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  #31  
Old 04-16-2019, 02:52 PM
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BoneDigger BoneDigger is offline
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Originally Posted by jazzer44 View Post
The contemporary Epi Century Deluxe archtop is a horrible guitar.
The vintage Epi Deluxe made in NY in 1930s & 40s (before Gibson's parent bought Epiphone) is a truly magnificent top notch instrument.
The two have very little in common.
Looks like Gibson is still sore about Epiphone having made better archtops back in the day. Note that most top jazz guitarists played Epiphone back then, while the singing cowboys played Gibson.
Maybe for your needs, but not for everyone, as has been demonstrated by a few here who really like the newer series.
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  #32  
Old 04-16-2019, 09:51 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzer44 View Post
The contemporary Epi Century Deluxe archtop is a horrible guitar.
The vintage Epi Deluxe made in NY in 1930s & 40s (before Gibson's parent bought Epiphone) is a truly magnificent top notch instrument.
The two have very little in common.
Looks like Gibson is still sore about Epiphone having made better archtops back in the day. Note that most top jazz guitarists played Epiphone back then, while the singing cowboys played Gibson.
So Charlie Christian, Alvino Rey, Allen Reuss, Les Paul, Eddie Lang, Snoozer Quinn, were all singing cowboys? Maybe they could have been somebody if they played an Epiphone!

And as for the new Masterbuilt reissues, they are fine guitars for what they are, a budget archtop. I own a TON of high end guitars, but I bought my little Olympic because I picked it up to show somebody a song that I had just wrote, and guess what, it had a unique midrange oriented sound that works for a certain style that I like to play in, no, not jazz, but a blues/folk fingerstyle. Is it like the originals? No, not really, but it has a sound that I find musical. And that doesn't equate to "horrible" to me. I've made a pretty good living as a musician for the last 20 years, so I think I know when I've found a good instrument.
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  #33  
Old 04-17-2019, 07:15 AM
mikehartigan mikehartigan is online now
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Originally Posted by jazzer44 View Post
The contemporary Epi Century Deluxe archtop is a horrible guitar. [...]
A bit of an overstatement, IMO. Granted, I have no experience with the vintage Epi Archtops, so I can't make a direct comparison. But, of the few dozen guitars I've played over the past 50 years or so, my Zenith is near the top of the list, not only in terms of bang for the buck, but also for its tone, playability, and all around fun to play. Its visual appeal is the icing on that cake. I'll be content to wallow in my ignorance.
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  #34  
Old 04-17-2019, 10:15 AM
gerardo1000 gerardo1000 is offline
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I have never played a Zenith model, which seems to be well regarded by other forum members, so please take my opinion with a grainof salt: in the budget archtops field, I find the Godin 5th Avenue and the Loar LH-300 superior in tone to the Epi Century Collection. But this is a very personal opinion, of course.
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  #35  
Old 04-17-2019, 10:44 AM
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Not everyone is looking fow jazz tone out of an archtop. The Epis have a different tone from a typical archtop. Some like that tone (I do) and others don't. No harm there.
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  #36  
Old 04-17-2019, 10:55 AM
jazzer44 jazzer44 is offline
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Originally Posted by BoneDigger View Post
Maybe for your needs, but not for everyone, as has been demonstrated by a few here who really like the newer series.
Nice deflectionary tactic, but this isn't about my needs, its about the OP being disappointed with the Epiphone Century De Luxe archtop. The following are some points why the Origianl Poster may be disappointed:
- pressed top on plywood body sounds like a toy - quacky & midrange heavy. A nice way of describe bad tone is to call it "unique"
-electronically the pickup is more like a $15 joke, not something you want on a guitar with MSRP well over $1K
- uncomfortable neck with sharp edges I found quite fatiguing, probably due to bulky neck profile and non-slip finish on back of neck causing unwanted friction

And I don't call it a horrible guitar just because it sounds crappy acoustically & electronically and because it is difficult to play, but also because of how they're marketing it:
- confuse market with wrong appointments - they are of a lower model Triumph not a Deluxe model - fret markers, binding, mahogany neck, no hump pickguard, silver instead of gold hardware
- confuse marketplace by adding the word "Century" into the name (Century was another Epi model back in the day)
- original Deluxe had maple neck, not mahogany. The manufacturer's specs says maple-mahogany neck (its really a mahogany neck with maple stripe)
- when Gibson went to 17" archtops, Epiphone went 17 3/8"

