The Bill Lawrence half-out-of-phase Telecaster mod is an interesting take on the classic Telecaster wiring, adding to the already highly useful 3 positions by adding 2 more! The concept was designed by Bill Lawrence and was intended to replicate the ‘in-between’ sounds of a Strat (positions 2 and 4) but in a two single coil guitar, such as a Telecaster.
Bill Lawrence, born in Germany in 1931 (real name, Willi Lorenz Stich), became a legend within the guitar industry as a designer of some great musical instrument innovation, but also some of the greatest pickup concepts to date. He worked with some of the biggest guitar manufactures and artists for decades. This was his second carrier. His first was a a well respected and sought after session musician and Jazz player. Find out more by visiting the Bill Lawrence site.
Phasing - explained
Without getting to bogged down in the technical stuff, let’s look at phasing as a circle, or compass if you will.
Think of ‘totally in phase’ sounds have either 0 or 360 degrees of difference. Or put simply, no difference.
‘Totally out-of-phase’ sound would have 180 degree difference.
That would mean that ‘half out of phase’ sounds would have either 90 or 270 degrees of difference.
With guitar pickups, you can only achieve true ‘out-of-phase’ when using two pickups together, where one is wired out of phase.
The ‘in-between’ sound of position 2 and 4 of a Stratocaster are often referred to as ‘out-of-phase. Although if you look at the wiring diagrams, the Stratocaster pickups are actually in phase. The RWRP creates the thin sound normally associated with an out-of-phase sound.
In the wiring diagram Bill Lawrence designed he sent the neck pickup’s signal through a capacitor, connected directly to the 5-way switch. This shifted its phase by 90 degrees and created the ‘half out-of-phase’ sound.
The wiring follows the standard telecaster schematic. Replacing the standard 3-way switch for a 5-way selector.
Position 1: neck
Position 2: neck + bridge in parallel (classic Tele middle position)
Position 3: bridge
Position 4: neck + bridge in parallel “half out-of-phase”
Position 5: neck with 10% less low end than position 1
Your first three positions are your traditional Telecaster wiring.
Position 4 – half out-of-phase. It has a fuller sounding tone than the traditional parallel wiring.
Position 5 includes a high pass filter to cut some of the low end, giving a very jazz style ring to your neck pickup.
The cap connected to the 5-way switch is the phase-shifting cap mentioned above. Bill selected a 0.01 µF cap. In his own words: “You may try caps between 0.005 µF (5000 pF) and 0.02 µF. The smaller the cap, the sweeter the sound.”
Jerry’s unique fingerpicking style allowed him to make a Telecaster sound like a pedal-steel. His bending technique along with a few behind-the-nut bends here and there create some amazing sounds. Find out more about this amazing player and his signature guitars here.