Gibson L-48 with DeArmond pickup Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1961)

Gibson  L-48 with DeArmond pickup Arch Top Acoustic Guitar  (1961)
$2,000.00 + shipping
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Item # 8384
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Gibson L-48 with DeArmond pickup Model Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1961), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 29733, sunburst lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, black chipboard case.

This 1961 Gibson L-48 acoustic archtop has been fitted with a surface mount DeArmond pickup and controls, converting it into a cool and slightly funky electric with a great sound. While we normally prefer unmodified instruments, this is actually a very functional guitar with some of the vibe of the early Harmony or Kay electric archtops of the 1950s but with Gibson quality and playability.

The L-48 was Gibson's most basic archtop acoustic guitar, intended mainly for student players. Like all such Gibsons, it was designed to play so well that once the young player got their hands on one they would never go back to the likes of a Harmony or Kay but be a branded "Gibsonite" for life. This is a simple 16" laminated mahogany instrument with minimal trim, just single binding on the body, dot inlay, and a gold Gibson logo on the headstock. The neck is the slim back-to-front 1960 style, much shallower than the typical deeper round profile necks used on the 1950s L-48.

The pickup on this guitar is DeArmond's non-removable Model 55, which screws to the top connected to a small control box which is also screwed down. Once this rig is attached to the guitar it is basically permanent -- removing it leaves holes behind, unlike the Ohio company's higher end floating pickups. The sound is much like the models used by Harmony on their electrics of the time, with a fairly powerful bright-but-raunchy attack that really roars when the amp is cranked up. The tone is quite different from the standard P-90 Gibson used on their own dedicated electrics, giving this lovable mutt its own distinctive character!
Overall length is 40 3/8 in. (102.6 cm.), 16 1/8 in. (41 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

This hybrid guitar shows some wear and parts substitutions but is a fine player's instrument, and a lot of fun to riff away on. The DeArmond somehow seems to bring this Gibson to a funkier place, adding a slightly swampy atmosphere. The guitar itself shows some general wear, more on the back and especially lower side than the top. There are dings, dents, and scratches overall with a couple of feelable scrapes to the back of the neck. The tuners are original and show some fairly heavy "smoking" to the casings; the bridge and tailpiece are more recent. The D string tuner shaft is bent but still fully functional.

The DeArmond pickup assembly is period, and looks to have been in place a long time. It is permanently wired to a jack on the lower side via a mini-plug connection on the control box. This small top-mounted unit has tone and volume controls capped with amber plastic mini-knobs. The tortoise celluloid pickguard is original and has been somewhat crudely notched for the pickup. Vintage Gibson strap buttons are in place in the expected spots.

While not an fully original or "collectible" instrument, we think this period-altered guitar still has a great vibe. The frets are very clean and playability is excellent. The tone of this lower-end DeArmond pickup mixed with the excellent handling of a Gibson offers a fairly unique player's package. It seems to especially like the sort swampy blues redolent of Lightnin' Hopkins or Slim Harpo, but really can be used for anything, even straight ahead jazz. We don't know who originally screwed this $22.50 pickup to their lower-end Gibson, but they created a Frankenstein with its own voice and a sort of badass hot rod charm we might not have expected to love as much as we do! Very Good + Condition.