All about that DeArmond Rhythm Chief pickup screw-on connector

If you’re here you probably just acquired an earlier vintage DeArmond Rhythm Chief (RC1000 or RC1100) archtop guitar pickup, got all excited to plug it in, then looked at the volume/tone control box thought, “huh? what the heck is this weird screwy connector?”

Well I’ll tell you what that is: it’s a very antiquated microphone jack that isn’t really around anymore. And to save you the time, the part number is Switchcraft 5501FX, and you can get them at Mouser, Digikey, or Angela Instruments. You supply your own guitar cable, chop off one end, and attach this instead. Done.

Well, actually it’s not that simple. It’s a very unconventional connector and not really a “unscrew some stuff, then solder two contacts” sort of affair. But I’ll get to how to install one of those in a bit.

Another option is to just buy the whole dang cable. Archtop.com has them here…. for $49 + shipping. And I see them on Reverb for more or less the same.

Now, I don’t know about you but something doesn’t sit right about spending over $50 on on a cable (sorry, readers who work for Monster). Sure, if you’re a busy multi-thousandaire you will probably think nothing of snapping one up, but chances are you’re a dumpster-diving jazz guitarist wondering if there’s an alternative.

So is there a cheapskate, DIY, stuff-around-the-house solution? Well, as it turns out… yes there is.

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DeArmond FHC-style Volume Control Box

More news on the DeArmond control box front: I started making these more compact volume-only control boxes. Available in the store.

Why? The original DeArmond FHC pickups only had a single volume control knob. Minimalism at its best. After all, you can set tone on the amp. Personally, I don’t mess with tone much in the middle of my playing… too complicated. I’ll leave that sort of thing to Jerry Byrd and Danny Gatton.

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Project: Custom Archtop F-hole Covers

Anyone who has tried to play a loud room with a nice, resonant archtop knows this problem well: you briefly lift your fingers off the strings and “WOOM”…. debilitating feedback through your amp.

There’s a low-fi quick fix for this of course, just run to the restroom and come back with a few handfuls of toilet paper. Then stuff ’em in the sound holes, like so:

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Archtop tailpiece mount for 1/4″ output jacks

Ugh, drilling holes in old acoustic archtops, right?

Unfortunately, for adding an output jack there are not a lot of good solutions. In the past, I have super-glued them under pickguards, which works fine for the casual cross-legged sit-‘n’-play but it isn’t the most stable thing when you’re standing. So what can be done?

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