Help Finding Archtop/Hollow Body

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by B Vance, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. B Vance

    B Vance Member

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    Anyone with suggestions?

    Just recently started playing in a small jazz ensemble and I am looking for a servicable archtop/hollow body. Right now I am working with a Strat and Tele, but I really want something with the deep rich jazzy tone. Price is an issue, which I know severely limits my selection in this category. Want something that has great feel and tone, new or used. Trying to keep it below $1,200.

    A few weeks ago I went around to just about every shop I could to plug in some different models. Pretty much every hollow body model Gibson and Epiphone have to offer. Out of all of them, I seemed to like the Epiphone Elitist Byrdland the most. Any lesser know brand out there that I don't know about that you would suggest? Would it be better to suck it up for a while, pool together the pennies and spring for a $3000 on-off-er in a few years from someone like Holst or another archtop luthier?

    Looking to learn for the limitless fount of knowledge available on this forum.

    Thanks...
     
  2. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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  3. 1-Take-Wonder

    1-Take-Wonder Member

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    I've heard really good things about Tokais. I played the J-200 copy and liked it. Their 175 copy looks like they did it right. This would be way less than your ceiling if you can find one.

    Anybody played one of these? How do they compare to the Gibsons?

    Also MF is selling some Herb Ellis blems at like $1800. This is a custom shop guitar. Its a little more than you want to spend but I can't imagine being dissatisfied???
     
  4. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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    There are some awfully nice Guilds near the top of your price range, at least if you find them used.
     
  5. 1-Take-Wonder

    1-Take-Wonder Member

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    I played a gold-top bluesbird for a while that had decent jazz tone, at least to my rock ears. You also get the benefit of a Les Paul sound that's better than many Gibsons...These are in your price range used.
     
  6. Calloway

    Calloway Supporting Member

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    I know that Ibanez has also done some decent semi hollow designs that are pretty stellar for thier buck. If John Scofield and George Benson can use em, who's to say that we can't? I've never been too good at assesing these things, the only hollow body I've had was my 336, which was great and you can find these used for pretty cheap like $1400 sometimes.
     
  7. 59burst

    59burst Gold Supporting Member

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    I would suggest looking at used Guilds. There was someone on the Emporium recently selling a recent blond Guild archtop in mint condition for $1200, IIRC. That is a great deal on a classic, USA made instrument.
     
  8. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    +1 on Eastman archtops. They are made in China by a company that has been making violins for 60 years. You can pick one up used in the $1400 range. All solid hand-carved guitars, that would cost 4K + for an American equivalent.
     
  9. 59burst

    59burst Gold Supporting Member

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    What are some of your tonal benchmarks? You say you want a "deep rich jazzy tone". To me that sounds like an electric archtop (laminated or carved), not an acoustic archtop.

    I know people get very excited about all the custom and high end US made fully-carved archtops out there (including me), but they don't give you the Wes, Benson, Burrell, Grant Green type tones. I find it easiest to cop those tones with a laminated electric archtop. My carved archtops (both electric and acoustic) are more feedback prone, as well, so I tend not to use them when I play with drums.

    The upside of this approach is that laminated archtops are generally less expensive than carved ones, so you get the tones appropriate to the situation without overspending.
     
  10. Wes_k

    Wes_k Member

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    here's a link to a canadian dealer of Tokai guitars...

    http://www.jsdguitarshack.com/products.html

    more specifically heres the link to the Tokai ES-60

    http://www.jsdguitarshack.com/Tokai_ES-60_amber_flame.html
     
  11. mccreadyisgod

    mccreadyisgod Member

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    If you're on a tight budget, the Ibanez ArtCore guitars are pretty nice... good construction and a decent sound for around $350-450.

    I've been enamoured with the Epiphone Joe Pass signature model, too... it's a single-cut deep-body with two humbuckers, a really open and woody tone. Not great for overdrive/distortion, but nice for a good clean tone. And it's fairly affordable as well.

    These other folks can point you towards the other manufacturers... I've never paid over $700 for a guitar, so I stick with the workhorses.
     
  12. hans-jürgen

    hans-jürgen Member

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    The archtop jazz guitar from Tokai would be the FA70 though (MIK, maple neck and body). I think Ishibashi also sells them, but I'm not sure about that.
     
  13. 1-Take-Wonder

    1-Take-Wonder Member

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  14. teefus

    teefus Silver Supporting Member

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    you could get a slightly used hamer newport pro (stop tail and seth's) or a newport (phat cats and bigsby) for that. maybe a pre-price increase NOS one if the store had it for a while. they are 336 size and completely hollow except for the extended neck tenon and a bridge block. no plywood an great build quality.
     
