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-   -   Best archtop for acoustic guitarist (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=601768)

thingthatisdone 12-22-2020 11:33 AM

Best archtop for acoustic guitarist
 
I am an acoustic player who's getting into jazz, and after throwing flat wounds on guitaro, I'd like to find something better at acoustic jazz. Don't want to buy an amp, but open to anything with pickups if I change my mind. Any recommendations within 2k?

dc. 12-22-2020 12:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thingthatisdone (Post 6582905)
I am an acoustic player who's getting into jazz, and after throwing flat wounds on guitaro, I'd like to find something better at acoustic jazz. Don't want to buy an amp, but open to anything with pickups if I change my mind. Any recommendations within 2k?

I like Eastman guitars. They are a good value for the money and the necks are nice. If you're more into the acoustic jazz sound, you might want to have an acoustic style pickup installed - that's the direction I'm heading with my Eastman. I just posted a thread re. that subject if you're interested called "Archtop Pickup Options for a Natural Acoustic Tone".

Steve DeRosa 12-22-2020 08:06 PM

https://www.eastmanguitars.com/ar805


https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.ne...jpg?1505414819

Glennwillow 12-24-2020 09:41 AM

I just did a cover of "The Christmas Song" over in the Show & Tell section on an Eastman archtop. I am an acoustic player who wanted a jazz guitar and I am really happy with this guitar for giving me the sound I wanted.

I hope this is helpful! :)

- Glenn

rpd 12-24-2020 11:40 AM

I have a Comins GCS-16, another nice option if you'd like a pickup installed and ready to go. They come in single and double pickup versions (Kent Armstrongs). It's laminated construction but has a strong acoustic tone. They're a little more than 2K new but can be found used for right around there or a bit less.

kentwinterton 12-24-2020 12:33 PM

A few years back GC had a sale on D'angelico Arch tops. If I remember correctly I saved $300 on a $900 guitar. It does everything I need it to do and sounds and plays great. It's a lot of fun.

Tuba Mike 12-25-2020 06:27 AM

In a somewhat related topic: Do any of you put round strings on your archtop? I hate the feel of the flat strings but love the sound of the archtop acoustic guitars. If I were to get an archtop I would want round strings on it.

terryj47 12-25-2020 06:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tuba Mike (Post 6585196)
In a somewhat related topic: Do any of you put round strings on your archtop? I hate the feel of the flat strings but love the sound of the archtop acoustic guitars. If I were to get an archtop I would want round strings on it.

I use D'Addario EJ21s round wound 12-52 with wound third on my Joe Pass Emperor II and D'Angelico EXL.
These are not great acoustic arch tops but both sound great plugged in. Both of these guitars play great with these strings.

MC5C 12-25-2020 08:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tuba Mike (Post 6585196)
In a somewhat related topic: Do any of you put round strings on your archtop? I hate the feel of the flat strings but love the sound of the archtop acoustic guitars. If I were to get an archtop I would want round strings on it.

I use nothing but round wound strings on all of my acoustic archtops. They are all acoustic only, and get round wound bronze acoustic guitar strings. Usually .012 - .052's, but currently .010 - .048's due to a left hand nerve damage issue. I do use round wound nickle steel strings on the two that have a pickup.

I've got two vintage archtops, 1946 Epiphone and 1957 Hofner, that are laminated and they have a good sound, but not the same sound as a hand-carved solid wood archtop. I couldn't afford the kind of guitar I wanted, so I learned how to make them. I can make an exceptional sounding archtop for around $500 in wood and supplies, plus around 300 hours and a fully equipped wood shop.

Steve DeRosa 12-25-2020 11:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tuba Mike (Post 6585196)
In a somewhat related topic: Do any of you put round strings on your archtop? I hate the feel of the flat strings but love the sound of the archtop acoustic guitars. If I were to get an archtop I would want round strings on it.

Although I use flatwounds exclusively on all my electrics, I've never used anything but roundwound strings on an acoustic archtop - flats are great for electric but IME kill off a lot of the acoustic response. If you have a carved archtop with a suspended pickup (or a laminated single-pickup electric like the postwar 17" Gibson ES-150, that can function as a dual-purpose instrument) you might want to consider a set of Martin Retro Monels: a true acoustic string, they were the go-to for the first generation of electric players until LaBella developed flatwounds around 1940, and if you're looking for some authentic prewar acoustic tonal mojo along with electric capability (most modern players don't realize monel has magnetic properties) these would be a good choice...

dc. 12-25-2020 01:31 PM

On the subject of strings, I've been trying all sorts on my fully hollow archtop recently. Since I use both a magnetic pickup and a microphone to amplify this guitar, I was searching for great tone with minimal finger squeak, as the microphone picks up everything.

(And I'm not interested in hearing the "if you had proper technique, finger squeak wouldn't be an issue" argument. String squeak varies widely from one set of strings to the next, so why not experiment?)

