Workingman's Archtop???

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by jokerjkny, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    hey all,

    i'm interested in picking up an archtop, but one that can take a beating, and where i wont have to invest in a $8k guitar.

    so far, i'm close to pulling the trigger on a Jim Hall model Sadowsky archtop, but what else is out there?
     
  2. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    Call Saul Koll. For not a hell of a lot more, you can have a handmade carved archtop made to your specs. And Saul's an absolute peach to deal with.

    If that doesn't work for you, try www.archtop.com - they sell/consign stuff, some in your range.
     
  3. mccreadyisgod

    mccreadyisgod Member

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    Honestly, I was blown away by the quality, tone, worksmanship, and overall playability of the Ibanez ArtCore line. They're not Gibson ES-quality, but they're amazingly responsive, good pickups and electronics, the hardware is great, and the setup out of the box is fairly playable. With a little tweaking and perhaps a bit of work, it could be what you're looking for. For the price, they're unbeatable.
     
  4. HammyD

    HammyD Member

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    On a recent trip to NYC I stopped by Guitar Center in Manhattan (yes, I know Guitar center.) But it allowed me to play a number of vintage guitars. I really thought I wanted another 60's 335 but after playing the 50's 175's with p-90's I was amazed at the vibe and the sound.

    I played this one and loved it....

    http://cgi.ebay.com/VINTAGE-1951-GI...368565556QQcategoryZ38086QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    I would recommend going to any of the excellent music stores on the New York Metropolitan area and spending a day playing a bunch of them. I found store on Gbase (whose name escapes me at the moment) that have over 100 at the one location!!!

    The Jim Hall model sounds wonderful, but there are a lotta fish in the ocean!

    And thanks for posting the info on Jim Hall Radio etc!!!
     
  5. Lex Luthier

    Lex Luthier Member

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    Have you checked out the Eastmans? Seriously nice guitars for the dough. I have a friend who has dealt with all the high end stuff like Benedettos, vintage D'Angelicos & D'Aquistos, vintage Gibsons, etc, and he loves the Eastmans.
     
  6. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    I don't know what you want to spend but a guitar that would be a good alternative is the thin PRS hollowbody. Not only is this a great guitar but you will be able to use it for more then just "pipe smoking" jazz.

    Big hollowbodies are nice but to me there are too many downsides, i.e. feedback, and it irritates my shoulder becase of the size of the guitar.
     
  7. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Supporting Member

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    I played archtops for years and finally gave up because of the extra hassle, but if you're really certain that's what you want, then go through a check list of priorities before you pull the trigger on anything.

    First, what's more important to you: good acoustic tone or good electric tone? If the acoustic tone is the priority, then stick with a solid top and floating pickups. If electric tone is more important, then top mounted pickups and a laminated top is probably a better idea. A laminated top is also going to have much better feedback resistance (although it's likely to be a problem with both).

    Probably second on my list of priorities would be what size body are you comfortable with. Archtops come in a lof of sizes and not exeryone is comfortable playing either a full size width or depth. Go play a few ranging from full depth but smaller body like an Ibanez Benson, a full size but thinner body, a full depth but mid-sized body with smaller lower bout to a true full zsize depth and width. Make sure you know what your comfort parameters are before you pull the trigger. It can be really fatiguing playing an archtop that's too big for you, but smaller bodies usually come with a tone trade-off.

    The third priority would be neck size and shape. There are a lot of different approaches to archtop necks and I find some of them to be prohibitively small with shapes that don't work well for me.

    Once I had gone through that check list (and I'm sure other's would add a few more questions), I would look at which guitars fit my answers best and make my choice from that shortened list. (Actually, I would just choose one of our guitars, but that's a different matter all together. :) )
     
  8. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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  9. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    Archtop.com usually has a bunch of great pieces, including many between $1500 and $3k...
     
  10. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    +1 on Eastman. I found one of the large models used for well under $1500. The acoustic tone is excellent. I can see that it might be a handful controlling the electrified sound, but that was not my priority. Solid carved top,back and sides at that price point is hard to beat.
     
  11. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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    If you're looking at the Jim Hall model, also check out the Benedetto Bravo. It's around the same street price (mid-3000s) and made in the USA. I have a Bravo and a PRS Hollowbody spruce; the Benedetto has much more of a traditional "acoustic archtop" tone, although the PRS sounds fine (that's the one I bring when there are horns involved, as it's more amenable to playing pretty loud) when amplified.

