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  1. #1

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    I was gifted a beautiful '59 L7 over the holidays. The original pickguard is trashed, and other than some light adhesive damage/swirling to the finish where (ironically) a protective sticker had been used instead of a pickguard, the guitar is in fantastic shape.

    I'm looking to add a pickguard/fingerrest and attach a floater -- would I be crazy to use a modern/Benedetto style guard instead of an era-appropriate shape? I'd like to show off as much of the guitar as possible, but I've never seen a slim ebony block-style guard on a vintage guitar, and worry it'd look... wrong. I'd consider skipping the guard altogether if not for the adhesive markings that are visible in certain light.
    1959 L7 Pickguard Suggestions-img_7227-jpg

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  3. #2

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    I wouldn't put a Benedetto-style pickguard on a 1959 L7C. I'm not particularly a traditionalist, but to me it would just look wrong.

    I would get something like the pickguards sold by archtop.com that mimic the period-correct pickguards.

    If you want to put a pickup on it, I'd suggest using a pickup-mounted pickup like the Armstrong floating PAF, and maybe edge mounted (archtop.com calls these "stealth") controls.

    If you decide to replace the endpin/strap button with an endpin jack on the guitar, I'd recommend against it. (IIRC Gibsons had a screwed-in strap button rather than a peg fitted into a large hole in the tailblock. The L12 I used to have had a strap button.) My first reason is that you'll have to drill a hole big enough to accommodate the endpin jack through the tailblock - think about using a pickguard-mounted jack instead. If it were me, I'd try to avoid modifying the guitar in any non-reversible way.

    Another reason is that endpin jacks are much larger diameter than regular strap buttons, and consequently straps don't appear to be as secure on an endpin jack as on a regular strap button. If I were to put an endpin jack onto a guitar, I'd put it somewhere other than where the strap button is - say between the strap button and the back of the guitar. This would still require drilling a hole in the guitar, but at least the regular strap button would be retained. Again, I'd try to avoid drilling a hole in such a guitar as this, but if I had to have a jack on the side of the guitar this is how I'd do it.

  4. #3

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    Interesting feedback on the endpin jack. The tailpiece is already missing its strap button, so I figured that'd be as good a place as any to to put a jack, but I hadn't realized it would require extra drilling. I'm doing everything I can to avoid putting any extra holes anywhere in the guitar. Can't say I'm a fan of how a pickguard jack looks, but drilling holes in a vintage archtop is straight sacrilege.

    I'm definitely getting a KA floater of some kind -- possibly this one: Kent Armstrong® Handwound Series Side Mount Jazz Ultra Slim Humbucker Pickup

    Are "stealth" controls the wheels you can attach to the bottom of pickguards or f-holes? I've never tried 'em before, but I'm curious. It'd probably be a cleaner look -- thanks for the suggestion.

  5. #4

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    I can make you one but frankly they cost as much or more than what you can buy online. Basically it is a cutaway so the pickguard is not the long one would be 7.5 inches on the long side next to the strings. What I would do is get one and then make sure the guard is attached at the neck underneath 18 fret or so. This prevents going into the top. Then if it was me I would mount one of the Dearmond 1100 reissues of the 1000 in chrome. They are very thin and do not cause a problem and sound good. The pickups run about $150 or so and the pickguard with 3 layers of binding can be had for about $75. Well worth the money on a vintage beauty guitar like this. You probably need to get a luthier or pro to put it on, could be done by self but if you don't exactly know what you are doing then again worth the time to get it correct.

    A 1959 L7c in my mind is as good as an L5 sound wise in most instances and could be better. It simply lacks the gingerbread of the L5 but stands on it's own as a premier guitar to play. It would look great and be very functional without doing anything except make the guitar worth more. End pin jack would work the best but there are even other ways.

  6. #5

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    You guys are convincing me to stick with a classic guard!

