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Old 04-24-2019, 06:23 PM
mawmow mawmow is offline
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Default My journey through Loar LH-700 archtop...

The first instruments known as guitars were crafted in Europe for classical music by XVIIth century. C.F. Martin took cello as model to produce archtop guitars in America some two hundreds years later (XIXth century). The flat tops appeared later on.

From the early and now secular Gibson L-5 designed by Lloyd Loar, used by early jazzmen as well as country artist Maybelle Carter, through the modern electric versions, archtops now show many different models as different woods and bracing are used, with consequent sound modulations : Just think of that reknowned L-5 with longitudinal ladder bracing to modern archtops with X bracing like Eastman 805CE.

I came to the archtop world with my acoustic Godin 5th Avenue almost two years ago. it is my only laminate and left in the corner of the room as my minute practice instrument. As things go (blame it on my GAS !), I recently became interested in climbing the quality slope and got interested in solid woods (their high end) Loar LH-6xx and Eastman AR 6xx/8xx series that would be more budget friendly than more reknowned brands. So came on the market an unexpected Loar LH-700 VS Deluxe... and I grabbed it !

I have to say that looking for a 1 3/4" nut width greatly narrows my choice possibilities.

When I opened the box I discovered inside The Loar semi-ridig gigbag a splendid sunburst archtop that appered clearly better than on the photos I had seen.

Unfortunately, as the brand is sadly reputated for, I did not have to look for finish flaws as they would catch my eyes when I seated in playing position : the body neck end under the fretboard and the inside edge of f hole suffer bad finish. The "deluxe" mention appeared to be based on the use of AAA grade woods that differentiate the 700 from the 6xx series. But finding such flaws on the deluxe series casts serious doubts on the quality control process !

In addition, I sadly noticed that a curious construction mode already seen on pictures of many 6xx series model was also present on my new 700 : the neck has a joint at the junction with the body, while the overlying ebony fretboard is fortunately made of a unique piece.

The body dimensions are quite similar to the 5th Avenue but the Loar is clearly deeper. The Godin body is made of Canadian Wild Cherry (laminate?) while the Loar is made of solid AAA Maple back and sides and carved solid AAA Spruce top. The scales are identical.

The action was quite high, with a slight neck bow : I readily turned the knobs at bridge to lower the action a bit while nut adjustment is postponed to the moment I would change strings (as well as truss rod adjustment if still needed). I was pleased to see the bridge had much room to be lowered contrary to many other photos I had seen that testified of a reknowned bad neck angle insertion on some Loars in the past (I had asked the question to the prior owner before buying). I could not believe the bridge was made of ebony at first sight, but a closer look when I changed the strings convinced me it is.

Another thing to look at is the truss rod. I lifted the cover to discover the Allen key included in the bag did not work : the short end does not engage while the long axis cannot reach the mandatory angle to get in the tunnel ! It turned out another Allen wrench (Guild F-30 guitar) had a longer short arm and easily worked the truss rod.

When I lifted the bone nut at neck to lower the action, I could see the truss rod in the neck midline nearby the fretboard !

Finally, the tail piece was not perfectly centered so that the bridge used to realign the strings more correctly. In fact, it is probably the neck that is not perfectly centered, but moving the tail piece a bit would realign the whole thing. I easily corrected that by enlarging the peg hole and reinserting the screws in their hole after I had closed them with toothpicks.

After tuning, intonation is almost perfect !

It is my first encounter with a V neck : It is comfortable as well as the whole guitar on my right hip. I can play the scales up to octave without a cutaway : Great ! I must say the Loar offers the acoustic LH-600/700 with V neck and the electrified LH-650 with a C neck and a cutaway. No other choice, no hybrid !

At first try after unboxing, I found the sound dry compared to the rounder 5th Avenue sound. Said orherwise, Loar delivers briskier notes compared to Godin. Unfortunately the high action hampered my ability to fret the strings well. I wisely postponed my opinion until I would have serviced it a few weeks. These beasts really do not seem to sound like flat tops. I read on this forum that someone did not like the Loar LH-700 and preferred an Eastman 805 CE : he made it a bracing issue, ladder on Loar versus X bracing for the Eastman.

Now comes the big question : which strings will make the best compromise ? It seems clear that 0,013" string gauge put enough pressure on the bridge for better sound production. Loar company suggester D'Addario P/Br medium (EJ-17) while some forum members prefer Martins Retro Monel (MM13) for the sake of vintage sound, adding that Monel are less stiff. In fact, Martin sells three sets of 0,013-0,056, the difference lying in thinner mids on the MMLJ13 (Laurence Juber; apparently devoted to DADGAD tuning) and MMTR13 (Tony Rice, "bluegrass") versions. I will probably also try D'Addario flat tops (EFT-17). Finally, I went on the weird side and opted for a try of ernie ball Al/Br ! Heee Hawwww !!!

I was practicing on Seagull Performer when it came to my mind I would record a compararive video of my archtops (I could not explain this mind burst !) . Here it is...
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mHIVXcgmW-I

Ooops ! Action was still too high for me on the Loar at that moment, sorry !
The last guitar played left me puzzled regarding this archtop journey... :-/

Additional vidéos to stuff the topic :

Maybelle Carter’s «Wildwood Flower» with Gibson L-5 :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XE80Ed59uCY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3nXP7z_K1Q

Gibson L-5 acoustic "jazz" demo :
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iukEpNFEkDA
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:11 AM
kayakman kayakman is offline
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Is the bridge radiused properly?Makes a big difference..
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Old 04-26-2019, 07:38 PM
mawmow mawmow is offline
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The bridge fits perfectly the top. Thanks !

