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  #1  
Old 12-31-2020, 07:25 PM
antvas1963 antvas1963 is offline
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Default Hollow body question

Is an Archtop the same as a hollow body? I have an Ibanez AF 75 that I am really trying to like. The guitar sounds kind of harsh , and trebly. I keep trying different strings to remedy this problem.
I know itís a hollow body but is it a Archtop?
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  #2  
Old 12-31-2020, 08:41 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Originally Posted by antvas1963 View Post
...I have an Ibanez AF75 that I am really trying to like. The guitar sounds kind of harsh and trebly. I keep trying different strings to remedy this problem...
Have you gone to a heavier gauge - IME at a bare minimum you'll need 12's (with a wound G) on a short-scale guitar like the AF75, to get that "woody" tone you expect from a full-hollow archtop electric; I'd also recommend flatwounds - not only are they less "fizzy" and edgy-sounding, but you can drop the action significantly lower than with roundwounds to offset the extra effort otherwise necessary to finger them (a trick all those fleet-fingered '50s jazzers and rockabilly cats knew - and used to great advantage). Finally, you might try a rosewood bridge - they're already compensated for heavier gauges with a wound G, and for around $25 it's a cheap (and quickly reversible) modification which, in combination with heavier strings, should get you the sound you're after...
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Old 01-01-2021, 09:24 AM
antvas1963 antvas1963 is offline
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Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Have you gone to a heavier gauge - IME at a bare minimum you'll need 12's (with a wound G) on a short-scale guitar like the AF75, to get that "woody" tone you expect from a full-hollow archtop electric; I'd also recommend flatwounds - not only are they less "fizzy" and edgy-sounding, but you can drop the action significantly lower than with roundwounds to offset the extra effort otherwise necessary to finger them (a trick all those fleet-fingered '50s jazzers and rockabilly cats knew - and used to great advantage). Finally, you might try a rosewood bridge - they're already compensated for heavier gauges with a wound G, and for around $25 it's a cheap (and quickly reversible) modification which, in combination with heavier strings, should get you the sound you're after...
Thanks Steve, I m using 9s on it right now. I will give some 12 flat wounds a try.
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Old 01-01-2021, 11:31 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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My pleasure - FYI you'll need to make some adjustments when you do:
  • Truss Rod: the increased string tension will cause a slight bow in the neck (perfectly normal, BTW), and it'll take a tweak or two of the truss rod to compensate; while I usually do this myself, be aware that there's also the potential for causing major damage (I've seen a couple broken truss rods - a $500+ repair job - in my lifetime) - so if you've never done this before or you're uncomfortable with the idea, have it done by a professional tech
  • Action: this goes hand-in-hand with the truss rod adjustment, and if you're taking your guitar to a tech he/she will adjust the bridge height at the same time; since you're going to a significantly heavier string (especially in the bass) you'll also need to have the nut slots filed to prevent binding, allow the strings to seat properly, maintain proper action at the first fret, and allow for accurate intonation - again, a job best left for a pro tech...
  • Intonation: if you have a good clip-on tuner this is one you could do yourself (I do), by moving the individual saddles and/or the entire bridge assembly as necessary (at a bare minimum you will need to do this on the third string, when you switch from a plain to a wound G); once again, if you're bringing your guitar to a pro tech this is customarily done as part of a setup job...
  • Fret Leveling: switching to relatively heavy flatwound strings allows you to lower the action significantly, and this is what separates the better-quality instruments from the low-end gear - corners need to be cut to keep prices down, and IME one way this is done is by using light-gauge strings and higher action to compensate for mediocre (or sometimes poor) fret work; a professional fret leveling (and if you're bringing in your guitar have it done, period) allows for minimum action without buzzing, proper intonation (FYI a good tech can sometimes correct minor irregularities on individual frets/strings), and smoother playing overall - done right, you'll have no problem doing reasonable string bends, even with 12's...
Good luck...
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Old 01-01-2021, 11:57 AM
Aspiring Aspiring is offline
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9s to 12s is a big jump.

