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  #1  
Old 01-01-2017, 05:03 AM
k_russell k_russell is offline
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Default Archtop for Blues

Say you wanted to use your archtop to play blues. Mainly, you will accompany vocals and play some self orchestrated solos. You may get some help from a bass or harmonica for some tunes. Your amplification should cover a room holding 50 - 100 people.

I am starting with a Guild A-150 Savoy. Guild stocks it with DeArmond 1000 pickup and D'Addarrio chrome flat wound strings.
The only amp that I currently own is a Fender 75 watt Rumbler. I purchased it for bass playing in small rooms and no drummer. It works well for strumming jazz chords, also.

I know that I need some more easily bendable strings, a stronger presence of the trebles, and a little lower action, to suite my playing style and choice of songs.

My experiment begins. I got some gift cards for Christmas.

How would you do it (amp, pickup, strings, etc.)? Using your guitar (or mine).

Or, would you do it? If you say no, why not? - Thanks
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  #2  
Old 01-01-2017, 08:58 AM
Hot Vibrato Hot Vibrato is offline
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Your super clean sounding bass amp is the lamest possible choice for blues. If you're playing blues, you need a tube amp. Something about 30 watts would be ideal for the size of venue you're playing (or even smaller if you're miking it) Change string gauges and the setup on your Guild to achieve the playability you want, and you're set. Good luck!
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  #3  
Old 01-01-2017, 10:30 AM
Spook Spook is offline
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Assuming you want what most view as a mainstream blues sound, a small Fender tube amp. You can also try something like this in front of your current amp: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Actually works pretty well for getting a Fender tube sound out of a clean rig and if you don't like it, you can send it back.

As for me, I like a clean archtop sound for blues. Scooped out mids and as rich and acoustic as the guitar and amp will produce.
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Old 01-01-2017, 11:54 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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If it were me, I'd go raw: small-bodied archtop (16" or less), no pickup/amp/mic - and if you're shoutin' the blues and can't be heard in a 50-100 seat room without amplification you just ain't doin' it right...
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  #5  
Old 01-01-2017, 12:20 PM
jomaynor jomaynor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k_russell View Post
Say you wanted to use your archtop to play blues. Mainly, you will accompany vocals and play some self orchestrated solos. You may get some help from a bass or harmonica for some tunes. Your amplification should cover a room holding 50 - 100 people.

I am starting with a Guild A-150 Savoy. Guild stocks it with DeArmond 1000 pickup and D'Addarrio chrome flat wound strings.
The only amp that I currently own is a Fender 75 watt Rumbler. I purchased it for bass playing in small rooms and no drummer. It works well for strumming jazz chords, also.

I know that I need some more easily bendable strings, a stronger presence of the trebles, and a little lower action, to suite my playing style and choice of songs.

My experiment begins. I got some gift cards for Christmas.

How would you do it (amp, pickup, strings, etc.)? Using your guitar (or mine).

Or, would you do it? If you say no, why not? - Thanks

Sure, have fun with it.

If it were me, I'd use round wound nickel strings. Your bass amp will work, but a small low watt tube amp w/reverb (or a reverb pedal to go with it) will sound much better.
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  #6  
Old 01-01-2017, 05:53 PM
blue blue is offline
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Well, I don't really think you need anything...

Many extremely famous blues guys have used up to 13s at some point, and in terms of living old schoolers, like say Buddy Guy, you'll probably find 11s on a strat scale length.

High action helps with "real" blues, as opposed to blues rock playing. Thinks like hooking a finger under and "snapping" strings (your bass background will help!), and even raking across muted strings will come of better (clearer and louder on the rake) with a higher action.

As to your super clean amp being lame... Nah... You think a travelling blues guy would care if he showed up at a club and all they had was one of those crystal clean Silverface Twins? Those were basically PAs...

Plug in and go! You're set. I've been spending a lot of time on an Epi 175 recently.