By the way, I'd wish I could play her half good as this guy :
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=E46i2t874lw
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ3J95Q2IfM
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GvwXSprm90I
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9qwRsg3By78
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ALCWGw1jmNQ
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2CKd3232Asc
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Last edited by mawmow; 05-05-2019 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 05-05-2019, 06:43 PM
mawmow mawmow is offline
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Here it is, well set with not so jazzy ernie ball Al/Br strings :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjS7mFQi2w0

I recorded with my iPad : It sounds weird on my PC with earphones, but better on iPad with good earplugs... :-(
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Old 05-05-2019, 10:10 PM
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Livingston Livingston is offline
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Hey Mawmow...I give you two thumbs up! Nice job and your guitar sounds fine. Keep up the good work!

Best regards,
Darryl
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:04 AM
mawmow mawmow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Livingston View Post
Hey Mawmow...I give you two thumbs up! Nice job and your guitar sounds fine. Keep up the good work!

Best regards,
Darryl
Thank you sir !
You make my day. :-)
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Old 05-06-2019, 09:21 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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Sounds like a good setup and you'll have a great guitar.

They really are the only budget minded archtops out there that go after the "vintage" sound. The X braced Eastmans are much more "polite" sounding, and maybe that's why flat top players like them a bit more...going from a warm, lush Martin to a brash, in your face 30's style archtop is a JOLT. But the Eastmans just do NOT do the old sound in my opinion.

Keep in mind, that little unfinished bit under the neck extension is something you might find on a guitar that cost 5 times as much too--it's all about the process...the neck is attached before the guitar is finished. You don't see that on the Godin because the neck bolts on! (one of the many reasons the Godin is a great worry free instrument, really, but we're talking Loar right now)

As for strings, when I had a 600, I settled on 80/20's. They were almost unbearably bright the first few hours of play, but I found they mellowed out in a way phosphor bronze never did...but they still provided plenty of "chunk" for rhythm playing.
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Old 05-06-2019, 10:45 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Hi Mawmaw,

I went through two Loars, got the 600 first which disturbed me with the low neck angle and finish flaws so ordered a 700 which arrived in a filthy state as if it had been passed around a fish fry party. i sent it back, got another, same problems with neck angle and low bridge and finish flaws so sent it back again.
The Eastmans are far superior but, of course, more expensive.

This may be of interest:

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Old 05-08-2019, 07:01 AM
mawmow mawmow is offline
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Thanks guys for your comments.

I was on the verge to look seriously at Eastmans AR 800 series when this Loar LH-700 fell on the market.

I guess I will finally like the sound : the ernie ball Al/Br sounded weird at first, but they are now better.

I will give a try to Monel quite soon.
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Old 05-27-2019, 07:21 PM
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Playing my 700 a lot. Liking it more and more. I think it's sounding better the more I play it. Only play it at home as it doesn't plug in. Tried a K&K definity(?) under the bridge, but didn't like the sound so took it off. Using Elixir nano phosphor Bronze lights, but bought some Retro monel mediums, haven't changed yet, waiting for the Elixirs to die. They last a long time. I'm happy with the sound and playability, neck is straight, action good. For me it was a good investment, intro to the archtop world.
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Old 05-28-2019, 04:32 PM
mawmow mawmow is offline
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Waiting for ernie ball strings death too... ;-)
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Old 06-15-2019, 11:46 AM
mawmow mawmow is offline
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Rainy days... :-(
Finally changed the strings for Martin Retro Monel (as suggested by AGF members : Thanks a lot guys !) on my Loar LH-700 yesterday.
I was not sure to like the sound of d'Addario and ernie ball Al/Br were not any better.
I agree that these Martin Retro do sound well ! ;-)
I now kind of recognize Mother Maybelle Carter sound.

I shall have the arriving Summer to taste this archtop sound and decide whether I like it or not... :-/
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Old 06-15-2019, 01:49 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mawmow View Post
...Finally changed the strings for Martin Retro Monel (as suggested by AGF members : Thanks a lot guys !) on my Loar LH-700 yesterday...I agree that these Martin Retro do sound well! I now kind of recognize Mother Maybelle Carter's sound...
That's the whole idea behind using them on a vintage-style archtop like your LH-700 - period-correct prewar tone - and speaking from experience they'll do wonders for your Godin as well...
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Old 06-18-2019, 08:03 PM
mawmow mawmow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
That's the whole idea behind using them on a vintage-style archtop like your LH-700 - period-correct prewar tone - and speaking from experience they'll do wonders for your Godin as well...
Thanks Steve !
Yeah, I will try them on the Godin 5th Avenue for sure. ;-)
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Old 06-19-2019, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mawmow View Post
Thanks Steve !
Yeah, I will try them on the Godin 5th Avenue for sure. ;-)
I'm very happy with the mediums on my 5th Avenue. A thick pick and hard attack get the laminated (layered) wood moving.
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