Semi Grail Quest - thornton, ribbecke, sadowsky ....

edhamgtr

Member
Messages
404
Been on a lifelong semi quest (going on nearly 30 years now).

It's driven by the sound of in my head that is closer to an arch top than a 335. That land in the middle.
Sustain and feedback resistance of a great 335 - but more acoustic zing ala an L-5
make sense?

Currently I have a few that are all variations on this goal and each is a wonderful instrument. Each also has a unique take on the center block.

I'm always open to input from the brain trust here at TGP. I'll post my 2 cents if anyone is interested.

Here is a pic of the current roster (my '68 335, that I've had since I was a kid, is not in the pic)

from right to left -
'63 50th anniversery reissue, CP Thornton Improv, Sadowsky Semi, Ribbecke, Suhr archtop semi.

 

journo

Member
Messages
7,037
I've been at that quest too. Not for that long but at least 20 years. But I may finally be where I want to be with my Collings I-35LC. Wonderful guitar!

Cheers,

Mats N
 

Baemer

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,048
that improv looks quite tasty there. Congrats on a marvelous stable!
 

edhamgtr

Member
Messages
404
Mats, I had an I-35 deluxe for a minute. Super great guitar. Been meaning to play an LC but haven't run into one. Gotta hook that up!

Baemer - the improv is pretty stunning. Very acoustic sounding as the top only touches the center block at the bridge and tailpiece posts. So the solid carved top gets to more freely do its thing but it sustains like a great old 335.

The Sadowsky is very interesting. I think the hollowed out spruce center block is pretty genius. More acoustic sounding than my 335's.

The Ribbecke semi (its a variation of their electric model) has a very small solid block of braz underneath the bridge/tailpiece. Very resonant. Top is an incredible solid spruce and is actually flamey. Its a smaller box so not as much acoustic volume but a brilliant instrument nonetheless.

Each is in the ballpark of becoming 'my voice' for the rest of my time doing this music thing for a living.
 
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TDJMB

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,603
Have you considered one of the Ribbecke thinline models or the 15CC? I've got the chambered electric and had a 15CC. The 15CC is fantastic but you may want the tone you can get from a larger body.
 

edhamgtr

Member
Messages
404
Their thinline is pretty sweet. Wondering about the upper fret access as the cutaway doesn't look quite deep enough.

how was the feedback rejection on the 15cc??
 

TDJMB

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,603
I forgot to suggest my Mario Beauregard that's for sale on the Dream Guitars site.
As for 15CC feedback, I never had a problem but I don't play that loud.
 

kingsleyd

Frikkin genyus
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
8,085
Something with a trapeze tailpiece would give more archtopy-ness and acoustic zing.
Matt Artinger excels at this type of thing. He has some creative ideas about the center block thing, he does beautiful carved tops (and backs), and his guitars definitely have that zingy hollow-guitar sound in a package that looks and behaves like a semi.
 

NeuroLogic

Member
Messages
1,380
kd is right, the semi-hollow on the right has the 335 center block and is by far the best 335 style guitar I've played including several ideal vintage examples. The coil tap is also very effective.





 

TDJMB

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,603
Trevordog: I got the Beauregard in a trade with another TGPr. I think it had 13s on it. Dream Guitars does a setup when they put guitars up for sale so I don't know what it has on it at the moment. It's a fantastic guitar and extremely comfortable to play but I finally came to the realization it wasn't the guitar for me.
 

NeuroLogic

Member
Messages
1,380
"It's driven by the sound of in my head that is closer to an arch top than a 335. That land in the middle. Sustain and feedback resistance of a great 335 - but more acoustic zing ala an L-5 make sense?"

The above deeper hollowbody Artinger fits this to a T. His slimmer Standard & Florentine full hollowbodies will as well.
 

edhamgtr

Member
Messages
404
I've been talking to Matt on and off for awhile.
What's with all these genius builders also being super great cats?
Matt Artinger, Chuck Thornton, Tom Ribbecke, Roger Sadowsky, John Suhr ... (insert your fav builder here!) . I really feel like we are in a golden age of luthiers.
There are some younger builders that I'm becoming a fan of also.

Neruologic - whats the model names for each of those guitars. I didn't catch that their was a difference in depths like that.

Thanks gents for the conversation. super cool hang.
 

meanmud

Member
Messages
695
to add Ron Thorn as a SUPER Cool and Nice chap!!

Click down a few threads to see what he has brought to the 335-type table!!
 

dotmkr

Member
Messages
496
Nice fiddle collection.
I think if I was going to take on building a guitar for you I would start with a large body at least 16 inches lower about, and at least 2.25 inches in depth. That will give me the air volume for the support of your
fundamental tones.
For feedback resistance I would use laminated construction for the back top and sides. I think I would make it similar in construction to a 335 with the following variation. The center block would be made from Spruce or Cedar and there would be no bracing on the back. The center block would only be about half the thickness of the body.





Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Ken
 

nealtex

Member
Messages
20
I’m strongly considering purchasing a Thornton Improv. Had a chance to play one for a few hours about a week ago and am getting ready to take a second look. I’m always reluctant to comment on TGP as it seems to me very hard for anyone to be “objective” given three things:

1. Ears are analog, so we can’t really know if two sets hear the same thing
2. Written expression of what one hears is also an art, so what one even expresses is subjective
3. Of course, no two instruments are exactly the same, so comparison is even more challenging (not even wine suffers this one as much)….

Nonetheless, I found this thread useful, and thought I would share my “objective” findings of the Improv:

• Fit, finish, workmanship: Gorgeous, flawless. The burst is stunning.
• Playability: 100% easy to play and very responsive to the touch. The neck profile is very much to my personal liking. The back carve and neck pocket make it instantly comfortable. Fretboard radius is perfect, fret job immaculate.
• Tone. This is where it really excels. I measured sustain at about two hours ☺. Definitely has that open, airy quality that you can only get from a hollow body. But it is not thin, or shallow. The “woody" sound is fully present. It is VERY articulate. I would say maybe the most striking thing of all for me is the clarity of note separation, yet with sweet overtones. Pots offer really nice gradations of tone coloration.

The thing I am trying to think through is separation from my Les Paul. I know most would say there is no way they can be compared – night and day. They are probably right. But I’m doing it anyway. Both are set neck with Wolfetone humbuckers, so the “base tone" is somewhat similar - at least to my ears. When I A/B them to inspect for “sound deltas", clearly the Improv is open, airy and easily more articulate and even across the notes when chording. The LP is more mid-range centric, "thicker", and even a little “muddy” by comparison. That said, my LP is particularly sweet, very bell like - even piano like in the mid and upper registers on single notes and triads, and woody - even for a solid body - much more so than others I have heard - not that I’m an LP expert. I’ve only owned two – not counting an exceptional Terry McInturff Carolina Custom. It has a sweet attack and note trail that makes it pretty jazzy when you set the pots right. So if I put the two guitars on a Venn diagram, there is a fair amount of overlap - probably owing mostly to the pickups. The differences are there - as described - but similarities exist nonetheless.

So where does that leave me? Well, it’s difficult. This is where the “business” side of me comes in. If I did not have a great LP, I would buy this Improv in a heartbeat. And, if I were wealthy and could be a collector, I would buy it in a heartbeat - even given my LP. Alas...

Yet, the Improv leaves a very strong impression. I can't dismiss it. So I’ve stepped away for a few days to clear my head (sort of).

One thing I will say is Chuck has been very gracious and kind to me with his time. I did not know him at all until a couple of weeks ago, but I feel like I’ve known him a long time now. I value that type of exchange. That alone makes me want to own a CP Thornton. I've read that a lot about him, but experienced it genuinely myself - so wanted to chime in on that. I’ll see what my ears tell me in a few more days ☺
 

edhamgtr

Member
Messages
404
Gang, thanks for the input. You guys made this a very cool thread.
Having builders like Chris and Ken chime in is super cool.

Nealtex - Totally get and agree with your assessment of the Improv. You did a better job than I could of putting its qualities into words. (maybe I should have gone to english class in high school ...... uh ..... nah ...)
Its a very special guitar built by one of the best cats I've ever dealt with.
Also totally get that dollars matter and its smart to be sure about big purchases. Smart of you to take a minute to suss it all out.
 

GasMask

Member
Messages
3,419
• Fit, finish, workmanship: Gorgeous, flawless. The burst is stunning.
Truth. I don't say this lightly, but the workmanship on my Improv is flawless, and I've said it before. It's remarkable craftsmanship. Certainly no guitar is perfect for everyone, but I can guarantee that a Thornton will be delivered on time, with exceptional execution, and Chuck will be wonderful to work with.
 

NeuroLogic

Member
Messages
1,380
I've been talking to Matt on and off for awhile.
What's with all these genius builders also being super great cats?
Matt Artinger, Chuck Thornton, Tom Ribbecke, Roger Sadowsky, John Suhr ... (insert your fav builder here!) . I really feel like we are in a golden age of luthiers.
There are some younger builders that I'm becoming a fan of also.

"Neruologic - whats the model names for each of those guitars. I didn't catch that their was a difference in depths like that."

The thicker one is one of two-off Florentine Hollows that are 2 & 5/8" thick. The other choice is a Standard Hollow or Florentine Hollow that are 1 & 5/8" thick. These have bent sides and are full hollowbodies with a bridge platform post inside. Any of these gutars will fit exactly what you are looking for and are quite similar sound wise.

The 335 version is a Semi Hollow with an interior center block. The body is constructed with a hollowed out single piece of mahogany and is thinner. The sound is better than a vintage 335; use a vintage Russian capicator.

Note, the size of the sound holes w/ Artingers are extremely important and the effect is more pronounced than I have seen on any other guitar. The larger the sound hole the more "acoustic" tone will be.

The coil tap on all is great with no loss of humbucker tone.
Check out the Models tab on his web site.:)
 
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