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  #1  
Old 12-16-2016, 04:42 PM
Guitartanzon Guitartanzon is offline
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Default what is the best entry level Eastman Archtop?

If I wanted to add an Eastman Archtop with good acoustic unplugged sound
can a get something used in nice shape for 500-600 bucks?

what models do you recommend?
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  #2  
Old 12-16-2016, 05:36 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Probably not, but if you want something in an all-carved instrument you might be able to score a used Loar LH-600 for $600-700; FYI the necks are period-accurate - 1-3/4" thick V-shape - so take that into consideration. If you're OK with laminated construction, for a few more bucks these seem to come highly recommended:

http://www.soundpure.com/p/eastman-a...11145312/16113
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Old 12-18-2016, 03:22 PM
Cepheus Cepheus is offline
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Default Check out the new Epiphone Masterbilt collection

Hi,

Checkout the new this summer Epiphone Masterbilt Century Collection. These are reissues of guitars from the 20's or 30's. It has a solid spruce top. I bought the DeLuxe model and liked it a lot better then the Loar or Godin. I also played some used that were a lot more expensive and did not sound as good.

Here is a review: http://www.harmonycentral.com/expert...ssic?preview=1

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ETD1VSNH

Cheers, C
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Old 12-18-2016, 03:29 PM
Cepheus Cepheus is offline
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Default Wrong link sorry

This is the F hole Masterbilt archtop: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ETD2VSNH

Picked the one with a center hole. BTW I only play unplugged, but this does come with an acoustic pickup under the floating bridge pickup

Last edited by Cepheus; 12-18-2016 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 12-18-2016, 05:38 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Tried the entire family - Olympic, Zenith, and Deluxe - at Sam Ash last week. Perhaps it's the fact that I've been acquainted with the New York originals all my life, played more than my share over the last 54 years, and owned a '46 Blackstone (cited in the Fisch & Fred book, BTW), but to say the least I was more than a bit disappointed in the overall package; frankly, it's far more than just the question of building to a price - the current Epiphone company has proven capable of incorporating period-appropriate features into their product line - but if you're looking for tone first and foremost IMO you'd be far better-served with one of the competitive Loar models rather than the Deluxe/Zenith, and my Godin 5th Avenue (all-laminated, BTW) just plain eats the similarly-priced Olympic for breakfast, period. I'm well aware that everybody has their own taste, but objectively speaking you might not find the necks - a heavy rounded "Louisville Slugger" shape intended to mimic a generic '30s profile, but which in fact never appeared on any period Epi (some of the '37-39 instruments boasted 1-9/16" necks - a specification that would not see use for another quarter-century - as regular production) - to your liking; in addition, the acoustic projection is far from what it should be for this type of instrument - the recently-discontinued 17" Gretsch Synchromatic 400 makes the Deluxe sound/look like a toy - so take that into consideration as well if you're going to be playing primarily unplugged...
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Old 12-18-2016, 10:47 PM
Cepheus Cepheus is offline
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Default Would love some archtop tips

I am new to the forum so if this should be a new post please tell me. I thought the originator may like this subject though. I am a flat top player and have some beauties. My favorite is a 90's Larrivee that is amazing. (over a old Martin and Gibby)

A locally owned place sadly went out of business a month ago and I thought it would be fun to try an acoustic Archtop. I played every Archtop they had which admittedly was not that many (10). This is really a different animal and of the Godin, Ephiphone and Loar this really did sound the best to me. I will say they had four De Luxe's and I would not have picked any of the other De Luxe Epi's over the Godin. I also played the Zenith and Olympic which was disappointing - was hoping for a David Rawlings Olympic sound there . Perhaps I got a good one. Epiphone is not exactly what I think of when picking a quality guitar although I also have heard they have greatly improved quality wise and the guitar I bought was perfectly constructed, even a bone nut. I should also say a going out of business sale meant the De Luxe was $600 instead of the typical $899 and yes that may make a difference.

I am really enjoying the guitar and the new style it requires. Any suggestions for a folk/bluegrass/string band guy that is pretty good on flat top. I am reading everything I can find and see only playing a few chord strings and lots of picking single notes are best. It really works! I highly recommend getting one.

I would say play as many as you can and pick what sound best. I wish I would have found this place earlier.

While I don't expect I will be switching out my Larrivee I am really having fun with it. My luck is I will fall in love and need one of your high $$$$ ones Thanks for the comments and forgive me if this should have been a new thread.