Here are a few discoveries I've made. Incidentally, I think these are all roundcore strings:

- Flatwound strings feel great (I tried the Thomastik Infeld Swing), but no matter how much I want to like them, they sound dead and lifeless to me, with the low strings being little more than a "thud". Of course, they are widely used and loved by many players, so YMMV. That said, I absolutely love the Thomastik Infeld Plectrum series with the bronze flatwound G, D & A strings; these are my first choice for flattop acoustic guitars; I can't say enough good things about them. The Plectrums seem to be an oddly magical exception to every other flatwound string on the market.

- The Thomastik Infeld Bebop Roundwound strings are really great sounding and my first choice for standard roundwound electric guitar strings.

- I really like the GHS Rollerwound Nickel Rockers. Roundwound tone with considerably less squeak than a standard roundwound string. These sound great on my acoustic guitars as well as electrics. They don't last long and need to be changed very regularly (especially the low A & E strings), and there is some inconsistency in quality, but they're not expensive either.

- I tried a set of GHS Brite Flats, which are a halfround/groundwound set made with alloy 52. These are the best compromise that I've found for something similar to flatwounds but with a clearer tone in the ballpark of a set of roundwounds. These are a bit less clear/bright than the GHS Rollerwounds. Some players complain that groundwound strings can feel a bit "sticky", but this goes away over time, or you can lightly buff them with fine steel wool for a few seconds and speed up the process. I'm sure the D'Addario halfrounds would be similar to these although I haven't tried them myself yet.

- Newtone double wound strings are supposed to be a good choice for archtop guitars as they have two small windings over the core instead of a single large winding. They can be purchased in either nickel or bronze. These are nice, but not as good sounding as the regular Masterclass strings to my ears, and while the double winding resulted in a slight reduction in squeak, it wasn't significant enough to justify the reduction in tone quality IMO.

There are a couple of string makers that make a hybrid string for players who need something that can be used with magnetic pickups but is more acoustic orientated. I'm curious to try these but haven't gotten around to it yet:

- Gallistrings Acoustic Fingerstyle Strings. These are double wound with one winding of nickel and one winding of bronze.

- DR Zebra strings. Alternately wrapped nickel plated steel and phosphor bronze over a round core. According to their promotional material, "full size archtop guitars respond with richer tones" to these strings.

stokes1971 12-25-2020 02:14 PM

I have a D'Angelico EX 63, a round hole arch top.I like the D'Addario nickel and bronze 12's,they are round wound,never cared for flatwounds.

JoeYouDon't 12-25-2020 10:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tuba Mike (Post 6585196)
In a somewhat related topic: Do any of you put round strings on your archtop? I hate the feel of the flat strings but love the sound of the archtop acoustic guitars. If I were to get an archtop I would want round strings on it.

What's the tone that's in your mind when you're thinking of archtop acoustic guitars? That could help steer the direction of string choice -- winding, gauge, nickel vs phosphor vs 80/20, etc.

Also could steer direction of the type of acoustic archtop: laminate or solid/carved, lower bout size -- 15/16/17/18", bracing - X or parallel, etc.

I dipped my toes in with the Kalamazoo KG-21, which is a pressed spruce top with mahogany b/s, X-braced, and L-00 sized. It's bright and very midrange focused. I tried flatwounds on it first, which was immediately clear to be a mistake. I've tried Monels (Martin Retros, 12s and LJ signature), nickel bronze, 80/20, and phosphor. Each of those had appeal, but the phosphor are the most versatile and what really fits to my ear.

It really shines on old timey and fiddle tunes, and can get me close enough to Dave Rawlings territory. But, it doesn't really sound right doing chord melody or anything too traditionally jazz sounding, which is what I was initially thinking of using it for.

Luckily I was able to snag an Epiphone Emperor which serves as the ying to Kalamazoo's yang. Huge 18", carved spruce/maple, and parallel braced. This really shines with nickel bronze.

Apologies for rambling, but point being that acoustic archtops have a multitude of shapes, sizes, and tones -- and can be quite moreish! Hope you (and OP) find what you're looking for!

Michael Watts 12-31-2020 02:07 PM

I'm pondering this same issue at the moment. At the moment i'm using flats on my Gretsch White Falcon but there will be a "proper" archtop in my future at some point...



All the best

Michael

Steve DeRosa 12-31-2020 06:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Michael Watts (Post 6591367)
...At the moment I'm using flats on my Gretsch White Falcon but there will be a "proper" archtop in my future at some point...

Never used anything else on mine (or any other Gretsch instrument for that matter) - and IME with the right amp, that 17" body puts out a lot of bottom end to complement the characteristic Filter'Tron jangle...

JeffM 01-01-2021 10:00 AM

I have an Eastman AR905 and have installed a K&K pickup. I use light gauge Elixir Nano Phosphor Bronze. This works great for me. I am an acoustic player and don't want the electric archtop sound. I played for a number of years in a large swing band. This guitar gives me the thump-thump I need without the amplified electric sound.


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