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  #16  
Old 09-24-2022, 08:25 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Originally Posted by tbeltrans View Post
That looks to be a BIG guitar! I would think it could be mighty loud with a big beautiful tone...

I have not had the opportunity to play a vintage Epiphone archtop yet, but they do show up locally on rare occasions. Considering how highly thought of they universally seem to be, I will have to make a point of getting to a shop that gets one in. George Van Eps played a 7 string Epiphone as I recall having read.
You're right on the money about size (18-3/8") and volume - many Big Band-era compers favored Emperors for their ability to project to the back row of a 3000-seat house and, if you're familiar with the "classical archtop" solo style that flourished between 1925-1940 (search it on the AGF search engine), the center-hole design provides the extended bass response of a flattop with an archtop's immediacy and projection - perfect for the solo excursions of the virtuoso prewar soloists...

If you've never played a good New York-era Epi you're in for an experience, especially if you're used to the often clubby-feeling necks on guitars from this period; while generally large (with the exception of some '37-39 models that boasted 1-9/16" necks - which would not appear on any other Epiphone instrument for another 25 years) - a necessity in the days when a 14-60 set was considered standard gauge, and Epiphone would set up your brand-new guitar for a wound B string at no extra charge - I find them more comfortable than their Gibson competitors in spite of their often-substantial dimensions (not infrequently exceeding .90" at the nut, with many approaching a sitar-like 1.20" at the tenth fret). Just to whet your appetite a bit here's one of my favorites of the younger generation archtop players, fellow AGF'er Jonathan Stout (AKA CampusFive) showing how it's done at Norman's Rare Guitars; note the subtle tonal distinctions between guitars of the same make/model as well as between different makes/body sizes (he's using a prewar L-5N in the third clip), how each is used in chord-solo/single-string/comping roles - and precisely why those New York-era 18" Epiphone Emperors were so renowned for their ability to cut through a full-tilt 20-piece horn section with no problem:



On the other hand, many of the old-timers referred to their own (different) archtop technique as "coaxing the velvet out" - extracting that warm, rich, creamy, woody, "tone you can eat with a spoon" from what could, in the hands of a lesser player, be solely a strident and steely-sounding instrument, to the ears of some lacking in dynamic range and character. While both approaches have their place and time (and a well-rounded archtop player should be proficient with both) I always preferred the latter: Romain Vuillemin provides a perfect example here, on similar instruments to those used by Messrs. Stout and Rossi, and offering a strong contrast to their edgier, punchier style intended to showcase the "cutting power" customarily associated with these guitars:

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  #17  
Old 09-25-2022, 06:19 AM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
You're right on the money about size (18-3/8") and volume - many Big Band-era compers favored Emperors for their ability to project to the back row of a 3000-seat house and, if you're familiar with the "classical archtop" solo style that flourished between 1925-1940 (search it on the AGF search engine), the center-hole design provides the extended bass response of a flattop with an archtop's immediacy and projection - perfect for the solo excursions of the virtuoso prewar soloists...

If you've never played a good New York-era Epi you're in for an experience, especially if you're used to the often clubby-feeling necks on guitars from this period; while generally large (with the exception of some '37-39 models that boasted 1-9/16" necks - which would not appear on any other Epiphone instrument for another 25 years) - a necessity in the days when a 14-60 set was considered standard gauge, and Epiphone would set up your brand-new guitar for a wound B string at no extra charge - I find them more comfortable than their Gibson competitors in spite of their often-substantial dimensions (not infrequently exceeding .90" at the nut, with many approaching a sitar-like 1.20" at the tenth fret). Just to whet your appetite a bit here's one of my favorites of the younger generation archtop players, fellow AGF'er Jonathan Stout (AKA CampusFive) showing how it's done at Norman's Rare Guitars; note the subtle tonal distinctions between guitars of the same make/model as well as between different makes/body sizes (he's using a prewar L-5N in the third clip), how each is used in chord-solo/single-string/comping roles - and precisely why those New York-era 18" Epiphone Emperors were so renowned for their ability to cut through a full-tilt 20-piece horn section with no problem:

[You tube videos removed for space considerations]

On the other hand, many of the old-timers referred to their own (different) archtop technique as "coaxing the velvet out" - extracting that warm, rich, creamy, woody, "tone you can eat with a spoon" from what could, in the hands of a lesser player, be solely a strident and steely-sounding instrument, to the ears of some lacking in dynamic range and character. While both approaches have their place and time (and a well-rounded archtop player should be proficient with both) I always preferred the latter: Romain Vuillemin provides a perfect example here, on similar instruments to those used by Messrs. Stout and Rossi, and offering a strong contrast to their edgier, punchier style intended to showcase the "cutting power" customarily associated with these guitars:

[You tube videos removed for space considerations]
Lots of information and great music here!

