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Wilde USA L500XL Bridge Pickup

 
The infamous L500XL, twin blade, bridge pick up used by iconic players such as Dimebag Darrel and Nuno Bettencourt. This pickup is the design of Bill Lawrence and was previously sold under the same moniker. -


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Mixed feelings. featured

Comments This is one of those pickups that I have mixed feelings about. I've had a couple of these over the years installed in various guitars (mahogany, basswood, alder). I loved the percussive, super responsive tone that it puts out, and I love the treble response, sometimes. The treble can be tricky to dial in right, as it is so present. For example with a typical pickup you might have presence on your amp set somewhere between 5 and 10 say, with the L500XL installed you would probably dial that back to 1 or 2. It is hard to describe the high end sound, but it is very cutting, never shrill or brittle, but present and cutting. I think for me, I really love this pickup when I'm playing live shows. It totally cuts through everything else. At home practicing or recording I tend to get tired of the high end quickly.

In my use of the L500XL I've discovered that the pickup is very, very sensitive to height adjustments. Even one or two turns of the screwdriver can drastically change its response, so it is worth experimenting with. The additional load of other controls is very important with this pickup as well. Bill & Becky recommend at least 500K pots with it or the high end is too harsh, some guys experiment with capacitors/resistors to mod the load on the pickup as well. This is a great pickup for the tone hound who likes to experiment.

One mistake I made originally was to have it wired for a coil split on my switch. I could never dial in the sound properly even when not split for some reason. I removed the two wires used in the split section, and just soldered them together and taped them up, and the tone of the pickup changed drastically, for the better.

It is definitely a quirky pickup, and worth experimenting with. When you finally get it right, it is so good.

One thing worth mentioning is that this pickup is very clear and articulate. It is almost hi-fi in its reproduction of what you play. Even with heavy distortion if you play a chord with all six strings, you will hear all six notes which is great, but if you play sloppy leads or chords, it also clearly lets that be heard, so bring your game when using these.



Liked about it I completely love the clear, percussive and cutting tone. Nothing better for live playing, it will cut through anything. Will really liven up a dark sounding guitar with ease.


Didn't like High end tone can be tricky to dial in, it is very present. The pickup is a bit thicker than most Duncan's or Dimarzio's so it might require a bit of routing on some guitars to install. Ordering from Bill & Becky (Wilde USA) can be a pain.


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.0

By blackspy
Oct 19, 2009
 
Last updated: December 08, 2009
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My favourite bridge pickup of all time featured

Comments When I first started playing I had two guitars that I considered my first "proper guitar" purchases. However the two guitars were very different, one is an all mahogany PRS SE Tremonti single cut that as a Metallica fan I stereotypically fitted with an active EMG 81/85 set as a "must do, Metallica rules!" job. My second "proper guitar" was a another mid priced guitar known as a Maverick F1, which on paper has RG550 specs with the typical basswood body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard and company designed passive pick-ups. (A configuration to help satisfy my curiosity for a thinner neck and ease for shred!) The maverick I must say was and is a very fine guitar indeed except for the licensed trem that was knackered after about a week of dime bomb abuse! :)

Now both guitars on paper are very different, one has dark woods, the other much brighter woods, one has passive pick-ups, the other active, one has a tremolo, the other a wrap around bridge.... so on and so forth. However when I received my Maverick, the PRS was at the repair shop getting the frets stoned, I had the pleasure of playing my new passive pick-up guitar for a good week whilst I waited for my other ax. I was very happy with my Maverick and loved the differences, not making it any better just refreshingly different. However! Once my PRS did arrive I was absolutely dismayed when I realised how much tighter my low end became and quieter my signal was with active pick-ups. I flew into a rage and realised that I absolutely love both guitars, however they had advantages over each other sonically that I just had to have in one pick-up.

So my quest began to look for a pick-up with these fantastic qualities that I loved from my set of EMG's

1. Very very quiet when working with distortion.
2. Excellent treble response comparable to something of single coil size. i.e. you can really hear articulation under higher gain settings
3. Didn't overdrive the amp much or at all on clean settings
4. The tightest and most percussive sound possible

Whilst having all these qualities from my Maverick company designed pick-ups
1. A bouncy and uncompressed clean
2. A more dynamic range when picking
3. A smoother lead sound

During my research I realised that with what I wanted I needed an almost superhero version of a passive pick-up preferably with a alnico magnet. I searched, I travelled to shops well out of my way to play many a guitar but was at a loss for what I exactly wanted with no compromises. It wasn't till I stumbled upon a video of Nuno Bettencourt's playing and heard all the tonal textures that I desired. As I researched his gear and noticed the "unusual" looking bridge pick-up on his guitar, the more I read on the L500XL the more I realised it had what I wanted. I have now happily fitted this pick-up into three varied guitars and have tried out the "other company's" version on the market that Washburn install into their N4 guitars. The Bill and Becky, Wilde USA pick-up is it and is just fantastic.

If you are a fan of Michael Schenker's tone which is achieved with a wah on all the time at a certain position then you will love playing this pickup on the thinner strings and higher frets, this pup really does sing, but by no means nasal. The note definition is in no way compressed but is extremely articulate and representative of your playing. If you make mistakes this pickup well tell everyone about them! When playing clean the guitar does not overdrive your signal so it is great for coil splitting. Under moderate to high gain the signal is very transparent, letting everything come through very cleanly representing the characteristics of your guitar's woods and amp very well. This pickup achieves all the ideals that I wanted from a great passive and an active pickup with no sacrifices. With of coarse last by means not least how tight the pickup is under distortion when riffing, palm muting, alternate picking, the works. Set aside this pickup works well in everything from Mahogany to Alder, dark to bright woods, clean and distortion settings the only thing it wouldn't be "good" for is sludgy rhythms or a tone which someone desires to be.......... "muddy" or "loose"?
I really can't rave how much I love this pickup and that it is certainly the pickup for me and most definitely not just another “high output metal bridge pickup”. Considering it has something like a $60 price tag with the chrome ring for extra noise protection, you just can't beat this. Without the chrome pick-up ring is is small enough to even fit in a soap bar P90 routed guitar! This pickup has been played in most types of guitars made from mahogany, basswood and alder in amps from all valve, solid state to brands including Hughes and Kettner, Cornford, Marshall, Mesa Boogie, Fender and Peavey on a regular basis because these are either amps i own or ones my music mollege use. It has been played under all available settings, with pedals and a range of styles from blues, jazz, country to all out chuggathon metal.

I am pretty sure you have gotten the message “me likey likey very muchly”


Liked about it 1. Very quiet operation
2. Soooooooooooo tight
3. Excellent treble response and a lead tone that really sings


Didn't like Wilde USA pickups is a small family that can be a little tricky to deal with when acquiring their pickups. (the longest i have waited is 1 month). However once received I couldn't help but forget the wait and love this little item of electronic wizardry.


Overall satisfaction:
 
5.0

By dark_void86
Oct 11, 2009
 
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