Thoughts on an Arch Top Guitar

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Fluddman, Sep 12, 2019 at 2:50 AM.

  1. Fluddman

    Fluddman Tele-Meister

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    I play a bit of Jazz and have always liked the idea of buying a nice Arch Top. Never pulled the pin though because I was never sure it would get played enough once the honeymoon was over.

    I am interested to know if you own an arch top that gets lots of playing time? I am thinking Arch top rather than a 335/Casino style.

    Thanks for reading and I am looking forward to hearing your story.

    Cheers
     
  2. DOC DYA

    DOC DYA Tele-Meister

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    I've been playing a Washburn J6 "Wes Montgomery model" (Korea made) for some years now. It's a rather big guitar (17") but it doesn't bother me at all. I like the mellow sound (with Thomastik Enfield strings). I almost never use the bridge PU and the neck PU could have a bit more dynamic. It's not the only guitar I play with my band though (Tele, Strat, Les Pauls depending of the kind of sound I want (need).
     
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  3. Lobomov

    Lobomov Friend of Leo's

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    Archtops do sound different than semi-hollows like the 335. There is a thunk you dont have in the semihollows. I must admit that I tend to pick up my archtop when I'm just doodling on the couch, so that's a nice bonus.


    Anyways ... I think you should give an archtop a try .. They have a vibe of their own unlike the 335 that is far more related to a Les Paul than an archtop.
     
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  4. CalebAaron666

    CalebAaron666 Tele-Meister

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    I’m in NO way a jazz player. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
    However, the main guitars I play in my band are Gretsch Hollow bodies. I love my tele’s, but the big hollow boxes give me the sound I need! I play them LOUD!

    I recommend Gretsch. You don’t have to spend ridiculous money to get a quality guitar.
    A Gretsch Electromatic 5420t is a LOT of guitar for a mid level price.
    44BD9634-6D08-43B8-9666-90111059C8F5.jpeg
     
  5. Stefanovich

    Stefanovich Tele-Holic

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    I have two. A 40s Epiphone Triumph (full acoustic) and an Aria with a humbucker. I play the Aria way more. Even though the top it is pressed plywood rather than carved spruce like the Epiphone, the addition of the pickup makes it way more versatile.
     
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  6. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    After wanting a 175 for so long, I got a really nice one... and hardly ever played it. After three years of sitting in it's case, I sold it a couple months ago. It was too big, played too much like an acoustic, and too 'dark' for me. I loathe traditional wooly jazz tone. I play more 'country jazz', and I like things bright and lively.

    I still have a few others, though, and I play them regularly.

    Don't dismiss the 335. Yeah, not full hollow, and it *can* get close to Les Paul territory. But it doesn't have to. It's got an open, woody, airy tone that nothing else I own approaches. This is with stock 57 Classic pickups. It may well be the best sounding of all my guitars.

    The 330 is thin, like a 335, but is a completely different experience. Fully hollow, and the P90s are focused, and cut well. Not my favorite pickups, frankly, but most people like them. Despite that, I love the guitar as a whole. The 16th fret neck joint is comfortable to play.

    The Gibson 275 is kind of a mash-up of L5 and 175. Maple plywood body, between 335 and 175 for thickness. Full hollow, floating bridge. Twin buckers. Nice and light. Lovely guitar.

    The Gretsch 6120 with T-Armond single coils is like having an archtop Tele. Jazzy and fun.
     
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  7. r_o_b_s_o_n

    r_o_b_s_o_n TDPRI Member

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    I've got two arch tops and two solid bodies...

    Archtop #1 is a 'The Loar' LH 700 - this thing is about the best value for dollar you can find. It is a pure acoustic, however it can be easily equipped with a Kent Armstrong type floating mini hum bucker, mounting to the end of the fingerboard... The LH 700 is a solid wood, hand carved, Nitro finished arch top based on a late '20's 16" Gibson L5. There are certainly reports of quality control issues in the lower end of The Loar line up, but the 700's seem to get fairly consistently good reviews. That they are available for around $1500 USD and you'd be looking at nearly $1000 on top of that for the next comparable guitar is pretty impressive. Solid carved Spruce top, Beautiful AAA Flame maple back and sides, Maple neck, Ebony Fingerboard, 1 3/4" nut, beautiful abalone headstock inlay and gold Grover Butterbean tuners and trapeze tailpiece. The drawback it seems, is that they are not widely stocked, so you may find yourself having to shop online. Do your research and see if you can find photos or video of the specific guitar you are buying rather than a drop ship outfit. Another often discussed point is the neck profile. It is certainly a chunky V neck, some people just can't get along with it, but honestly, I LOVE the neck on it. Very comfortable for playing rhythm or melody/lead. This is by far my most reached for guitar. Unfortunately I don't have any photos of mine at the moment - but I do plan on getting some soon.
    Here is a link to some fine playing on an LH 700 showing the character of it's voice.


