EZ Wajcman 1965
Germany in 1965
It was a
typical Friday evening when a young musician walked into my Club “Castel Bar” to visit Nathan
Grossman, his friend and the club’s manager.
During the lengthy conversation that followed, he told me
about a traumatic experience in Italy. Just hours before a show he was
involved in auto accident which damaged one of his guitar pickups. He had managed to fix the pickup, make it to the show on time
… and at the end received a standing ovation.
What was a “guitar
pickup?” I had no idea until he retrieved a Fender Strat from his
car and demonstrated in detail to me the “Charlie Christian Sound”
every guitarist dreams of achieving. I remembered listening to Charlie Christian on Benny Goodman's
recordings from the 40's. Charlie
Christian influenced every jazz guitar player of his period and those
story sparked in me an idea. If
all guitarists are really looking for the “Charlie Christian
Sound,” why not create a guitar pickup replacement business that
moment on, the first replacement guitar pickup business in the world
was born. We talked about it throughout the night. The next
morning—a Saturday—we visited a children's’ toy store on the
Sonnen Strasse to buy a small motor from a child’s train.
It would become our coil winder. We made a bobbin out of a
green plastic ruler and we located some magnets and magnet wire. For the
rest of the weekend we worked to build a prototype.
it be accepted?
Monday morning the pickup we created was ready and installed in a
Fender guitar. I thought
it was performing beautifully, but I needed some other expert opinions
before launching a business. That same day we drove to Erlangen and
Nuremberg and demonstrated the new product to four different guitar
manufacturers, like Hoyer, Hopf, Hoefner and Framus. They were very
week later I hopped on an airplane for my first trip to American soil. From the airport I went straight to Brooklyn and found myself
standing in front of the old Gretsch building. Placing the call from a
public phone, I asked in my broken English for Mr. Fred Gretsch. I
explained to him that I was a young man who had just arrived in
America from Germany. I had come for the sole purpose of gaining his
evaluation of a hand made sample of a guitar pickup I had with me. I told him I believed it was the best Guitar Pickup in the
Fred Grestch responded warmly, and invited me in to see him.
He handed my sample pickup to his guitar tech to install in a
guitar. They could not believe the sound it produced. He became all
excited and said to me, “Man, you have a piece of gold in your
hands.” Then he phoned
Guild guitars in Newark, New Jersey and made an appointment for me to
demonstrate my pickup to them. Again,
it was the same response. Four
days later I returned back to Germany, rented a place on Reifeisen
Platz, in Munich and started a company.
photo I took In my *Bill Lawrence office 1965
this transpired just 11 years after Leo Fender and his business
partner, Don Randall, created the Stratocaster — the most
commercially successful and copied electric guitar design in history.
Leo Fender crafted the original Stratocaster to out perform all other
electric guitars. In 1954, it was “a guitar for tomorrow.”
Astonishingly, after 50 years, it still is.
should the company be called?
needed a name.
The musician who had walked into
my club, was performing under the name
Billy Lorento, but actually Fred Wilfer owned that name the owner
of Framus Guitar Company in Nuremberg.
After going over a list of
possibilities, we decided to convert the Italian sounding name
“Billy Lorento” into the English name “*Bill Lawrence” And that
was the birthday of “*Bill Lawrence Pickups.”
the Logo and the catalog and worked days and nights to market the new
"*Bill Lawrence products"
The first Bill
Lawrence Pickup made 1965
Lawrence catalog cover, printed 1965 (Inhaber j.Wajcman=Owner
In 1966 I purchased two airline
tickets. We went to the united states.
We felt it is time to introduce the *Bill Lawrence pickups in the US.
The *Bill Lawrence reputation
the past 39 years, tens of thousands of guitarists have replaced their
original pickups with *Bill Lawrence Pickups to improve the quality
sound of their guitars. Over the years I have seen guitarist
spend hundreds of dollars on replacement pickups and still not fix
their real problem. You
see, a pickup can only amplify the real sound a guitar produces.
there is no sound quality in your body, the best pickup will not help.
It’s just a waste of money. It is my belief that professional
musicians need an affordable instrument to go on stage with and
perform. We install our pickups in "SwampKaster" guitars manufactured in the same traditional
guitar shapes using the best materials and craftsmanship and show how
*Bill Lawrence Pickups sound the best.
original traditional *Bill Lawrence Pickups are made in California, USA.
Each pickup is checked for top quality. Our SwampKaster guitars are made of hand-selected, high
quality Swamp Ash wood from the deep southern swamps of Louisiana.
This is the same wood many 50's Fenders were made of.
It is easily distinguishable from Northern Ash by its weight and
sound. This is a very
musical wood offering a nice balance of brightness and warmth with
lots of “pop.”
the sound is not in your body, the best pickup isn't gone help
What’s in the sound?
guitar sounds acoustically correct even without amplification as the
body and hardware together create one complete resonant unit. The Bill
Lawrence guitar pickups then take the very small acoustic output of
the body and amplify that pure original sound. The body acts as a
finish on the guitar is very critical the clarity of the guitar's
acoustical voice. A lightweight guitar has the best tonal balance and
sustained sound—yielding transparent timbres with bell-like
overtones. Maple necks produce a bright, clear sound. The truss rod designed to counter string tension and hidden in the neck, is also a
component. And the
fingerboard definitely contributes to the ultimate sound.
Maple fingerboards produce an even balance, yet sustain and
yield bright tone. Rosewood fingerboards are warmer sounding, with
less defined attack than one may from Maple.
Notes seem to bloom after being picked. The bridge is another
very critical element in the tone chain. It links the strings to the
guitar and the bridge's contact with the guitar's top determines how
much string vibration is transferred to the body.
the SwamKasters and you’ll agree, there is not a better sounding
guitar being made today. And thanks for
listening to our story. I hope you enjoyed it.