Monday, April 20, 2009

1955 Supro with 1940s P-90

I got this 1955 Supro Dual Tone body with no pickups in February. I had hoped to get some Supro pickups separately and wire them with an "in series" option, but there were problems with the neck fit and it was looking bad; more trouble than it was worth. I tried and failed to re-sell the body + neck on ebay. Meh.

Around this time I discovered an ancient pickup in the den, that upon further examination turned out to be a late 1940s Gibson P-90! How did that happen? I bought it several years ago and had installed it on a low quality '60s archtop, but took it off again as it was feeding back too much. My enjoyment of the Kent Armstrong P90 in my Epi LP Jr led to a new plan to make the Supro into a kind of Supro /Junior hybrid, complete with a route for the P-90 and a dog-ear cover and wrap tail.

But I didn't have the heart to cut up the pristine Mother Of Toilet Seat pearloid finish on the Supro, so ended up with a trad short trapeze tail instead of the bridge/tail I planned, and with the right amount of adjustment of the strange neck joint, whch I slowly figured out, there was just enough room to surface mount the P-90 with no cover. The first time I plugged it in I knew it was a match made in heaven! I still have the option to make it a Dual Tone again in the future, but for now the single pup is King. There's not much chance of finding a '55 Junior for £200, so this will do, I love it ...

I still have some shaping to do on the scratchplate /pickguard, but I'm happy with it overall. The neck joint is unusual, to say the least, secured by a long bolt through the body parallel to the neck (as shown below). Very secure, but awkward to work with. Valco patented this joint design in 1953, but dropped it as a method of attaching necks around 1958/9.

I think it's a great idea, but ultimately I think it may have worked out too expensive. As time went on Valco neck/body joints became progressively more conventional - ending up in 1968 where Leo Fender started in 1950, with 4 screws and a metal plate.

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