I am familiar with Jonathan Stout. I may have discovered him through a post of yours, I don't remember for sure. The other videos are new to me.

There are a lot of archtops that I have never been exposed to. I have played Gibson ES-175, ES-335, Johnny Smith, possibly an L5 (but that would have been years ago and I could be remembering incorrectly), Guild Artist Award from the late 1970s, and a couple of boutique builds from Ted Megas and Mark Campellone.

As nice as they all are, the absolute finest guitar I have ever played is my Citation. I would like to play some of those old Epiphone archtops from back when they were made in the US.

To me, the "perfect" guitar (whether archtop or flat top) is the one you (anybody) plays and never wishes it was just a bit bigger, smaller, wider string spacing, etc. The guitar is perfect as is and one can stop looking for the next one. The only guitar that has done that for me is my Citation. It was truly worth every penny, though I would have never guessed that I would spend that much on an instrument. I had just received an inheritance, so the money was available. I played it out of curiosity and was completely blown away, an experience I have never had with another guitar of any type. Even after owning it for a little while now and playing it every day, that same experience still occurs.

My interest in playing other archtops such as the early Epiphones is one of curiosity and for the experience of it. When an old Martin acoustic from the 1800s shows up at Willie's, I will go play it purely for the experience. I once owned a Martin acoustic from the 1920s and as cool as it was, it just wasn't the instrument for me.

Back to the videos...I really enjoyed all of them. I noticed in the videos you posted to demonstrate "coaxing the velvet out", that the player used a circular motion at times, and at other times, a straight up and down motion. All the videos seemed to focus on using a flat pick (called a "plectrum" in those days as evidenced by some of the old books I have from the 1930s such as the Eddie Lang and early George Van Eps methods).

My preference is for playing using bare fingers. I have tried using a pick, but it just feels awkward to me. I certainly get a lot more volume out of my Citation with a pick, but fingers just feel more natural and sound warmer to me.

Edit: I should add that all of the archtops I have played except Eastman, the boutique builders, and my Citation have sounded very mid-range to me. I think that is so they cut through a band. I was not at all expecting my Citation to sound as full as it does, since that had not been my experience with Gibson archtops up until that point. The Citation seems to me to be an acoustic archtop that also has a small floating pickup (from what I have read, it is called a "BJB" pickup), while most of the other Gibsons I have played seem more electric to me (except the Johnny Smith).

Tony
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Last edited by tbeltrans; 09-25-2022 at 08:39 AM.
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  #18  
Old 09-25-2022, 10:36 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Originally Posted by tbeltrans View Post
...the absolute finest guitar I have ever played is my Citation. I would like to play some of those old Epiphone archtops from back when they were made in the US.

To me, the "perfect" guitar (whether archtop or flat top) is the one you (anybody) plays and never wishes it was just a bit bigger, smaller, wider string spacing, etc. The guitar is perfect as is and one can stop looking for the next one. The only guitar that has done that for me is my Citation...I played it out of curiosity and was completely blown away, an experience I have never had with another guitar of any type. Even after owning it for a little while now and playing it every day, that same experience still occurs.

My interest in playing other archtops such as the early Epiphones is one of curiosity and for the experience of it...

...I noticed in the videos you posted to demonstrate "coaxing the velvet out", that the player used a circular motion at times, and at other times a straight up and down motion. All the videos seemed to focus on using a flat pick (called a "plectrum" in those days as evidenced by some of the old books I have from the 1930s such as the Eddie Lang and early George Van Eps methods).

