only Bill Lawrence or Bill Lawrence company, and Wajcman is a @#$%#@^ $#@!%#$^ @#$^%$^ @#%$^@!
    I'm not going to say "avoid X because it is crooked and unethical" because I'm on TGP. I'll just say, as a floating comment, don't pollute your guitar gear with bad karma.

    WARNING: Unless something has changed, Bill & Becky hardly use or answer email. They are old fashioned and basically all their business is phone based. I hate to be morbid, and he may have many years left, but Bill is 77. I'm not sure what will happen to his business after he eventually has to retire from old age. He can still play guitar pretty well though, per NAMM 2008 video. Get the Bill Lawrence real deal stuff from him while you still can.
     
  16. miketv

    miketv Member

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    L-500R, is rythmn, L500L are lead, XL super lead. Not sure 'bout C, classic maybe?
    Examples of their 'sound' can be found by watching vids of Pantera w/ Dime playing his 'Dean from hell'. He was a big fan of BL pups I seem to remember.
    Here's an article..http://www.billlawrencereview.com/L-500
     
  17. Bill Brasky

    Bill Brasky Senior Member

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    Basically, Bill and Becky's pickups are no better than or more "real deal" than BillLawrenceUSA pickups. Bill and Becky have endlessly gone on Harmony-central reviews to trash BL-USA pickups and mislead people. Bill and Becky's business depends on these lies and internet myths about mystery pickup mojo because you can buy BillLawrenceUSA pickups all day from multiple retailers for $50 or less new or you can wait 6 months for Bill and Becky's version.
     
  18. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for

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    The bickering over which is the "real" Bill Lawrence COMPANY is stupid and petty. I suppose it isn't to the principals involved, but we shouldn't get involved in it. Drama sucks.

    That being said, "Bill Lawrence USA" simply manufactures pickups designed two or three decades ago by the man who today calls himself "Bill Lawrence" - afaik, no new design work has been done in that company's name. The "Bill Lawrence" company (Bill and Becky) manufactures pickups designed by the same "Bill Lawrence" post-split. He is widely regarded as a genius among pickup designers, and I suspect his craft has just gotten better over the years, so odds are a "Bill Lawrence" pickup will be a superior design to a "Bill Lawrence USA" pickup, just because it's more modern. But his reputation was made with those older L-250 and L-500 pickups, so obviously they're quite good too.

    Like I said, I don't want to take sides in the drama and don't think it's appropriate for customers to do so. I have a used older L-250 lying around that I'll try in my Tele soon (it's really for a friend, but I'm going to try it), and I plan to order one of Bill and Becky's new L-48 dual blade Tele pickups when they become available.

    To be fair, the only Bill Lawrence pickup (of any company) I've used so far is a recent model "Keystone" Tele bridge pickup (true single coil, not humbucking). And that pickup is a MONSTER... one of the three best pickups I've ever owned, along with a Harmonic Design Z90 and a vintage Valco/Supro lap steel pickup.
     
  19. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for

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    Be fair. Bill and Becky only charge about $50 for the pickups they make today - little more than Bill Lawrence USA, and far cheaper than Duncan or Dimarzio. And the wait is usually just a few weeks.
     
  20. bdegrande

    bdegrande Member

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    Bill and Becky's pickups are only "no better" if you assume that Bill hasn't learned anything about designing pickups in the last twenty years.
     

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