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Most resonant inexpensive archtop?

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

  1. mad dog

    mad dog Friend of Leo's

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    I have owned many. Tried many more. The "inexpensive" requirement is the first tough part. In that, I have encountered excellent playing, sounding lower cost hollowbodies ... but most lack that complex sort of depth that I think of as resonance. And don't sound all that good unplugged.

    When you relax what "inexpensive" means, you'll find more of the more complex, better sounding hollowbodies, but it's still a matter of trial and error.

    The 4 Peerless made casinos I owned were all excellent in their own way, but they lacked that something we're talking about. Fine plugged in. Rather dead unplugged. Same goes for the Epi Elitist casino I then tried. Then the first couple Eastman T64Vs I tried. (Moving up the cost scale with the Elitist and the Eastmans.) Patience was finally rewarded in the third Eastman T64V I tried. This is one of the best sounding guitars - plugged or unplugged - I've played. As rich sounding acoustically as the priciest, best vintage archtops. Price is part of it. Luck is the bigger part.

    The other archtop that sounds so pretty unplugged is vintage. A '62 Guild X-50. Guild's modest answer to the full depth non-cutaway Gibson ES-125. Never heard another guitar sound quite like that. Total luck that I found it.

    Spending more can help, but there's no shortcut here. You have to try different ones, and be patient. They're out there.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021
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  2. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    The very reason I have one on the way ;)
     
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  3. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Doctor of Teleocity

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    Where did you order?

    I checked Amazon just after noticing this model from this thread, but did not see this particular model listed ( other Grotes, yes) Thanks!

    ( did see a few pretty good video reviews)
     
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  4. Chicago Matt

    Chicago Matt Friend of Leo's

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    Just thought I'd show you a picture of my Washburn J-6S for scale. LOL :)

    PXL_20210119_014946961[1].jpg
     
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  5. lammie200

    lammie200 Friend of Leo's

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    Try a Guild A-150 Savoy. Solid pressed top, floating pickup. You can probably score one for $600 or so.
     
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  6. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Poster Extraordinaire

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    You played an archtop electric that happens to sound to your liking when unplugged...not an archtop acoustic.

    Have you ever actually played an archtop acoustic? They are all short-sustain midrange – very percussive. Is that what you want?

    If you want what your uncle has, then play a bunch of thick hollowbody electrics until you come across one that "has it." You can't buy online and expect to just get lucky, in this case. You've got to hear and feel each one in person.
     
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  7. drmordo

    drmordo Tele-Holic

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. The funny part is I haven't thought about Washburn guitars at all for at least 20 years. I had no idea they had such pretty archtops in their lineup. That Orleans is a stunner!

    With regard to the EXL-1 - I would love to own a D'Angelico just because of the iconic originals, but all the EXLs I have seen for less than $1k are black. I'll keep an eye out for a non-black EXL.

    As I alluded in the OP, I know what an archtop acoustic should sound like, and while my current archtops are good guitars, they are not good acoustic guitars. FWIW, I don't even need a pickup in the guitars you recommend. I just want a nice sounding archtop acoustic.
     
  8. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    This one, always sold out anymore

     
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  9. drmordo

    drmordo Tele-Holic

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    BTW, I should add that I'm considering every suggestion! The Loar and the Grote guitars are definitely on my radar as well.

    Thanks again
     
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  10. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Afflicted

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    The Loar, Gretsch New Yorker, Eastman, Washburn...lots of options but for acoustic purposes I would look for as big of a body as possible with no cutaway, no top mounted pickups and a solid top.
     
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  11. Dan German

    Dan German Doctor of Teleocity

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    Count me in the Godin camp. I played an early ‘50s Gretsch Synchromatic for years, just because everybody else had dreadnoughts. Years later, it turns out the archtop had become my thing. So I bought a 5th Ave, acoustic only. If you have played one with a pickup, don’t judge by that. I have played a couple of the P90 electrics, and they weren’t as good acoustically as mine. I wish it had the bigger/deeper body of my Gretsch, but it’s pretty good just as it is. I don’t see the acoustic ones for sale used very often, but I suspect the pricing would be very good.
     
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  12. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I own a G2420, and yes there are a lot of variations. Honestly I bought it for the fat neck and to modify into an even more Gretschy model. I ditched the tailpiece and replaced it with a '58 vintage long "G"-cut tailpiece, but there really was no difference in sound to my heathen ears. A Bigsby B6 will alter the sound, but it's subtle. I'm not a hi-tone dude when it comes to archtops, so pressed multi-ply tops don't bother me at all. All my experience is mostly with Gretsch, and I found major differences with bracing type. I don't expect to play my Gretsch guits unplugged, so thats the salt for you.