My preference is for playing using bare fingers. I have tried using a pick, but it just feels awkward to me. I certainly get a lot more volume out of my Citation with a pick, but fingers just feel more natural and sound warmer to me...
In no particular order:
  • I had the opportunity to play a brand-new-with-tags, faded-cherryburst Citation about 30 years ago, at a now-defunct out-of-the-way Brooklyn music store that would be the last place you'd expect to find one , and it's everything you say it is and then some - unfortunately we were just getting off the ground as a family back then, and I couldn't afford the five-figure price of admission...
  • I've essentially made a second career playing guitars "out of curiosity," and as I think we've both discovered it's a wonderful way to not only determine what's right for you (as opposed to the "popular opinion" - can you say 1-3/4" prewar neck OM...? ), but to experience hands-on all those legendary instruments that still set the standard for everything a good guitar should be; while I've owned a few (Martin D-45, A-Series/white-label L-7, New York Epi Blackstone, Hofner 5000/1 Deluxe bass, my current White Falcon) it's a combination of serendipity, having come of musical age during the last days of the "old" NYC music scene, and an abundance of available vintage instruments in the pawnshops and dealers' "used sections" of the late-60's/early-70's, that provided a wealth of experiential knowledge...
  • While I won't get into an in-depth analysis in the interest of brevity, orthodox archtop pick technique is derived from orchestral-string bowing technique, and my rationale for choosing the above examples of the two contrasting approaches: the round, mellow sul tasto reinvented as "coaxing the velvet out" (the "glide-rather-than-pick/stroke-rather-than-strum" approach in Mr. Vuillemin's videos, to which you refer in your comments) versus the sul ponticello hammer-down of Messrs. Stout and Rossi, much like that of a Paganini seeking to extract the last ounce of volume from his instrument and project it to the farthest reaches of the concert hall by consciously emphasizing the upper frequencies - and the very reason I said that an archtop player should, in spite of personal preference, be well-acquainted with both...
  • One of the aforementioned serendipitous happenings was, as a kid, taking lessons with jazz legend (then a teenage phenom) Jack Wilkins, to whom I owe much of my understanding of acoustic archtop guitars. Lessons were routinely conducted with a prewar script-logo L-5N (nearly identical to the one Mr. Stout is playing in the duet video BTW), and one of the things he taught me to look for in a good archtop guitar is its fingerstyle response: while any half-decent instrument can do the Freddie Green four-to-the-bar chunk, and the better ones lend themselves to single-string and chord-melody work without sounding strident and edgy, it's only the very best that have the sensitivity of response to be usable as full-dynamic-range fingerstyle instruments - IME rare company indeed, and (pun intended) it sounds like you've got one of those on your hands...
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Old 09-25-2022, 02:08 PM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
In no particular order:
  • I had the opportunity to play a brand-new-with-tags, faded-cherryburst Citation about 30 years ago, at a now-defunct out-of-the-way Brooklyn music store that would be the last place you'd expect to find one , and it's everything you say it is and then some - unfortunately we were just getting off the ground as a family back then, and I couldn't afford the five-figure price of admission...
  • I've essentially made a second career playing guitars "out of curiosity," and as I think we've both discovered it's a wonderful way to not only determine what's right for you (as opposed to the "popular opinion" - can you say 1-3/4" prewar neck OM...? ), but to experience hands-on all those legendary instruments that still set the standard for everything a good guitar should be; while I've owned a few (Martin D-45, A-Series/white-label L-7, New York Epi Blackstone, Hofner 5000/1 Deluxe bass, my current White Falcon) it's a combination of serendipity, having come of musical age during the last days of the "old" NYC music scene, and an abundance of available vintage instruments in the pawnshops and dealers' "used sections" of the late-60's/early-70's, that provided a wealth of experiential knowledge...
  • While I won't get into an in-depth analysis in the interest of brevity, orthodox archtop pick technique is derived from orchestral-string bowing technique, and my rationale for choosing the above examples of the two contrasting approaches: the round, mellow sul tasto reinvented as "coaxing the velvet out" (the "glide-rather-than-pick/stroke-rather-than-strum" approach in Mr. Vuillemin's videos, to which you refer in your comments) versus the sul ponticello hammer-down of Messrs. Stout and Rossi, much like that of a Paganini seeking to extract the last ounce of volume from his instrument and project it to the farthest reaches of the concert hall by consciously emphasizing the upper frequencies - and the very reason I said that an archtop player should, in spite of personal preference, be well-acquainted with both...
  • One of the aforementioned serendipitous happenings was, as a kid, taking lessons with jazz legend (then a teenage phenom) Jack Wilkins, to whom I owe much of my understanding of acoustic archtop guitars. Lessons were routinely conducted with a prewar script-logo L-5N (nearly identical to the one Mr. Stout is playing in the duet video BTW), and one of the things he taught me to look for in a good archtop guitar is its fingerstyle response: while any half-decent instrument can do the Freddie Green four-to-the-bar chunk, and the better ones lend themselves to single-string and chord-melody work without sounding strident and edgy, it's only the very best that have the sensitivity of response to be usable as full-dynamic-range fingerstyle instruments - IME rare company indeed, and (pun intended) it sounds like you've got one of those on your hands...
Regarding the Citation, I was EXTREMELY fortunate. I really don't need my other guitars at this point and am slowly selling them off locally. I may keep one or two acoustics though, especially my Huss & Dalton 00 12 fret because they stopped building them with a 1 7/8" nut some years ago so I couldn't replace it if I later had regrets for selling it.

