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Most resonant inexpensive archtop?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by drmordo, Jan 18, 2021.

  1. drmordo

    drmordo Tele-Holic

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    I have a Ibanez AF95 and a Epiphone Casino, and I love both.

    However, neither is really designed to be an acoustic guitar, they are hollow body electrics. The Casino is very thin and brittle sounding, and the Ibanez sounds muffled and body doesn't resonate like it should.

    My uncle has a Cort Joe Beck which is much more resonant and feels and sounds like an archtop acoustic with a pickup mounted to it. Many years ago, my teacher had a Gibson Johnny Smith which also had a better acoustic sound (a bit pricy for me, though!).

    Have any of y'all run across any of the modern crop of hollowbody guitars that sounds good unamplified? I know it won't sound like a flattop, I don't even want that, I just want it to be an acoustic guitar first and foremost.
     
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  2. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    Gretsch G100 and the Godin stuff.
     
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  3. sloppychops

    sloppychops Tele-Meister

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    The Loar LH-300. It's an all acoustic, f-hole arch top with a big V-neck. What sets it apart from other "budget" arch tops is the carved spruce top. Most have a pressed wood top.

    It's not cheap, though. I think they run around $700 new. I lucked into a used one a college kid was selling. Got it for $185. Music Go Round often has these used for around $250. If you can find a good one, they're a steal. Mine is really nice. I always enjoy playing it.
     
  4. IMadeYouReadThis

    IMadeYouReadThis Tele-Meister

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    I'm also interested to see if anybody has some affordable suggestions. I've heard mixed opinions of the Loar, and I've played some Godin 5th Avenue guitars that sounded great plugged in, but kinda meh acoustically. The trend I've seen with acoustic archtops at all prices is the best acoustic sounds usually come from carved tops (as mentioned above) and having a floating pickup, as opposed to top mounted.
     
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  5. richey88

    richey88 Friend of Leo's

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    What about the Grote 1P-90 ? Under 200$ if I remember. They look cool to futz with an archtop
     
  6. Leonardocoate

    Leonardocoate Tele-Meister

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    I have a Loar LH-301th (thin body) Acoustically it sounds surprisingly good. I put flat wounds on it and will upgrade the bridge. The bridge is ok but i would like something with a bit more meat on it. It has and ok P90 at the neck but I will replace it with a mini humbucker some day. It is super comfy to play and sounds good. I like it a lot.....From what I heard their quality control is sketchy. I would not buy without playing first...It is a excellent Blues or Jazz guitar..It sounds better than my Casino, Ibanez (Artcore) or Epiphone Centry unplugged
     
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  7. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    True hollow, with bigger thicker body helps a lot. Archtop volume as an acoustic is always lacking though.
     
  8. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    How inexpensive? The Gretsch Streamliner G2420 (no Bigsby) is very resonant since it doesn't have a sound post. Float the bridge and you'll have even more archtop feel...
     
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  9. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Most resonant inexpensive?
    Or most inexpensive resonant?

    I bought a D'Angelico EXL-1 for $379 used in mint condition.
    Played superbly, beautifully made at triple the price, not a bad pickup, and a really quite good acoustic sound.

    How many actual carved top archtop Jazz guitars have you played?
    They aren't really resonant, not like a flat top.
    More of a punchy attack and not so much a shimmery sustaining sound.
     
  10. fraser

    fraser Tele-Afflicted

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    What telemnemonics said.^^
    A buddy of mine has a godin 5th avenue ( he traded a beat up mim tele for it).
    Its really very nice.
    Pretty mellow sounding but i dont think hes picky about strings that could be a factor.

    it holds its own volume wise against my acoustics.
    And for the cost the godin stuff is very well made.
    Very thin varnish finishes, everything very tight, nicely built guitars
     
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  11. tanplastic

    tanplastic Tele-Holic

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    Good suggestions so far, I'll throw out a different idea.
    There are a number of vintage European archtops out there, from Hofner, Hoyer, etc.
    Reverb always has interesting options, priced way below similar American guitars.
    I personally own a 50s Hofner and play it nearly every day. Big round neck, huge original frets, loud and punchy sound.
    This is my old beast.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    Archtops vary a huge amount. But first, you need to assess the health of yours. Check the neck joint isn't suffering from glue starvation, loose, and not acoustically coupled to the box. Check the tail piece is not overly heavy, and not diving board stiff. Check the bridge is not too big, not too heavy. It may need to be thinned and shaved. Check the saddle is properly profiled, not too blunt. Check for loose ribs and braces. Check for adequate fret height - low frets kill volume on acoustic guitars. If none of that improves things, Its just a heavy built instrument, on purpose, to manage plugged in performance over acoustic performance.
     
