The Norlin Era Bill Lawrence "Tarbacks" Pickups.

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by SG Champagne, Sep 10, 2016.

  1. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    These pickups fascinate me for a number of reasons. They are maligned and unwanted because they are not Pat. Pend. Humbuckers, and because everything Norlin is maligned and unwanted.

    These tarbacks must be rather rare, are they not? I know that MANY people in the 1970s were taking their tarbacks out of their SGs and Les Pauls and replacing them with DiMarzio Distortion. I myself thought of doing it but I never got around to bothering with it.

    Are these tarbacks rare?

    I suppose that the reason for the "tarbacking" was to give durability to the pup by "potting" it in an epoxy-like substance? The earlier Gibson Humbuckers were not potted. Were there some issues with them going microphonic? If so, Bill L. fixed that problem!

    Were the Les Paul and SG tarbacks the same pups or different?
     
  2. chilipeppermaniac

    chilipeppermaniac Well-Known Member

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    Champ, I have posted this question of yours to a well versed friend and will await his reply and then post what he says here.

    U just wait, I bet he has some good answers.
     
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  3. chilipeppermaniac

    chilipeppermaniac Well-Known Member

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    Re: Tarback Bill Lawrences



    To answer:

    No, definitely not rare, they were made from VERY late '72 to 1985, and were in thousands of SGs, Vs, 76-83 Explorers, ES's, but VERY rare to have them stock in a LP.
    There was a type of Tarback in LP Artisans, , but it was MUCH hotter, and was called a Series VII.
    Also a different type in the L6-S, with non adjustable poles and a solid cover.

    Official name for them is the Super Humbucking/Humbucker (I have seen and heard both, often shortened to just Super)

    Fun Fact, they are T Top bobbins! But NOT even close to T Tops..they ONLY share the bobbin, different magnet (TBs used an INDOX 7 ceramic mag, a T Top used a short A5.)and construction..
    [​IMG]
    (that is an oval insulator/spacer over/around the pole screws, on top of the black bobbin)

    From Jared Brandon, of Brandonwound Pickups:
    Quote:
    The coils used in these super humbuckers, tarbacks, epoxy pickups were in fact TTop coils. That doesn't mean wound like a standard humbucker. That just means the coils had the T mark on the coil as they all did from mid 60's to late 70s. The T was a mold mark that supposedly just meant top of coil.
    Seem the neck one, which should read 5.2k, by design, had zebra bobbins (perhaps to differentiate the coils during assemby? [​IMG] ), and the bridge seems to be a double black..and should read 7.6Kish..but again, totally different than a T top.
    [​IMG]This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized 1066x800.
    [​IMG]

    Bill L was a WIZARD, and his potting ideas were slightly ahead of his time, and I feel it was the increasing power of amplification that he considered when he designed them. He also designed them to be 5.2k and 7.6k for balance, as the neck pickup can be boomy..

    Hope this helps!

    __________________
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. wax

    wax Member

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    I'm about to put mine back in my SG to see how my ears hear them these days.
     
  5. shreddy bender

    shreddy bender Well-Known Member

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    As I said in a previous post, they are my favourite pickup.
     
  6. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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  7. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Could you go into more detain with regard to what we are seeing in your two photos? I know that they are photos of a Tarback. Same one? Second photo has the bottom of a pup that is screwed into the guitar body. What is the tarback object in this photo? The top of the pup? I'm sorry that I can't figure out completely what I am seeing.
     
  8. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Yes, your comment is what prompted me to make this thread. Could you tell us again about your Gibsons that have tarbacks and what you like about them?

    The most interesting thing about these pups is that so many of them were taken out and replaced with after market pups, usually some kind of super distortion pup. So, I was wondering whether they were now somewhat rare.

    I also want to read everyone's opinions of their Tarbacks. I like mine that are in my 1979 SG Standard, but, that is only one of a Grand Total of TWO Gibson guitars that I own. The tarbacks in my 79 SG sound as good as the 1999 Classic '57 Humbuckers in my 1999 Custom Shop LP/SG three pup Custom. The Classic '57s might be more versatile, but, when it comes to playing Classic Rock, the Tarbacks are just as good as the Classic '57s. The Classic '57s are also potted, but not with epoxy -- I'm not sure what they use to pot the Classic '57s.
     
  9. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    I think this is a good idea. If you have a nice group of Gibsons to call you own, putting Tarbacks in an LP or SG seems like a good idea to me, because the Tarbacks do have their own voice and sound.
     
  10. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Gibson tar back specifications:

    Inductance 4.7 Henries
    Resonant Peak 5.8 Khz
    DC resistance 7.8 K ohms (at 1000 cps)
    Impedance High
    Two Active upper coils
    One Ceramic Magnet (indox 7)
    Adjustable pole pieces
    Removable pickup cover
    2 point height adjustment
     
  11. shreddy bender

    shreddy bender Well-Known Member

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    What I liked about them was their ability to work well with loud amps, the articulate note definition and the smooth yet chunky overdrive I could get. In an SG with a Marshall 800 they really cut through the mix but still were HEAVY.
    Wish I could post some sound clips of my old SG but I can't.
    Go listen to this to give you a idea of what I mean.
     
  12. shreddy bender

    shreddy bender Well-Known Member

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    Or this.
     
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  13. chilipeppermaniac

    chilipeppermaniac Well-Known Member

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    Champ, those are not my pictures but those sent to me along with my friend's comments regarding your initial questions.

    He was saying the Tarbacks share the Bobbins from another model pickup called a T Top.
    View this pic and you will see the T's
    [​IMG]
     
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  14. chilipeppermaniac

    chilipeppermaniac Well-Known Member

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    Then he went on to explain how the magnets and other makeup of the Tarbacks was different than how the T Top Pups were made.

    2nd pic shows a Covered version of a Tarback I believe in a disassembled condition.
     
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  15. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    The second pic shows two parts. There's the bottom which screws on the guitar. There's the middle which holds the adjustable screws. I assume that there is a chrome top cover that is not pictured?
     
  16. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Wolfmother's song Woman gives a perfect example of a Norlin 1970s Gibson SG Standard with Tarbacks. I can tell from the "dash" between the S and the G. My 1979 Standard has the same dash. Also the headstock looks the same. Wonder why he has a Bigsby-type tremolo/vibrato? Not really needed IMHO because the strings on this 12 inch radius fretboard bend easiliy.

    With a large Marshall stack, the Tarbacks REALLY ROAR and they nail the Classic Rock vibe. Impressive. I also know that they clean up on lead work from my own 79 Standard.

    This Wolfmother clip proves to me that these Tarbacks are not "muddy" sounding, at least to my ears. Anybody think that the Tarbacks sound muddy on that video clip?
     
  17. shreddy bender

    shreddy bender Well-Known Member

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    Not at all.. they sound Devine! As I said... My favourite pickup!
     
  18. 83 Blazer

    83 Blazer Well-Known Member

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    If I'm reading this correctly and my assumption is on the money, Chilli's friend is very knowledgeable on the subject of these particular pickups.
    If you haven't done so already then may I suggest using the search function and looking for posts that reference tarback. Although one post may not answer each of your specific questions I think you'll build a good insight into the history use and sound of these pickups from doing so. I'm certain there is quite a lot of info tucked away in this board regarding Tarbacks.
    Enjoy.
     
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  19. chilipeppermaniac

    chilipeppermaniac Well-Known Member

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  20. chilipeppermaniac

    chilipeppermaniac Well-Known Member

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