Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Holiday H1214 Archtop - Part II

With the new tailpiece in place, I moved back to the electronics. The pickup I chose is a vintage style closed-cover mini humbucker by Artec with a rated output of 7.6 k-ohms. Although there aren’t any individual pole adjustments on these pickup, the sound is managed onboard with a three-band Belcat EQ-9040 pre-amplifier. Keeping with the tradition of jazz boxes as rhythm instruments, one pickup in the neck position is all this guitar gets. Screws hold the pickup to the neck by way of an integral metal bracket that comes attached to the pickup.

My initial plan was to minimize the visual modifications to the guitar on this project. Although it would have been possible to run the pickup lead under the pickguard and through the treble-side Florentine hole to get to the preamp, that would have made for a very long lead with a spliced extension and a bunch of clips inside the guitar to keep the wire from rattling. Instead, I drilled a small hole through the top near the end of the fretboard. Fortunately, the installed pickup hides both the wire and the hole from plain sight.


Finding authentic replacement parts in usable condition for This Old Guitar turned out to be just plain impossible. The pickguard is a generic 4-ply laminated tortoise/mint/black/mint plastic made for archtop guitars of this size, and the mounting hardware is a new authentic Gibson ES 335 gold plated bracket kit. With the bracket attached to the existing hole in the body, the pre-drilled mounting hole in the pickguard mated up perfectly with the bracket location. I drilled a new hole at the narrow end of the pickguard to attach it near the neck/body joint, reusing the hole left from the original pickguard installation. A matching pair of new screws completed this part of the rebuild.

The idea of making another hole for the jack didn't sit well with me at first. The alternatives were to use an end-pin type or to attach something to the back of the pickguard. Neither of these options was particularly appealing to me. The end-pin option would make it necessary to always unplug or use a stand to put the guitar down, and it would be difficult to make any kind of rugged connection between the pickguard and an output jack. So, I opted for a through-the-side hole that would be fairly hidden. I figured I could come back to it and easily add a gold-plated Les Paul style mounting plate. Some fishing line came in handy for pulling the pre-wired jack through the new body hole.

The Belcat EQ-9040 preamp was intended for use with a flat top acoustic, and came with an under-bridge piezoelectric pickup. The preamp has two small jacks, a mini for the pickup input and a micro mini for the output. The preamp also comes with an output cable that’s ready for soldering to the output jack of your choice. Since I wasn’t using the piezo pickup, I soldered a new mini jack to the humbucker’s lead wire to make the connection to the preamp.

With all of the electronics hard-wired and plugged in, it was finally time to complete the preamp installation with four screws into the body!

Before bringing her to the inside of the house for a fresh set of D'Addario EJ15's, some bridge tuning and a test ride through an amplifier, I gave her one last cleanup with some Murphy's Oil Soap.

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