I am very fortunate to have Willie's American Guitars not far from me. I get to play some interesting guitars there (but I didn't get the Citation there). They deal in a lot of quality vintage guitars and amps. They are really into Magnatone amplifiers, both the vintage and new, as well as vintage Fender and all that stuff. I wish The Podium was still around though.

This:

While I won't get into an in-depth analysis in the interest of brevity, orthodox archtop pick technique is derived from orchestral-string bowing technique, and my rationale for choosing the above examples of the two contrasting approaches: the round, mellow sul tasto reinvented as "coaxing the velvet out" (the "glide-rather-than-pick/stroke-rather-than-strum" approach in Mr. Vuillemin's videos, to which you refer in your comments) versus the sul ponticello hammer-down of Messrs. Stout and Rossi, much like that of a Paganini seeking to extract the last ounce of volume from his instrument and project it to the farthest reaches of the concert hall by consciously emphasizing the upper frequencies - and the very reason I said that an archtop player should, in spite of personal preference, be well-acquainted with both...

...is of particular interest to me. I never knew about any of this, but will look further into it. I feel that I do need to develop plectrum technique at some point.

I know of Jack Wilkins, to a limited degree. He had a couple of masterclasses on either Mike's Masterclasses or My Music Masterclasses (I don't recall which) and I purchased them. Unfortunately, the audio is pretty bad, but I have been able to glean some information from these.

Tony
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Old 09-25-2022, 03:06 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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...This <cut> is of particular interest to me. I never knew about any of this, but will look further into it. I feel that I do need to develop plectrum technique at some point...

I know of Jack Wilkins, to a limited degree. He had a couple of masterclasses on either Mike's Masterclasses or My Music Masterclasses (I don't recall which) and I purchased them. Unfortunately, the audio is pretty bad, but I have been able to glean some information from these.
Thankfully there's a bunch of stuff on YouTube, with better audio and video quality, that illustrates many of the techniques I mentioned. If you're interested in developing your plectrum technique, I'd recommend typing "classical archtop" into the AGF search engine and watching/listening to some of the videos posted (FYI this style of play is enjoying a minor resurgence, and there are a few guys pulling off stuff from the Spanish repertoire generally thought to require an advanced right-hand fingerstyle technique); you might also want to pick up a copy of Mel Bay's Masters of the Plectrum Guitar, a compendium of prewar-period "classical archtop" and original chord-melody solos by the likes of Harry Volpe, Al Hendrickson, et al. ...

Outside of his formidable chops, the things I remember best about Jack were his shared passion for all things guitar and easy-going manner/teaching style - as a ten-year-old, it was almost like taking lessons from my big brother; this clip will provide a bit of insight into his technical development - for which I was there during many of the earlier stages:



- and my favorite from his more recent material, tearing it up with Howard Alden on this Tal Farlow composition:

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Old 09-25-2022, 03:47 PM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Thankfully there's a bunch of stuff on YouTube, with better audio and video quality, that illustrates many of the techniques I mentioned. If you're interested in developing your plectrum technique, I'd recommend typing "classical archtop" into the AGF search engine and watching/listening to some of the videos posted (FYI this style of play is enjoying a minor resurgence, and there are a few guys pulling off stuff from the Spanish repertoire generally thought to require an advanced right-hand fingerstyle technique); you might also want to pick up a copy of Mel Bay's Masters of the Plectrum Guitar, a compendium of prewar-period "classical archtop" and original chord-melody solos by the likes of Harry Volpe, Al Hendrickson, et al. ...

Outside of his formidable chops, the things I remember best about Jack were his shared passion for all things guitar and easy-going manner/teaching style - as a ten-year-old, it was almost like taking lessons from my big brother; this clip will provide a bit of insight into his technical development - for which I was there during many of the earlier stages:



- and my favorite from his more recent material, tearing it up with Howard Alden on this Tal Farlow composition:

Thanks Steve. I just ordered the book from melbay.com because they currently have a 30% off sale. I am well stocked with a variety of picks. I have this idea that if I can get used to the Black Mountain thumb pick picks, I could handle fingerstyle and have the pick whenever I need it.

