Should I tinker with a 1940 Cromwell?

Discussion in 'Other Cool Guitars' started by Seamus, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. Seamus

    Seamus Synchromatic

    702
    Feb 25, 2011
    New England
    I have a Cromwell (Gibson house brand) archtop that dates to between 1937 and '42. A knockoff of the ES-150 (Charlie Christian's preferred guitar) w/o pickup. It's my "finally happened" guitar -- found at Salvation Army 15 years ago for $40 with cracked bout, small top crack, and cracked neck joint. At $40, I thought it was worth trying to revive. I glued everything together without much care or diligence, and to my surprise, it's been stable ever since and plays fairly well.

    I'm considering putting a Charlie Christian-style pickup in it. I'd normally get all knotted up about its being original, but considering its condition, I'm not bothered. But the big question to me is -- do I risk opening up those old cracks or otherwise undoing my rescue job? Would I be better off to just put an acoustic-style pickup inside and be done with it?
     
    Alberta_Slim likes this.
  2. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    I really tend to leave guitars unmodified (if it`s non-reversal). Especially when it comes to vintage ones.
    So if you want to install a pickup, why don`t you use an period correct archtop-unit that you can easily remove?
     
    LongJohn likes this.
  3. Tinman46

    Tinman46 Country Gent

    Age:
    50
    Dec 19, 2011
    Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
    I can't answer the question but I'm always up for pictures.

    In the end it's your guitar, your choice. Sounds like a cool idea though.
     
  4. Seamus

    Seamus Synchromatic

    702
    Feb 25, 2011
    New England
    That was my first thought, but as you'll see when I post pics in a minute here, unlike an actual ES 150, the Cromwell doesn't have sufficient space under the strings. The fretboard is about 1/4 inch higher than the top of the guitar. So it's really down to an acoustic-style pickup, or cutting into the top. When I play jazz, I play Django Reinhardt style, so I already have a Gypsy jazz acoustic for that. It's much easier to play, and I need all the help I can get in that style! :)
     
    loudnlousy and Alberta_Slim like this.
  5. Seamus

    Seamus Synchromatic

    702
    Feb 25, 2011
    New England
    Your pictures! You can see the awful crack in the bout in the first photo (just to the left where the neck meets the body).

    20190106_144010.jpg
    20190106_144034.jpg
     
    Alberta_Slim and Tinman46 like this.
  6. Seamus

    Seamus Synchromatic

    702
    Feb 25, 2011
    New England
    This guitar also has the ugliest and least-matching pickguard ever bolted to a guitar. Here's a pic from somebody else's with the pickguard still attached. This somehow looks far better than it does in person. Believe me, this sucker is ugly!

    cromwell.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
  7. tdtom

    tdtom Gretschie

    134
    Oct 26, 2018
    new zealand
    check Thoman UK for thin piezo pick ups. you could surface mount it right near the bridge. Fishman brand.
     
    LongJohn likes this.
  8. radd

    radd Synchromatic

    574
    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
    Its a $40 guitar that you have an attachment to. It is not worth worth much other than sentimentality so if it was me I would not hesitate making it what I wanted regardless of authenticity concerns. It is a man made piece of equipment that was created to be enjoyed so enjoy it how ever you like.
     
    Alberta_Slim likes this.
  9. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    Should-I-tinker-with-a-1940-cromwell ?

    No, If it was me, I wouldn't modify a 40's Cromwell guitar, except changing her dexterity to LH (which is not harmfull and rervesible if you keep the original parts)

    For the pickup, search for a "Monkey on a Stick" one :

    [​IMG]

    As you are a Right-Handed player, no issue. It can be costy, but findable.

    If you were LH, like me, you would be forced to built yours :

    [​IMG]

    A+!
     
    new6659 likes this.
  10. wabash slim

    wabash slim Friend of Fred

    Age:
    69
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    I've got one with an even uglier pick guard. It's a Sears Silvertone/Harmony flattop with a horrid split open top from a car accident (prewar). It's an ugly yellow, red, black sunburst with a bilious gold sparkle pick guard. It refuses to be photographed---and we're the luckier for it. Yours is elegant in comparison.
     
    Alberta_Slim and dak55 like this.
  11. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    That Rhythm Chief in the first picture is a costly unit, close to $400.00:eek:
     
  12. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    I have the Gretsch equivalent of that and i'm trying to make the same decision, im probably gonna go for it but i still have time to ponder as i need to re bind the whole guitar.
     
  13. Seamus

    Seamus Synchromatic

    702
    Feb 25, 2011
    New England
    Those are cool, though the limited under-string space wouldn't let it go very far toward the neck.

    And as it happens, I am indeed left-handed. I just never have figured out how "right-handed" is right-handed, given that all the fancy frettin' takes place with the left hand! I started with one strung the other way, but was immediately more at-home when I went standard right-handed.
     
    wabash slim likes this.
  14. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    They don't go all the way to the neck, my New Yorker don't have much clearance either and this is as far as i could go. 20160628_144652.jpg
    I'm probably going to put a P90 in it.
     
    Beardog likes this.
  15. Seamus

    Seamus Synchromatic

    702
    Feb 25, 2011
    New England
    That might be a really good answer! Thanks! Might as well not cut into it if I don't have to. Though given its pedigree, I won't hesitate if it comes down to it. What is that pickup?
     
  16. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    Its a DeArmond FH-C, you can get them for around $200.00 if your patient.