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  #1  
Old 08-20-2017, 09:37 PM
balata9999 balata9999 is offline
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Default Heritage s-16, golden eagle, vs what else?

Looking at archtops in the 2500-3500 range used. Carved spruce top models. What are some other comparable or better guitars in this range (excluding eastmans no chinese guitars please). It seems like I am seeing a lot of heritages plus quite a few vintage type instruments that I don't necessarily recognise or have a hard time evaluating the conditions of and potential problems without seeing in person. I have seen a few luthier made instruments that while intriguing I can't find a single review on.
Are there other instruments in this range that are commonly reguarded as pretty good quality all around that I wouldn't be taking too big of a risk buying sight unseen.
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Old 08-20-2017, 11:00 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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If you buy from a reputable dealer the risks are minimized - guys like Gruhn. Elderly, archtop.com, etc. worked too hard/too long to cultivate their reputations to knowingly slip you a lemon; that said, a few suggestions if you insist on buying American:
  • The Heritage line is an incredible value in a used (or even new) instrument, comparable in quality to the pre-Norlin Gibsons and made by many of the same people in the early days. Shouldn't be too hard to find a Sweet-16, Eagle/Eagle Classic, or Golden Eagle, possibly a Johnny Smith or all-acoustic Super Eagle (rare, but I've seen them and played one) if you can stretch your budget to around $4K; FYI the original Eagle had solid carved mahogany top/back plates, which gives it a rich, sweet, mellow tone you'll be hard-pressed to find in any other 17-incher - not too common, but if you're patient you might be able to land one for around $2K...
  • It's not too hard to land a midline Gibson toward the upper end of your range, especially if you don't need a cutaway. I see 16" models - L-4 (with/without cutaway), pre-Advanced L-7/L-10/L-12 (essentially the same instruments as the Loar-style L-5 but with plainer appointments) regularly in the $2700-3400 range, and non-cut 17" L-7's hovering around $3000-3500 depending on year/finish/condiition (blondes being more expensive); while I wouldn't go down to the L-30/L-37 - Gibson's version of the 14-1/2" Epiphone Olympic - a 16" L-50 or laminated L-48 (not the detriment you would think it to be when it comes to an archtop - some of the best stand-up basses are laminated) can be had for $1300-1600...
  • Mark Campellone is not only one of the premier contemporary archtop builders, his prices often undercut factory-made instruments while far exceeding them in quality; with a little luck you can occasionally find one of his entry-level models around $3500 - and if you do grab it...
  • As a New York boy and an archtop player since 1962, IME the best value-per-dollar in a vintage archtop is one of the New York-era Epiphones. Fully competitive with their Gibson counterparts then and now, they sell for far less - usually 20-30%, with some top-of-the-line examples as much as 50-60%; skipping the entry-level/small-body Olympic, player-grade 16" student/amateur instruments like the Zenith and Blackstone can be had for as little as $1K (occasionally less), good 17" Devon/Triumph/Broadway non-cuts for $2K-3K (I've seen player-grade Devons going for $1700-1800), and the occasional player-grade Deluxe in the $3200-3500 range. If you've never had the pleasure of playing one, Epis were renowned in the day for their cutting power, the ability to be heard over a full-tilt 20-piece horn section without amplification; lay into one - especially one of the 17"/18" Big-Band compers - and it'll bark like an enraged pit bull, but by the same token it'll take somewhat more finesse to, as the old-timers used to say, "coax the velvet out." If you're willing to put the time in to really get to know your instrument - unfortunately these days most guys aren't - it'll pay major dividends; IME Gibsons are easier to play, in terms of getting a good sound with relatively little effort, but I find a good Epiphone will yield a broader variety of tone color - if you treat it right...
Good luck...
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Old 08-20-2017, 11:39 PM
balata9999 balata9999 is offline
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Thanks for those suggestions a lot. Two of those you mentioned I ran across just today and were taking an interest in. I found a heritage eagle mahogany and a campellone standard and both are a little below the prices you mentioned. I might do a little more digging tommorow and find out about those specific instruments. Thanks. I do appreciate it.
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Old 08-21-2017, 09:05 PM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is online now
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Used, who knows what you might find.

But Heritage's guitars stand up to pretty much any. And they spray the best sunburst in the whole dang world.
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