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  #1  
Old 03-24-2019, 03:10 AM
gerardo1000 gerardo1000 is offline
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Default Disappointed by Epiphone Century De Luxe archtops...

I was in the area so today I stopped by Huber and Breese, my favorite local guitar store, just to spend some time and see their novelties (among them, a very interesting Gold Tone Mandocello... and a very good sounding Cordoba crossover nylon guitar with a thin body ). They had on display two Epiphone Masterbilt Century Deluxe arch tops, one sunburst, one natural, both with "f" holes. I am not the best expert on arch tops but I had a Godin 5th avenue and a Gretsch New Yorker in the past, and since a few days I am the happy owner of a D'Angelico EX-63. Any way, I played both Epiphone archtops quite extensively (only acoustic) and now I understand why these attractive looking and fairly priced guitars didn't have a great success, at least according to the comments that I read on this forum. In my personal opinion, they sound like a way in the middle between a so so flat top and a so so archtop. Which is absurd because you don't get the sound of a full flat top and you don't get the sound of a real archtop. The top and the back are arched, but not too much. The bridge has a sort of plastic saddle on top of the wood.... I am surprised that Epiphone put so much effort in developing a full line of archtops (the are also round hole models, and smaller size archtops as the Zephyr and the Olympic) and ended up with these nice looking archtops that have such a weird hybrid sound. Maybe their goal was to appeal to "non archtops" guitarists, that are the majority but... I am a flat top player since 40 years and this sort of hybrid does not appeal to me. If I want an archtop, I want an archtop. I also noticed that the price of these Epiphone offers is dropping dramatically. I hope that Epiphone will treasure this experience and will develop in the near future a new line of archtops with a better sound. The idea itself of offering affordable instruments is appealing (see Godin 5th avenue). Good luck with a second try !

Last edited by gerardo1000; 03-24-2019 at 08:14 AM.
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Old 03-24-2019, 09:37 AM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Epi's "goal" is to sell guitars, cashing in on perceived popularity of archtops currently.

You can't fault them for that, but it is a case of "buyer beware" or "you get what you pay for".

Life's too short for "mehhh..." guitars!
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Old 03-24-2019, 09:47 AM
Prof_Stack Prof_Stack is offline
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I also had a negative experience upon the first playing of the Masterbilt Century Deluxe.

A good friend of mine bought the guitar, swayed by the $650 price. He put baritone strings on the low strings and mediums on the treble strings. I believe he adjusted the neck relief. He uses a stiff pick. I think he recently added a floating pickup for more authenticity of sound with his band.

Anyway, I heard him play it with his jazz band and was impressed by how it sounded, clear and cutting through nicely. I played it acoustically and thought it sounded pretty good for a new archtop (keep in mind I have a 30's Gibson).

Some archtop builders purposely don't brace and build their guitars to sound like a 1930's archtop, preferring a more "modern" sound.
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:04 AM
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I'm sure there are other arch-top guitars that might please you just as there are likely plenty of people that will love these Epiphones.
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Old 03-24-2019, 11:54 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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I met a friend who is a jazz guitarist at a local dealer who had the full range on display.
A salesperson approached us and asked if he could help.
Good start, so we told him what we'd come to see and he kindly took al we asked don from the locked hangers , checked the tunings and put them on stands for us, then said, I'll go get a good amp for you ???

These are not "Real" archtops, and they not really acoustic guitars, they are electrics.

They were all quite easy to play, probably with light gauge strings, and are aimed at the kids that don't really "get" acoustic guitars.

For that - quite nice but don't expect them to feel or sound like a real Epiphone from the '30s-'50s.
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Old 03-25-2019, 12:28 AM
Spook Spook is offline
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Since it has a piezo (quack, quack) it's possible something like a Tone Dexter could fix the amplified sound.
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Old 03-25-2019, 12:45 AM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Well I know my way around nice acoustics and have owned some nice archtops and I can say I love my little Olympic. When I bought mine, I had no intention of buying a guitar. I was telling a friend about a new song I had just written and he handed me an Olympic that was hanging on the wall right where we were standing. I immediately was taken by the almost resonator tone the guitar had, and that's coming from someone who plays resonator quite a bit. They have a mid forward sound that can be very musical, and to me, that's what it's all about it. If you don't like the sound that's entirely up to you, but I'm surely not disappointed with mine!
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Old 03-25-2019, 08:30 AM
paddybrumson paddybrumson is offline
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I also have played a number of the Century line and agree that they may have been made to appeal to players who would primarily use them plugged in. All the models are a bit overbuilt and pretty heavy which would help in a live situation to reduce feedback. A problem is the pickup/preamp they chose. It doesn't provide a very pleasing sound. I went ahead and took a chance on an Olympic for a good price online without playing one first as I thought it would be a nice, small couch guitar when I didn't want to play my larger Loar LH-600. While the build quality on mine is excellent and the largish neck is very comfortable, it is quiet acoustically and pretty unpleasant sounding plugged in, even with a Fishman Platinum Stage preamp. Acoustically and plugged in, I also find it has a resonator type sound going.