I had 12s TI flatwound on my Collings I30 and switched to 11s on it. At least for that guitar I didn't notice a significant drop in tone and the playability increase is nice.
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:19 AM
M Hayden M Hayden is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Have you gone to a heavier gauge - IME at a bare minimum you'll need 12's (with a wound G) on a short-scale guitar like the AF75, to get that "woody" tone you expect from a full-hollow archtop electric; I'd also recommend flatwounds - not only are they less "fizzy" and edgy-sounding, but you can drop the action significantly lower than with roundwounds to offset the extra effort otherwise necessary to finger them (a trick all those fleet-fingered '50s jazzers and rockabilly cats knew - and used to great advantage). Finally, you might try a rosewood bridge - they're already compensated for heavier gauges with a wound G, and for around $25 it's a cheap (and quickly reversible) modification which, in combination with heavier strings, should get you the sound you're after...
Right on the money.

12s are almost a necessity, but they donít have to feel heavy; archtops are not hard to set up, as Steve notes.

Some of the Ibanez AGs ship with an alternate rosewood bridge, and it makes an enormous difference in tone. I have an AFJ 81 - the larger body with only neck pickup - and the rosewood bridge is much lighter, allowing the top to move much more. Itís a much sweeter-sounding guitar with the RW bridge.
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Old 01-02-2021, 10:58 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Originally Posted by Aspiring View Post
...I had 12s TI flatwound on my Collings I30 and switched to 11s on it. At least for that guitar I didn't notice a significant drop in tone and the playability increase is nice.
The Collings I30 is a $5000 handmade guitar with specially-constructed, purpose-built top and back plates designed for acoustic resonance, and Lollar pickups - and sounds like it...

The Ibanez AF75 is a $400 Pac-Rim guitar, factory-built to a price from what amounts to glorified wall-panel plywood and equipped with $15/pair generic pickups...

Big difference - you need as much string tension as possible to get that dead-wood body into the game, and as much vibrating mass as possible to keep the cheap pickups from sounding harsh and trebly (in other words, "cheap"); as a teacher working with mostly younger students, I had to develop quite a bag of low-cost/no-cost tricks to wring the last possible drop of tone and playability from entry-level guitars (FWIW every one of my kids got a basic bridge/truss rod/intonation/string change setup job - and a "fret sprout" filing if necessary - on me), so I'm speaking from extensive experience here. With a good pro setup, the OP should have no playability issues with 12's - and a whole lot more tone to boot...
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  #8  
Old 01-02-2021, 06:46 PM
Aspiring Aspiring is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
The Collings I30 is a $5000 handmade guitar with specially-constructed, purpose-built top and back plates designed for acoustic resonance, and Lollar pickups - and sounds like it...

The Ibanez AF75 is a $400 Pac-Rim guitar, factory-built to a price from what amounts to glorified wall-panel plywood and equipped with $15/pair generic pickups...

Big difference - you need as much string tension as possible to get that dead-wood body into the game, and as much vibrating mass as possible to keep the cheap pickups from sounding harsh and trebly (in other words, "cheap"); as a teacher working with mostly younger students, I had to develop quite a bag of low-cost/no-cost tricks to wring the last possible drop of tone and playability from entry-level guitars (FWIW every one of my kids got a basic bridge/truss rod/intonation/string change setup job - and a "fret sprout" filing if necessary - on me), so I'm speaking from extensive experience here. With a good pro setup, the OP should have no playability issues with 12's - and a whole lot more tone to boot...
That makes sense. When I was playing a bit more budget friendly electrics they were all solid body and I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference anyway. That is also why I included what guitar my experience were based on as a reference point as I didn't know if it would carry over

Thanks for clarifying.
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  #9  
Old 01-02-2021, 09:29 PM
antvas1963 antvas1963 is offline
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New strings and a rose wood bridge should arrive by mail tomorrow.
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  #10  
Old Today, 05:02 PM
Bubbalou88 Bubbalou88 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antvas1963 View Post
Is an Archtop the same as a hollow body? I have an Ibanez AF 75 that I am really trying to like. The guitar sounds kind of harsh , and trebly. I keep trying different strings to remedy this problem.
I know it’s a hollow body but is it a Archtop?
I use PURE Nickel strings for a smoother mellower sound. Nickel plated don't do it. D'Addario Pure Nickel wounds are great
Archtops can be Hollow Body or Semi Hollow Body (has a centerblock for less feedback and thinner body)
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