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Covet a CC pup, but which archtop?


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Hi all! Seeking serious wisdom from the archtop elders. I'm passionate about archtop swing - ala Pearl Django "New Metropolitan Swing" stuff, but work ridiculous hours on a seriously restricted budget (married), so every purchase has to pass approval.

A while back I got a '53 L-47 from a bargain basement situation. Like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, I brought her lovingly back to life and she pays me back to this day as a hoot to play. Here's where things get complicated. The L-47 whetted my appetite for a nicer Gibson archtop and 24.75" scale is my size - I'm new to jazz, have extremely limited playing time & makes life so much easier. I've always longed for the Charlie Christian pup sound. I'm going to soon have the resources to put a Lollar CC into something, though still on budget. So here are my two questions:

1. Definitely want vintage (pre-60s/70s if possible). Can anyone confirm what 24.75" scale options I've got? Seems like L48 (or 50?) ES125, (pre-war ES150?), ES175 or L4 which brings me to the BIG question.

2. I found a nice-looking L4 which fits the bill. Looks like these have a good rep for tone and they're definitely an upgrade from the L47. Would it be heinous to dig into it and put the CC on? Or would it be smarter to use the L-47 for that and keep the L4 for acoustic only? Being laminate the L-47 would probably have less feedback issues and of course, I'm worried about seriously reducing value of the L4, but it would look really sexy on that L4. Really don't want to screw up this chance. Your wisdom, please?

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Don't mess with the L4. Mess with the L47 if you want to experiment with that pickup. Can I ask what are you looking for exactly? If this is your first foray into the archtop world I would keep things really simple at this point not messing up the more valuable instruments. jim in Maine

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Thanks Jim. I hear your panic from here. Don't worry, that's what my head's telling me. It would help to really play & hear this L4 to know it's that much more, then I'd be sold on putting the CC on the L47. Really hoping to get this sound or Chalie's own slightly overdriven sound (that'll be the next quest - vintage tone amp):

 

 

What I'm looking for is a lot harder to answer. Have to keep a serious case of GAS luckily on a tight budget (2-2.5 K range). Have a couple Peerless Monarchs: 1 blonde Armstrong JS floater & one sunburst routed HB, & the 47 - all 24.75 scale. This is my chance at a 'real' / more premo Gibson, keeping one as a pure acoustic archtop. Have a weakness for rounded single cutaways, but not much available in that scale. The more vintage full-body L4 is growing on me. Tried to sum up my style taste with the Pearl Django reference - anything off New Metropolitan Swing. Chunky 4/4 comping, fingerstyle chord melody, and swing licks. Hope this answers the question, let me know. BTW, saw this in searching & at first glance stopped me in my tracks - looks absolutely exquisite to my eye, but very different direction (could see putting one of Kent's 12-pole floating HB on there). Sounds a bit clanky & it's even shorter (24.6") - not sure it's worth diverting from a vintage Gibson...

 

http://www.dreamguitars.com/detail/3695-huerga_la_somori_toime_33/

 

Thanks for any thoughts keeping me in check.

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I have to echo what Jimmy says. I recently picked up a 1952 non-cut L-4 and it is a really wonderful guitar. The L-4 came with a De Armond 1000 pick but I hardly use it as the L-4 is so fun to play acoustically. There are a lot of modified Gibson archtops out there already and with some patience you could find a good candidate. I understand your quest for your elusive tone and can't wait to hear more on your search. Good luck.

Thanks John

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Hey John & Larry thanks for weighing in. I'll probably always dream about a big boy 17", but L7 and anything in that direction is strictly out of my ballpark. And as far as Gibson goes, looks like that means long scale anyway. John is really tipping me over the edge on the L4 - "fun" is exactly what I'm after. I have lots of natural talent, but jazz is already hard work and I long ago resigned myself to not being able to put the time I want into the level of playing I'd like, so an L7, 5, etc. would just be more work to get around on and I don't really deserve them. My hope is that even at 16" and short scale, the L4 has enough Gibson guts to give some umph in the low end. I replaced the bronze rounds 11s originally on my L47 with Tomastik 13 Nickels and it's loud enough to bug the neighbors and gets darn close to Eddie Lang tone. I'm off to Midwest Buy and Sell (best bet in Chicago) to see what's in, then decide to pull the trigger on the L4.

BTW, John can you fill me in on the wood and bracing of your L4 and (stupid question, sorry) whether it fits the style of playing I'm talking about (30s-40s small combo swing)? The one I'm looking at is 3 years older than yours.

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