Joe Pass's guitars - laminate better than solid?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by MartinPiana, May 13, 2008.

  1. MartinPiana

    MartinPiana Supporting Member

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    Last night, I got about an hour into the Joe Pass performance DVD NetFlix has. He plays several guitars throughout the many years covered by the DVD, starting with a surprisingly "jazzy" sounding Jazzmaster (that clip's on YouTube and it's been posted on the Sound Lounge before). Then comes his ES 175, then what looks like a D'Angelico or Benedetto, then an Ibanez archtop (Joe Pass model?). The striking thing was that the D'Angelico-type looked like the nicest guitar, and arguably had the richest, woodiest sound -- but it was kinda muddy. There wasn't the clarity and separation of the 175 or the Ibanez. I've been thinking about this idea that maybe laminate tops have advantages even at moderate decibel levels, and this kind of supports that.

    On 335 types, the boutique makers -- and Eastman -- typically brag of having solid, hand-carved tops -- often spruce -- but I'm wondering if this is always an advantage. Would love to hear the thoughts to those here who are more expert than me on the subject.
     
  2. gpro34

    gpro34 Member

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    The only advantage to laminates is they are somewhat more durable to the elements, i.e., humidity, etc. The reason most do it is for cost factor. I've found the laminate guitars will be heavier too. I like a nice solid wood carved top, light and airy, but I've played some nice sounding lamninates also.
     
  3. daphil

    daphil Member

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    You can't really compare because the environment where those performances where recorded are so different and have much to do with what you are hearing. Not the same era, room, recording equipment and the list can go on and on...
     
  4. HammyD

    HammyD Member

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    I wondered about this myself. I recall Bob Benedetto said (to the effect) that if you are playing without a drummer, use a solid top. Drummer, laminate.

    It would be nice if someone with a nice collection could do a real world comparison
     
  5. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    That person would be Mac Daddy 335. The man has owned more jazz boxes than I've ever seen.

    IIRC, he also had the pleasure of spending time with Joe Pass.

    From what I've read laminate tops are less apt to feedback than solid tops.
     
  6. MartinPiana

    MartinPiana Supporting Member

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    That wasn't a D'Angelico or a Benedetto -- it was the guy who game in between, Jimmy D'Aquisto, and the guitar he made for Pass, according to this site on Pass's guitar: http://www.jazzguitar.be/joe_pass_guitar.html

    The Jazzmaster was never his, according to the site. It belonged to Synanon, the rehab joint he was hanging out at, and he didn't have a guitar. The 175 was his next ax, a birthday gift. Then the D'Aquisto. Then came the Ibanez, which the site says wasn't too popular even with Pass.

    Would love to hear MacDaddy sound off here....
     
  7. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

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    I believe and please correct me if I'm wrong. Early D'Angelico New Yorker's, as first conceived of as a showcase guitar, were in fact at least partialy laminate in construction.

    EnJoY ThE MuSiC
    Groovey Records
     
  8. paraedolia

    paraedolia Member

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    Is there a reason for that? Resonance or something?
     
  9. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    Laminate topped guitars seem to be easier to control in live situations. I have a Eastman that sounds great acousticly, but howls way to easily when plugged in. The Sadowsky Jimmy Bruno model has a laminated top, for example.
     
  10. Jim S

    Jim S Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Sadowsky hollow and semi hollows have laminate tops for tonal benefits. Details are somewhere on Roger's site.
    .
     
  11. WahmBoomAh

    WahmBoomAh World Crass Guitarist Silver Supporting Member

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    heresy !!!!!

    Built to cut through a big band without an amp !!!
     
  12. george4908

    george4908 Member

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    Not heresy at all. D'Angelico built many guitars with laminate bodies purchased from a third party supplier. He carved the necks and did the finishing.
     
  13. Bluedawg

    Bluedawg Member

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    IIRC There is a theory that laminated back and sides help with projection, if not with tone. I'd bet the tops were solid spruce, though.

    After hearing Wes Montgomery's deep mellow tone, I was surprised at how bright acoustic archtops can be. As already mentioned, they were designed for cutting through big bands without amps.

    :banana
     
  14. The Pup

    The Pup Supporting Member

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    Reduced feedback and a focused tone...laminates work for me too.

    Although I have craved tops too.

    This one has a mighty acoustic voice and is a wonder when amplified:

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    ...this one is probably the worst $7,600 I've ever spent (although it's pretty):

    [​IMG]

    :eek:
     
  15. WahmBoomAh

    WahmBoomAh World Crass Guitarist Silver Supporting Member

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    Sure ... but wasn`t that in the 50`s ? bodies from Guild ? and weren`t they "Excel`s"

    The post said "early" New Yorkers ..THOSE were full bodied with no cutaway ......and built to cut through a big band ...
     
  16. Bluedawg

    Bluedawg Member

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    I crave carved tops too. ;)

    Have you experimented with different strings or pups on your Le Grand?

    My '93 Le Grand is a great sounding guitar acoustically. The stock pickup is weak, but sounds OK if you get it closer to the strings.

    I have a Ken Armstring waiting to go on mine, so we'll see how that does for the electric sound.

    Acoustically I'd put my Le Grand against the best stuff out there.

    :phones
     
  17. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Supporting Member

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    Generally a laminated archtop will be a little brighter, dryer, and more resistant to feedback, but will not put out acoustic volume like a carved top. Tal Farlow requested an electric, cutaway, archtop with laminated top and back, and the ES-350 was the result.
    No, the early Newyorkers did not have any laminated top, back, or sides. Yes, D'Angelico made some electric gtrs with laminated bodies he would purchase and build necks for. I don't see how a laminated back would aid projection, but some say laminated sides will. Epiphone thought the increased stiffness of laminated sides helped projection, thus, many Epiphones (even high end models) have laminated sides.
     
  18. The Pup

    The Pup Supporting Member

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    Pyramid 13s now...had Thomastik Infeld 12s and 13s. The Bridge sets perfectly...the guitar acoustically is an absolute dog...wolf...wolf. :mad:

    I recently re-fretted a '60s Super 400 (kept the nibs too) and it had it...my other guitar has it (big time)...the LeGrande (not all...just mine) doesn't.
     
  19. WahmBoomAh

    WahmBoomAh World Crass Guitarist Silver Supporting Member

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    that`s why god gave us ebay
     
  20. rongtr

    rongtr Member

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    That's the reason- my former guitar teacher knew Herb Ellis, and he gave him the same answer years ago.
     

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