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  #1  
Old 04-17-2021, 01:57 PM
beatcomber beatcomber is online now
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Default NOGD: 1959 Gibson L50 with DeArmond Model 41 pickup

New old guitar day for me! I just brought home a 1959 Gibson L50 with a DeArmond Model 41 pickup.

After a good cleaning, I strung it with Thomastik Infeld flatwound .012's. It plays like a dream!








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Old 04-17-2021, 04:16 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Sweet guitar, looks to be in great original condition - use it well - but there's a reason those DeArmond screw-mount pickups never caught on (and the few stores that took them into stock in the '50s wound up blowing them out for $5-10 a pop in the '70s) and whoever did this to a guitar in that pristine shape should be shot...
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Old 04-17-2021, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Sweet guitar, looks to be in great original condition - use it well - but there's a reason those DeArmond screw-mount pickups never caught on (and the few stores that took them into stock in the '50s wound up blowing them out for $5-10 a pop in the '70s) and whoever did this to a guitar in that pristine shape should be shot...
The pickup actually sounds great to me. It appears to have been installed on the guitar long ago, probably back when it was still new.

I found out that there might be a date on the bottom of the pickup. The next time I change the strings, I'm gonna take a look and see if it, too, is from 1959.
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Old 04-17-2021, 07:04 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Definitely old stuff (the clear plexi mini-knobs are the giveaway) and there's no question that it sounds great (old DeArmonds generally do), but the cardinal rule is that you never, EVER cut/drill/screw-mount anything into an acoustic carved-top instrument - the serious postwar jazzbox players all understood this and adopted the "monkey-on-a-stick" Rhythm Chief or FHC, which left the top unmolested and maintained the guitar's full acoustic properties. I'm thinking this one was owned by someone who made a half-hearted attempt at learning to play right about the time Elvis got out of the Army (probably got talked into the pickup at the same time as you suggest, by a store owner who wanted it out of his shop ASAP - for obvious reasons) and packed it away, never again to see the light of day until it found its way into your hands; needless to say it's your guitar/choice, but if it were me I'd remove that pickup, have my tech fill and spot-refinish any holes left behind, and sell the otherwise excellent-condition pickup to a collector for historic value alone - might net you a couple hundred to offset the cost of repairs, and I think you'll see a major improvement in tone and volume...
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Old 04-17-2021, 07:09 PM
Bluemonk Bluemonk is offline
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Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
I'm thinking this one was owned by someone who made a half-hearted attempt at learning to play right about the time Elvis got out of the Army (probably got talked into the pickup at the same time as you suggest, by a store owner who wanted it out of his shop ASAP - for obvious reasons) and packed it away, never again to see the light of day until it found its way into your hands; needless to say it's your guitar/choice, but if it were me I'd remove that pickup, have my tech fill and spot-refinish any holes left behind, and sell the otherwise excellent-condition pickup to a collector for historic value alone - might net you a couple hundred to offset the cost of repairs, and I think you'll see a major improvement in tone and volume...
I'm going to be a dissenting voice. Since the guitar can never be restored to its original condition anyway, and because the OP likes the sound of the guitar amplified, my 2 cents are to leave it as is.

Now, if the OP's priority is to optimize its acoustic tone and volume, then yes. removing the Dearmond would achieve that.
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Old 04-17-2021, 09:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Definitely old stuff (the clear plexi mini-knobs are the giveaway) and there's no question that it sounds great (old DeArmonds generally do), but the cardinal rule is that you never, EVER cut/drill/screw-mount anything into an acoustic carved-top instrument - the serious postwar jazzbox players all understood this and adopted the "monkey-on-a-stick" Rhythm Chief or FHC, which left the top unmolested and maintained the guitar's full acoustic properties. I'm thinking this one was owned by someone who made a half-hearted attempt at learning to play right about the time Elvis got out of the Army (probably got talked into the pickup at the same time as you suggest, by a store owner who wanted it out of his shop ASAP - for obvious reasons) and packed it away, never again to see the light of day until it found its way into your hands; needless to say it's your guitar/choice, but if it were me I'd remove that pickup, have my tech fill and spot-refinish any holes left behind, and sell the otherwise excellent-condition pickup to a collector for historic value alone - might net you a couple hundred to offset the cost of repairs, and I think you'll see a major improvement in tone and volume...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluemonk View Post
I'm going to be a dissenting voice. Since the guitar can never be restored to its original condition anyway, and because the OP likes the sound of the guitar amplified, my 2 cents are to leave it as is.

