The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Archtops

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #16  
Old 02-22-2019, 12:44 PM
JuanRivers JuanRivers is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 11
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
General consensus among Epiphone cognoscenti is to be careful with the '54 models, and except for the top-of-the-line Emperor and Deluxe (possibly the occasional Broadway/Triumph or two) avoid the '55 - '57 guitars altogether. By way of information, Epiphone had serious labor difficulties in the early-50's when an attempt was made to unionize the shop; keeping a long and convoluted story short, many of the skilled craftsmen jumped ship to either then-upstart Guild or across-the-river competitor Gretsch, while production was split between New York and Philadelphia when Continental Music assumed control in 1953. Although anything made before the Gibson takeover in 1957 is considered a "New York" Epiphone (FYI a number of instruments - particularly mid-/high-end acoustic archtops, for which there was little demand at the time - were assembled in whole or in part from leftover genuine Epiphone parts through the early-60's), the quality of the final models was so poor that the Philadelphia warehouse - not to mention the stockroom of many a music store - was loaded with warranty returns and unsaleable instruments; while the official Gibson position is that they stripped the warehouse instruments for parts before destroying them, I can personally vouch for the fact that NOS guitars from the final days of the original Epiphone company were being sold at least through the mid-60's (I saw a rackful in Silver & Horland's stockroom in April 1964), and probably into about 1970 in stores well away from major metropolitan areas - caveat emptor (Emperor?)...

If it were me, I'd look for an early postwar ('46 - '51) instrument: wartime materials restrictions/manpower loss seem to have had less of an impact than the other makers, which allowed them to get back up to speed more quickly; the acoustic archtop guitars upon which Epiphone built their reputation were still a major force in the market; the mostly-Italian local craftsmen who had worked under Epi himself (who had died in 1943) were still employed at the factory, ensuring a continuing tradition of quality; and the entire prewar line (as well as a few new models introduced circa 1950) was still available at least through 1949. While there's much to be said for the legendary prewar guitars, to me these instruments represent the final iteration of Epi Stathopoulo's personal vision of what his guitars should be - and as the former owner of a '46 Blackstone I find this the most intriguing period in the company's history...
Good to know! Thanks! I expect a good amount of conflicting feedback, as everyone has different preferences. Very cool to hear about the history. There are actually a few I've bookmarked that I think are between 46-51. I'll revisit those now!

I've been all over youtube listening to different samples and loved this one I found of a blackstone:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHNgsWf8HLg

Would love to find a good value, but need to be careful though not to fall in love with a guitar out of my price range, which tends to happen to me when I go "toy" shoppin'
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 02-22-2019, 12:57 PM
JuanRivers JuanRivers is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 11
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by zombywoof View Post
Oddly I own both a 1953 blonde Epiphone Triumph Regent and a 1935 Gibson-made Capital archtop which was the house brand of Jenkins Music and is pretty much the same as a Kalamazoo or a Cromwell. There is absolutely no similarity between the two guitars. The Epi is a big box with carved top and back plates. The Capital is smaller with a pressed wood top and back. I doe snot have a truss rod but a nice fat V neck. Mine is also X braced (a Gibson characteristic from 1935 into 1939) rather than parallel braced so has the "two hump" top. The Epi has far more punch than the Capital and sounds fatter on the upper end almost more like a flattop.

You should have no problem scoring a Kalamazoo at your price point. The archtops bring far less than the flattops. In Epiphones, I would think you might be limited to a Blackstone which was a lower end entry in the catalog.

As far as other brands the top of the line Harmony would be the Cremona which had a carved top. The rarest would be the cutaway version which was only made for one year.

As far as Kays, the best I have ever gotten my hands on was one of the two Television models from the late 1930s. These had carved tops and backs. I prefer them over something like a Gibson L-50 which cost three times as much. Finding one at any price though is a hard row to hoe. I have only run across the one which was up for grabs and I am still kicking myself for not jumping on it when I had the chance. But Kay also made a ton of archtops for Sears and others, a number of which had at least carved tops. Problem is you really have to know your way around these guitars to know what you are getting which is not easy when it comes to Kays.

Just a question but have you considered the new Epiphone Masterbilt Century line of archtops. I have been pleasantly surprised by them and they will not even come close to emptying your wallet.
Thanks ZombyWoof! Very helpful advice!

The Kalamazoo seems like my safest bet so far, but I'll try and see if there are any good options for blackstones - they seem to be rarer guitars.. or at least sold less frequently. which is probably a good sign. From the research I've found, the Cromwell seems to be basically the same as the Kalamazoo? Or very similar..

You're now the second person here to recommend me a Kay Television. I'll heed your advice though on really knowing it. I think there are some Kays at a shop where I live so I'll make sure to test those puppies out in person.

