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Thread: adding a pickup to a 1927 gibson A

  1. #1
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    Default adding a pickup to a 1927 gibson A

    Has anyone added a permanent pickup to an old Gibson A model? If so how did you install the output jack?
    Thanks a lot
    Bob Schmidt

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: adding a pickup to a 1927 gibson A

    What I have on both of mine is a Fishman bridge attached to a 1/4" endpin jack. Yes, it means a bit of drilling, but the result is a sturdy installation of the industry standard for cables. No fussing around with mini-plugs and such. Try to find a jack that is flush to the surface, though. I can't use my OHSC for them - there just isn't room, as the jack the guy used sticks out too much.

    You ca see in this picture, the wire goes into the sound hole then is connected to the jack inside.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Bear in mind, this method is not recommended for collectors' items. But if all you're interested in is having a good working player, this works. I regret having done this on my H-2 mandola but I was more concerned with gigging than maintaining collector value. So I am NOT doing this to either of my recent acquisitions, the A-4 and the F-4. They're going to be acoustic instruments only. If played out at all, it will be in concert settings, not bar gigs and such.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: adding a pickup to a 1927 gibson A

    My main gigging instrument is not a vintage Gibson, but I used a Tapastring jack so I didn't have to drill. It has worked well for many years and a lot of gigs. If I were to put a pickup in my Gibson, or any vintage instrument, I would use the Tapastring. It is a little pricey, but well made and holds up very well.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: adding a pickup to a 1927 gibson A

    I've installed pickups and jacks on a couple dozen instruments from fiddles to mando's to banjos to lots of guitars to an upright bass.

    When the time came to electrify my Martin HD-28 I just didn't want to drill it so I also used the Tapastring Vintage jack. I made up a 20' cord with a 3 mm (1/8") right angle plug on one end and standard 1/4" plug on the other. I also made an 8" long version with a 3 mm angled plug and female 1/4" plug for an adapter. You can buy these items directly from Tapastring if desired.

    The cable and adapter fit easily in the case, probably wouldn't fit in a vintage Gibson mandolin case.

    You could use a carpenter jack but I don't like them. They are noisier, look ugly in my opinion and often interfere with the case.

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    Default Re: adding a pickup to a 1927 gibson A

    I use a short cord, it only has to go to the preamp that sits at the base of my mic stand. I carry an adapter in my case for use with any cord, and a spare cord with me. I don't carry a cord in my case, but it would fit, as I need the preamp and a mic cord anyway. All the cords and couple mic's, spare power cord all go in a small case.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: adding a pickup to a 1927 gibson A

    You mentioned a permanent pickup, but if you want to keep your vintage mandolin unholy you might look into these from jbb. http://jjb-electronics.com/marcato.html I have a similar one for a gypsy jazz guitar. I really don't like the look the wires on top, but I only put it on for live gigs. They are very affordable and sound as good as more expensive K&K pickups.
    2014 AL Smart F5
    1988 Givens A
    1921 Gibson A
    2009 Peter Zwinakis Selmer Guitar
    2002 Martin D-18V
    1999 Huss and Dalton CM Custom
    Several Old Fiddles

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    Default Re: adding a pickup to a 1927 gibson A

    Thanks for the replies. I have used an AKG mike pickup with it, but the sticky stuff they use for attaching it to the top pulls the finish off, and the long skinny chord is pretty fragile so I quit using it. The instrument is not really in pristine condition. The back was removed at some time in its life and was not put back as carefully as it should have been so the repair is pretty obvious, so I don't mind drilling if neecessary. I looked at the tapastring jack and it looks like a possibility.
    The tailpiece on the instrument does not have an endpin (see attached picture). I am not sure if it is priginal or not. Replacing it with an Allen tailpiece with endpin provisions looks like it would be a possibility. I would like to avoid wires on top of the instrument if possible.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Thanks a lot
    Bob Schmidt

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