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Old 02-27-2020, 12:13 PM
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Michael Watts Michael Watts is offline
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Default Archtops for Fingerstyle Players

Hello everyone,

I've been exploring archtop textures in my next album and wanted to learn more about this area of modern guitar making. Who better to talk to than Colorado's Sean McGowan - I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!



All the best

Michael
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Old 02-27-2020, 02:51 PM
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Thanks Michael for posting this, great subject both the title and your guest.

I was around Sean at last year's Swannanoa Gathering and got to see him in an evening concert. He has some chops and seems like a really nice guy.
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Old 02-27-2020, 03:16 PM
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Michael, thanks for that...

Sean is a great guy, educator and player and you’ll have a ball in Colorado in September. I enjoy and own both luthier made archtops as well as flattops. As you know, they excel at differing timbral aspects. I also am a fan of piezoelectric / magnetic pickup combinations. Like Sean said, the piezo adds 10-20% of the signal by adding acoustic ambience to the main magnetic mix. I like the Barbera Soloist transducer because it is quiet with string noise and requires no preamp in the guitar.

Additionally, there is a world of hybrid instruments that fall in between archtops and flattops (e.g. oval hole archtops with tapered rims and flat backs and flattops with carved backs). Mine are all 1-3/4” nut widths with 25” to 25-1/4” scale lengths. If you come to Woodstock or Artisan I’d be happy to let you audition some. Lastly, those black Kent Armstrong 12-pole piece humbuckers and 6-pole piece single coils rule...
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Old 02-28-2020, 06:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SprintBob View Post
Thanks Michael for posting this, great subject both the title and your guest.

I was around Sean at last year's Swannanoa Gathering and got to see him in an evening concert. He has some chops and seems like a really nice guy.
Absolutely right! Sean is an amazing player and I'm really happy to get his input on this part of my guitar-bothering journey!

Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post
Michael, thanks for that...

Sean is a great guy, educator and player and you’ll have a ball in Colorado in September. I enjoy and own both luthier made archtops as well as flattops. As you know, they excel at differing timbral aspects. I also am a fan of piezoelectric / magnetic pickup combinations. Like Sean said, the piezo adds 10-20% of the signal by adding acoustic ambience to the main magnetic mix. I like the Barbera Soloist transducer because it is quiet with string noise and requires no preamp in the guitar.

Additionally, there is a world of hybrid instruments that fall in between archtops and flattops (e.g. oval hole archtops with tapered rims and flat backs and flattops with carved backs). Mine are all 1-3/4” nut widths with 25” to 25-1/4” scale lengths. If you come to Woodstock or Artisan I’d be happy to let you audition some. Lastly, those black Kent Armstrong 12-pole piece humbuckers and 6-pole piece single coils rule...
Thank you! That's very generous! I hope I'll be able to take you up on that at some point.

As for the humbuckers, I don't usually allow my complete lack of knowledge or experience prevent me from voicing an opinion!
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Old 02-28-2020, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Watts View Post
Absolutely right! Sean is an amazing player and I'm really happy to get his input on this part of my guitar-bothering journey!

Thank you! That's very generous! I hope I'll be able to take you up on that at some point.

As for the humbuckers, I don't usually allow my complete lack of knowledge or experience prevent me from voicing an opinion!
There are ugly black pig iron adjustable pole-piece single coils as well.... Here are two archtops that might be a bit more comfortable than the Gibson's that you were playing.

Here is a 17" Italian Spruce / Bosnian Maple archtop made by Uzes, France luthier Bryant Trenier. It is 3-1/8" at the rims and has a fairly flat arch in the style of Jimmy D'Aquisto. The scale length is 25-1/4" and the nut width is 1-3/4". It has a Kent Armstrong 6-pole piece single coil pickup (pig-iron ) that provides clarity and warmth.



This is a 16" Carpathian Spruce / Honduran Mahogany hybrid oval hole archtop by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania luthier Bill Comins. It has tapered rims (like a flattop) that are 3-1/4" to 4-1/8" deep and a ladder braced arched flattop style back and a flatter arch to the top carve. This provides enhanced bass response, sustain with a bit more overtone content than a typical archtop (think 75% archtop / 25% flattop). The scale length is 25-1/4" and the nut width is 1-3/4".

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Old 02-28-2020, 05:03 PM
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Here’s how it is “done” on a Gibson (Peter Mazza)...

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