    Archtop #2 is an Ibanez AKJV-95 DAL - This again represents terrific value for dollar at $700 USD. It is laminate construction, but the quality of work/fit/finish is very good for the price range. The guitar is based on a Gibson ES 175 - which itself is a laminate constructed archtop. The neck is MUCH more modern and thinner - almost to the point where I would say that is my only complaint about it. Some may prefer a thinner neck over the chunky V of the Loar, but I swing the other way. The guitar has a beautiful rich amber blonde finish - the hardware has a "patina'd" finish which doesn't suit everyone's taste - however I think it fits with the guitar quite nicely. Pickups are Ibanez's Super 58's - and they sound good to my ear. Highly recommended as well.
    See this video for a side by side with a Gibson ES 175, where I would say I prefer the Ibanez over the Gibson. Terrific playing as well.
     
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  8. Fluddman

    Fluddman Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for posts so far. I was thinking of something traditional like an ES 175 and Gretsch, Loar and Ibanez are now on my list.

    I already have a Gretsch 6120 but never thought of it as a jazz guitar - more like a fat cousin to my tele. I like the look of the Gretsch G100CE Synchromatic but haven't played one yet.

    Gretsch-G100CE-Synchromatic-300-e1426245416489.jpg

    I have played some Eastman's which were very good and great bang for the buck - like the AR371CE picture below. It has a 1 3/4 inch nut which I prefer.
    Unknown.jpeg

    Thanks again!
     

    Attached Files:

  9. CalebAaron666

    CalebAaron666 Tele-Meister

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    Does your 6120 have Dynasonics or Filtertrons?
    I’d think a neck filtertron would do jazz real good. Especially with the tone switch flipped up or down.
     
  10. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Friend of Leo's

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    Don't forget the Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin.

    I bought a used one last month, (like new condition),and it's a really, really nicely crafted jazz box.
    Most are a cognac burst, but mine is in natural finish.

    Silver leaf maple neck, Canadian wild cherry top, back, and sides.
    Single P90 pickup in the neck position, 1 volume, 1 tone.
    Simple.

    A joy to hold and play, truly!

    :)

    PS Like all Godins, she's made in Canada.
    Godin 3.JPG Godin 1.JPG Godin 2.JPG
     
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  11. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    Depends on the guitar. If you buy one that has a neck bucker only, it's not going to be very versatile.

    Get one with 2 pickups and it will do pretty much anything. I have a Guild with P90s and it rocks, picks, swings, weeps, and twangs. Did I miss anything?
     
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  12. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Tele-Afflicted

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    I've owned a few archtops, down to an L-30 right now. I also am recently enchanted by an ES-330. Very different instruments. But both great at what they do well. One of the best archtop guitars I think ever devised, is an ES-125. It was probably an accident, but the natural voicing, the P90 voicing and its location, combine for magic. I swear, I've seen these sound near dead acoustic, yet it coined the familiar Bad to The Bone sound. Not too many guitars can swing that broadly.

    PS - amazingly, one of the more affordable vintage Gibsons. The really nice Godin 5th Avenue is a tribute to the ES-125, in lots of configurations.
     
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  13. Fluddman

    Fluddman Tele-Meister

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    My 6120 has Dynasonics and doesn’t actually have the tone (mud) switch. I might try some flat wounds on it.
     
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  14. Fluddman

    Fluddman Tele-Meister

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    The 5th Avenue is on my list too. Not played one yet but heard good things and they look great.

    Thanks
     
  15. Fluddman

    Fluddman Tele-Meister

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    Great looking guitar! Do you miss having a bridge pickup?
     
  16. tubelectron

    tubelectron Tele-Meister

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    @Fluddman : not a bad idea... ;)

    Here are my "True Jazz" Archtops... A Gretsch G400 (1991) and a G100 (2008)

    [​IMG]

    Both can be converted to "Electricity" thanks to a DIY pickup attachment (Kent Armstrong PU). Here it is, installed on the G100 :

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Here's the tone of the G100 with the PU attachment on two short samples below :





    The G100CE will give you a similar tone, just a little bit less "round" or "acoustic" - if I can say so - because the hollowbody structure of the G100CE integrates a trestle under the bridge that doesn't exists on the G100, which also has a more curved top and back than the CE model.

    The G100, like the G100CE are very well-built and reliable guitars. On my G100, I use 11-54 Beefy Slinky Ernie Ball strings, in normal tuning : no issue...

    -tbln
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019 at 7:10 AM
  17. rickthescot

    rickthescot Tele-Holic

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    I scratched that itch with an Ibanez AG75 years ago and I love that guitar. The body is quite small for a jazz box but she plays great and the quality overall is terrific. Used they can be had for really cheap.
     
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  18. CalebAaron666

    CalebAaron666 Tele-Meister

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    I gotcha. Yeah, those dynas are incredible pickups, but I wouldn’t imagine they’re a jazzer’s dream.
     
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  19. Fluddman

    Fluddman Tele-Meister

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    Wow thanks for posting this. They are two handsome guitars and the sound clips are great too.

    I love the look of this style of guitar - so elegant!
     
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  20. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I'm not following the distinction. Both the 335 and the Casino are archtops. The 335 is a semi-hollow while the Casino is a hollowbody.

    +1 Godin and Gretsch.
     
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