In further support of the original posting I'll add that the arching looks Micky Mouse - its low and lacks styling, and that the finish is what I'd expect to see on a low end mass produced instrument. So in reality, this instrument didn't even look good hanging on my wall (guess its below wall hanger status in my books)
I was 3rd owner when I bought mine soon after these hit the market. I purchased it for cheap and sold it even cheaper because I couldn't look the buyer in the eye and say this was a good guitar. I noticed that person who bought my guitar listed it for sale a week later.
My opinion is that anyone who says this is a good guitar is likely a beginner lacking knowledge of what else is out there. I wouldn't have another at any price, but realistically I think they should be priced under $500 new, $250-300 used. Thanks for allowing free speech and opinions.
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  #37  
Old 04-17-2019, 10:59 AM
jazzer44 jazzer44 is offline
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Originally Posted by rockabilly69 View Post
So Charlie Christian, Alvino Rey, Allen Reuss, Les Paul, Eddie Lang, Snoozer Quinn, were all singing cowboys? Maybe they could have been somebody if they played an Epiphone!
I made a generalization about majority of top level jazz guitarists playing Epiphone back in the day, but thanks for providing a few specific names of the minority, like Eddie Lang who played an L5 before Epiphone even made archtop guitars. Note that Les Paul played Epiphone exclusively throughout the 1940s, and two years after having started with Gibson he is on record telling Gibson executives, "When you can make a guitar like this, then I will drop my Epiphone" (from Fisch and Fred, House of Stathopoulo 1996) (Les Paul was likely referring to his Epiphone Zephyr Regent).
More jazzers played Epiphone than Gibson back in the day probably because Epi was located very close to the jazz scene in NY while Gibson located in Kalamazoo closer to Chicago blues scene. The necks on Epis were a bit wider than Gibson and more conducive to the finger acrobatics required in jazz. Also worth mentioning is that Epi hired some extremely talented world class Italian luthiers. Would be interesting to see Epi and his luthiers' reaction to the abomination of the present day Deluxe.
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  #38  
Old 04-17-2019, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzer44 View Post
Nice deflectionary tactic, but this isn't about my needs, its about the OP being disappointed with the Epiphone Century De Luxe archtop. The following are some points why the Origianl Poster may be disappointed:
- pressed top on plywood body sounds like a toy - quacky & midrange heavy. A nice way of describe bad tone is to call it "unique"
-electronically the pickup is more like a $15 joke, not something you want on a guitar with MSRP well over $1K
- uncomfortable neck with sharp edges I found quite fatiguing, probably due to bulky neck profile and non-slip finish on back of neck causing unwanted friction

And I don't call it a horrible guitar just because it sounds crappy acoustically & electronically and because it is difficult to play, but also because of how they're marketing it:
- confuse market with wrong appointments - they are of a lower model Triumph not a Deluxe model - fret markers, binding, mahogany neck, no hump pickguard, silver instead of gold hardware
- confuse marketplace by adding the word "Century" into the name (Century was another Epi model back in the day)
- original Deluxe had maple neck, not mahogany. The manufacturer's specs says maple-mahogany neck (its really a mahogany neck with maple stripe)
- when Gibson went to 17" archtops, Epiphone went 17 3/8"

In further support of the original posting I'll add that the arching looks Micky Mouse - its low and lacks styling, and that the finish is what I'd expect to see on a low end mass produced instrument. So in reality, this instrument didn't even look good hanging on my wall (guess its below wall hanger status in my books)
I was 3rd owner when I bought mine soon after these hit the market. I purchased it for cheap and sold it even cheaper because I couldn't look the buyer in the eye and say this was a good guitar. I noticed that person who bought my guitar listed it for sale a week later.
My opinion is that anyone who says this is a good guitar is likely a beginner lacking knowledge of what else is out there. I wouldn't have another at any price, but realistically I think they should be priced under $500 new, $250-300 used. Thanks for allowing free speech and opinions.
Oh, of course, you are more than welcome to state your opinions.

I was not deflecting in any way. The reality is that there are some of us that actually like these guitars. Yes, I have played a few "good" archtops and the new Epi is not in the same league. But then, I don't think any of the entry level models from Epi, Gretsch, Loar or others are meant to be. They do have their own tone going on, and that uniqueness is what draws some of us to them. I don't play jazz. I don't listen to jazz. I don't even like jazz, but from a rockabilly or rock/folk perspective, these work pretty well. I did change out the pickup for a nice Gretsch Dynasonic, and now I'm right where I need to be with it.

