Lower Priced Archtops


I'm looking for an archtop acoustic in the $1200-$1500 range, with a floating pickup. The D'Angelico EXL-1 is one I see a lot. I haven't played one but spec-wise it checks a lot of boxes. What else should I look at? The primary purpose is rhythm guitar in a swing band. It's going to be run through an amp.


Silver Supporting Member
If you can get somewhere you can actually play them, I'd consider looking at an older instrument. When I was on the hunt for a great archtop I had a weekend in Seattle and tried twenty or so old archtops, from cheap and cheerful Silvertone up to 30s and 40s Gibsons, and settled on a '45 Epiphone Blackstone for less than a grand. The other really outstanding guitar was a Gibson made budget brand guitar that wasn't Kalamzoo but something along the same lines (might have been Recording King, but it's a decade ago now) that was about $1500.

They're very bit and miss, these earlier guitars, and I wouldn't buy one blind but the good ones can be really special. I've yet to play anything even up to Eastman level that comes close to my Blackstone acoustically.

That said, I've played quite a few of the cheaper Eastmans and they're excellent for the money if you don't fancy going old. There's so cool Japenese stuff out there as well - probably the best modern archtop I've played was a D'Aquisto Solo (I think Aria made them) and Gretsch made some lovely Synchromatic archtops in the MiJ series.

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