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guitarwebguy 11-09-2020 07:55 PM

Looking for collective wisdom
I play guitar in a trio that plays a wide range of music that has recently begun to add jazz standards. Up until now Iíve been satisfied with the the sounds my guitars provide (6 and 12 string Breedloves). However when I listen to someone playing an archtop I realize that the archtop is providing the sound I want to add for our trio. Iím new to the archtop experience. Iíd really like similar features in an archtop to my Breedloves (concert shape, cutaway, and flattened C shape neck). This is a guitar for playing so used is fine. It will be played plugged in (if there is a pickup) but it will also be played unplugged as there are a number of songs we play with microphones. So it does need to sound decent unplugged. I donít have a price point, but this is for playing so Iíd like to keep it under $1500. Everyoneís collective wisdom would be appreciated as to brands and models that I can start to look into. TIA

Steve DeRosa 11-10-2020 09:28 AM

Check out an Eastman AR605-CE:

These regularly turn up in the $1200+/- range used - an amazing deal for an all-carved instrument, and about the only one I can think of with all the features you're after...

JGinNJ 11-10-2020 10:40 AM

It's very hard to find an archtop that sounds good acoustically in that price range, as most are laminate with heavy finishes. The better Loar models are popular, with carved tops, though I don't think they have cutaways. Have you considered a gypsy jazz guitar? Different sound, but might work for you.

Steve DeRosa 11-10-2020 06:15 PM


Originally Posted by JGinNJ (Post 6546225)
...The better Loar models are popular, with carved tops, though I don't think they have cutaways...

Loar used to make the LH-350 and LH-650 models, with a single suspended pickup and loosely based on the Gibson L-4C, that sold for about $800 and $1200 street respectively (they appear to have been discontinued as they no longer appear on their home page); the problem for the OP is that the necks are old-school thick - particularly in the case of the LH-600/700 non-cut models - and since he's looking for something close to his Breedlove I don't think it's quite what he's after. No problem tone-wise though, and if it weren't for the period-accurate '20s thick-V profile I'd probably own an LH-700 right now...

stevo58 11-11-2020 05:41 AM

Both are still listed on, but the 650 is "sold out." The 350 seems to be available. Thomann claims they will have the 650 in two weeks, but that doesn't really mean anything.

Steve DeRosa 11-11-2020 07:15 AM


Originally Posted by stevo58 (Post 6546795)

Looks like a factory-sponsored outlet of some kind, selling both current and outgoing models - none of the "sold out" instruments appear on the factory website...

The Watchman 11-11-2020 07:40 AM

The Ibanez George Benson GB-10 is worth a look.

Steve DeRosa 11-11-2020 10:27 AM


Originally Posted by The Watchman (Post 6546839)
The Ibanez George Benson GB-10 is worth a look.

The -SE model @$1200 compares well to the $3500 MIJ original, based on some of the reviews I've read; doesn't have much acoustic tone/volume, though (and was never intended to from the get-go, with the small body and thick laminated top) - IME with the early-80's Japanese version enough for unplugged practice but that's about it...

gtcarter 11-12-2020 11:44 AM

eastmans are nice but don't forget about Guilds. You can pick up older Guilds for decent price and they sound great I think

Steve DeRosa 11-12-2020 06:19 PM


Originally Posted by gtcarter (Post 6548006)
Eastmans are nice but don't forget about Guilds. You can pick up older Guilds for a decent price and they sound great I think...

The only Guilds that fit the OP's small-body requirement are the non-cut/all-laminated A-50 (their answer to Gibson's L-48) and the carved-top/Florentine-cutaway CA-100 - both kinda hard to find outside the Northeast corridor (the great bulk of them were made in New York and Hoboken, and in the waning days of acoustic archtop popularity they tended to be a regional brand), the '50s versions retain the thick necks of their New York Epiphone progenitors (he's looking for something significantly slimmer), and while they're cheaper than a similar-vintage Gibson L-4C a decent CA-100 will still set you back $2K+/- ...

guitarwebguy 11-12-2020 08:48 PM

Great suggestions for me - thanks .... looks alone the Eastman grabbed my attention. I'm curious about a couple of things, one is the reference to necks, are most archtops made with thicker baseball bat necks? if so why? I was also curious about the comment regarding thick finishes and laminates. I'm ok with a laminate sides, but I'd prefer solid wood top and back. Also, is there a price point at which I have more options? thanks again for getting me started!

JGinNJ 11-13-2020 03:33 PM

Older archtops, before amplification, have fatter necks. It may have been the style, but it's also likely because fatter strings and high action were needed for volume. I'm not sure, but they may not have had truss rods, either.

A lot of the new production archtops come a couple of factories in Korea, even if they say Guild, epiphone, or D'Angelico on them, though Epiphone went to Indonesia. And, most have laminate tops and thick urethane-type finishes.

Eastman's are OK, though the ones I tried sounded rather bright. Steve is right about Loar's neck shape, and the sound is the opposite, kind of dull.
Peerless might be one to check out. Honestly I think you're looking at upwards of 2K for a carved top.

Ray175 11-20-2020 02:27 PM

If you plan to play acoustically to any degree, go for a model with a floating pickup, since built-in pickups will deaden and alter the acoustic sound considerably. Can't beat Pete Biltoft or Kent Armstrong floating pickups for a good jazz sound - alternatively, consider a DeArmond Chieftain "monkey on a stick"
For a guitar, consider having a fully carved one built by Mr Wu in China. Over at the Jazz guitar forum ( you'll find some very happy jazz bunnies who have commissioned guitars from him - well within your price range.

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