    Just watched a few video demonstrations of Dearmond pickup in action. I was set on a KA of some type, but the Dearmond sounded excellent and has complicated my decision making. In a (mostly) good way.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by ClassicMillennial
    ... I'm definitely getting a KA floater of some kind -- possibly this one: Kent Armstrong® Handwound Series Side Mount Jazz Ultra Slim Humbucker Pickup

    Are "stealth" controls the wheels you can attach to the bottom of pickguards or f-holes? I've never tried 'em before, but I'm curious. It'd probably be a cleaner look -- thanks for the suggestion.
    It's my understanding that the KA pickups offered by WD are KA-designed pickups, made in the Orient somewhere. KA's handwound pickups are made directly by him, and are sold by djangobooks.com and archtop.com, among others. I have no idea whether it makes a difference where they're made, but effete corksniffer gear snob that I am I preferred the KA-made version.

    Make sure that the pickup you buy will fit in the space under the strings - not all do.

    I have a Heritage Sweet 16. After the stock floater broke, I put in a KA "smooth top floating humbucker" of the Johnny Smith size (smaller in area than a regular humbucker). I didn't care for it - it was too trebly. I changed it out for a KA "adjustable floating PAF" (handmade), and I'm very pleased with the result. The model names I used here are the names used by the djangobooks.com site.

    ====
    "Stealth" controls fit under the pickguard. You can see them at the archtop.com site.

    As for the placement of the output jack, you might be able to find someone who can make you a bracket that would allow you to lash the output jack to the tailpiece in a reversible way. Something like a tube holding the jack, attached to the tailpiece with a wooden bracket or a couple of plastic wireties.

  8. #7

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    Here's something to consider. But you'll need a 1/8" to 1/4" adapter somewhere in your connection.

    Tapastring Guitar Care Products | The "Vintage Jack" | End Pin Jack No Drilling Required

    ps - I think a Benedetto style guard would look great, but that's jmo.

  9. #8

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  10. #9

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    ^

    That guard is on ebay for about $80 [no affiliation] you can buy the mounting block and rod there also.
    Does your guitar have a hole in the top next to the fingerboard or in the side of the fingerboard extension?
    I think '59 is about the year Gibson started drilling into the top again.

  11. #10

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    It's in the fingerboard extension. $80 ain't bad at all. I'm leaning towards a period-accurate shape (although I hope someone somewhere does a modern guard on a vintage archtop so I can see it) and the "vintage jack" Woody Sound linked. No idea what to do about pickups anymore. The Guild/Dearmond 1100's sounds pretty incredible on YouTube, but I've read a ton of positive stuff on this forum about Kent Armstrong's higher end floaters.

    And don't worry -- I'll be bringing everything to my local vintage guitar shop. There's no need for me to butcher a vintage instrument on my IKEA table.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by ClassicMillennial
    It's in the fingerboard extension. $80 ain't bad at all. I'm leaning towards a period-accurate shape (although I hope someone somewhere does a modern guard on a vintage archtop so I can see it) and the "vintage jack" Woody Sound linked. No idea what to do about pickups anymore. The Guild/Dearmond 1100's sounds pretty incredible on YouTube, but I've read a ton of positive stuff on this forum about Kent Armstrong's higher end floaters.

    And don't worry -- I'll be bringing everything to my local vintage guitar shop. There's no need for me to butcher a vintage instrument on my IKEA table.
    For the vintage jack you still need to drill a hole into the end block, and you need to make sure that it fits nicely through the hole in the tailpiece. I once bought one which i intended to install in a Johnny Smith but finally didn't because of that. You also could install a jack under the pickguard, my 1953 L7 came like this. It's not very convenient, but the one way to do if you don't want to drill holes. As for the shape of the pickguard, i would stick to the original shape as on Wintermoons post, i think originally they were just black 5 ply but that one surely looks nicer. You can't go wrong with neither, the GuildDeArmond or the KA handwired floaters, but here too, the deArmond would need holes for the monkey stick.

