A decade ago, while chilling in his man cave at his former home in Arizona, guitarist Scott Lawing, of Newark, wondered if something could be done to lessen the noise of the conventional guitar pickup he was using, since the electrical wiring of the aged house made it impossible to play his instrument without it sounding like a nuke had went off.
By the summer of 2011, after five years of intently working in his lair, Lawing (with the help and support of his precious wife, Claire) birthed Zexcoil pickups. The product is manufactured by Lawing Musical Products LLC and can be purchased at Zexcoil.com.
Lawing – a self-aware guitar geek who earned his PhD from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and plays in the local Led Zeppelin tribute band In The Light – discusses why his pickups are special, musicians he’d like to hear use them and more.
Q What distinguishes your brand of pickups from others on the market?
A Most conventional pickups are either one coil, like a Stratocaster or a Les Paul, or two coils. What I’m doing now is primarily making replacement pickups for Stratocasters and Telecasters, which are typically single coil pickups that are really noisy; and we’re using six real small coils – one for each string. Basically everything we make is configured to be hum-canceling or quiet. What you also get from that six-coil design is each string basically has its own little mini dedicated pickup. The other thing is we have a lot of tune-ability that you never have in a conventional pickup, and a lot of really nice articulation. You could imagine if each string has its own little pickup then the way that string is being picked up is much more discreet when you hear it, and you can pick out individual notes better, so they’re full and kind of rich sounding.
Q How cool is it for you to play shows with your own pickups?
A I love it! In fact, one thing I did for that “Physical Graffiti” tribute show at the Arden Gild Hall [in January] is I have Stratocaster-sized pickups that sound like Les Paul pickups. So we were going to do a Zeppelin show; and I don’t know what you know about Jimmy Page, but he’s famous for playing Les Pauls. He’s got this famous Les Paul that he’s been playing for years; and you can’t do a Zeppelin show playing Strats all night – it just wouldn’t look right. So I put a couple of my Humbucker-Strat pickups on my Les Paul to play in that Zeppelin show and they sounded fantastic. And that’s the proof in the pudding because you don’t really know how they’re going to perform until you get into a band situation.
Name Scott Lawing
Education University of Rhode Island, BS and MS; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, PhD
Q Which musicians would you love to hear use your pickups?
A Anyone whose got the money to pay for them [laughs]. There’s a number of guys we’d like to work with. We actually were at the “Experience Hendrix” show in Maryland a couple of weeks ago; there was a local guy that used to be a guitar tech, but he retired from it. He hooked me up with one of his friends: his name is Jerry Sabatino. He was a tech for at least 20 years and he worked for everybody. One band he worked with was Aerosmith. And one of his buddies, Greg Howard, who still works with Aerosmith, among other people, also started an amp company called 3 Monkeys with another tech guy; and Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford is one of the monkeys in 3 Monkeys. So I got in touch with Greg through Jerry and he has a couple sets of my pickups, but he still hasn’t installed them as far as I know. But he definitely was interested in my designs enough to invite me to the show. Claire wasn’t able to go, but we were backstage as he was tuning guitars and handing them out to all these guys. Dweezil Zappa stepped on my foot and apologized [laughs].