Now, if the OP's priority is to optimize its acoustic tone and volume, then yes. removing the Dearmond would achieve that.
Both of you are making good points.

I'm mainly going to use this as an electric guitar anyway (I even have strung it with flatwounds), so I'm okay with keeping the ancient modification intact.

I don't know who owned it before me (I bought it from a shop that had it on consignment), but the most recent owner was probably a jazz guitarist. It was set up very well, with very low action.
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Old 04-18-2021, 09:23 AM
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ArchtopLover ArchtopLover is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Sweet guitar, looks to be in great original condition - use it well - but there's a reason those DeArmond screw-mount pickups never caught on (and the few stores that took them into stock in the '50s wound up blowing them out for $5-10 a pop in the '70s) and whoever did this to a guitar in that pristine shape should be shot...
Nice guitar. I own a few Gibson L-50's (well that's really not true, I own quite a few, far more than I admit in my signature). Nevertheless, I too am a purist when it comes to archtops and aftermarket electronics. However, so long as the braces have not been compromised, and cut to accommodate the pick-up, (I do not know how this pick-up was installed), removing the pick-up and patching any screw holes will only achieve a modest improvement in tone and volume. IMO, it is far more important to have a well made and slotted bone nut, good break angle at the bridge and a precisely profiled bridge foot to the soundboard. Otherwise, enjoy as is .
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Old 04-18-2021, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by ArchtopLover View Post
Nice guitar. I own a few Gibson L-50's (well that's really not true, I own quite a few, far more than I admit in my signature). Nevertheless, I too am a purist when it comes to archtops and aftermarket electronics. However, so long as the braces have not been compromised, and cut to accommodate the pick-up, (I do not know how this pick-up was installed), removing the pick-up and patching any screw holes will only achieve a modest improvement in tone and volume. IMO, it is far more important to have a well made and slotted bone nut, good break angle at the bridge and a precisely profiled bridge foot to the soundboard. Otherwise, enjoy as is .
Fortunately the DeArmond Model 41 mounts to the top via two small screws, and the wire runs along the top of the guitar to a surface-mounted control block, so if the electronics were to be removed, only four screw holes would be visible (and one would be covered by the pickguard). There shouldn't be any routing beneath the pickup.

I've decided what to do about the crooked pickguard. I did some more research and learned that the ES-125 and L50 have the same body width and scale, so I will assume that the pickguards are the same size. I just ordered a WD ES-125 repro guard in black/white/black from an eBay seller who accepts returns within 30 days. It sure looks like the cutout for the pickup is right where I need it to be.



ES-125:



L50:

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  #9  
Old 04-18-2021, 11:15 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchtopLover View Post
...so long as the braces have not been compromised, and cut to accommodate the pick-up, (I do not know how this pick-up was installed), removing the pick-up and patching any screw holes will only achieve a modest improvement in tone and volume...
The pickup is screwed directly to the top and, given the mounting location and screw spacing, it's entirely possible - even probable - that it's positioned directly over (if not in fact screwed into ) the top braces, depending of course on top thickness and screw length; as I said the old-timers would have known this, and there's a very good reason this pickup (as well as a similar DeArmond model with a differently-shaped control box) was a total flop on the market...
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Old 04-19-2021, 04:57 AM
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Jazz players apparently are lukewarm to the F-50 because the fretboard is set to the body, not floating. It also makes it impossible to install a floating pickup (like a DeArmond “monkey on a stick”), so the low profile Model 41 is one of the few pickups that can be used.

The positioning of the bracing appears to have been considered by whomever installed the electronics. Maybe they referred to an ES-125 for guidance.

Someone made the decision, probably before I was born, to go all in on converting this into an electric guitar. I choose to embrace what it is, a distinctive electric guitar with tons of character, rather than mourn what it once was.
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2020 Martin OM-28
1959 Gibson L-50
2007 Gretsch Americana "Sundown Seranade"

...and a bunch of nice electrics too

Last edited by beatcomber; 04-19-2021 at 05:18 AM.
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  #11  
Old 04-19-2021, 07:48 AM
Winkyplayer Winkyplayer is offline
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I think, if it was mine, I'd try to take it back to original. But I also respect your decision to embrace its true history. It's a treasure either way.
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  #12  
Old 05-03-2021, 07:10 PM
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The WD Custom ES-125 pickguard arrived today and the cutout aligned pretty much perfectly!

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2020 Martin OM-28
1959 Gibson L-50
2007 Gretsch Americana "Sundown Seranade"

...and a bunch of nice electrics too
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