Bill Lawrence WILDE brand P/J setup HELP!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by brotherdave, Jan 25, 2009.

  1. After hearing lots of great things about Bill Lawrence's WILDE brand bass pickups built at his family operated facility in Corona, CA I got a got a matched P/J set and want to install them. The destination is an old Ibanez TRB70. (Love the neck on this thing but the pickups lack any real character, especially the bridge J pickup.)

    I want to get this install as right as possible the first time and I have some questions about it. I emailed Bill Lawrence's company about a month ago asking for this same advice and if they answered I never received their reply. In fairness the Bill Lawrence response might have been spam filtered out, so I'm not going to say they didn't answer. Then again my questions could be so idiotic they are still laughing. If anyone can offer up sure answers based on first hand experience with the Wilde P/J set I'd like to hear your responses.

    My experience in wiring basses is limited to single pickup P-basses which I've done numerous times with both first and second generation models. This is my first P/J project so I'm taking my time to get it right.

    In as much as both the J45 and P46 pickups have three leads from each pickup instead of the traditional two leads any experiences with a diagram other than the one included with the Bill Lawrence WILDE P/J pickup set is out as a reference and I suspect any experience anyone has installing any other P/J set other than a three lead Bill Lawrence WILDE brand P/J set is of no benefit either. So unless you have these or have installed them then you probably aren't qualified to answer.

    All that being said, here we go:

    1. The diagram shows the pots from top to bottom as "BLEND," "MV" and "M.TONE." As long as the wiring remains the same as in the drawing, could I reorder the pot placement so that the order would be "MV," "BLEND" and "M.TONE" without messing it up? It looks like all that would change would be the order of the pots in the ground circuit. I think it probably would be ok but if anyone has any experience with this I'd appreciate some feedback.

    2. The drawing shows the ground wire running across the back of the pots and across some of the terminal lugs. Could I not just bend the lugs up and solder them to the metal pot casing like I do on a single pickup P-bass setup? Are there any disadvantages to doing that?

    3. This schematic requires two caps. The 0.05 mf is specified on the "M.Tone" pot but on the "Blend" pot Mr. Lawrence suggests trying different caps from 0.02 to 0.1 mf. That is quite a range I'd be interested to know what caps you wound up using in the blend pot position and how it behaves. I need to get a good solid Jamerson/Dunn P-bass tone and I'd like to have a funky Bootsy tone too. (I'm leaning toward 0.022 unless someone has a solid recommendation to the contrary.)

    4. Does the blend pot in the BL schematic work as a REAL blend pot? Meaning when fully rotated in one direction or the other only one pickup is in the mix? I've never seen a blend pot with only 3 lugs before. This is definitely foreign territory for me.

    5. There is no bridge ground wire on this drawing. Should I not solder the ground wire from the bridge to the ground circuit (probably on back of the tone pot) or is that somehow not necessary with these pickups and this schematic?

    6. I've read a few posts saying basses with these Bill Lawrence WILDE brand pickups are more susceptible to RF noise and that extra shielding is recommended. Is that also your experience with this set? I need to know so I can order shielding material before doing the job. This bass has a large pickup cavity so I'll need lots of copper sheeting. It would be easiest to just line the whole cavity I guess just to be safe after stripping everything out. Ibanez has the cavity cover pretty well shielded already.

    7. I think I'm going with the SERIES setup option. I want optimum pickup signal with minimal noise, is SERIES the right choice for that?

    ALSO if anyone has any alternate suggestions such as a definite way to put in a Series/Parallel toggle switch and how that should be wired I'd love to see a diagram for it. Since there are six wires involved I'm pretty sure a normal arrangement like a Fender S-1 circuit won't work.

    I like the idea of Master Volume, Blend and Master Tone a lot instead of the VOL/VOL/TONE arrangement that is standard on this bass. BUT I really want to get it 1000% right.

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    Attached Files:

  2. ALSO would using baseplates help the noise or just be a waste of money??
  3. WillieB

    WillieB Battling Bass Guitar Bulimia since 1975 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2010
    Columbus Ohio
    Here's a revival of a very old thread but the same boat I'm in ... how to wire the bill lawrence PJ's I tried the diagram above and got no very little output ... using 500k cts pots. I'm not sure I understand the parallel note at the top either.
    lost in the wires.
  4. WillieB

    WillieB Battling Bass Guitar Bulimia since 1975 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2010
    Columbus Ohio
    well I'm going to have to give this a big old NEVERMIND !

    what a trip....

    Here's my tale of whoa

    swapped out the 500k pots .... rewired everything just as the picture has it .... tested it with the pots out of the rear route ...


    put it all back togher and NOTHING AGAIN !

    agony ....

    started checking the wiring with everything plugged in .... everything was ok
    .... started taking the pots out one at a time with everything plugged in ...

    down to the third pot .... bingo .... with it out ... sound .... in nothing.

    It appears to have been shorting out with one of the tabs connecting to the shield paint
    on the wood.
    as long as I kept it off the paint ... everthing worked fine.
    what a lesson.
  5. Nobody ever replied to me. So I'm replying to you Bill. How does it sound now?

    Mine sounds pretty rich on the low end but I used 250k Pots. If yours sounds bright and chipper I might change out pots to the 500k pots. I was astounded that the blend worked so well. The problem is that with the 250k pots there really isn't that much tonal difference between the two pickups.
    Bass V likes this.
  6. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    If you think about it, this is perfectly normal behaviour. The shielding paint is connected to ground. When the volume control is turned all the way down, the output of the pickup is connected to ground.