Here's some pretty clean blues on a hollow for ya

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  #7  
Old 01-01-2017, 08:48 PM
Hot Vibrato Hot Vibrato is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
If it were me, I'd go raw: small-bodied archtop (16" or less), no pickup/amp/mic - and if you're shoutin' the blues and can't be heard in a 50-100 seat room without amplification you just ain't doin' it right...
I think most venues that feature live music would frown upon an artist showing up with no PA equipment. It doesn't matter how big your lungs are, microphones and speakers can really go a long way to help the crowd hear you.

Furthermore, if you go that route, you're stuck with one sound - the sound of your voice shouting as loud as you can, accompanied by your guitar being bashed on as hard as you can. That sound can be as fatiguing for the listeners as it is for the guy who's devoting every ounce of energy he has just to be heard. Having sound reinforcement frees the artist to achieve whatever dynamics they choose - you can whisper, or you can back off the mic and scream. You can play subtle lines if you want and the crowd will hear it, or you can back off your volume control and chomp chords.

Don't get me wrong - I truly appreciate when I hear a busker 'shouting the blues" and doing it well, or the sound of a guitarist who can make himself heard without amplification. But here's nothing you can do without a PA that you can't do with one. The opposite is certainly not true.


Quote:
Originally Posted by blue View Post
As to your super clean amp being lame... Nah... You think a travelling blues guy would care if he showed up at a club and all they had was one of those crystal clean Silverface Twins? Those were basically PAs...
A silverface twin is a good tube amp and sounds great for blues despite the fact that it's a loud, clean sounding amp. As a blues guitar amp, a bass practice amp would not compare favorably. Plus, you could add a speaker attenuator to a Twin and get some great sounding power tube breakup if that's the sound you're after. That wouldn't work with a solid state bass amp.

That said, a good player can make any rig sound good, so if you can't access a good tube amp, then of course, use the bass amp. But a bass amp is obviously the wrong tool for the job, so if you're a serious musician, you should invest in the proper equipment. In this case the proper equipment is a good tube amp.

Last edited by Hot Vibrato; 01-01-2017 at 09:05 PM.
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  #8  
Old 01-01-2017, 09:01 PM
Hot Vibrato Hot Vibrato is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue View Post
Many extremely famous blues guys have used up to 13s at some point,
I prefer 13's with a wound G on an old archtop for blues. I can get a whole step bend out of the E and B strings if I need to, but really, you don't have to do a lot of string bending to play soulful blues.
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  #9  
Old 01-01-2017, 10:12 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
I think most venues that feature live music would frown upon an artist showing up with no PA equipment. It doesn't matter how big your lungs are, microphones and speakers can really go a long way to help the crowd hear you.

Furthermore, if you go that route, you're stuck with one sound - the sound of your voice shouting as loud as you can, accompanied by your guitar being bashed on as hard as you can. That sound can be as fatiguing for the listeners as it is for the guy who's devoting every ounce of energy he has just to be heard. Having sound reinforcement frees the artist to achieve whatever dynamics they choose - you can whisper, or you can back off the mic and scream. You can play subtle lines if you want and the crowd will hear it, or you can back off your volume control and chomp chords.

Don't get me wrong - I truly appreciate when I hear a busker 'shouting the blues" and doing it well, or the sound of a guitarist who can make himself heard without amplification. But here's nothing you can do without a PA that you can't do with one. The opposite is certainly not true.
Maybe it's just me - you're talking about a room not much larger than a typical suburban basement here - but as a church musician I've played venues as large as 700 seats without amplification and without taxing my physical or artistic resources, and IME when you're playing more roots-oriented forms it lends a period aura that gets lost as soon as you plug in; anybody worth his/her performer's fee should be able to carry a 50-100 seat room with no problem, and if it's a matter of a rude audience - far too prevalent these days, and easily grist for its own thread - that's why them old bluesmen packed a .32 H&R and a straight razor...
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  #10  
Old 01-01-2017, 10:46 PM
jomaynor jomaynor is offline
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Used Fender Super Champ XDs and Super Champ X2s are plentiful. They are versatile, good sounding little amps, and can be had for around $100-$150.