  15. B Vance

    B Vance Member

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    Thanks to all of the posts.

    It's great to get so many suggestions and help from so many knowledgeable people.

    First of all, I have heard of Eastman, however, I have yet to find a shop near me who carries them. I would be interested in playing one as well as getting some reviews from guys here who might have some experience with them.

    I have played a few of the Ibanez Artcore series. I must admit that I had a difficult time getting around some of the Harm Cent reviews I had read about their shotty construction and reliability. Unfortunately I have not been able to get my hands on the Scofield or Benson models which I am sure are up to a higher standard than their regular series. I would more closely consider an Artcore if my budget were more limited.

    I have also looked at the possibility of a Starfire, but again I am at a disadvantage not being able to get my hands on one to play.

    I did play a Hammer Newport while I was at Willcutt a few weeks ago. Like it very much, but was a bit pricey. Same thing for the Heritage Eagle. Overall, I loved the tone and feel, especially with the Heritage.

    I must specify for 59burst that I am looking for a lam, for the exact reason he stated...feedback. I will be playing through one of two amps...65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue or Bad Cat Black Cat. For the most part the 65DRRI. I will always be competing with drums and need the amp, or straight into a quality PA.

    Don't know much about the Tokais, but from what I can tell they look like a 335 copy. Looking into them more closely.

    mcreadyisgod, thanks for the suggestion on the Joe Pass. I also liked it quite a bit when I gave it a go at the store. I may have to give it a more serious second look. I know that I can get those second hand for a great price break. Would you suggest upgrading pickups after? If so, what would you suggest?

    Thanks again for all of the help.
     
  16. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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    Just so ya know... I was talking about the hollow (but laminated) Guilds such as the X-150 and X-180. A friend of mine recently picked up a nearly-new X-180 on eBay for $1300 and the thing is great. Every bit as nice as an ES-175. Well... nicer than most, actually.
     
  17. FlyingVBlues

    FlyingVBlues Gold Supporting Member

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    Take a look at the Stromberg Montreux, which is a ES-175 style guitar priced at $1195. It's a Korean made archtop with a laminated Spruce top, maple sides and back, 24 3/4" scale mahogany neck w/ 1 11/16" nut width, rosewood fretboard w/ pearl block markers, amber finish. Stromberg uses quality parts including Kent Armstrong pickups, deluxe Kluson tuners and WD Music pickguards, bridges and electronics. I have a friend who uses a Montreux with a Blackface Deluxe Reverb and he has minimal feedback problems. The guitar sounds good both acoustically and amplified. Not quite as nice as a good ES-175, but pretty close. The Montreux has a really comfortable feel to it and is very playable. They also have a single cutaway thinline model that is sort of like a 335 that you can get with or without a center block. I haven't played that model, but it looks cool, especially for the price.

    http://www.strombergguitars.com

    FVB
     
  18. bobgoblin

    bobgoblin Supporting Member

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    I got my guild x-150d for about $1000, you can find 60's guilds for 7-1000 on the 'bay all the time, not the higher end models (x-375, etc), but the starfires, the ce-100's, etc...real nice guitars, on par w/gibsons. you might also look at older ibanez models from the 70's, one of my buddy's has one (the L-5 alike) & it is really a killer axe.
     
  19. 1-Take-Wonder

    1-Take-Wonder Member

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    ...and if you're only "pretending" to be a jazzbo while maintaining rock god status elsewhere, the Eastman will be of little use to you in other settings. I'm sure they're great, but they emulate other Jazz boxes that are pretty specialized for that use alone.

    I've played a bunch of Newports, and being completely hollow, it can be a feedback machine in higher volume settings....and they're getting pricey and lose a fair amount of value if you buy them new.

    The starfire, Tokai 335 or 175 copy, any decent semi-hollow really, or even chambered solid with humbucks, should be able to do decent jazz and still be useful in other settings....unless you intend to go all out jazz, then the Eastman might be a cool box at a good price.
     
  20. 59burst

    59burst Gold Supporting Member

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    FWIW the best vintage jazz tone I've ever achieved (and I've owned multi $K archtops, both electric and acoustic) was using my ES-335 reissue strung with D'Addario Chrome .011 flatwounds. It was an amazing fat warm articulate tone. I'd bet one could get 90% of the way there with any decent semi-hollow - Washburn, Yamaha, Ibanez, Epi - and the right strings.
     

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