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?
The Tapastring vintage jack (below) fits into most standard archtop endpin holes. It is a real problem-solver and looks great. But the sacrifice is the jack is the smaller 1/8″ size, which means you have to either carry a specialized cable or a dreaded “dongle” which you’ll undoubtedly forget to bring and you can bet that no one will ever have one for you to borrow last-minute. It’s also quite pricey at $79.
For my DeArmond FHC pickup, I mount it to my Epiphone Blackstone with the good old, awkward “monkey-on-a-stick“, which I just leave on the guitar to save myself the headaches of installing it every time. The cable coming out of the control box is wired to an output jack, which I temporarily affixed to the tailpiece with my favorite problem solver: the “zip-tie”.
Well, as these things usually go, “temporary” became 6 months. I got sick of looking at the whole ugly mess and needed something more stable. It would be nice if I could remove the jack without reaching for a pair of wire cutters and adding a zip-tie-sized chunk into that giant floating plastic island in the ocean, too. So I eventually prototyped this 3d-printed design that snaps onto the my trapeze tailpiece like so:
Its, well, incrementally less ugly, but profoundly more stable. Plus, I can remove it easily when I want to take the pickup off. It’s a little tricky since it grips quite tightly, but if you slide it down to the narrower part of the tailpiece, the mount will wiggle out more easily.
Every tailpiece is different and an elegant universal solution might not exist. But if you send me the dimensions and measurements of your tailpiece, I may consider doing custom work. Feel free to get in touch.