Lollar Pickups Primer: The 3-Wire Tele Modification

teleactionA 4-way switch mod for Tele style guitars has always been a fun, “secret sauce” menu item for discerning guitar players. We don’t offer a pickup set that will work with it as a standard option but if you ask nicely we just might make one for you…

The standard three-way-switch gives you the three classic Tele position we all know and love. Neck pickup alone, neck + bridge in parallel, and bridge pickup alone – A tone formula that’s had the ladies swoonin’ and shakin’ since 1951. The 4-way Tele mod (TELE 4 WAY PDF) introduces a new position, the neck and bridge combo in series, which can give any Tele player a bit more versatility.

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Body Mount? Pickguard Mount? Wha? Choosing Your Charlie Mounting Options

CC Blacka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discerning tone connoisseurs have known about our Charlie Christian pickups for a while now – Tim Lerch’s tasty chops have seen to that:

But one question we do get quite a bit – What is the major difference between the two mounting options we provide for the Tele neck version of a Charlie? Body mount or pickguard mount? Which do I need? (that’s actually three questions, but who’s counting?)

First, the biggest difference is how they attach to your guitar. The CC for Tele body mount attaches directly to the body, with no visibly pickup screws on the pickguard. Some say attaching pickups to the body gives the tone a bit more of that “woody” resonance. Pickguard mount is exactly that – the CC is mounted to your pickgaurd and the three mounting screws are visible on the pickguard. We don’t find much of a tone difference between the two methods – in general, height adjustments are easier to make on the pickguard mount version. Plus, the pickgaurd mount is a lot easier to install correctly. Getting the body mount version straight and even to line up with the hole in the pickguard takes some skill and effort to accomplish.

Physically, the two pickups are almost identical. The body mount features larger, untapped holes that allow the mounting screws to pass through them into the body. The pickguard mount features smaller, tapped holes designed to allow the pickup to hang from the pickguard via 3 adjustment screws.

Last but not least, because of the variation in mounting styles, there is a subtle difference in the size of the rout for the body of your guitar.  Below are the routing diagrams of the body mount and the pickguard mount:

CC FOR TELE Routing Body mount template

CC TELE PICKGAURD MOUNT VERSION 2013

One more thing… here’s a video of Jason installing a body mount version:

http://www.lollarguitars.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=charlie-christian-pickup-installation

If you have any other questions, please contact us at info@lollarguitars.com. Happy tone hunting!
 

You’ve Got Lollartron Questions? ¿Que? We’ve Got Answers!

tron-guy

Tron Guy loves Lollartrons

Jason was kind enough to sit down with us and answer a few frequently asked questions about our newest sensation, the Lollartron humbucker. Check it out below:

You can also check out the Lollartron page on our website here.

The Genuine Lollar Experience

Hi Lollar fans! We sometimes get requests to verify the authenticity of Lollar pickups, whether its a set that pops up on eBay, or a used guitar that is said to be stocked with our stuff. Sometime in 2003 or 2004 we standardized how our pickups were marked, and it is still done the same today. The only way to know for sure that you have a genuine Lollar pickup is to check the bottom and look for the proper markings. We label them in a few different ways, from humbuckers to Strats… there are certain things to look for to insure authenticity.

CURRENT PRODUCTION:

HUMBUCKERS: All our humbuckers have tags screwed to the bottom and are stamped with “LOLLAR IMPERIAL” followed by the year, and if it is a neck or a bridge. Color is important as well… a black label is standard wind, grey is a Low Wind, and red is a High Wind. The name of the builder will be initialed in the right bottom corner.

humbucker

STRATS AND TELES: All of our Strat and Tele style pickups have this info hand written on the bottom: Lollar, the type of pickup (position if it’s a Strat), initials of the builder, and the year it was produced. LOLLAR is also stamped on the top middle on Strats. We use either white or black paint pens to handwrite on our pickups. A few models like Thunderbird and Johnny Smith pickups  have black baked on enamel that we apply with a laser.

tele-neck

tele-bridge

strat-bridge

P90s: On our P90 pickups, all the info is stamped like a humbucker, except for our Special winds which are indicated by a hand written label, such as 50’s, -5% or +5%. Same for soapbar or dog ear.

p90

Besides the markings, our overall construction is top notch. If the pickup seems a bit off- not as solid as it should be, it might not be a Lollar. For instance, wax is usually completely wiped off after potting leaving little to no trace, instead of drippy gooey globs all over. We also buff any exposed forbon (like on Tele bridge pickups) so it has a satin sheen instead of dull, matte type finish.  Our lead wires on single-coil pickups lay flat, and there are no frays in the cloth wiring. We also tape all of our coils to protect them from damage. We even buff our plastic pickup covers!  Our humbuckers come with clear plastic tape over the top to protect the finish on the pickup cover. We only use high quality lead wires.

build-quaility2

OLD SCHOOL LOLLARS:

If it says Custom on the bottom (along with Lollar and the date) it could be anything- it may not be in phase with anything else we make and it may not match any specs.  If you know the name of who originally purchased the custom item we can usually look the job up and see what the specifications were.

Occasionally we get asked questions about pickups for sale on eBay that are supposedly Lollar made. It is rare for people to try to pass off fake, uninstalled pickups for Lollars, but here are a couple photos of horribly made pickups that have Lollar written on the bottom.

fake-lollar-neck-2

Fake

fake-lollar-neck

Loller? Uh, no.

fake-lollar-2

Crap-tastic

Yikes.

Yikes.

