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msaxen 02-09-2020 10:42 PM

Fingerstyle on Electric Archtop issues
As a fingerstyle guitarist I am finding it difficult to play with index, middle and ring fingers when playing through a pickup. the E and B strings sound harsh if I play a rest stroke using i,m or a with any kind of force when the volume and gain are turned up. My nails are pretty short (about 1mm) so I get a combination of flesh and nail on the stroke, but it almost seems like the pickup is too sensitive if the gain is anywhere around 40% or higher. This makes it hard to use fingers to play solo lines when playing in a group with a bass and drums. I am playing an Eastman AR805CEL (with a floating pickup) through a Fishman Loudbox Performer. I tried running it through a Roland JC40, which helps with volume, but it seems to sound more like an electric through that amp.

Anyone else had this kind of issue?

Michael Watts 02-10-2020 02:49 AM

This is something I've been working on myself as I've recently been exploring archtop textures in the studio. There is no escaping it, some adjustment in playing approach is necessary when going from flat-top to archtop, you get used to it though!

Here are some of my initial thoughts

MC5C 02-10-2020 06:46 AM

As a mechanical adjustment, many humbuckers and other pickups have adjustable pole pieces, perhaps adjusting yours can make a difference. Also, many fingerstyle electric guitars (me, for example, sometimes) don't use rest strokes, and don't play with right hand power the way you do with a nylon string guitar. It is a different technique. Let the electronics do some of the work...

Funny story, maybe - I was at a concert with a few of my friends playing. Two were classically trained classical guitarists, with excellent technique for that style of playing. They played un-mic'd, and filled the room with sound easily. My other friend, who is kind of a self-taught fingerstyle jazz guitarist, who played electric archtops for many years but now composes and plays classical, had her classical guitar mic'd and still was quieter than the other two players. Great player, different style with the right hand.

mr. beaumont 02-10-2020 08:49 AM

You're kind of fighting what that guitar is made for. If you want it to sound like an acoustic, the magnetic pickup is going to get in your way. Generally, I've found any electric guitar (and that's what that is, as soon as you plug it in) through an acoustic amp always sounds harsh and brittle.

Stick with the electric amp and don't try to get an "acoustic" sound, just focus on a "good" sound. Me personally, I've never liked using nails on an electric guitar.

JGinNJ 02-10-2020 11:21 AM

Fingerstyle is fine for solo & quiet playing, but I've found with jam sessions and big band, I had to use a pick to be able to cut through. Using fingers to do that will get twangy and harsh. The few Eastman's I've played sounded kind of bright.
If you're going to use fingers, gain is your friend. Some archtop guitars sound good with acoustic amplification, my Martin CF-1 sounds nice with the Roland Cube acoustic setting. But generally, I prefer my Jazz Chorus or a Fender blackface tone.

Aspiring 02-11-2020 07:29 PM

I play fingerstyle with nails on my electric thin semi and hollowbody. I also use rest strokes on some notes.

On both of them I played quite a bit with pickup and pole height.

The 2nd and 3rd strings were typically the problems.

Now you have me wondering if my setup would be terrible with a pick. Need to try that.

Al Acuff 02-11-2020 11:30 PM

Chet Atkins did OK at playing archtop guitars fingerstyle. So did Merle Travis.

guitararmy 02-13-2020 07:02 AM

I know Tuck Andress has written a bit about his guitar setup for fingerstyle jazz, using a Gibson L5 and a Bartolini pickup. I don't recall if he addressed string volume issues, but that pickup is sealed without pole adjustments.

SprintBob 02-27-2020 02:54 PM

Martin Taylor is another incredible archtop fingerstylist, check him out. Agree with Jeff above about matching the amp to the guitar.

Glennwillow 02-28-2020 02:40 PM

The sound I like best from my Eastman archtop using the factory installed Kent Armstrong pickup is through a simulation of a tube preamp in my POD XT Pro rack mount unit. It's mellowed out a little bit and yet it still has a very "Hi-Fi" sound to it, much like the sound Martin Taylor gets. I also play with short nails and bare thumb so that there is not a lot of irritating treble in my sound.

Tuck Andress gets a wonderful sound from his L5 and his Bartolini pickup going into a preamp. He does not use a guitar amp.

From Vintage Guitar Magazine:
"Whatís in you recording rig?

After the volume pedal, the guitar goes into an Aphex 124A interface, which converts the -10db signal to +4db. That goes into a GML 20-bit A/D converter, then the signal is recorded. We record with a Sonic Solutions hard disk editor. I donít use any guitar amps. We just try to accurately record what comes off the guitar and what comes off Pattiís mic, then in mixdown work with reverb and EQ.

In mixdown, we use Avalon EQs for the guitar. Thatís a big part of the sound of the recorded guitar Ė Avalon can do extreme EQing and sound great. Sonic Solutions is a comparable hard disk editor. Itís used more in mastering and Iíve never heard a digital editor sound better."

- Glenn

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