Lollar Installation and Technical Videos Available

Some of you have already made use of the various video clips about installing Lollar pickups. But we are posting this blog to make sure we let everyone know about this great resource.

Currently there are 6 videos available on YouTube. You can link to 5 of them directly on our web site. They include a 5-part series on Lollar Mini Humbucker installation, a 3-part series on installing Lollar Strat pickups; a 7-part series on Lollar P-90 pickup installation; a 2-part series on Lollar Charlie Christian pickup installation (for Tele); and a single video that takes you through a Lollar Melody Maker pickup & pickguard installation. There is also a newer video that has not yet been linked directly to our web site. That video is a good instructional video on proper pickup height adjustment of Lollar pickups. That video is currently accessible directly through YouTube.

Lollar McCarty style pickup is perfect for the Godin 5th Avenue

Lollar McCarty style pickup is perfect for the Godin 5th Avenue acoustic archtop

Also, over the next few weeks we will be posting two new video segments. One of them will show Jason installing a Lollar McCarty style pickup / pickguard assembly onto a Godin 5th Avenue acoustic archtop guitar. The second new video will feature steel guitar player extraordinaire, Orville Johnson, demonstrating and comparing the Lollar Chicago Steel pickup and the Lollar Supro style pickup.

Latest News about Jason’s book, “Basic Pickup Winding”

1-What motivated you to release a 4th edition of your book, “Basic Pickup Winding?”

I was seeing fake copies of my book being passed off on eBay as original copies. The book has become collectable, selling for between $250 to $500 a copy, so you can imagine a lot of fakes were being produced and sold. We actually had people that bought these copies and send them to us for verification to see if they were legitimate or not.

Basic Pickup Winding by Jason Lollar
Basic Pickup Winding by Jason Lollar

 

Trying to reproduce a printed product like a book to match in every way is actually quite expensive and usually there are 5 or 6 obvious telltale differences in the copies that we can easily identify. I never cared if people sold used legitimate copies for whatever price, but being deliberately fraudulent is something I just couldn’t put up with. Even though it has been out of print, I still wanted to retain my copyright in case I wanted to sell it again so I have always patrolled for people selling unauthorized copies in any form. I wrote the book, it’s my property, so I feel anyone benefiting from its sale or distribution in any form should be me. I think people severely underestimate the time and effort it takes to create, edit, publish and service a book of even its smallish size. I had originally intended to write more material to make a 4th edition, but so many pirate copies had been selling for $500 a copy recently that I decided to just clean up the last edition enough to re-print that and get it out there as quickly as I could. If there is an official expanded edition coming out it will be some unknown amount of time out there in the future. 

2-When will it be ready to be released – approximately?

Things should be ready in the next 2 to 4 weeks. I am just having a few problems with formatting on a few pages and need to determine what’s causing the problem. Once that is cleared up I could probably have the first batch within a week or two after that.

3-What format will it be in?

I am re-issuing it as a printed book again with a spiral binding because it is used as a reference while you are working. It’s more useful to be able to have the book on your bench. The spiral binding allows you to lay it all the way open without the book springing shut and also allows you to fold it in half so it’s the size of one page if you like. That keeps the workbench space it consumes half its possible size. Also being a printed book you can write notes on the inside of the front and back covers so all your specs are in one place.

4-What will be the selling price – even a rough idea?

I am considering a price around $35 but that’s just an estimate. I need to look over the cost of materials, printing, binding, advertising and distribution.

5-What is the best way to know when we can place an order?

The best way to keep up-to-date would be to subscribe to this blog. It automatically sends out an email when anything new is posted. When the book is ready, we will post it on this blog.

Lap Steel Modification for Lollar Supro Pickup

I have been using a very cheaply made lap steel that is available from several sources- you’ll see them on online music stores and eBay. The last two I bought were labeled “Rogue” and these came with screw on adjustable legs- I really like to have the legs as my first real non pedal steel was a 50’s Fender Stringmaster 8 string triple neck.

"Rogue" brand lap steel with legs

"Rogue" brand lap steel with legs

I got these from Musician’s Friend for around $80 each including a heavy duty soft shell case, the oldest one I have was labeled “Artisan” and it came with no legs but at any rate I extensively modified the guitars. The most important thing I did was I replaced the nut and bridge and I converted the guitars to a string through body like an old Telecaster. These cheap little lap steels make a useable rig if you take the time to set them up right and put a good pickup and electronics in them. If you can’t do this work yourself I suggest patronizing one of the many fine lap steel builders working in the USA today many of which offer my pickups as standard fare and are listed on my website. The quality of lap steels being made today by these small businesses can not be equaled or surpassed by these cheap import models and they often exceed the quality of the finest vintage instruments.

These lap steels originally come with a narrower spaced nut and bridge (the bridge is a standard guitar bridge which is too narrow). Wider string spacing makes bar slants and finger pickup much easier. For slanting the bar (a sort of advanced technique) wider string spacing makes it easier to play in tune and the wider string spacing makes it easier to bend strings behind the bar to get pedal steel type sounds. 

Angle iron nut on a modified lap steel

Angle iron nut on a modified lap steel

Look at the photos and you’ll see I just used some angle iron and I made a nut and bridge about 9/16″ tall.  Typical lap steel string spread at the nut is about 1-31/32 and at the bridge 2-3/16″ compared to on a guitar 1-5/8 and 2-1/16. 

Angle iron bridge and 1/8" spacer

Angle iron bridge and 1/8" spacer

I painted the angle iron with black “Hammerite” which you can get at any paint store.  The bridge and nut were 9/16″ tall, so the Supro® pickup needed a 1/8″ shim to be in proper alignment. 