    I own a couple MIJ Gretsch, including a G6120. Contrary to the above, the Streamliner I own is very well made for the money. So are the Electromatics, but again, in the world of archtops, they are not hand carved spruce affairs. Depends on what you expect I suppose, and there are also the Synchromatics...
     
  13. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    In my experience, you need to spend ~$2K or more for a loud, resonant archtop. Cheaper guitars have either laminated or thick carved tops. A carved top has to be thin and light to project. Anything else will not be as loud or rich sounding as a flattop.

    Check out the Eastman AR503CE.

    https://www.eastmanguitars.com/electric_archtop

    One of the realities of acoustic archtops is the strings have to be heavy gauge and the action needs to be jacked up higher than other types of guitars to get the carved top moving and project the sound. This is the reason why jazz players are not known for their string-bending prowess. Archtops were originally developed as orchestra guitars to be loud and percussive, so they're really suited for comping and not a lot of soloing.
     
  14. Martinp

    Martinp Tele-Afflicted

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    look at used Epiphone Joe Pass models, they punch way above their weight

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. marshman

    marshman Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    All I know about arch tops I learned from reading, (grain of salt required) so I always presume you can’t get REAL archtop tone if there’s anything screwed to the top...no pickups, pots, nuthin’. Next, the top has Got To Be Spruce.

    While that may be true, most ‘proper”, hand-carved, floating pickup archtops I’ve played were brand new and they all pretty much sounded like resonators, so I added to my criteria/mindset that they must need a bit of breaking-in, like speakers, before the wood can really start singing.

    My experience with archtops has been limited, but I’ve heard nary a bad word about the Godin line, particularly once price enters the discussion.

    But we guitar players are a fickle lot, and I still want an Epi Emperor Regent in blonde regardless of all that I just typed.
     
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  16. marshman

    marshman Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Also, my research suggests that there’s precious little point in springing for solid carved top spruce IF you’re gonna have pickups mounted directly to it...just negates the point of having the spruce there if you’re going to clamp stuff to it.
     
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  17. Stanford Guitar

    Stanford Guitar Tele-Afflicted

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    For the money, it is very hard to beat an Eastman.
     
  18. Ron C

    Ron C Tele-Holic

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    Are you going for an acoustic jazz sound? If so don’t count out using a nylon string guitar or even a warm flat top steel string. With a little tweaking to the attack and possibly a string change, they can sound great for acoustic jazz.

    I own a great arch top with a nice acoustic tone. But when I was asked to record a Freddie Green style track on a collaboration with some jazzers, I used a Martin flattop and they loved it. My Cordoba nylon has worked well in those settings too.

    An arch top with a good acoustic tone is certainly a great thing, but they can be hard to find. These other options are much easier to get.
     
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  19. El Marin

    El Marin Friend of Leo's

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    I had a Loar LH-300, not bad at all but not outstanding, played a fried's Godin and was meh, now I use an Epiphone Zenith Masterbuilt and cannot be happier

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Regarding to electrics, I am more a Rockabilly guy than a jazzer. I had an old Guild X-160, a 335, a Ibanez Pat Metheny, many Gretschs and now use a Gretsch 6120... But if I were a jazzer I would choose the Pat Metheny

    Check the Ibanez PM-2, please, do yourself a favor[​IMG]
     
  20. sloppychops

    sloppychops Tele-Holic

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    As noted above, the Epiphone Zenith is a good one to consider. I can't believe I didn't mention this...since I have one! Well, ok, mine is the round hole version of the Zenith. There's also the Epiphone Olympic Masterbuilt, which is the smaller bodied sister. These are good options, but they don't have a solid spruce carved top like the Loar. In the budget class, the Loar is the only one to have this.

    Here's my LH-300
    Loar.jpg

    And here's my Epiphone Zenith:

    zenith.jpg

    The Zenith has a massive neck. If you don't like big necks, this definitely isn't for you.

    I also have the Grote Jazz Hollowbody. It is a nice guitar for the money, and it has a loud sound unplugged, but it's not an acoustic. It sounds like a loud electric unplugged. If you want an acoustic guitar sound, you don't want the Grote. I had a luthier fit an all wood replacement bridge on mine because I didn't like what it came with:

    IMG_1419.jpg
     
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