So, I think the Century line doesn't appeal to the acoustic jazz players who prefer the more traditional sound of the Loars or the more modern sound of the Eastmans and doesn't offer the traditional acoustic player looking for a different flavor much positive to add one to their arsenal. If Epiphone reboots the line, it will be interesting to see which direction they take it to attract players that didn't go for the current line.
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Old 03-25-2019, 08:56 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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They missed the mark for me...weak acoustically, and the pickup is as quacky as all get out.

Kind of a bummer, but they took on a lot with trying to get a solid topped archtop out there, with a piezo, under a certain price point.
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Old 03-26-2019, 04:27 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spook View Post
Since it has a piezo (quack, quack) it's possible something like a Tone Dexter could fix the amplified sound.
Okay that made me laugh! I'm thinking about swapping out the cheap bridge on mine for a nice custom ebony one, and pulling the piezo and installing one or two TV Jones Dynasonics in mine! mine is totally a couch guitar that I love to play. I also had the fingerboard edges rounded on mine and the fret ends dressed so it's a fun one to play. And maybe I just got lucky on mine!
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  #11  
Old 03-26-2019, 06:38 PM
Prof_Stack Prof_Stack is offline
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Yesterday I visited my friend who has a new Masterbilt Century Deluxe. He put on a mini Kent Armstrong floater on it himself:

The volume control is in the nearby f-hole. It sounds pretty good through his Vox tube amp. The weird internal pickup was disconnected.

The bass strings are from a baritone set. The treble strings are from a 14's set. It does bring out the sound that Epi tried to get into the build, but, yes, it is a heavy beast.

I brought along my '39 L50. It really impressed my friend and his friend when we played lots of archtops last night. More on that later.
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Old 04-02-2019, 09:35 AM
jricc jricc is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockabilly69 View Post
Well I know my way around nice acoustics and have owned some nice archtops and I can say I love my little Olympic. When I bought mine, I had no intention of buying a guitar. I was telling a friend about a new song I had just written and he handed me an Olympic that was hanging on the wall right where we were standing. I immediately was taken by the almost resonator tone the guitar had, and that's coming from someone who plays resonator quite a bit. They have a mid forward sound that can be very musical, and to me, that's what it's all about it. If you don't like the sound that's entirely up to you, but I'm surely not disappointed with mine!
I'm certainly not disappointed in the Olympic...Just picked one of these up for a good price, and i like it!
The Olympic sounds like no other guitar I have. I used it last week on 2 singer songwriter type gigs. Ran it thru a Boss eq into my Fishman Artist. Still some quack, but overall pretty good. I like the feel of the neck too. Im not a jazz player, and it's certainly not a flat top sounding acoustic, but it is starting to open up and there is something i like about it's midrange and the way that it feels. i guess different strokes...

Last edited by jricc; 04-02-2019 at 05:49 PM.
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Old 04-05-2019, 05:24 PM
mikehartigan mikehartigan is offline
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I've had my Century Zenith for about six months and it just keeps growing on me. Definitely doesn't sound like a modern flat top and I have no experience with a vintage Archtop, so I can't comment on that.

It's got a solid mid-range that just sounds like it wants to be played hard, which I'm happy to oblige, but it softens up real nice for the lighter stuff. I find the height of the bridge to be a lot less ...confining for hard strumming.

Acoustically, it's a dream. The Shadow electronics leave much to be desired. A bit of finessing and an extended sound check are definitely in order before playing plugged in. I'll probably replace that when I get around to it.

I was a bit hesitant about the chunky neck, but my hand took to it right away. Sweetwater did a nice setup on this, including PLEK, so it plays like butter.

Quality Control on the cosmetics is not stellar, but that's not entirely unexpected on a Chinese Epi. Lots of tool marks on the fingerboard binding, which I'm learning to ignore, and a bit of unfinished wood - missing both stain and sealer - under the floating part of the neck. But it's subtle, so I'm not going to sweat it. My biggest gripe is that the case Epiphone markets for this guitar doesn't fit. It puts downward pressure on the bridge and distorts the top of the case when it's closed. I swapped it under warranty, but its replacement is also going back.

The cherry on top is that it's gosh darn pretty! It definitely turns heads.
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Old 04-07-2019, 12:01 PM
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Another fan here. I have the Century Deluxe Classic with f-holes. I like it quite a lot, though I tend toward rockabilly and not jazz. I replaced the horrible pickup with a better one and now I get some great rockabilly tone, and with the tone knob dialed back I get some really pleasing jazz tones.

I'll post a pic later, but I had a Gretsch Dynasonic installed as a neck pickup and this guitar sounds 300% better plugged in. Unplugged, I like that it has its own thing going on. Not flat top, not vintage archtop, just its own vibe!
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Old 04-07-2019, 08:07 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoneDigger View Post
Another fan here. I have the Century Deluxe Classic with f-holes. I like it quite a lot, though I tend toward rockabilly and not jazz. I replaced the horrible pickup with a better one and now I get some great rockabilly tone, and with the tone knob dialed back I get some really pleasing jazz tones.

I'll post a pic later, but I had a Gretsch Dynasonic installed as a neck pickup and this guitar sounds 300% better plugged in. Unplugged, I like that it has its own thing going on. Not flat top, not vintage archtop, just its own vibe!
I was thinking about installing a set of Dynasonics in mine, but I just would up buying a Gretsch 6120T-55 VS. So my Epi is safe from my modding hands for a moment
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