A few months ago I was checking out Archtop guitars online when a non-guitar player buddy told me he had “one of those” in his basement. He got it from his father in law, and it just sits there. He wanted a new video game, so I thought we could make a deal.
I opened the case to see a 1955 Gibson L48 in pristine condition. Then I woke up.
Actually, I opened the case to see a 1960 Harmony. The body had a few nicks and dings, but it was in great shape. The neck was strait, which was a relief as these guitars did not have adjustable truss rods. We checked prices on eBay and I bought it for $150.
When i showed it to my guitar tech Jayson of Guitar Hot Mods, he started telling me I should put a pickup in it. I thought about it for a while, and decided to go for it. It was a Harmony, after all, not the Gibson I dreamed of.
We decided he would hand wind a P-90 neck position pickup for me. Since Jayson knows how I like my tone, he wound the pickup in such a way that he knew I would love it.
Once he had the parts he started sending me pictures every few minutes so i had a complete play-by-play.
“About to cut the hole”
“Do you want a tone knob? You don’t use your tone”
“I agree, I don’t use it. But I want one anyway”
The big day came to try out my guitar. Not only did he put a tone knob in, he used a fancy pants vintage capacitor. (When you are a guy like Jayson, you have this stuff laying around).
I plugged it in and the tone blew me away. The bottom end was full and deep, while the top end was extremely bright. This is the tone of my dreams.
You know you have a good instrument in your hands when you suddenly start playing music you have never played before. Jazz chord progressions flooded out of me. Once new riff after another. After playing the same way for so many years, its like I could suddenly speak another language.
Killer tone on a tine budget. It is possible. You will probably love it even more than shelling out thousands of dollars for a “name brand” instrument. I highly recommend the process. And I even use the tone knob now.
But don’t get one yet. I am scouring eBay for more Harmony, Silvertone or Kay models. I need at least 1 or two more of these.
Check out Guitar Hot Mods for more info.