More often, a guitar was sold claiming to have Lollars installed and was purchased by someone and resold. The purchaser had been told Lollars were installed and they never verified it. Even this is not common (but it happens) , so here’s how you can tell…

Going as far back as I can remember (before ’96 or ‘97) the bobbins could have been made out of anything other than vulcanized fiberboard – maybe wood, or often I would make them out of the thin plastic that cassette tape cases were made of- these would be fairly roughly made and would have no markings.

After ‘96 or ‘97 I would have made my bobbins out of vulcanized fiberboard- this is the same material Fender makes their pickups out of. The quality of construction would be quite high, as all of my parts were cut by hand using jigs – everything would be uniform, but nothing would be signed yet unless someone asked me to. You can tell if a P-90 is mine because I have always made the bobbins by hand and after ‘96 or ‘97 they would be made of vulcanized fiberboard.

After my book came out I started to see a few other manufacturers making P-90s using the plan I drew up- vulcanized fiber assembled bobbins. The only time I might use the standard cast plastic bobbin on P-90s would be to restore and old Gibson P-90 that had bobbin rot beyond repair.

Sometime around ‘98 or ‘99 I would have started to write model names on the bottom of pickups and dating them- still no signature unless asked for it. If the pickup in question has a model name that corresponds to something I still make then the specs are the same- same magnets and turn count. If you bought a pickup in 1996 and you buy another one today to match with the old pickup, the new pickup will be in phase with the old one- I never changed that.

Also, if you have an old single coil neck pickup (like a P-90) and you buy a new bridge pickup, not only will it be in phase but the set will be hum cancelling. Around 2001 or 2002 most of my pickups had established model names, and you’ll see the model name either abbreviated or written out on the bottom- usually in paint pen along with the date and my initials or last name.

If all else fails and you are still not sure, take a picture of the bottom and send it to info@lollarguitars.com and we’ll take a look for you.

Left-handed Guitar Pickups for Left-handed Guitar Players

This article is dedicated to all of our left handed guitar-playing customers. Although most players – right or left handed – will enjoy the technical information in this article because it applies to other questions that come up regarding the orientation of the pickup in the guitar.

In particular, this article will address our most frequently asked question from left handed players:

Do left handed players need “left handed” guitar pickups for their left handed guitars?

Generally speaking, the only time you will need a “left handed” guitar pickup is if you are ordering a pickup with staggered pole pieces. For example, a set of staggered Lollar strat style pickups or a Lollar AlNiCo 3 staggered tele bridge. Because there is 180 degrees difference between a right-handed guitar and a left-handed guitar, the magnet pattern needs to be reversed for left-handed players. But it is ONLY the magnet pattern that is affected by left versus right-handed instruments.

If you are ordering a flat pole Lollar pickup, you will not need a “left handed” guitar pickup. This applies to all of our Lollar single coil pickups and Lollar humbucking pickups.

Here’s why:

The magnet polarity and wind direction of the coil wire are the two variables we want to look at here. These two variables interact to affect phasing and hum-cancelling operations when pickups are combined. The interesting thing is that these two factors do not change when the pickup’s orientation changes. In other words, the pickup can be rotated in the guitar and the polarity and wind direction will stay the same.

First let’s start with polarity. As you know, pole piece magnets have one end that has a north polarity and one end that has a south polarity. So regardless of the orientation of the pickup in the guitar, assuming you orient the top of the pickup toward the strings, the same polarity of the magnet will always be facing outward toward the strings. In other words, if the magnet pole pieces are facing “north up” you can orient the pickup anywhere on the guitar, and it will remain “north up.” The pickup’s north poles will be facing toward the strings.

Next let’s talk about the wind direction of the coil wire. By this we mean the circular pathway the coil wire takes as it travels from hot to ground. In other words, the pathway the electricity takes as it “flows” from the hot lead, circles around the pickup pole pieces a few thousand times, and then passes to ground.

There are only two possibilities for wind direction: clockwise or counter-clockwise. In other words from the hot lead – then around the coil in a clockwise rotation – and then out to ground. Or, from the hot lead – then around the coil in a counter-clockwise rotation – and then out to ground.

A simple visual illustration will help you see that polarity and wind direction are not affected when a pickup is put in a right handed or a left handed guitar.

This Lollar strat style pickup is north up and has a counter-clockwise wind direction.

This Lollar strat style pickup is north up and has a counter-clockwise wind direction.

In this first photo we have the outline of a more familiar right handed strat pickguard, with a Lollar strat style middle pickup. We build all of our strats so that the colored cloth lead (either yellow or white) is hot, and the black is ground. As you can see the coil wire travels from the hot (yellow) lead – around the coil in a counter-clockwise path – and then out to ground.

Even though the pickup's orientation has changed for use in a left-handed guitar, its polarity and wind direction are still the same.

Even though the pickup's orientation has changed for use in a left-handed guitar, its polarity and wind direction are still the same.

Now take that same Lollar strat style middle pickup and rotate it for use in a left handed strat pickguard. As you can see, the coil wire STILL travels from the hot (yellow) lead – around the coil in a counter-clockwise path – and then out to ground.

Bottom line: It makes no difference if your flat pole pickup is in a left handed guitar or a right handed guitar. Your pickup’s polarity and wind direction will stay the same. 

For a related discussion take a look at this blog article, Guitar Pickup Phasing & Lead Wire Direction.

Our most popular pickups are flat pole pickups. So leftys that’s good news for you. Give us a call: what you’re looking for is likely in stock and ready to ship.