I haven't tried the masterbuilts, but I think I'm way too obsessed with getting a vintage player at this point to purchase something brand new. A few years back, I picked up a reaaaaally old, unmarked spanish guitar in an antique store in Madrid a few years back for 50 euro that remains by far the best sounding instrument that I own. Lately, I'm just really into vintage instruments, their restoration, and in some cases, potential conversions. So when I played my buddy's archtop, I knew that would be my next target.


Thanks again for the history lesson and great advice!!
_________________
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 02-22-2019, 01:06 PM
JuanRivers JuanRivers is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 11
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Growler View Post
Condition is always important when buying vintage. Make sure you play it and are aware of the condition and the cost of any needed repairs or it can make what was a happy purchase into a more expensive than planned frustration.

That said, a vintage guitar can be a real source of joy.

I also think the recommendation of checking out the Epiphone Mastebuilt archtops is a really good idea too.

Enjoy the hunt and let us know what you wind up with.
Couldnt agree more! It's just a difficult item to find where I live since my options are rather limited when it comes to buying musical instruments. I am doing my dilligence and have visited a few places, but I'm down to take the gamble to buy online if I know enough about the specific guitar, its condition, and the credibility of the seller.

My approach is to scour local ads on craiglist ect., and visit shops nearby for anything I can hold and play nearby, while doing my homework on compelling finds online (post on forums>research models>ask seller good questions/audio samples>assess overall price value>ect.). There are a few sellers I've found that do such a good job that I'd be willing to pay a bit more knowing they're selling really quality guitars.

Thanks for the feedback and I'll make sure to let everyone know what I end up getting!
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 02-22-2019, 08:36 PM
The Growler The Growler is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 7,095
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by JuanRivers View Post
Couldnt agree more! It's just a difficult item to find where I live since my options are rather limited when it comes to buying musical instruments. I am doing my dilligence and have visited a few places, but I'm down to take the gamble to buy online if I know enough about the specific guitar, its condition, and the credibility of the seller.

My approach is to scour local ads on craiglist ect., and visit shops nearby for anything I can hold and play nearby, while doing my homework on compelling finds online (post on forums>research models>ask seller good questions/audio samples>assess overall price value>ect.). There are a few sellers I've found that do such a good job that I'd be willing to pay a bit more knowing they're selling really quality guitars.

Thanks for the feedback and I'll make sure to let everyone know what I end up getting!

Good luck!
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 02-23-2019, 07:36 AM
1Charlie 1Charlie is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Posts: 915
Default

I owned two ‘30’s Kalamazoo archtops that I could never bond with. Pressed tops made them sound a little thin to my ears, anyway.

A ‘30’s L-50 has a carved top and is a much better sounding guitar, IMO. If you are willing to settle for one with cosmetic issues (repaired cracks, stripped, refinished, overspray, non-original parts, etc.), you can end up with a good-sounding and playing archtop for under $1000.

Insist on a no-hassle return policy if buying sight-unseen. And appreciate that most vintage archtops out there have something wrong with them that could benefit from the services of a good luthier.

Setting an extra $200 aside for repairs is a wise move. Then you can be prepared to address anything that is wrong with the right guitar, or be pleasantly surprised if it is not needed!
__________________
Neal

A few nice ones, a few beaters, and a few I should probably sell...
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 02-23-2019, 09:24 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Staten Island, NY
Posts: 8,618
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by zombywoof View Post
...I doe snot have a truss rod...
Remind me never to borrow one of your guitars...
__________________
"I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."
- Mark Twain
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 02-24-2019, 03:40 PM
WordMan WordMan is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,423
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Charlie View Post
I owned two ‘30’s Kalamazoo archtops that I could never bond with. Pressed tops made them sound a little thin to my ears, anyway.

A ‘30’s L-50 has a carved top and is a much better sounding guitar, IMO. If you are willing to settle for one with cosmetic issues (repaired cracks, stripped, refinished, overspray, non-original parts, etc.), you can end up with a good-sounding and playing archtop for under $1000.

Insist on a no-hassle return policy if buying sight-unseen. And appreciate that most vintage archtops out there have something wrong with them that could benefit from the services of a good luthier.

Setting an extra $200 aside for repairs is a wise move. Then you can be prepared to address anything that is wrong with the right guitar, or be pleasantly surprised if it is not needed!
I’ll just say that you have to play Kalamazoo’s. Each are different and the mahogany back and sides are different from the maple L-50. I love my KG-31.
__________________
An old Gibson and a couple of old Martins; a couple of homebrew Tele's
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 02-24-2019, 06:34 PM
1Charlie 1Charlie is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Posts: 915
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by WordMan View Post
I’ll just say that you have to play Kalamazoo’s. Each are different and the mahogany back and sides are different from the maple L-50. I love my KG-31.
Agreed. I own a ‘35 Kalamazoo KG-11 that is a keeper! That little thing is one of the loudest guitars I have ever played of any size.
__________________
Neal

A few nice ones, a few beaters, and a few I should probably sell...
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 02-25-2019, 08:14 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,423
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Charlie View Post
Agreed. I own a ‘35 Kalamazoo KG-11 that is a keeper! That little thing is one of the loudest guitars I have ever played of any size.
Exactly. They seem to be even quirkier and more idiosyncratic than branded Gibsons, which is saying something! Some are tight/thin in tone, but others are open and strummy, which my KG-31 is. And slide is just sublime.