Last edited by jomaynor; 01-02-2017 at 01:42 AM.
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  #11  
Old 01-01-2017, 11:29 PM
ArchtopNYC ArchtopNYC is offline
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You can blues on anything. That said, I think there's probably nothing worse than a floating pickup archtop for playing at any volume. The feedback could easily be an issue playing to 50-100 people.

I'm personally not a fan of solid state, even for clean jazz. Can you mic your amp? Are you going for some dirt in your sound?

I would just mic a small tube amp, but if that's too expensive...

Can't mic: I'd do a Line 6 Spider or maybe try a Line 6 Pod through the bass amp

Can mic: Pignose

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  #12  
Old 01-01-2017, 11:38 PM
M Hayden M Hayden is offline
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A Twin is nice, but a Deluxe Reverb or Princeton Reverb will also work, and be lighter, easier to drive into light clipping, and can be miced into a PA with a 57 or 58. And nickel roundwounds add to the sound.
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  #13  
Old 01-01-2017, 11:49 PM
Hot Vibrato Hot Vibrato is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Maybe it's just me - you're talking about a room not much larger than a typical suburban basement here - but as a church musician I've played venues as large as 700 seats without amplification and without taxing my physical or artistic resources, and IME when you're playing more roots-oriented forms it lends a period aura that gets lost as soon as you plug in; anybody worth his/her performer's fee should be able to carry a 50-100 seat room with no problem, and if it's a matter of a rude audience - far too prevalent these days, and easily grist for its own thread - that's why them old bluesmen packed a .32 H&R and a straight razor...
I get your point, but most crowds aren't as polite as a church crowd. The truth of the matter is, unless you're in a house concert type setting, that the crowd will not keep it down so that the music can be heard. The general public is (generally) loud and obnoxious, and doesn't care about the music. So you wind up getting drowned out by the crowd, even if there are individuals present who would like to hear you. 50-100 people can be pretty darn loud. Add to that the sound of the commotion in the kitchen and beer bottles banging around and whatnot, and you've got a lot of noise to compete with. I've done a few gigs like that, and it's not very fun.

You certainly won't be heard if you're playing string bending blues with single note lines if you're unplugged in a public setting, so if playing unamplified is your bag, chord solos are the only way to actually be heard.

Last edited by Hot Vibrato; 01-02-2017 at 12:11 AM.
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  #14  
Old 01-02-2017, 12:01 AM
Hot Vibrato Hot Vibrato is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M Hayden View Post
A Twin is nice, but a Deluxe Reverb or Princeton Reverb will also work, and be lighter, easier to drive into light clipping, and can be miced into a PA with a 57 or 58. And nickel roundwounds add to the sound.
I wasn't suggesting a Twin - merely defending its validity as a blues guitar amp, compared to a bass amp. A Twin's obviously way better suited for the job. But my choice for a blues gig would be a 2x10 Vibroverb, a '65 Princeton (no reverb) Amp, or a Gibson Skylark GA5-T, depending on the size of the venue. A Deluxe - especially a tweed Deluxe, would also work well but I don't own one. A Twin is way louder than I would personally ever need to be on stage. If the amp I'm using is not loud enough to fill the room, there's always the option of miking the amp.
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Old 01-02-2017, 03:07 PM
blue blue is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
As a blues guitar amp, a bass practice amp would not compare favorably.

That said, a good player can make any rig sound good, so if you can't access a good tube amp, then of course, use the bass amp. But a bass amp is obviously the wrong tool for the job, so if you're a serious musician, you should invest in the proper equipment. In this case the proper equipment is a good tube amp.
I believe you know when you need new gear. And until you know, including your ear being to tell exactly what aspect of your sound you need to change, don't spend the money.

I played through a mini-brute as my favorite blues amp, when my only other options were a Marshall combo and Roland JC-120. It fit what I wanted better than anything else I had. I kept it until I found a Boogie that did exactly what I wanted.

The bass amp will work until it doesn't. And since this seems to be a new "venture", I wouldn't spend a cent.
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