Those videos you linked are quite good and inspiring. I will look up "classical archtop". Also, I noticed that Mel Bay had soe books, particularly a Sal Savadore classical plectrum book, but I will wait on that until I start getting into the one I just ordered.

Tony
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Old 09-25-2022, 07:12 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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...I will look up "classical archtop." Also, I noticed that Mel Bay had some books, particularly a Sal Salvador classical plectrum book, but I will wait on that until I start getting into the one I just ordered...
While you're waiting (and to give you a better idea of what the whole "classical archtop" genre is all about) here's a couple of examples from prewar masters, as well as some current practitioners; BTW I think you'll find the renditions of Tarrega's Recuerdos de la Alhambra and Villa-Lobos' Prelude #3 - traditionally fingerstyle classical guitar virtuoso pieces - particularly impressive, as I did :


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Old 09-26-2022, 12:28 AM
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I want an acoustic archtop that can make that mellow jazz sound. That sound that archtops make when plugged in with a little reverb. That sound that flattops make when you play bar chords and strum up the neck. That sound that makes you think of cats with berets and brushes on drums.

Is there an acoustic archtop that can make “that sound” unplugged?
If you find one please share, but I am afraid you might be on a hopeless quest… a wild-goose chase, barking up the wrong tree, etc etc

If I got it right, the sound you have in mind is something like Wes. The "thumb" (and the alas fragile big heart behind it) was obviously a big part of it, but I've heard wonderful mellow jazz guitar sounds from plectrum guitarists. Hear this (a Byrdland through a blackface amp played so wonderfully I am lost for words):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-AU...g7h9gPMSq6fcVY

But a magnetic pickup through the bit of circuitry that is an amp is a HUGE part of that sound. And given that you're amplified, you can pick or pluck the string as softly as you wish and still have plenty of volume. It's all part of the recipe.

Acoustic archtops are usually (though not necessarily) played pretty hard to coax enough volume to be heard in ensemble playing. They can be extremely sweet if picked as Romain does in the video above – I especially love old Epiphones for their near-lute sound when picked in their sweet spot – and are much more mids-forward than your typical flat-top, BUT they're still unmistakably acoustic guitars, and have that zing… even when played as sweetly and wonderfully as this (both, I think, are Epiphone Deluxes in the hands of the masters, Van Eps and Bucky)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmpNfUiClQ0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2AaFXhC3Us

Perhaps your quest would be easier if you shed the acoustic aspect of it, and focused on (say) convenience and portability. A big hollowbody with a set humbucker – even a pimped-up, made in China Epiphone Broadway – and a good little amp would probably take you there at bedroom levels, better than a 6-7k 1930s archtop.
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Old 09-26-2022, 11:11 AM
RLetson RLetson is offline
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Been following this thread, listening to the videos, and considering the various sounds I try to produce on the guitars I've had to hand over the years, and radiofm74's take is the one that, um, resonates with me. The key phrases from the OP are the ones he cites, particularly "that sound that archtops make when plugged in with a little reverb."

That exact sound is precisely the sound of a mag pickup and a particular signal chain, and the closest single-string acoustic equivalent I can think of is actually a flat-top played a bit north of the sound hole.

It's a bit more complicated for rhythm, since nearly every traditionally-built archtop I've encountered has a sizeable dose of nasality, and some have so much clang and honk that it's nearly impossible to get a nice round chunk out of them--not unlike getting a sweet sound out of a quacky piezo pickup on a flat-top. So getting "that" sound is partly the instrument and partly the player's skill. (Which I take to be pretty much Steve Da Rosa's take on the matter.)

All a player can do is play a bunch of guitars--and maybe work on right-hand technique.
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Old 09-26-2022, 07:33 PM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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While you're waiting (and to give you a better idea of what the whole "classical archtop" genre is all about) here's a couple of examples from prewar masters, as well as some current practitioners; BTW I think you'll find the renditions of Tarrega's Recuerdos de la Alhambra and Villa-Lobos' Prelude #3 - traditionally fingerstyle classical guitar virtuoso pieces - particularly impressive, as I did :

[Video links removed to save space]
Thanks again Steve. Your information has been particularly helpful and given me a lot to explore.

Tony
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Old 09-27-2022, 09:41 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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Late to the thread, but yes, as others have said, a lot of times the plugged in sound of an archtop versus the unplugged are vastly different things.

Which is not to say there aren't "sweet" sounding acoustic archtops...but even that tone is very different from a plugged in guitar.

