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  #1  
Old 10-15-2016, 08:24 PM
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TBman TBman is offline
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Default So I'm looking and wondering

What's the level of quality for those arch tops that range $500- $1k at GC? Brands same as flat tops? If its "amped" what is the bottom line regarding all solid wood vs laminate? What do you look for ... Why get one $800 vs another $800 arch top?

The Master used one. I probably should get one eventually...


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Old 10-15-2016, 09:44 PM
Hot Vibrato Hot Vibrato is offline
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Archtops that have magnetic pickups mounted to the top are already compromised from an acoustical standpoint. Therefore I wouldn't worry much about a carved top vs. laminated, unless you want it to sound good acoustically, in which case of course a carved top with a floating pickup is ideal. Less expensive laminated acoustic archtops typically don't sound very good. It may not meet your budget, but Eastman is probably your least expensive option if you want an archtop that sounds nice acoustically. But for a good plugged in tone, the Gretsch guitars are possibly your best bet. I've been impressed with the look and sound of their budget archtops.

It should be noted that generally the more responsive an archtop is acoustically, the more feedback prone it will be plugged in. A delicate, carved instrument will howl at moderately loud volume levels. A laminated archtop with surface mounted pickups would be more suitable if you play loud, and if you really plan on waking the neighbors, a semi-hollowbody archtop would be the most feedback resistant choice (and the least "archtop-sounding" choice as well).
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Old 10-16-2016, 12:11 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
Archtops that have magnetic pickups mounted to the top are already compromised from an acoustical standpoint.
A mag pu suspended from the elevated fretboard does not compromise the acoustic tone. Now if someone has gouged out a hole in the soundboard that's a different story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
Eastman is probably your least expensive option if you want an archtop that sounds nice acoustically. But for a good plugged in tone, the Gretsch guitars are possibly your best bet. I've been impressed with the look and sound of their budget archtops.
I agree on the Eastman archtops. Their pu equipped guitars are definitely not compromised acoustically, btw. I've found no tone I liked from the new Gretsch's I've played thus far, but they are several hundred $$ less than the Eastman's.
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Old 10-16-2016, 09:02 AM
Mr. Scott Mr. Scott is offline
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Hot Vibrato has summed it up very nicely for you regarding carved top and laminate guitars. If you want to go the electric way then a laminated guitar will be good from the feedback point of view, but they are not so clever when played acoustically. Obviously you can play them acoustically but they lack the tone and volume of a carved top instrument.
The Gibson ES175 is the achetypical laminated electric jazz box, but even second hand is out of your range of prices. Eastman may come to your rescue here with their AR371CE model which is a single pickup variant of a 175. The AR372 has two pickups and perhaps second-hand would fall into budget for you. I think a carved top guitar, even from Eastman, will be outside what you want to pay.
Incidentally, I have an Eastman AR371CE and find it great for me, a beginner at jazz guitar.
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Old 10-16-2016, 09:51 AM
Hot Vibrato Hot Vibrato is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
A mag pu suspended from the elevated fretboard does not compromise the acoustic tone.
Yeah. I mentioned that in the next sentence in my post:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
...Therefore I wouldn't worry much about a carved top vs. laminated, unless you want it to sound good acoustically, in which case of course a carved top with a floating pickup is ideal.
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Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
I've found no tone I liked from the new Gretsch's I've played thus far
I've never owned one, but they seem like pretty solid guitars to me.

I had forgotten that Eastman makes an excellent ES-175 copy, which would maybe be a better choice for a jazz player - that or Epiphone's ES-175, which is pretty darn nice too.

Last edited by Hot Vibrato; 10-16-2016 at 09:58 AM.
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Old 10-16-2016, 10:17 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
...for a good plugged in tone, the Gretsch guitars are possibly your best bet. I've been impressed with the look and sound of their budget archtops...
I've been a Gretsch aficionado since I started playing in 1962 (my grandparents lived two blocks from the old 60 Broadway factory), an owner since early 1964, and I've played every one I could get my hands on over the last half-century, so I speak from a lifetime of experience here; simply put, you're not going to find comparable fit/finish/QC for anywhere near the price - I bought a 5622T semi-hollow back in May, and it's every bit the equal (and in some cases the superior) of not only the MIJ Professional Series, but also the honest-to-Chet Brooklyn originals. I will say right up front that "That Great Gretsch Sound" is not for everybody - if you're looking for that thick, smoky ES-175/L-5CES humbucker-jazzbox tone that most people associate with the term "jazz guitar" you're not going to get it; however, if your taste runs more to string-to-string definition, single-note clarity, and chording that cuts through an arrangement without the need for overpowering volume, you won't find anything better - and the under $1K price just sweetens the deal...
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Old 10-19-2016, 12:27 PM
StuartDay StuartDay is offline
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my 2 cents

if you are primarily playing through an amp I would go with a laminate top and inset pickup. The acoustic degradation you will find with an inset pickup is not going to matter in this price point as no manufacturer in that market is making truly acoustic archtops which are being individually voiced anyway. Thats not to say you can't find one that will make you happy acoustically... but its really just a probability game in the market you are looking at. out of every thousand guitars a company pumps out there are bound to be some that are nice acoustic instruments. But the process by which a luthier creates a truly acoustic arch top guitar does not fit into the business/manufacturing model of any manufacture listing instruments for less than $3,000.

At the price point you listed you are looking exclusively at mass production instruments being made by lower skilled laborers in countries that have less environmental and labor standards than in westernized countries.

So, my advice is to just spend some time and play as many guitars as you can in person until you find one that suits you. And if you plan on playing amplified most of the time, I'd go with a lam top and back and an inset pickup so that you are sure the guitar will preform in whatever setting you bring it to.
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Old 10-19-2016, 12:55 PM
zombywoof zombywoof is offline
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It is not just a question of laminate top/back or carved top/back. You could also have a solid wood tops and backs that are steamed and bent. These have the distinct advantage of cutting cost but are also not graduated and tuned like a good carved top plate.
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Old 10-20-2016, 06:48 PM
Spook Spook is offline
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If you buy direct from Yunzhi Guitars or Mr. Wu guitars in China you can get an outstanding solid wood, hand carved archtop for around $1000. IMHO, they are better than the excellent Eastman guitars in terms of nitro finish and they are not quite so bright sounding generally. Eastman certainly has better hardware. Also, with Yunzhi and Mr. Wu you can specify things like nut width, inlays, binding, et al. which you can't do on an Eastman.

Though I have not played one, if you buy an $800 big box store laminate archtop, you are unlikely to get a guitar that will function well as an acoustic instrument. It will probably also have other issues.
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Old 10-29-2016, 06:16 AM
wildeman wildeman is offline
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Ibanez makes some nice affordable electric hollow body's as well, they are a bit less money than the Electromatic Gretshes.
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Old 11-25-2016, 01:05 AM
M Hayden M Hayden is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildeman View Post
Ibanez makes some nice affordable electric hollow body's as well, they are a bit less money than the Electromatic Gretshes.
Bingo. The archtops Ibanez makes with one pickup in the neck position are ideal - they force the player to focus on technique. And they sound surprisingly good - AFJ81 and AFJ91 are great.
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