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  #1  
Old 12-18-2016, 11:18 PM
bassmun bassmun is offline
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Default 40's Era Carved Archtop Question

Hello, this is my first post on the acoustic guitar forum. I have a question regarding a 1940's carved top archtop. I have stumbled across one online that looks really nice, but somewhere along the road one of the owners had added a body mounted humbucker pickup and controls. My question is regarding whether or not the body mounted pickup will affect the acoustic sound of the archtop? I know that on a lot of these old carved top archtops people prefer the floating style pickup so that the top can vibrate and project with maximum acoustic volume.
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Old 12-19-2016, 02:20 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Guitars designed with a body mounted p/up, usually have a large plank of wood glued to the top in order to take the pickup, and deaden the resonance to reduce feedback, so whilst it may look like an acoustic - it's acoustic qualities are compromised.

Acoustic archtops which are amplified with a "floating" p/up secured to the end of the fretboard but proud of the carved top are a different matter.

Consider the way that the "innovations" of electrics evolved.

1. Acoustic carved top guitars - as rhythm instruments, made to sound incisive and middly.

2. Same thing but with a pick up fitted in order to amplify it (the monkey on a stick retro fitted design).

3. The humbucker style p/ups screwed to the fretboard but kept separate from the top.

4. P/ups screwed to the top - lots of feedback problems.

5. Guitar cut into three parts, with a 4 x4 inserted from neck to butt, with pick-ups screwed on, then "wings" of acoustic guitar glued on, Effectively a solid guitar. (See how Les Paul did this).

6. Guitars that look like archtops but are really archtop shaped solid guitars.

As electrification progressed, acoustic sound quality diminished.
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Old 12-19-2016, 07:24 AM
cmajor9 cmajor9 is offline
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Silly Moustache - Your synopsis is good, but why do you say:

"4. P/ups screwed to the top - lots of feedback problems. "

In fact, its the floating pickups (2 and 3) that have the biggest feedback problems. 4 (like an L-5CES or ES-175) have less of an issue with feedback, due to the acoustic dampening of the pickups attached to the top. In fact you might distinguish between 4a. Solid carved guitars (L-5) with mounted pickups and 4b. Laminate guitars (175 etc.) with mounted pickups, as these in general have different levels of feedback.

BTW, you could add a point 7 to cover semi-hollow guitars, which have a center block that reduces feedback inside a hollow-body construction that still adds some acoustic resonance to the tone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silly Moustache View Post
Guitars designed with a body mounted p/up, usually have a large plank of wood glued to the top in order to take the pickup, and deaden the resonance to reduce feedback, so whilst it may look like an acoustic - it's acoustic qualities are compromised.

Acoustic archtops which are amplified with a "floating" p/up secured to the end of the fretboard but proud of the carved top are a different matter.

Consider the way that the "innovations" of electrics evolved.

1. Acoustic carved top guitars - as rhythm instruments, made to sound incisive and middly.

2. Same thing but with a pick up fitted in order to amplify it (the monkey on a stick retro fitted design).

3. The humbucker style p/ups screwed to the fretboard but kept separate from the top.

4. P/ups screwed to the top - lots of feedback problems.

5. Guitar cut into three parts, with a 4 x4 inserted from neck to butt, with pick-ups screwed on, then "wings" of acoustic guitar glued on, Effectively a solid guitar. (See how Les Paul did this).

6. Guitars that look like archtops but are really archtop shaped solid guitars.

As electrification progressed, acoustic sound quality diminished.
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Old 12-19-2016, 07:41 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bassmun View Post
...I have a question regarding a 1940's carved top archtop. I have stumbled across one online that looks really nice, but somewhere along the road one of the owners had added a body mounted humbucker pickup and controls. My question is regarding whether or not the body mounted pickup will affect the acoustic sound of the archtop...
Without question, and although some instruments come out none the worse for it - a good post-war Gibson ES-150 (all-laminated, BTW) could hold its own with many contemporary acoustic archtops - I wouldn't touch it myself...
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Old 12-19-2016, 09:38 AM
bassmun bassmun is offline
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Thanks for all the help! It's greatly appreciated.
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Old 12-19-2016, 01:27 PM
MC5C MC5C is offline
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L5CES and ES-175 are designed from the get-go as electric guitars. The ES has a laminated top, the L5 has a top carved thick to resist feedback. Neither are, in my view, good acoustic guitars. I think the first thing I would do is take the pickup out to see if they cut the braces to install it. If they did, the guitar is compromised. But to the point - any pickup installed into the top will have a dramatic and bad effect on tone. It might still sound OK, but it won't sound as good as it might have.
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