I'm sorry you disliked yours so much and sold it for a loss. I do agree that new prices were too high on these. I bought mine used so I didn't have that issue, but on that I do agree. As for the rest, again, I don't dispute anything you posted. I'll only say I like mine regardless of construction methods. I also own a Guild X175 and like it a lot too. Different construction, different tone, and definitely more of an electric archtop, but certainly not high end by any means.
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  #39  
Old 04-17-2019, 12:29 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Originally Posted by jazzer44 View Post
...The necks on Epis were a bit wider than Gibson and more conducive to the finger acrobatics required in jazz...
IME this was indeed so for the early-30's models (as well as the final New York-era guitars - see below), but by '37 they had gone to a narrower neck (1-9/16" to 1-5/8") on their midline Broadway/Triumph/Spartan instruments in regular production (TMK it could also be had to order on the upline Deluxe/Emperor, and remained as standard through at least '39 and possibly as late as the end of '41). I've played a few of the former and, like all things genuine New York Epiphone, they're significantly different from their Gibson counterparts: there's a distinct V-shape which, in concert (pun intended) with the narrow neck width, allows for easy over-the-top thumb action on the low E and A strings (great for those extended chord voicings you can't get any other way) - I always found the contemporary Gibson necks unnecessarily bulky and slow-feeling by comparison, and a little-known bit of guitar trivia is that Martin adopted similar specs for their F-Series 16" archtops through the end of production. Used to own a '46 Blackstone whose neck still had some of the prewar DNA, but unfortunately in the wake of Epi's untimely death and the subsequent infighting for control they appear to have adopted a heavier, clubbier profile through the end of the original Epiphone operation in 1957 (probably to head off warranty claims, as many of the Italian luthiers you mention went over to then-upstart Guild in the wake of labor issues) - I'm going to presume (perhaps wrongly) that it's this postwar neck spec you're referencing here, and I'll agree wholeheartedly...
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  #40  
Old 04-26-2019, 12:12 PM
jazzer44 jazzer44 is offline
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I heard that it was more the younger guys that moved from NY to the new plant in NJ after the 1951 strike. The younger guys were getting pissed because they were stuck doing menial jobs while the older "real" luthiers put out the world class guitars. I also heard that the best luthiers worked on the highest end instruments like the Deluxe and Emperor (a point that should be obvious but an article on the Reverb site about collecting vintage archtops erroneously said there was little difference between the models except for the appointments). So I heard it was the older more experienced guys who didn't want to move but stayed behind to start the new company - Guild.
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  #41  
Old 04-26-2019, 12:22 PM
jazzer44 jazzer44 is offline
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Point about build quality: In the violin world the top instruments by far are of the Italian "schools". These schools were much like unions today and going back centuries they covered different regions with a great deal of power. They didn't allow substandard quality to get out whether you were part of the school or not. Often a family belonged to a school through several generations with skills starting to be learned at a very early age. That's why its hard to find a real Italian violin for under $5 or $10K. In the violin market, the most expensive are by far Italian, then French 2nd, British and Dutch tied for 3rd, German 4th.. This is a very broad generalization, but some people reading this may not understand the detail and talent involved in tuning an instrument so precisely - tapping to get the modes right (different resonant frequencies) being just one aspect. When you play such a violin you feel like you've died and gone to heaven, whereas the "junk" for just a few thousand $$ is a disappointment in comparison.
By understanding a bit about how the lutherie has evolved we can appreciate better our higher end vintage guitars. My family has mid-1940s Epiphone Emperor which we believe is in that finest build category. You tune it by turning the height adjusters on the bridge more often than the tuning pegs. And when played you feel this harmonious warmth spread through your body that makes you melt with a big grin on your face. I don't know how many Epiphone Emperors and Deluxes where built to such high standards, but I can see why the folks at Gibson were so afraid of this competition back in the era. And its too bad that the owners of the Epiphone brand today won't tell the world the truth about these truly iconic instruments.
So that's why I say the contemporary Masterbuilt Epiphone Century Deluxe archtops are "horrible" - not just because its a quacky mass produced plywood box with few pleasing acoustical properties, but because of the horrible abomination history's truth in the marketing scheme. One way to show some respect for the iconic Epiphone Deluxe is for the Custom Shop to offer a real Epiphone Deluxe reissue, if they can, built to late 1930s spec and offered in the same price range as the Gibson L5 (I think a new one is over $15,000). And stop using the cloud fretboard inlays on Gibson Citation (around $27,000) because they really belong on the Deluxe.
Here's a pic of a real Deluxe (1940) from archtop.com:

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  #42  
Old 04-26-2019, 03:33 PM
jazzer44 jazzer44 is offline
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I said it would be good to see Gibson Custom Shop offer a spec NY era Epiphone Deluxe in the same price range as Gibson L5 ($15K), but upon further thought I see that's kinda unrealistic. It would be like asking Benedetto or Monteleone to build archtops for you today to sell at $15K while some of their models are already fetching over $50K. So in historical reality Epi lucked out at a time when there was a migration of Italians to New York.

Its its really good to hear that with a good pickup some people are re-purposing the current Masterbilt Century Deluxe for rockabilly and whatever. Keep in mind that there is a huge difference between an electric guitar and an acoustic - robots and carpenters can make electrics just fine, but to make an acoustic really shine it takes more than just skill, and more than any robot today can make (at time of writing anyway, hahah).
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  #43  
Old 04-29-2019, 01:51 PM
mikehartigan mikehartigan is online now
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[...] to make an acoustic really shine it takes more than just skill, and more than any robot today can make (at time of writing anyway, hahah).
A robot can, theoretically, make a 'perfect' acoustic ...followed by a thousand more exactly like it. Unfortunately, 'perfect' is not necessarily a good thing. Witness the 80's obscenity we called a drum machine. Because of its perfect sense of timing, it was the most sterile, uninspiring sound ever recorded for posterity (not counting auto-tune, of course). A drum roll evoked much the same reaction as fingernails on a chalkboard. Contrast that with something like a genuine leather jacket or a hardwood floor, in which the imperfections make it beautiful. And the fact that every one is unique is icing on the cake. Hand made guitars are the leather jackets of the industry.

That said, much, if not most of the magic in a guitar is in the fingers, not the instrument. Yes, the instrument must be of good quality, but I suspect a 'perfect' guitar built by a robot would sound just fine in the hands of Django Reinhardt, for example. The difference the average listener might hear would be a result of Mr. Reinhardt's diminished passion borne of the sterile sound that he perceives from the 'perfect' guitar. But that's all speculation.

Sadly, a fine hand built guitar is out of reach for many (most?) amateur guitarists. Thus, we have to settle for merely perfect. I'm fine with a spruce top glued to a plywood body (and, in Epiphone's case, it's not even perfect, but I digress). It's as close to a 'real' archtop as I'll likely ever own. And I'm happy with it.
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Last edited by Kerbie; 05-21-2019 at 12:17 PM. Reason: Removed prohibited topic
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  #44  
Old 04-29-2019, 07:29 PM
jricc jricc is offline
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Originally Posted by mikehartigan View Post
A robot can, theoretically, make a 'perfect' acoustic ...followed by a thousand more exactly like it. Unfortunately, 'perfect' is not necessarily a good thing. Witness the 80's obscenity we called a drum machine. Because of its perfect sense of timing, it was the most sterile, uninspiring sound ever recorded for posterity (not counting auto-tune, of course). A drum roll evoked much the same reaction as fingernails on a chalkboard. Contrast that with something like a genuine leather jacket or a hardwood floor, in which the imperfections make it beautiful. And the fact that every one is unique is icing on the cake. Hand made guitars are the leather jackets of the industry.

That said, much, if not most of the magic in a guitar is in the fingers, not the instrument. Yes, the instrument must be of good quality, but I suspect a 'perfect' guitar built by a robot would sound just fine in the hands of Django Reinhardt, for example. The difference the average listener might hear would be a result of Mr. Reinhardt's diminished passion borne of the sterile sound that he perceives from the 'perfect' guitar. But that's all speculation.

Sadly, a fine hand built guitar is out of reach for many (most?) amateur guitarists. Thus, we have to settle for merely perfect. I'm fine with a spruce top glued to a plywood body (and, in Epiphone's case, it's not even perfect, but I digress). It's as close to a 'real' archtop as I'll likely ever own. And I'm happy with it.
Well said MikeHartigan.

Last edited by Kerbie; 05-21-2019 at 12:18 PM. Reason: Edited quote
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