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1966 DeArmond Rhythm Chief Model 1100 Gold About The DeArmond Rhythm Chief is known as one of the best sounding pickups for archtop g...

DeArmond Rhythm Chief Wiring Diagrams

1966 DeArmond Rhythm Chief Model 1100 Gold


The DeArmond Rhythm Chief is known as one of the best sounding pickups for archtop guitars and the vintage ones can commend a hefty premium. The Rhythm Chief first appeared in the 1950s was built, at least, until the late 1970s, according to's catalog scans. One of the pickups I repaired had pots dating to 1982 (which I neglected to document the wiring..) which implies that production might've continued after they ceased appearing in catalogs. DeArmond produced pickups until 1985 when they shut down.

Guild produces a reissue which drops the control unit box and mounts via a bar that is screwed into the side of the fingerboard instead of the monkey-on-a-stick. Their pickups are also wound to 6k which is standard for a single coil but is mostly inaccurate for a Rhythm Chief replica.

Despite the popularity of these pickups, wiring information is surprisingly sparse. I've found a few forum threads with DeArmond enthusiasts discussing these pickups but could not find a wiring diagram that exactly matched what I was looking at. I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to repair a couple monkey-on-a-stick Rhythm Chief pickups and so I've taken the time to document their wiring and values for future reference.

Common Problems

If your DeArmond pickup is reading 'open' and produces no sound, there are a couple suspects.

  • The lead wire has shorted out. 
The wire from the pickup to the control unit is multilayered with a center 'hot' wire and a stranded 'ground' wire separated by rubber insulation and then wrapped with cloth and more rubber insulation. The rubber crumbles on nearly all of these pickups which exposes the hot wire to the ground and results in a short circuit which 'kills' the pickup. 

The only solution is to replace the lead wire (Mojotone sells a great replica wire specifically for this) and unfortunately this process is delicate and can lead to damaging the pickup if you are not careful.
  • The paper in oil capacitors have leaked
DeArmond pickups typically use PIO capacitors which have a tendency to drift out of spec or leak and fail entirely which can cause the tone control to act as a volume or silence the pickup all together. I tend to replace all the capacitors at once since they fail pretty soon after each other and treat it like a 'cap job' on a guitar amplifier. That is, a routine servicing to maintain operation of your pickup. 
  • The coil is damaged
This is less common but can still occur especially if the pickup is disassembled without properly heating it to soften the wax and adhesive (or if you just get unlucky and DeArmond glued the coil to the casing). You can attempt to remove winds until you get to the break and use that as your end wire or you can rewind the pickup all together.

Wiring Diagrams

I noted that the wiring schemes for Rhythm Chiefs were constantly changing design, capacitor values, and potentiometer values. This makes it difficult to state that there is a definitive Rhythm Chief wiring schematic. I've documented each of the pickups that I have worked on and included their wiring diagrams below so that you can find a schematic that most closely matches what you are looking for. 

Also as a resource for DeArmond pickups, I'd highly recommend


Model: 1000
Coil Reading: 15.8k


Model: 1000
Coil Reading: ~dead~


Model: 1100
Coil Reading: 14.42k


Model: 1000
Coil Reading: 7.3k

This model features unusual potentiometers with the pot code embossed on the phenolic board. I know for certain they were original to the pickup but I am unable to decipher the pot code. Following previous code standards, 360 should be the manufacturer code and 10070 should be a batch number. It has a similar style to the 1982 that I worked on so I assume its a later model, possibly '70s.

This schematic was not functioning properly so I rewired it according to the 1962 specs.


  1. I have the opportunity to a DeArmond-Rowe #1100 that's in time capsule condition never used still in the box everything original. I think it's worth spending the money to get it!!!!!!

    1. It definitely could be! Those time capsule finds are always incredible


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