    Another relative bargain is Gibson's L-4CES. Those can be had used for $2500 or so.

    Hard to argue with early-to-mid 50s ES-175s, though.
     
  12. Bluedawg

    Bluedawg Member

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    Ibanez does some good stuff for less cash. The new D'Angelicos can be nice as well.

    My favorite "working man" archtops with good bang for the buck are the Heritage Sweet 16 and the Gibson L4-CES. You'll have to be happy with ebony or wine red to get the L4 at a decent price. The Sweet 16 is standard with a floating pickup, but can be had with a top mounted pickup.

    I'm playing my Sweet 16 with a Swing band at the moment. It is doing a good job as far as I'm concerned. I have an L4, but it is more suited for Wes flavored stuff than Freddie Green style swing rythym.

    But then I'm a sucker for most any thing with an arched solid spruce top. Nothing wrong with a good laminated top, though.

    If you have the cash and the patience for a hand built guitar like Sadowsky's Jim Hall then by all means go for it.

    After I do my end of month bills this week, I will probably send a check off to Campellone to reserve a guitar with him. His prices are still sane, but his waiting list is 2 years.

    http://www.mcampellone.com/

    Good Luck

    :cool:
     
  13. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    yup, been there, and wasnt really digging the offerings. even went to see Dan @ Chelsea G's, and wasnt happy with the fact that many of the specimens did need alot of TLC. thus my search is sorta limited to newer brands.

    and np, on the JH radio. ;) "fan" is too simple a word for me. :p

    WOW,

    just what i was looking for. :cool: the longer scale does sort of concern me, but might actually make for a better more stouter tone. i'll definitely see if i can try that one.
     
  14. JPERRYROCKS

    JPERRYROCKS Member

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    I was going to mention campellone as well. His standard model has all solid woods & full binding for $3750. One of the most reasonable prices I've seen.

    http://www.campelloneguitars.com/Models/standard.htm
     
  15. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    I have a Heritage 575 Custom that I think of as a poor-man's Jim Hall model. I bought it used for under $2K. Solid spruce top, maple back/sides, mahogany neck, ebony fingerboard. I replaced the pickup with a Seth Lover and added a tone pot to the pickguard. This guitar was probably a custom order, as it deviates quite a bit from the standard 575 model.

    Archtops have lots of disadvantages, as Jim pointed out. If they have a decent acoustic tone, then they seem to feedback easily. They don't sustain particularly well, or at least not evenly across all notes. They also feel more delicate than other guitars.

    Here is mine prior to the pickup swap:

    [​IMG]

    Here she is post pickup swap, posing with her sister:

    [​IMG]

    Bryan
     
  16. HammyD

    HammyD Member

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    I could be a happy man if I owned those two beauts!:D
     
  17. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    They are both great guitars and I'm proud to own them. I spend more time with the 535 Classic, but sometimes the 575 is just perfect for what I'm looking for, despite the limitations of the hollow design. I like to record both the amp and the guitar so that I can blend the sounds for a tone that is more like what the player hears.

    I also have a guitar on order with Jim Soloway that I'm really looking forward to. I don't see that one as replacing the archtop, at least not tonally. To my ear the Soloways sound more like great acoustics (solid lows, sparkling highs) than the traditional archtop sound (punchy, midrangey, lacking sustain). Different guitars for different sounds, though the Soloways do sound great for playing jazz.

    The Soloways are also much more practical for amplifying. Jim and I talked about how ridiculous it is to see a player with an $8K archtop that has f-hole plugs or is stuffed full of junk to kill feedback. At that point it really doesn't make sense to be playing the $8K guitar.

    Bryan
     
  18. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    you guys soooooooo rawk. :cool:

    awesome options!!! the camp and the heritages are definitely ones to watch out for. many thx.
     
  19. hawkeyeinexile

    hawkeyeinexile Silver Supporting Member

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    heard recently from knowledgeable source: Heritage is coming out with a new Sweet 16: non-cutaway + Charlie Christian pickup :eek:, to be shown @ NAMM?

    :cool:
     
  20. Tomo

    Tomo Member

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    Ryo guitars in Japan. all hand made, great quality...
    L5 type jazz guitar... around less than $4000

    http://www4.ocn.ne.jp/~sidakobo/aco.htm

    I love his archtop guitar, big sound~!


    Tomo
     

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