Holes were drilled for new ferrules and output jack

Holes were drilled for new ferrules and output jack

As you’ll see in this photo, I also modified the guitar by drilling holes all the way through the body and put string ferrules in the back.

I also relocated the output jack to the side of the guitar rather than where it was originally located in the pickgaurd. This required a hole to be drilled for the jack and a new jack plate needed to be made.

I also routed the pickup cavity out so I could mount a variety of pickups.  This step is not necessary if you mount only the Supro®.

New plastic pickguard & fingerboard

New plastic pickguard & fingerboard

In this photo you can see I made a new pickgaurd out of plastic.  This turned out to be  much easier than working with the original metal pickgaurd.

I also replaced the fingerboard.  This was not a necessary step.  But I have the tools to do it, so I went ahead and put some lipstick on the pig – so to speak.

The only snag was only two of the 4 mounting screws for the pickup actually bit into wood – the two mounting screws closest to the fingerboard are machine screws which I made two threaded holes in the pickgaurd for them to tighten up against because the screws were located over the route for the original pickup which was quite deep. The pickup is mounted plenty solid this way.

To learn more about the Lollar Supro® lap steel pickup, visit our web site.

 

 

 

Supro®, and the “Supro Lightning Bolt design” are registered trademarks of Zinky Electronics, LLC.  Lollar Supro style pickups are a limited production, under license of Supro USA.

Jazzmaster Pickups and the Fender Jazzmaster Guitar – Part 3

Part 3 — Understanding Jazzmaster Switching for Optimal Tone

One of the significant differences between Jazzmasters and other Fenders is that the main tone and volume controls use 1 Meg ohm pots. When set on 10, these pots do not roll off much signal.  The result is more high end and presence than you are use to hearing on an electric guitar. The extra treble can be annoying if you use an amp that can reproduce high end treble (like a blackface Fender amp). On Fender tweed amps that extra treble is nowhere near as noticeable.

So the trick to getting a good tone with the Lollar Jazzmaster pickup is to roll either the tone or volume down a click or two.  This will roll off the extreme high end. (I prefer using the volume)  The idea is to roll it a minimal amount—far enough to affect the tone level, but not too far to actually start hearing a volume drop.  If done in this way, the tone will change long before the volume is affected. Using the volume control this way will leave treble in reserve if you need it occasionally to cut through a mix. On tweed amps if you are pushing them pretty hard you can leave the volume on 10. Another option is to replace the volume and tone pots with a lower value pot. The 500K would probably have about the same tone as a one Meg pot on 8. I personally like the one Meg pots, so I have never tried other values to determine what works.

Everyone wants to know what the black switches on the upper bout do. There is one slider switch and two rollers. The slider switch defeats every pickup selection except the neck pickup alone. Once the slider switch is activated only the neck pickup functions, and the main 3-way switch for the pickups will no longer work. When the guitar is in the neck-only mode, the two rollers act as an additional volume and tone for the neck pickup. These allow you to preset a volume and tone level different than your main volume and tone controls. You can play normally with the main controls working… put it in the bridge pickup position with full volume for a solo then hit the slider switch and it drops you into the neck pickup with whatever volume and tone you have preset with the rollers. It’s an interesting idea but I have never found much use for it.

Thanks very much for reading our three part series on Jazzmaster style pickups and the Fender Jazzmaster guitar.  We hope it has been informative.  Follow this link to see more details on our Lollar Jazzmaster pickups.

Jazzmaster Pickups and the Fender Jazzmaster Guitar – Part 2

Part 2 — Idiosyncrasies, Overall Design, and Helpful Mods

People often comment about the overall brightness of Jazzmasters. The treble quality can have an aggressive, biting tone, but it’s due to the idiosyncrasies of the guitar design… not just the pickups. Some of the brightness is due to loss of the “body” of the tone (and sustain) because of the bridge design. Possibly part of the delegation of the Jazzmaster to surf music is its lack of sustain compared to a Strat or Tele. Tonal “body” and sustain are directly related to the bridge having a low angle of string break which robs sustain and fullness of tone. You either have to run very heavy string gauges, or change the geometry of the bridge and neck angle by shimming more angle into the neck and raising the bridge up to increase the angle of the string over the bridge to the tailpiece. The extra break angle exerts more downward force onto the bridge and helps maintain a solid connection between the strings and the bridge saddles. You can also use a lighter gauge string if you increase the downward force… otherwise a low angle of string break would cause the strings to pop out of the saddles if you get aggressive with the pick.

Another mod you can do (that is completely reversible) is to add a part called a buzz stop. This is a roller you attach between the bridge and the tailpiece that further increases the string break angle. I use one and highly recommend it if you play hard and use strings lighter than .012, or bend strings quite often.

One more idiosyncrasy with the Jazzmaster… the string ground on the early Jazzmasters and possibly others is poorly executed. The bridge fits loosely into a couple of ferrules which the ground wire is attached to. This is the same case in the telecaster model that came with the factory installed Bigsby. When the whammy is used, contact with the ground wire can be broken and the guitar can become noisy. A fix for this problem is to move the ground wire to the whammy bar / tailpiece combination.

Noise levels on a Jazzmaster are higher than on a Strat pickup due to its larger surface area. You can expect more 60 cycle hum than a typical Fender (more of a P90 level hum), but Jazzmasters were always RWRP sets, which reduced the hum when the pickups were used together.

Next week’s blog will discuss Jazzmaster switching, and getting optimal tone.

In the meantime, learn more about Lollar Jazzmaster Pickups on our web site.