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The Growler 11-07-2020 01:41 PM

Wow. Very cool.

JoeYouDon't 11-07-2020 02:01 PM

Well this is just glorious. I love that funky soundhole. New York Epiphones are some of the most special guitars out there.

Howard Emerson 11-07-2020 05:29 PM

As embarrassing as it is, my bad: Mike Thompson thought it would be funny to lead me on, and I have no one to blame but myself.

He owns no such Epiphone.

Sorry for the misleading posts.

Howard Emerson

Steve DeRosa 11-07-2020 07:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Howard Emerson (Post 6544406)
As embarrassing as it is, my bad: Mike Thompson thought it would be funny to lead me on, and I have no one to blame but myself.

He owns no such Epiphone.

Sorry for the misleading posts.

Howard Emerson

No problem - with an attitude like his he wouldn't have fit in too well with the AGF community anyway; great pic though, and a fascinating instrument regardless of its rightful owner...

Quote:

Originally Posted by mc1 (Post 6543870)
Thank You, Steve, for the lengthy reply. I understand what you mean now. I'm a fan of Eddie Lang and Tony Mottola, etc. I just think of them as jazz guitar pioneers...

Here's a couple of samples of "classical archtop" from back in the day:



- and a few from modern revivalists keeping this historic style alive:





Interesting side note: Although barely visible in the picture, Harry Volpe's guitar is a prewar Gretsch Synchromatic 400 with a triangular center soundhole (Django's playing the cats' eye version) - similar in concept to the above Epiphones, and heard to great effect on the YouTube clip. Inasmuch as both Volpe and Johnny Smith had made the move from Gretsch to Epiphone around that time (as a consequence of Gretsch's use of unstable kiln-dried woods in the postwar period, resulting in twisted/warped necks and cracked bodies - hope we all remembered to humidify today, folks... :rolleyes:), it's well within the realm of possibility that this was the inspiration for the Emperor Concert; as the two were fixtures on the New York studio/club circuit, knew each other, and often participated in jams with other A-list players, Smith would have been quite familiar with Volpe's guitar and its unique visual/sonic properties - even through the primitive recording equipment/techniques the sweetness of the trebles and rich, woody bass/midrange one would anticipate in a guitar of this size/type can be clearly heard, and in conjunction with Volpe's technical prowess further substantiates my earlier comments about being a true virtuoso instrument. By the mid-1950's Volpe had gone to an FT-210 Deluxe, a 17" cutaway flattop instrument with a pressed arched back (a technique adopted by erstwhile competitor Guild for many of its iconic flattop guitars, and still in use to this day), as his main acoustic instrument; here's a blonde example (Volpe's was sunburst):

https://www.frettedamericana.com/sit...1892_front.jpg

Cabarone 11-07-2020 08:26 PM

I think Ralph Kramden summed it up best: "Homina-homina-homina!!!"

mc1 11-08-2020 09:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Howard Emerson (Post 6544406)
As embarrassing as it is, my bad: Mike Thompson thought it would be funny to lead me on, and I have no one to blame but myself.

He owns no such Epiphone.

Sorry for the misleading posts.

Howard Emerson

It's not embarrassing at all. Perhaps he thought you would know the rarity of the instrument and get the inside joke. Like if I said I used my Somogyi as my camping beater. 99% of people wouldn't get that.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa (Post 6544464)
Here's a couple of samples of "classical archtop" from back in the day:
...

Thanks, those were fun. I'm a big classical guitar fan, so hearing Villa-Lobos on the archtop was neat. I also checked out some William Foden and Vahdah Olcott-Bickford.

Howard Emerson 11-08-2020 12:10 PM

Here’s Olivier Laroche playing 15” archtop made by Guillaume Rancourt of Montreal, Canada:



He also plays Al Valenti arrangements to perfection!

Howard Emerson

ArchtopLover 11-23-2020 02:16 PM

Round Hole Tone?
 
This is certainly a breathtaking masterpiece of an archtop guitar to behold, and I am sure it would be a dream to play as well.

However, I am curious, for such a high-end, masterpiece, custom made Archtop guitar, from this period, why would the master luthiers have chosen to use a "round" (not exactly, in this case), sound hole?

I own, and play, two cheapo (in contrast to this example), vintage archtops, one is a 1934 Gibson L-50 (first of its name) and the other is a 1928 Gibson L-4. Each has a very similar quality of tone difference from the traditional, Lloyd Loar designed "F" hole versions, that I wonder what Epiphone was trying to achieve by using a round-like sound hole in an instrument of this caliber?

My point is this, the L-50 and the L-4 sound more like flattop acoustics, than archtop acoustics. With the round sound hole there is absolutely no natural reverb as I am accustomed too in my many other "F" hole archtops. And, the lower register is much fatter an more full sounding too. Not that I am necessarily preferencial in this regard, it's just that they are very, very different in the way they sound.

So, at the absolute pinnacle level of a vintage Epiphone Emperor Concert archtop guitar, did the master luthiers believe the tonal characteristics, produced by this sound-hole shape superior, or just different and unique, or what?

Dave Richard 11-23-2020 07:52 PM

I believe Johnny Smith specified the trapezoidal soundhole, when discussing and ordering the guitar from Epiphone. I’d guess he wanted to try combining the parallel tone bars, with a ‘centered’ soundhole that would fit. I myself am very curious about how this design sounds. A standard round hole prevents the use of parallel tone bars(not truly parallel, of course), requiring the use of x-bracing, or Gibson’s h-bracing, or Epiphone’s own unsuccesful(IMO) use of reverse-splay tone-bars.

This design did not apparently satisfy Smith, because he ended up with the Gibson made, Smith endorsed JS model, which I believe is x-braced. He wanted some of that flattop tone, in his archtop.

Steve DeRosa 11-23-2020 08:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ArchtopLover (Post 6557768)
...I am curious, for such a high-end, masterpiece, custom made archtop guitar, from this period, why would the master luthiers have chosen to use a "round" (not exactly, in this case), sound hole?

I own, and play, two cheapo (in contrast to this example), vintage archtops, one is a 1934 Gibson L-50 (first of its name) and the other is a 1928 Gibson L-4...With the round sound hole there is absolutely no natural reverb...And, the lower register is much fatter and more full sounding too...

I think you answered your own question when you described the defining characteristics of these instruments vis-a-vis their f-hole counterparts and which, when taken in light of the existence of the "classical archtop" school, actually make perfect sense in a steel-string virtuoso guitar: powerful natural acoustic projection, immediate response, and extended frequency range with minimal sonic artifacts (that natural reverb that sounds so sweet in more intimate surroundings is largely unnecessary in a concert-hall setting); while the design/execution is sound - Johnny Smith used one as his go-to-acoustic, Harry Volpe played a similar Gretsch Synchromatic 400 at least through the early postwar period, and Howard Roberts' Kalamazoo-era Epiphone signature model was an updated variation on a 16" cutaway platform - the concept belongs to a style of music already well in decline when these guitars were built, and I wouldn't be surprised if the aforementioned three examples are in fact the only ones in existence. By the same token, many flattop players looking to cross over find typical archtops strident, steely-sounding, and lacking dynamic/frequency range (they're not when played with the proper technique, but we all know that around here...:cool:), so this may indeed be an idea whose time has finally come - and I've had a guitar of this size/type on my bucket list for many years...


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