Gibson's Most Successful 17-Inch Archtop - Essentially a Plain Version of the L-5
One of the Earliest Examples to be Fitted With A Double McCarty Pickup Assembly
1945 Gibson L-7 'ED McCarty'
This over seventy year old factory custom color black L-7 'ED McCarty' weighs just 6.30 lbs. and has a fat 'classical' nut width of just over 1 3/4 inches and a scale length of 25 1/2 inches. Seventeen inch wide, 3 1/2 inches deep body with an parallel-braced hand-carved solid spruce top, one-piece solid maple back, solid maple sides and two unbound 'f' holes. Two-piece maple neck with mahogany center-strip. Brazilian rosewood fretboard with 20 original medium-thin frets and inlaid pearl double-parallelogram position markers. The top and back of the body are triple-bound, the fretboard and headstock are single-bound. Headstock with inlaid pearl "Gibson" script logo and pearl crown inlay. Single-layer black plastic truss-rod cover with two screws. Individual open-back tuners with oval white plastic buttons. Original factory-fitted Gibson 'McCarty' twin single-coil pickup assembly with non-adjustable, flat pole pieces mounted into a five layer black over white plastic laminated pickguard with one volume control, one tone control, a four way 'rotary' pickup selector and a screw-on type input jack. Black plastic circular knobs (3/4 inch in diameter, 1/4 inch tall) with ribbed sides. Frequensated rosewood bridge on rosewood base and original trapeze tailpiece with rosewood cross-bar. Original oval white label inside the bass f-hole with the Style "L7" and the serial number "98399 X" stamped in black. The FON (factory order number) "2784" stamped in black inside the treble f-hole. This guitar is in exceptionally fine (9.00) condition with just a few very small surface marks on the body, some natural playing wear (loss of black finish) on the back of the neck behind the second, third and fourth frets and a few marks/slight indentations behind the seventh, eighth and ninth frets. There is some very light fret wear but the original frets certainly do not require dressing or replacing. Quite simply - this is most probably the finest example of an all original 'Black' L-7 CE McCarty on the planet… Complete with the original yellow 'rope' guitar strap, a box of six Gibson Mona-Steel "E or 6th - wound" strings, several other early individually packaged strings, an original Gibson 'Souvenir' leather pick case, a large blue envelope containing Guitar Teacher's Records, etc, etc, two issues of "The Guitarist" magazine (May 1939, 44 pp., & December 1939, 56 pp.), and finally a folded ten-page Gibson - Guitars Favorite of the Stars catalog and price list dated June 1948. Housed in the original Gibson 'Medium Grade', four-latch shaped brown hardshell case with brown padded 'flannel' lining (9.00).
According to Joseph E. Spann's Guide to Gibson 1902-1941, the FON number "2784" is missing from the sequential listing which shows "2783" (1941 ES-150) and "2785" (1941 L-50). This, the rare factory black finish, and the "X" after the serial number "98399" would possibly suggest that this guitar was most likely built in 1945 but not shipped until 1948 making it one of the very first to receive the 'double' McCarty pickup assembly when introduced in 1948. Careful examination of this instrument under ultra-violet light shows absolutely no suggestion that the pickup assembly was added by anyone else other than the Gibson factory.
"In 1948 Ted McCarty joined the Gibson company, and one of his first priorities was to expand the potential number of Gibson's electric guitar models in a quick and inexpensive way. He invented an ingenious pickup/pickguard assembly known now as the McCarty pickup, consisting of a very thin single-coil pickup with non-adjustable, flat pole pieces mounted into a laminated pickguard along with volume and tone controls and an input jack. The McCarty pickup assembly was offered in single - and double - pickup versions, for cutaway and non cutaway guitars, and for guitars with nickel-plated parts and gold-plated parts. The pickup was officially introduced on the L-7 guitar as an option, and these early electric L-7s were labeled the L-7E or the L-7PE, with the letter E designating their electric status, while P indicated Premiere, or cutaway, body style. In reality, these were stock L-7 guitars that had the McCarty pickup assembly supplied with them at the factory instead of a conventional acoustic pickguard."
The Gibson "finger rest" pickup (better know as the McCarty Pickup) was originally presented at the June 1948 NAMM Convention as a device to electrify an acoustic archtop guitar without compromising it's acoustic tone. It was initially offered as a standard appointment on the L-7. By the time it was pulled from the gibson catalog in 1971, had been available in many variations (cutaway/non-cutaway, single/double, gold/nickel hardware). It was essentially a pickguard with a built-in Gibson pickup, similar to a P-90 but thinner, (or two) that would allow owners of acoustic archtop guitars to amplify their instrument.
Pickup manufacturer, Jason Lollar, said, "Mccartys use rod magnets 3/8" long but they use a dog ear baseplate so if you looked at the bottom of one you could mistake it for a P-90. They sound pretty impressive - a little less mids than a typical P-90 but still fat. You can get a good clear powerful cutting tone or roll back some tone and get a nice round jazz tone without getting too muddy." Jason is the only pickup maker I'm aware of that has made McCarty-style pickups for archtop guitar.
The McCarty Pickup, named after Ted McCarty, who, after joining Gibson in 1948 and becoming vice president and general manager just one year later, contributed to it's development).
Originally introduced in 1948 as a 'plain' version of the L-5. "Extremely popular for orchestra use, the L-7C with its modern cutaway design has outstanding appearance and an unusually rich tone. Gibson quality, exclusive features, and expert workmanship insure perfection in every detail of construction. Attractive alternate white-black-white ivoroid binding - hand graduated carved top of selected spruce, arched curly maple back with matching curly maple rims. Three piece curly maple neck, with adjustable Truss Rod construction - bound rosewood fingerboard with attractive parallel pearl inlay design. Nickel-plated metal parts, Gibson designed tailpiece, laminated pickguard with attractive border, rosewood adjustable bridge, and enclosed individual machine heads with deluxe buttons." (1957-8 Gibson catalog).
"With the L-7 a player could buy a guitar that was almost as good as an L-5 but at no more than half the price. The earliest L-7s have fingerboard inlay appropriated from the Nick Lucas flat top, which, ironically, was the top model of the flat top line" (George Gruhn and Walter Carter, Acoustic Guitars and Other Fretted Instruments: A Photographic History, p. 172). (#2018)
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