I'm another person who found the mellow tone I wanted for unplugged jazz playing in a flat top-- namely an all mahogany flat top. Actually, in the little over a year that I've been playing this guitar, I've often wondered why more jazz players don't go this route for unplugged sounds...
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Old 09-28-2022, 07:32 AM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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Late to the thread, but yes, as others have said, a lot of times the plugged in sound of an archtop versus the unplugged are vastly different things.

Which is not to say there aren't "sweet" sounding acoustic archtops...but even that tone is very different from a plugged in guitar.

I'm another person who found the mellow tone I wanted for unplugged jazz playing in a flat top-- namely an all mahogany flat top. Actually, in the little over a year that I've been playing this guitar, I've often wondered why more jazz players don't go this route for unplugged sounds...
At least in my case, it comes down to personal taste (or lack thereof ). I once owned an old Martin all mahogany small body acoustic (I think it was something along the lines of 1927 2-17). I never cared for the sound of it, nor any other mahogany top acoustic. I had an opportunity at one point to trade for a Taylor all koa guitar and again, simply didn't care for the sound.

To my ears, the instruments of this type that I played sounded dull, rather than warm. Clearly to others, such guitars are quite desirable. I can't account for why they don't strike me that way. It is as if I am somehow completely missing the point of all mahogany (or koa) guitars.

Many of the archtops I have played, don't appeal to me acoustically either because they all too often sound very thin and strictly midrange. I assume the intention is to cut through the other instruments, much as a banjo could in early jazz.

The archtops that do really appeal to me acoustically that I have personally played are those built by Ted Megas and Mark Campellone (the only two boutique builders whose guitars I have had the opportunity to play), and the Gibson Johnny Smith and Citation.

Maybe each of us hears differently?

As far as I am concerned (at least in my own experience, once we plug in, most any archtop can be made to sound however we want it to, and I agree that the sound definitely won't be acoustic. My preference is for that "smokey late night" sound.

Another advantage of at least some archtops is that they tend to play very easily, much like a typical solid body electric. This is true of my Citation, for example. I have not found that to be true of any acoustic I have played, though with a good setup they can get close. My aging fingers seem to fare better on such an archtop, and having found one that gives me the acoustic sound and volume I want has been a real treat.

Edit: I suspect (but can't prove it due to complete lack of any personal knowledge of building instruments) that getting a truly decent acoustic sound from an archtop would be an expensive proposition. My reason is that I would think that making such an archtop would be similar in many respect to building a fine cello or similar instrument.

Tony
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Last edited by tbeltrans; 09-28-2022 at 09:15 AM.
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Old 09-28-2022, 10:14 PM
RLetson RLetson is offline
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Tony B: I don't build guitars, but I've spent a good bit of time with those that do, including a couple who have made very nice archtops, and you're right about it being a labor- and skill/experience-intensive process. I suspect that a thorough cost-accounting of the whole process easily justifes the current price tag of single-builder examples.

BTW--Did you by any chance dispose of a mid-1920s Martin 2-17 at Willie's some years back? Because I bought one there maybe ten years ago. . . . (I think it's a pretty sweet guitar and cute as a button.)
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Old 09-29-2022, 04:49 AM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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Originally Posted by RLetson View Post
Tony B: I don't build guitars, but I've spent a good bit of time with those that do, including a couple who have made very nice archtops, and you're right about it being a labor- and skill/experience-intensive process. I suspect that a thorough cost-accounting of the whole process easily justifes the current price tag of single-builder examples.

BTW--Did you by any chance dispose of a mid-1920s Martin 2-17 at Willie's some years back? Because I bought one there maybe ten years ago. . . . (I think it's a pretty sweet guitar and cute as a button.)
It might well have been. It is nice to know that guitars make the rounds and eventually end up in the right hands.

Tony
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Old 09-30-2022, 11:37 PM
WmHulme WmHulme is offline
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Originally Posted by tbeltrans View Post

Another advantage of at least some archtops is that they tend to play very easily, much like a typical solid body electric. This is true of my Citation, for example. I have not found that to be true of any acoustic I have played, though with a good setup they can get close. My aging fingers seem to fare better on such an archtop, and having found one that gives me the acoustic sound and volume I want has been a real treat

Tony
It seems like maybe the reason you’ve experienced acoustic archtops being easy to play could be the same reason they sound bad to you—the wrong strings. For an acoustic archtop to sound good, you should be using medium gauge PB strings, or monel. They are simply not going to sound that good acoustic with electric guitar strings.
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