Virtual Workbench

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This tale may ruffle the feathers of vintage purists. Would you rout a 50’s Harmony archtop for a pickup?

As a rule, we and others in our profession have an unwritten standard that says you don’t do irreversable modifications to vintage guitars unless you absolutely have to. But there are times to interpret those rules strictly and times to be a bit more loose. Refinish your ’56 goldtop Les Paul in purple? Not here. Rout a ’61 Strat for EMG humbuckers? No chance. Install locking tuners on your pre-war Martin? Keep shopping.

Install a humbucker in an acoustic Harmony Monterey archtop that you got for a couple hundred bucks? Hmmm… maybe…

The owner of this old Harmony thought about it carefully and weighed the upside of keeping it original vs. turning it into a guitar he’d really like to play. Since its value will likely never be through the roof, he decided he’d rather hold onto it and convert it into a hollow body electric.  He wisely chose Chicago Fret Works and a Lollar Imperial pickup for the job.

We created a custom routing template and carefully cut a hole to fit the new pickup.  We also added a volume and tone control as well as a jack below the treble side F hole.

So did the owner of this guitar make a good decision? We think he did. He took a cool but not great old guitar that didn’t have a great deal of value and converted it into a unique custom guitar that he loves to play. If it was a 1940’s Gibson L-47 we would have argued against this work. But for this one, why not. And it sounds terrific.

We are proud to be the only authorized Chicago dealer of Lollar pickups. We feel they are among the best replacement pickups being made today. Who agrees and plays with them? Jeff Tweedy, Keith Richards, John Fogerty, Elliot Easton, Joe Perry, Johnny Marr and many, many more.