The thing that amazes me time and time again is that if you are a person who likes to play with a heavy hand, the ergonomics of an archtop, with the tall bridge imparting a "trampoline" feel to the strings, is so much better vs. a flattop. Combined with the broad usefulness of strummed/picked tones from right at the bridge to up the fretboard, I am inclined to agree with Ken Parker that archtops are the most versatile/dynamic acoustic design.

The challenge is finding a voice that works for you. Old, cheaper archtops like my K'zoo can sound quite a bit different from high-end archtops. You have to figure out what you need.
__________________
An old Gibson and a couple of old Martins; a couple of homebrew Tele's
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 02-28-2019, 10:01 AM
Petespix Petespix is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 206
Default

I came very close to taking this guitar home last October. However, money is tight and I don't need another guitar. This Weymann is beautiful to the eye and sounds and plays great. I'm sure they would deal with you on the price. I'm not affiliated in any way with the guitar or seller.
https://bernunzio.com/product/weymann-style-b-23995/
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 02-28-2019, 12:45 PM
Hobo_King Hobo_King is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 122
Default

I've owned a Kalamazoo, unsure of the model, as well as two Patricians. Currently I have a 1948 Epiphone Blackstone that blows them away. You should dig into if the top is a pressed solid top or actually carved. It does make a big difference in the sound.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 03-01-2019, 07:00 AM
MC5C MC5C is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Tatamagouche Nova Scotia
Posts: 744
Default

You have to play them and hear them to know. I absolutely love vintage instruments - but I don't like the sound of a whole lot of vintage acoustic archtops. They sound nasal, thin, mid-rangey to me, I can't come to grips with that. Yet I keep looking, and I own a couple of them that I cherish for other reasons. when I made my first archtop, in a light modern style of construction, I started to hear the sound I wanted. My last two nailed it for me. My goal is very balanced and even from top to bottom, oddly more like a flat-top sound. Someone who cherished the sound of a 1930's Gibson or a small body Epiphone Olympic like Rawlings plays might not like mine at all.
__________________
Brian Evans
1935 Dobro model 25 resonator
1943 Paramount (made by Kay) mandolin
1946 Epiphone Zephyr electric archtop
1957 Hofner Senator archtop
1962 Gibson Melody Maker electric
1963 National Dynamic lap steel
1996 Landola jumbo
1998 Godin Artisan TC electric
1998 Epiphone SG electric
2010 GoldTone PBR-CA resonator
2015 Evans electric archtop
2016 Evans archtop
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 03-04-2019, 02:23 PM
ozarkmac ozarkmac is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Missouri Ozarks
Posts: 77
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by MC5C View Post
You have to play them and hear them to know. I absolutely love vintage instruments - but I don't like the sound of a whole lot of vintage acoustic archtops. They sound nasal, thin, mid-rangey to me, I can't come to grips with that. Yet I keep looking, and I own a couple of them that I cherish for other reasons. when I made my first archtop, in a light modern style of construction, I started to hear the sound I wanted. My last two nailed it for me. My goal is very balanced and even from top to bottom, oddly more like a flat-top sound. Someone who cherished the sound of a 1930's Gibson or a small body Epiphone Olympic like Rawlings plays might not like mine at all.
MC5C, What are the least "nasal, thin, mid-rangey" vintage acoustic archtops you are aware of? Any modern acoustic archtops that are preferable to you? Juan, sorry to hi-jack your thread!
__________________
"I can sit here quietly and let you think I'm stupid or I can say something and confirm it for you."
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 03-04-2019, 02:43 PM
WordMan WordMan is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,423
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ozarkmac View Post
MC5C, What are the least "nasal, thin, mid-rangey" vintage acoustic archtops you are aware of? Any modern acoustic archtops that are preferable to you? Juan, sorry to hi-jack your thread!
My 1938 Kalamazoo KG-31 has a wonderful full tone. Mahogany body and neck, short scale, no truss rod. They vary widely, but a strummy one like mine is excellent.
__________________
An old Gibson and a couple of old Martins; a couple of homebrew Tele's
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Archtops

Tags
archtop, buying used guitar, epiphone archtop, vintage acoustic

Thread Tools



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:49 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=