  13. #12

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    I like the DeArmond Rhythm Chief better than any other pickup I've ever tried. You don't actually have to use the attaching rod. You can use Blu-Tack or something similar to hold the pickup in place, and it works fine. Whit Smith uses that method, and I have it on my guitar. It's secure, and it won't harm the finish. The hard part is deciding how to install the output jack. For controls I use Schatten thumbwheels, mounted in the treble f hole using mounting tape. That works well for me. I have an endpin jack which I like. I have a NeoTech strap that attaches securely to it, as secure as strap locks, more secure than some of those. There are endpin jacks available that fit in the hole a standard friction-fit endpin requires, with a 1/8" hole. You can also run the cable out the f hole to a jack mounted on the tailpiece with zip ties or some other method, which requires no alterations of the guitar but isn't the most aesthetically appealing. Which is more important is up to you. I don't like pickguards very much, so I don't have them on most of my guitars, but that's just personal preference. Almost any configuration is possible, with some forethought and ingenuity.

  14. #13

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    Shameless plug for deaconMark and his work.





    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    I can make you one but frankly they cost as much or more than what you can buy online. Basically it is a cutaway so the pickguard is not the long one would be 7.5 inches on the long side next to the strings. What I would do is get one and then make sure the guard is attached at the neck underneath 18 fret or so. This prevents going into the top. Then if it was me I would mount one of the Dearmond 1100 reissues of the 1000 in chrome. They are very thin and do not cause a problem and sound good. The pickups run about $150 or so and the pickguard with 3 layers of binding can be had for about $75. Well worth the money on a vintage beauty guitar like this. You probably need to get a luthier or pro to put it on, could be done by self but if you don't exactly know what you are doing then again worth the time to get it correct.

    A 1959 L7c in my mind is as good as an L5 sound wise in most instances and could be better. It simply lacks the gingerbread of the L5 but stands on it's own as a premier guitar to play. It would look great and be very functional without doing anything except make the guitar worth more. End pin jack would work the best but there are even other ways.

  15. #14

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    There was a thread here a while ago about alternatives to drilling holes for 1/4" jacks. Here's the solution Tony Denman Smith came up with for a repro DeArmond on my mid-40's Stromberg:


    1959 L7 Pickguard Suggestions-mvimg_20190922_171833-jpg

    1959 L7 Pickguard Suggestions-mvimg_20190922_171903-jpg

  16. #15

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    If you want to stay true to the period and not drill a bunch of new holes, how about a 50's Gibson McCarty pickguard pickup? It'd probably cost a bit more than a vintage monkey-stick Dearmond and control box, but it would be a super clean (and correct) look for your '59 L7. (Pictured is a '56 L7C)

    1959 L7 Pickguard Suggestions-gibson-mccarty-pickguard-jpg 1959 L7 Pickguard Suggestions-gibson-56-l7-mccarty-jpg

  17. #16

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    Archtopeddy has a good idea with the McCarty. Lollar was making new ones for a while and I believe he still will as a one-off. It's period correct, too. Worth a call if interested.

    The modern pickguard would look weird on that guitar. Besides, isn't there already a hole on the side of the guitar where the original guard bracket attached? The new style guards don't use the same bracket and who wants a gaping hole on a nice axe?

    I had an L-7C for a while and split the difference--I had a guy make a rosewood guard shaped like the original and had him mount a Kent Armstrong pickup to it. It was wired to an endpin jack. No grounding problems because the metal cap for the jack attached directly onto the metal tailpiece which the strings were attached to...it worked a charm and looked great, if not original. If I had it to do over today I'd use the DeArmond Rhythm Chief mentioned above, also period correct and sounds great. I have one on my Godin 5th avenue and I like it because I can use 80/20 bronze strings, maintaining the acoustic sound.

    I wouldn't worry about drilling for an endpin jack. That's the neatest, least obtrusive option and it won't diminish the value of your guitar. When you start getting into pickguard mounted jacks, you're more likely to scratch the top of the guitar just plugging and unplugging the thing over time. Running a wire to an outside-mounted jack looks messy. The mini jack is okay, but kind of fussy in the long run.

