The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Gibson L-4C Archtop with DeArmond Rhythm Chief Pickup, 1959


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Seen here is a Gibson L-4C cutaway archtop acoustic guitar with an original DeArmond Rhythm Chief 1100 pickup with its ‘Monkey on a Stick’ mount. This fine vintage guitar very much looks the part, and it plays well.

The 16-inch wide Gibson L-4C was introduced in 1949 and came to replace the non-cutaway L-4. That model first appeared in 1912 as an oval-hole archtop, with F-holes becoming available in 1935 and finally discontinued in 1956. The L-4C, available from 1949 to 1971, kept the F-holes and added a sharp Florentine cutaway. Still, the model remained entirely acoustic and was primarily aimed to jazz players.

Looking rather like the very popular ES-175, the Gibson L-4C pairs a solid Spruce top with Laminate Maple for the sides and back. The body blocks, linings and neck are Honduran Mahogany, while the adjustable bridge and bound fingerboard are Brazilian Rosewood. The fingerboard carries split-parallelogram position markers while the head carries a Mother of Pearl Gibson logo and crown inlay set.

This Gibson L-4C was built during 1959 at Kalamazoo, Michigan. It is in generally quite good and largely original condition with light wear. There are a few marks in the finish, expected for a 55-year old instrument, and fret wear is moderate to heavy (at the first fret). It is strung with flatwounds which help keep wear to a minimum. The original Kluson Deluxe tuners have been replaced with a set of excellent Gotoh models, and the originals are included. The added pickup is a classic DeArmond Rhythm Chief model with clamp-on mount and control box.

This guitar and its case have an interesting name plate from its original retail source. Mounted with two small brads to the back of the head, it reads “Matchett’s LTD 24 Wellington Place Belfast. Telephone & Grams 26695”. This is a strong hint that this lovely instrument was originally sold in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and ultimately came to Canada with its owner. Matchett’s is still in business in Belfast, but at 38 Wellington Place.

As performance volumes inevitably rose, many players looked for add-on pickups that didn’t require permanent modifications to the guitar, and a key source was the DeArmond company. The deArmond Rhythm Chief pickup on this guitar uses the classic ‘Monkey on a Stick’ mount, which clamps to the string section between the bridge and tailpiece. The pickup is mounted on a rod running from the bass end of the clamp up to the end of the fingerboard and can be slid into the desired position – in this case, where there’s a notch cut in the pickguard. On the other end of the clamp, a small box is mounted that contains the volume and tone controls and the rhythm switch plus the output jack. The Rhythm switch basically provides pre-set volume reduction, allowing a quick change from Rhythm to Solo parts. The output jack, typical of the era, uses a threaded-mount connector (Switchcraft 5501).

The original brown Lifton hard shell case is included, and contains two cables and the original set of Kluson tuners and the truss rod adjustment wrench.

Price: $8,500.00 CAD
  • Model: L-4C
  • Year: 1959
  • Finish Sunburst
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: A 30807, built during 1059 at Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 07/03/2024

  • Consignment Item

  • Including original Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 5.6lbs 2.545kg
  • Scale Length: 24.6in 626mm
  • Nut Width: 1.694in 43.03mm
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