    So if you allow the output side of a volume control (or the tone control) to touch the shielding paint, it's going to behave as if you turned the volume all the way down. Hence, no output. Just be careful when installing new pots, to make sure that they aren't touching the sides of the cavity, and you won't run into this kind of trouble again.

    If it's any consolation, just about anybody who ever tried DIY wiring, has probably made the same mistake at some point. Remember this lesson in future, and check out the basics, like whether you grounded out the wiring harness while installing the pots, BEFORE you go to the extra work and expense of replacing components at random.
  7. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Sorry these answers came a few years too late. Anyway, the simple answer to your first question is this:

    If you don't understand how a circuit diagram works electrically, the safest thing to do, is to wire it exactly the way the diagram says.

    The physical placement of the pots in the bass, has nothing to do with how they're connected electrically. Leave a little slack on the wires, and you can install them in the holes in the bass in any order you want, without needing to change any of the electrical connections.

    Ground is ground. Either way will work. Bill's method is just a little more elegant.

    I'm sorry, but you've been snookered.

    In that wiring diagram, the two pickups are permanently connected in series: (the top of the J pickup (white wire), is connected to the bottom of the P pickup (black wire), and the output of the P pickup (white wire again), is connected to the output jack through the volume control.

    Both pickups are always on. The amount of "J" in the mix is controlled by Bill's weird "blend" pot, and also by the size of the capacitor on that pot.

    So what's up with Bill's unusual variation on a normal blend pot?

    Well, start by looking at the tone control: Now go back and look at the "blend" pot again. Does it remind you of anything?

    That's right. It's just a tone control, connected across the J pickup. Instead of thinking of it like a real blend pot, it's better to think of it as a "J rolloff pot". Rather clever idea, actually.

    The reason for the wide range of suggested capacitor values, is so that you have a choice of setting up the pot so that it rolls off nearly all of the J pickup's output, or just the highs.

    With a small value cap, the "blend" pot bleeds off the highs from the bridge pickup, leaving only the bass part of its output to reach the output jack. With a large enough value capacitor, the "blend" pot will act pretty much like a volume control, sending the J pickup's output to ground, and making the instrument sound more like a conventional single-pickup P bass.

    I believe that Bill is expecting the bridge ground to be connected to the output jack.

    The red and green wires have nothing to do with "optimizing" the output. It's about choosing whether the pickup coils are wired in series (like a regular Fender P bass), or in parallel (like an EMG P pickup, with it's slightly brighter and more "hi-fi" tone).

    Bill is kind enough to bring the red and green wires out of the pickup, so you can make your own choices about series or parallel wiring inside the pickup. This is what the note at the top of Bill's schematic is referring to.

    NOTE #1:
    The bridge pickup in the diagram, is a normal single-coil J p'up. If your J45 has external red and green wires, then it must be a twin-coil, "noiseless" humbucking J.

    If you want your J45 to sound brighter, and more like a vintage J pickup, wire it in parallel. If you want it to have a hotter output (and therefore a better volume balance with the P), then wire it in series.

    NOTE #2:
    Since a standard P-bass pickup is fixed in "series mode", there's no reason to bring the green and red wires out of the pickup, so they are normally hidden away inside the potting.

    Once you've chosen how to connect the "extra" wires (red and green together, or red to white and green to black), then you can treat the Lawrence pickups like a standard Fender replacement p'up, and use them in any normal wiring diagram: White to output, black to ground.

    NOTE #3: The red and green wires, and Bill's note at the top of his schematic, are only related to the internal wiring of the individual pickups.

    This has nothing to do with overall series or parallel wiring between the two. In Bill's diagram, the two pickups are wired together in series, and they are both always on.

    In a standard J or P/J bass, the two pickups are actually wired in parallel, and thanks to the two independent volume controls, either pickup can be solo'd without the other.

    I suggest trying the bass both ways, and seeing which arrangement you prefer: Both pickups always on in series, with Bill's innovative "J rolloff" pot, vs the standard Fender parallel V/V/T setup.
    PawleeP likes this.
  8. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    The reason you don't hear a lot of tonal difference when you think you're blending between the two pickups, is because you're not!

    They're both always on. Especially if you chose the smallest suggested value for the "J rolloff" capacitor, all that's happening when you turn the "blend" pot, is you knock a bit of the edge off the bridge pickup.

    If you want a conventional P-bass tone, vs the sound of a PJ with both pickups full up, swap the .02 cap out for a .1.

    Or if you actually want to hear the sound of the individual pickups solo'd (like on a stock Fender Jazz), change the wiring harness over to a normal V/V/T setup.

    BTW, no offense intended, but: Second-guessing a great pickup designer on pot values, when you don't even understand the difference between a tone control and a blend pot, is kind of goofy.

    If Bill says to use 500K pots, it's because he designed the J45 and P46 to work that way. I recommend that you swap the 250K pots on your Ibanez for 500K, if only to find out what your pickups are really supposed to sound like.

    If you don't like the extra highs, you can always roll them off a bit with the tone control...
  9. WillieB

    WillieB Battling Bass Guitar Bulimia since 1975 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2010
    Columbus Ohio
    steve ...

    thanks for the info

    there were no specs on the type of pots to use in bill's tech notes. Not understand wiring electronics I though maybe the issue was the 500k pots. it aint easy doing it by trial and error.
  10. WillieB

    WillieB Battling Bass Guitar Bulimia since 1975 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2010
    Columbus Ohio
    Hey brother dave !

    I've got the 250k pots in there and I think its one of the best sounding PJ's I've ever played. I love the blend control ... very subtle.
    I may put the 500k pots back in - randomly - and use a .1 cap

    my soldering skills seem to improve with practice.