  18. #17

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    I agree to the notion that an endpin jack is the neatest and most secure method and it won't affect the value of the instrument if done correctly. OTOH if you are not planning to use this guitar on stage but only at home, in a controlled
    environment, then all options are open to you. Re the choice of pickup : if you plan on using bronze strings then the DeArmond is the only way to go since the KA PAF floater cannot correctly pick up the bronze strings vibrations. I currently use the KA single coil floater on my Trenier Jazz Special and is gives out a convincing "acoustic" sound when switched to the tapped output winding - when the full output tap is used and I dampen the highs a bit with the (Schatten) tone control I get the fat, warm and bubbly tone we all know. The guitar is strung with medium D'Addario Half Rounds which have a bit more definition than your normal flatwound strings.

  19. #18

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    Female plug with tie wraps..works great.
    Attached Images Attached Images 1959 L7 Pickguard Suggestions-img_2637-jpg 

  20. #19

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    congrats on a lovely new guitar...


    with certain things, period-correct i find to be over rated.

    however -

    a lot of times with something like a pickguard, the shape will look weird if it's not period correct. part of that is certainly that we're used to seeing it one way. the other part is, they settled on that pickguard shape to match that guitar shape because it's in good taste.

    just my take - somethings are traditional because they work well, right?

    enjoy the guitar either way!!

  21. #20

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    Another thing: Do you play out, or gig with the guitar? Making it work for that as opposed to just playing in the comfort of your home are two different things.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcjazz
    There was a thread here a while ago about alternatives to drilling holes for 1/4" jacks. Here's the solution Tony Denman Smith came up with for a repro DeArmond on my mid-40's Stromberg:

    1959 L7 Pickguard Suggestions-mvimg_20190922_171903-jpg
    And here's one with a vol knob! I have one on my Richelieu plectrum banjo.

    1959 L7 Pickguard Suggestions-banjo-jack-jpg

    NBJAplus Banjo Jack — Schatten Pickups

    Schatten NBJAplus Banjo Jack | Stay Tuned | Reverb

    Schatten NBJA Plus Black ABS 1/4" Banjo Jack Assembly w/Volume

  23. #22

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    That's for a banjo! You aren't allowed to put one of those on a guitar!

  24. #23

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    Wow! I never thought I'd get so many helpful and positive reactions on this post. Thank you to everyone who has commented so far. In roughly 24 hours I've learned a lot.

    I've never any mods to my guitars other than having a pro set them up and maybe change the pickups, so I never would've thought to order a mounting block for the guard if not for these replies. A pickguard, mounting block for the neck hole, and bracket for the body should be all I need to get the guard installed, yes?

    I'm sold on an era-appropriate looking pickguard. I'm leaning towards an endpin jack because I would like this to my main guitar when playing live. Dunno about drilling a bigger hole or getting the 1/8th endpin jack. Might start with the 1/8th jack because I can always drill a hole if I change my mind, but can't undrill once it's happened.

    FWIW, the guitar already has holes on each side of the neck where there once was a neck mounted floater and where the original pickguard attached to the neck and body of the guitar. The endpin fell out, so I'll be doing something there, regardless. There's no upper strap button, so I'll either invest in a headstock strap or just say "to hell with it" and start bringing a stool to my gigs and play sitting down.

    Thanks again for all the feedback and keep 'em coming. Feels like I finally joined the "cool kids' club" after years of playing semi-hollow and laminate while drooling over vintage archtops

  25. #24

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    You are very lucky, that is a fab guitar. Basically an L5 without the bling.

  26. #25

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    If you want to be even more period correct there's a black guard on ebay

    8" Bound Pickguard for Gibson(R) L-5 Cutaway Guitar with 5-ply Binding - BLACK | eBay


    Also try some naptha on a soft cotton cloth on the tape residue, depending on how long it's been there you might be able to get it off.