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Jazz Box recommendations

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by larrylover, Jun 30, 2005.

  1. larrylover

    larrylover Member

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    I am a sometime player of jazz guitar, and I wish to play more. I'm interested in getting a traditional jazz box with a great acoustic tone. I am looking for a no pickup or, at most, a floating pickup. No pickups built into the top. I like a rich tone where the notes ring distinctly even with chording. I am prepared to spend $4k-$5k. That seems to be the bottom to middle of the range for a custom maker -- Campelleone, Moll, Stadler and I am sure others -- offer something in that general area.

    Heritage makes jazz boxes in this range and less. I am not interested in Gibson. I have recently played their big boxes and was uniformly underwhelmed. I have played, and do not wish the obvious low cost alternatives: Hofners, Eastmans and Tacomas.

    I am interested in your recommendations for this guitar among the builders/manufactures mentioned as well as any others. I am not in a place that offers any of these guitars in readily accessible fashion, much less all of them. Or should I go for a 30s gibson L-7, the genesis of all of these guitars? Thanks.
     
  2. Jon C

    Jon C Silver Supporting Member

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    Based on what I know from those who've played his other guitars, I'd take a look at the Sadowsky Jim Hall or Jimmy Bruno models... have heard good things about both.

    I don't need/haven't gone the no pickup/floater route so have a nice 90s ES-175 that does the job... for less than $2k out the door for a nice example of one (as opp. to some of the more variable quality Gibbys) I'm a happy camper but it's not a spruce top pure jazzbox.

    best,
    Jon
     
  3. bluestein

    bluestein Member

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    Tim Schroeder sometimes has some of his available (secondary market) Teddy had a black one for sale recently - I don't know if it's still available.

    Also check with Terry at Guitarworks in Evanston - he usually has a number of jazzboxes in stock.
     
  4. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    ditto.
     
  5. larrylover

    larrylover Member

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    Bluestein,

    Thanks for the suggestions. I already spoke with Tim in the hopes he might have something of interest -- either his or something else. He did not. In fact, he suggested either Heritages or pre-war L-7 (not L-5 -- says those are overbuilt and often sound dead.)

    Thanks for the tip about the black S. Too little too late. Already gone. I will be open to any such future tips that may be available.

    GuitarWorks has nothing either at the moment.

    Thanks for the other recommendations about the Sadowskis. They both have pickups built into the tops and they are laminates. I understand that the sky can be the limit with archtops, but my intended range is significant scratch and, for that, I want a solid type and a primo acoustic experience.

    Is anyone familiar with the work of the builders mentioned, characteristics of their particular boxes, quality assessments, etc.?
     
  6. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Supporting Member

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    My experience with Heritage is that the quality is somewhat unpredictable. I've played a few that were spectacular, including a couple of killer Sweet 16's and some that weren't. By all reports, Jay Wolfe is the go to guy for Heritage. I suspect he could take some of the risk out of the equation.

    Among the boutique builders, my favorites have been Ribbecke and Steven Andersens, but both may be beyond your budget.
     
  7. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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  8. larrylover

    larrylover Member

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    man, there are some beautiful guitars at archtop.com. Seems odd to buy 50 year old guitars through the mail.
     
  9. smiert spionam

    smiert spionam Member

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    You can buy a lot of vintage archtop for that money. I've got a couple of '50s lam-top boxes (Guild X-440 and Gibson ES-175D) that have a depth of tone and personality that can't be matched by anything new I've ever played. I've got a buddy with three carved '50s Gibsons -- a pair of L5's and a Super400, and they're stunning. Those are out of your price range, but an L7 (C if you want it) or L12 is easily manageable for that. Also, a Guild Artist Award can be had easily in that range.

    You're looking for an acoustic guitar -- and in that case, there's nothing like old wood.

    Added: the archtop.com website has a couple of interesting '50s Epi's, and the '77 Guild AA looks terrific. Guild didn't have a dark period during the '70s like most US manufacturers -- I bet that AA is a honey.
     
  10. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    Joe does excellent work, and has a good reputation...
     
  11. 59burst

    59burst Gold Supporting Member

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    A few years ago, I went on a search for an acoustic archtop - I played a bunch - Gibson, Heritage, Campellone, Lewis, Fender D'Aquisto, Benedetto, etc - at guitar shows, NAMM, and at stores. I found that modern acoustic archtops often have quite a different tone than vintage ones. The vintage ones (on average) had a more pronounced mid-range, whereas the modern ones (on average) were more balanced across the tonal spectrum with better highs.

    After all was said and done, I played a Guild/Benedetto Artist Award that just blew me away, so I snagged it. I have not regretted it for a moment.

    The great thing was how many terrific guitars there were. Campellone makes some wonderful instruments.
     
  12. AnthonyL

    AnthonyL Silver Supporting Member

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    Ted Megas. Just a hair out of your range, but worth every penny.

    www.megasguitars.com The Spartan model
     
  13. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    Try Saul Koll. What you're describing is what I ordered from him. A few months more and I should have it - WOO HOO! :)
     
  14. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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    +100 on the Guild Artist Award. My friend has a '91 (pre-Fender and pre-Benedetto) and it's a wonderful guitar, right in line with what you seem to want. I used it for a track on my CD (mic'd, no pickup) and it sounded terrific.
     
  15. larrylover

    larrylover Member

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    Thanks for the recommendations. The Megas sure are great looking. They are out of my range, however. Unfortunately.
     
  16. 59burst

    59burst Gold Supporting Member

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    FWIW, although the Guild/Benedetto AA listed for $10K when I bought mine, I've seen them for sale used mint condition for between $4K and $5K. They don't pop up often, but they are there!
     
  17. hollowbody

    hollowbody Member

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    You could try to find a Triggs "San Salvador".
    It's his version of an L5 type guitar. Parallel bracing. High quality all the way around. Very old school.
    I'm extremely happy indeed with mine.
     
  18. move

    move Member

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    i've played a few new eastman guitars lately a couple of them were fantastic.

    $2300-$3000 for a hand carved archtop. not bad.

    i just hope they are not made in some sweat shop like conditions.
     
  19. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    I played 2 new ones a couple of days ago, and they were excellent.The surprise was the 16" model which was wonderful. They (the 16" and 17")were available for under 2K. The Joe Paisano(sp?) model was in the high 2K range and was also very cool, but did not have a big sound. It is my impression that these guitars continue to improve in all areas, meaning assembly,finish and tone.
     
  20. larrylover

    larrylover Member

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    Played a Triggs San Salvador today (17 inch box). I was able to compare it to a 1929 L5 (16" box). Both very nice guitars. The Triggs had a fuller sound than the L5. The L5 did not have as much low frequency information as the Triggs.

    My first impressions were that I much preferred the Triggs. The L5 sounded kind of dry and tinny (although tinny is not really accurate, the L5 sounded better than that) -- like a lack of low frequency information. The more I played, however, the more I preferred the L5. Greater separation in notes in chording than on the Triggs; very sweet top in sound. What I first characterized as dry became to sound more like articulate. The Triggs had a fuller sound. But the Triggs seemed to have loose, almost flabby, lows. Hollowbody, does this sound like your San Salvador? Or could the defining characteristics here -- the articulation v. fuller frequency but loose lows -- be the difference between wood that is relatively new and a guitar that is over 70 years old?
     

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