Cheers, C
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Old 12-19-2016, 08:33 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Since you asked, Cepheus, some thoughts from a lifelong archtop player:
  • If you haven't done so already, set up your guitar with the heaviest strings you can reasonably handle - certainly nothing lighter than 13-56. FYI an archtop is designed to produce sound with a "piston" motion, as opposed to the "flex" of a pin-bridge flattop guitar, and the more string mass/more tension applied the harder the top will be driven - hence more volume/tone; I've used 14-60 PB's on the last three acoustic archtops I've owned - a '46 Epiphone Blackstone, a very early white-label '47 L-7, and my current Godin 5th Avenue - and while I wouldn't recommend them to everybody, it's interesting to note that when the Epi and Gibson were new rhythm players routinely strung their guitars with 15-62/15-64 sets (often with a wound B string) in order to be heard unamplified over a 20-piece horn section...
  • You've already recognized that archtops require a different technique to bring out their best - in the words of the old Big Band players, "coax the velvet out" - and that's half the battle right there. Bear in mind that Lloyd Loar's original L-5 was intended as the ultimate realization of Orville Gibson's belief in the superiority of violin-style construction, and if you're a bluegrass/string band guy you'll probably learn more about tone production by watching your fiddler play a ballad - especially if he/she has some classical and/or Irish background - than any ten guys hammering away on a D-28. As it was taught to me, the trick to getting that thick, rich, creamy "tone you can eat with a spoon" that represents the Holy Grail for most acoustic archtop players is to think "stroke" rather than "strum" on chords, "glide" rather than "pick" on single-note lines - as much a mental as a physical/technical discipline, BTW - and learn to work the entire neck without the use of a capo; FWIW archtop guitars were intended as virtuoso instruments in their day - simply put, can the open-position "cowboy chords" and get back to some of those position studies in flat/sharp keys - which leads me to:
  • Most contemporary players are unaware that there was an entire school of "classical archtop" guitar that flourished from about 1925-1940, and upon which Mel Bay based his method; when I was learning in the early-60's the method books bore a statement that they were in fact designed and intended to place the plectrum-style guitar "in the same class as the violin, piano, and other 'legitimate' instruments" (and if you've never hung around in certain so-called "serious" music circles it's difficult to imagine the pejorative attitude directed toward the guitar, even in its "classical" incarnation). FYI, in its original form the classical archtop movement drew from the earlier American school of classical guitar exemplified by the likes of William Foden, Vahdah Olcott-Bickford, et al. (rather than that of Segovia and his Spanish contemporaries, which would become the accepted concert style and instrument), as well as the parlor, "light classical," and vaudeville music of late-19th/early 20th century America - some of which may already be in your string-band repertoire. In addition to transcriptions of well-known classical works, a number of guitarists of the day produced original compositions in a late-Romantic style - music which, while largely out of fashion today, still retains its technical and artistic merit eighty or more years later. As I stated above, the original L-5 archtop guitar was in fact envisioned as a "classical" instrument both tonally and visually, intended as a part of the mandolin orchestras of the late vaudeville era and designed for hall-filling acoustic projection in the days before electronic amplification; were it not for Segovia's sensational American debut in 1928, the plectrum-style archtop guitar - with its violin-family looks and construction - may well have become the accepted "classical" guitar. BTW there are a number of recordings of these period pieces on YouTube, either in the original (by the likes of Harry Volpe, Al Hendrickson, et al.) or re-recorded by contemporary revivalists; in addition, you might also want to check out some of the work of Eddie Lang (both solo and with Joe Venuti on violin), Carl Kress and Dick McDonough, and George Van Eps. Finally, there's an excellent collection published by Mel Bay, entitled Masters of the Plectrum Guitar (available from Amazon TMK), that should keep you busy for a while - and give you a taste of what might have been...
Hope this helps...
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Old 12-19-2016, 10:13 AM
Cepheus Cepheus is offline
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Wow, Thank you. Chord and chord progressions are mostly my current style, and I often capo so yes, lots to learn. So I just need more time. I have noticed playing a few key strings of a chord then the progression to the next is pretty unforgiving compared to my flat tops. Mistakes are heard, but it really does sound amazing. I will check out the book, but am thinking I also need an instruction book and see there are lots. Any recommendations?

Regards, C
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Old 12-19-2016, 11:18 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Since you're presently focusing on chord progressions/voicings (a good way to get your feet wet when it comes to archtop IMO) I'd recommend the Mel Bay Rhythm Guitar Chord System for starters; first published in 1947 as the Orchestral Guitar Chord System (I learned from this edition in the early-60's), this has been the compers' handbook for the last seventy years and has been continuously in print with no changes other than title. Good news is that if your note reading's a little weak at this point it consists exclusively of diagrams and '40s-style chart notation; work with a decent theory book or two and it'll help you get a handle on some of the more esoteric points of voice leading, chord construction, alternative progressions, etc. more easily IMO than if the former were used in isolation - and if you're disposed to original songwriting I wouldn't be without it...
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Old 12-19-2016, 11:25 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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I have owned a Loar 600 and 700, an Eastman AR805 (sadly just traded) and played recent Peerless models.

Last week, a jazz playing pal and I went to investigate the new "archtop" replicas.

The Loars are, indeed loud, but they tend to be poorly made with a problematic neck angle, and unfinished areas under the neck extension.

I don't think that Peerless make any real acoustic archtops ...I may be wrong - never seen one, can't find any such things on their website.

The Epiphones are not really arch tops - as they seem to have mildly arched laminated tops, but they were all eminently playable, and have some sort of hidden electrics (with barn door controls). They are finished in some sort of hard satin.

Eastman, seem to be focusing more on semi-acoustic electrics now but they can and have made outstanding acoustic archtops. I already miss mine. Look for AR8xx and above.
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  #11  
Old 12-19-2016, 02:14 PM
gmr gmr is offline
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I have the new Epiphone Olympic. Not sure how they compare to the originals from the 30s and 40s. But a true comparison would be difficult considering the 80 years of playing and aging that the originals have endured. The new ones are solid topped with laminated back and sides. The arching in the top is not highly pronounced. They do sound arch-toppy but perhaps not in the purest sense. I am thinking they made some design choices to try to appeal to the broader spectrum of players. You can manage a reasonable tone that is reminiscent of the archtop stereotypes. I would compare it closely to the Godin acoustic fifth avenues I have played. The Godin seem more refined aesthetically. Plugged in, it can become a different beast with a big tone from a very small box. Less archtop, but it easily lends itself to a broad range of music that can be made to sound pretty good without having to have the intricate abilities of finesse that the old archtops seem to have required. For a close approximation of an old archtop tone I would lean toward the Loar models. For something fun and different with enough archtop vibe to satisfy an average joe, the Epiphones are quite good. I did not think I would care for the electronics but it sounds better than expected.
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