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  13. StevesBoogie

    StevesBoogie Tele-Holic

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    Interesting, I have my eye on one. Do you happen to own one, and, do you have any opinion on how important the 'Chromatic II' bridge? Gretsch appears to offer so many models, and each one with so many variants! At least that is what I am seeing. I have seen some demos and WOW the sounds are superb!!!!!
     
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  14. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I don’t want to sound rude and we buy what we like, but when I bought the D’Angelico I played a bunch of other semi hollow and hollow body arch tops.
    The affordable Gretsch archtops are not very good, serviceable but cheaply made.
    I’d love to have a nice semi hollow Gretsch but not those $500-$600 models.
    I was amazed at the D’Angelico quality but part of that was the popularity difference where Gretsch is hip and easy to sell at a good profit.

    The EXL-1 is a full hollow acoustic based on the original flagship model D’Angelco.
    Laminated thin spruce and very lively and loud, way better than expected.
    All the Gretsch models fell way short of my expectations.
     
  15. tanplastic

    tanplastic Tele-Holic

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    Yes resonant is not a word I would use to describe archtop acoustics either.
    Their voice is very focused so they lack the deep bass and bright treble of flattops.
    They also project forward more than a flattop.
    I learned this by sitting in with a couple of dreadnought players decades ago, and feeling like I was struggling to be heard over their volume.
    After a break we all swapped guitars and I enjoyed a fantastic Martin while a friend chopped it up on my Hofner.
    I was shocked by the volume of the Hof when it was aimed toward me- every note cut through like a cowbell.
    Aiming at a wall is cool to hear the full sound.
     
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  16. Chicago Matt

    Chicago Matt Friend of Leo's

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    I bought a Washburn J6-S about 20 years ago. It's a fat body jazz box that sounds wonderful unplugged. I saw it in a shop and it played so well and sounded so great I couldn't resist, even though I don't really have much use for a big archtop. I play it around the house a lot acoustically and it sounds like a million bucks to me. I replaced the pickups with P94s and it really sounds good plugged in too.

    They've been discontinued for a long time but they pop up used. Here's a link to one on Reverb for reference. Good luck in your quest.

    https://reverb.com/item/176672-washburn-wes-montgomery-j6-s-blonde

    Just edited to say the listing above says "semi-hollow". That's not correct. These guitars are full hollow.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021
  17. Martian

    Martian Tele-Meister Gold Supporter

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    I had a’37 Epiphone Triumph which I absolutely loved. And I have a ‘55 Gibson es—150 which i love but hardly ever play. And I have a Washburn J-10 “Orleans” which I really, really like a lot. It’s an incredibly good guitar for the money. Loud as hell but remains focused and really cuts. They only made them for a couple of years but definitely worth checking out if you can find one. DA01246E-E05E-4E08-8DBC-B42158B439D6.jpeg
     
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  18. mrfitz98

    mrfitz98 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I had taken my Martin into the nearest authorized repair shop (Gallop Guitars, Big Rapids MI) a few years ago for some warranty work. When I picked it up I mentioned all the archtops they had in the racks and asked for any advice when looking for one. They told me that most of the archtops that they get into their shop were unplayable and that the cost to put them right was typically more than the guitars were worth. They said there were exceptions, like the Gibson L- series, but most require at least a neck reset.

    I picked up a Godin 5th Ave Kingpin a few years ago from Music Go Round for about $400. Mint condition, but not set up at all. Got it intonated, adjusted the neck and the bridge, and put some flatwounds on it. I play it a lot unplugged. It has a very focused sound, and the short scale really helps to differentiate it from all my other guitars.
     
  19. DavidP

    DavidP Friend of Leo's

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    Look at Godin!!
     
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  20. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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