Gibson L-7 P With McCarty Pickups Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1949)

Gibson  L-7 P With McCarty Pickups Arch Top Acoustic Guitar  (1949)
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Item # 12105
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Gibson L-7 P With McCarty Pickups Model Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1949), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # A-2773, sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, maple back and sides, spruce top; maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, original brown hard shell case.

This L-7 P is a great playing and sounding original cutaway version of a perennial "working man's" carved top guitar, one of Gibson's best values over the years. It is currently equipped with the very rare "Double McCarty" pickguard attachment, which enables the guitar to function as a two-pickup electric without impeding the acoustic characteristics. Both versions of this unit are fairly rare but the single pickup is more common than this double.

The McCarty integral pickup/pickguard assembly was an interesting Gibson period innovation. It was Gibson's answer to the period DeArmond "guitar mike" pickup, which was popular at the time. Gibson wanted a piece of the action, and one of new president Ted McCarty's first jobs after arriving at the company was to come up with a solution, and the patent application was filed in his name in November 1948.

The Gibson unit goes DeArmond one better by actually integrating two pickups, controls and pickguard into one unit, which can be removed to convert the guitar back into an acoustic. The pickup actually sounds very good, with thin coils and slug magnet poles they actually foreshadow the construction of certain Fender pickups. In practice this design never seriously challenged the DeArmond pickups and Gibson found greater success building dedicated electric guitars. The fingerrest unit has since become known as the "McCarty Pickup" and was officially available for any Gibson archtop, but only offered as a stock appointment on the L-7C.

This guitar was shipped out in February 1949; one of 97 that left Kalamazoo that year. The white "Artist" label still designates this as an L-7-P meaning "Premier", the pre-war term for a cutaway instrument. Shortly afterwards Gibson changed the model's designation to "C" for Cutaway. Features of this era include the first post-war block Gibson script logo with the joined dot on a peghead subtly tapered in thickness. The tuners mounted are a nice '50s vintage set of Keystone-button Kluson Deluxes but they would be slightly more recent than the guitar. The original tailpiece is a cast unit specific to several high/midline Gibson archtops; the adjustable rosewood bridge and laminated, beveled edge pickguard are typical period fittings.

The warm sunburst-finished top and dark-finished back have triple celluloid binding; the fingerboard and headstock are single-bound. There is some subtle figuring to the maple on the back visible through the shaded lacquer. The round profile laminated maple neck is a somewhat thinner back-to-front than wartime guitars, but still has a fairly substantial feel. The rosewood fingerboard features the double parallelogram inlay that became a post-war Gibson trademark.

This is a very fine playing and sounding instrument, with a lot of tone played into it over 70+ years. The entire McCarty unit can be easily removed (or simply ignored!) for purely acoustic use but actually works quite well and the guitar has a lovely voice both plugged and unplugged.
 
Overall length is 42 1/2 in. (108 cm.), 17 in. (43.2 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

This guitar shows a decent amount of superficial wear but remains structurally excellent and a very fine player. The top finish has a number of dings, dents and pick scratches, with a deeper spot of wear below the strings that is the telltale sine of a vintage DeArmond control box. The rest of the guitar is cleaner; there are some scattered small dings, scratches and dents but no really serious play wear. The back of the neck has one deep ding behind the 7-8th fret area but is otherwise quite clean. There are no apparent cracks or structural repairs on the instrument.

The guitar has been refretted with period-appropriate wire with the fingerboard properly trued and playability is excellent. It also has a very good neck angle adding to the sonic potential. The adjustable rosewood bridge is an authentic vintage Gibson part but has the split base more typical of the mid-1950s so we assume it was replaced early on, possible at the same time as the tuners if the guitar went back to Gibson for a re-fit not too far into its life. The McCarty pickup unit is not original to this guitar (it also had a DeArmond at some point) but entirely appropriate and works well. The entire unit is original onto itself.

This is a wonderful player with the classic 1940-50s Gibson jazz guitar feel and sound, both acoustically and plugged in. It is not the most versatile of electrics but does that signature "classic jazz" straight amplified tone, which can be made to get quite raunchy if desired with the twin pickups if pushed hard through the amp. This lovely late swing-era veteran is complete with an original brown hard case that has seen some heavy road wear but is still fully functional. Excellent - Condition.