Fitting a pickup on a gypsy jazz guitar

I was recently asked to fit a pickup on a gypsy guitar. I haven’t done this before and it is quite a different process compared with fitting a pickup in an acoustic guitar.

The whole of the bridge has to be replaced as the pickup is contained within the bridge unit.

The bridge fitted to this guitar was supplied by Biggertone, who make active and passive pickups for gypsy-jazz guitars.

In order get the right string height, and to ensure that the strings sat just on the top of the bridge, I had to modify and reduce the overall height of the bridge. I see from their website that Biggertone offer this bridge with 3 height options. So maybe a less tall bridge would have required less modification.

The sound-hole on this type of guitar is too small for me to get my hand inside the guitar. So to feed the jack-socket through the hole in the bottom of the guitar required me to use a different technique, but this wasn’t a big deal.

So, importantly, how did this pickup sound? Well the owner of the guitar, Ryzsard Kolendo, guitarist in the band The Rhythm Swing Quintet, uses an out-board pre-amp. And so he had ordered the passive pickup. Played through my acoustic amp, and without a pre-amp used, it actually sounded very good. I’m sure it will sound great used with a pre-amp.

When Ryzsard came to collect his guitar he very kindly agreed to be filmed playing the guitar. (don’t worry, I don’t do this to all my customers!) You can hear Ryzsard playing by visiting my Facebook page.

A few days later Ryzsard sent me the following email: 

Just to let you know the guitar played beautifully on Saturday. Never have I had a gypsy guitar play so well. Pickup worked a treat and the sound was top notch. Thanks very much for the top notch work and quick turn around time.

You can find out more about The Rhythm Swing Quartet on their Facebook page.