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  #1  
Old 05-25-2022, 10:15 AM
gfspencer gfspencer is offline
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Default Loar LH-700

I know ZERO about archtop guitars. I'm looking for something that isn't hugely expensive to mess around with. What about a Loar LH-700?
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  #2  
Old 05-25-2022, 11:59 AM
OldFrets OldFrets is offline
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You can do a lot worse. It's not an exact copy of any particular old Gibson model; with the short scale and 16" body, it's probably closest to an L-4, though the maple neck is different. The top and back are carved out of nice woods, the neck has a V profile; it's clearly geared towards those who want a vintage-y sound and appearance.

Every Loar I've had the opportunity to play has been a much nicer guitar than its price would suggest (not that they're exactly cheap, but still...).
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Old 05-26-2022, 02:19 PM
RLetson RLetson is offline
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I wonder how the LH-700 compares to the LH-600 sonically. The significantly higher price of the 700 is partly accounted for by materials (AAA spruce/maple neck vs plain-old-spruce/mahogany neck) and a slightly fancier headstock decoration, but I wonder whether extra time and effort go into the carving and voicing. Hard to know without a direct comparison--and even then instrument-to-instrument variations are going to make generalizations difficult.

I do know that my 600 is a very adequate archtop even in a stable that includes an Eastman 805 and a 1946 Epiphone Broadway. The Loar isn't as refined as the Eastman for fingerstyle, but it does fine as a swing-rhythm guitar, with plenty of volume and none of the thinness I hear in, say, 1950s-60s budget archtops.

My repair/upgrade guy made a pickguard and mounted an old Sekova floating single-coil, which turned the Loar into a respectable version of an electrified big-band guitar for a lot less than it would have cost for a genuine-vintage item of equal solidity and playability.
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Old 05-26-2022, 03:41 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RLetson View Post
I wonder how the LH-700 compares to the LH-600 sonically. The significantly higher price of the 700 is partly accounted for by materials (AAA spruce/maple neck vs plain-old-spruce/mahogany neck) and a slightly fancier headstock decoration, but I wonder whether extra time and effort go into the carving and voicing. Hard to know without a direct comparison--and even then instrument-to-instrument variations are going to make generalizations difficult...
IME I think you answered your own question...
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Old 05-26-2022, 08:52 PM
tdq tdq is offline
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I have a Loar LH-700. I didn't get to A/B them directly but I did A/B a 600/300, with the 600 being better for sure. A 700 came up for sale at a good price but I would have been happy with the 600 - my feeling is there isn't much in it when comparing 700/600.
My 700 came with a very shallow neck angle so I had to take quite a bit off the saddle, even with the wheels right down. It works for me but a purist might not like it.
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Old 05-26-2022, 10:40 PM
RLetson RLetson is offline
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Steve D.: Do you think the top-material upgrade makes that much difference in sound? My impression (from many conversations with builders) has been that wood grading is more about aesthetic appeal than sonic qualities and that the crucial element is how a top (of a given species) is managed--thicknessing, bracing, and (for archtops) carving. *If* Loar's builders take extra care with the voicing of the pricier LH-700 tops, then I would expect a difference in sound. If not, then any differences would be down to the usual variables in a factory process. When I rooted around, I couldn't find any Loar marketing material that mentioned special treatment in the building of '700s--and if I were writing their promo materials, I would certainly make a big deal of that.

FWIW, the friend who built one of my archtops fine-tuned the top by carving on it after the guitar was constructed but before it was finished--he would play it, then refine the curve with a finger plane, then play it some more, and so on. That kind of process would certainly add to the cost of an instrument.

Last edited by RLetson; 05-27-2022 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 05-27-2022, 07:13 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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I think they are very cool. Keep in mind, they'll have a pretty noticeable V shaped neck.
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Old 05-27-2022, 08:08 AM
RJVB RJVB is offline
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To react to the 1st reply: I've always seen these Loars described as copies of the Gibson/Loar L5, rather faithful ones as far as the 600 & 700 are concerned. The L4 only got f-holes in 1935.

I've always assumed that the higher price and nicer (supposedly better) materials of the LH700 could prompt a bit more quality control from the builders. No idea if that's actually the case of course.

You could also look for the LH-650 or its laminate-back sibbling the LH-350. These are cut-away models that come with a pickup and a more modern C-profile neck that I find quite comfortable. Same warning applies: check the neck angle before buying.
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Old 05-27-2022, 09:05 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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Maple neck on the 700, vs. the 600. How much of a difference does that make sound wise? I'm sure somebody can hear something

I think I might want to own one of these again someday, especially now that I have a flat top I really like for playing all over the neck. I had a 600 for a while, and it would have been great to set up as a rhythm box and just use it for that...but it sounded so good, I wanted to play all over the neck, and that's when the pretty hard V shaped neck started to bother me.

I really thought though that it was a great instrument, and unbeatable at the price.
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Old 05-27-2022, 09:11 AM
OldFrets OldFrets is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJVB View Post
To react to the 1st reply: I've always seen these Loars described as copies of the Gibson/Loar L5, rather faithful ones as far as the 600 & 700 are concerned. The L4 only got f-holes in 1935.
Neither Loar model is a faithful recreation of any Gibson model, from any era. That's not a positive or negative, just a statement of fact.
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Old 05-27-2022, 10:38 AM
RJVB RJVB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
I think I might want to own one of these again someday, especially now that I have a flat top I really like for playing all over the neck. I had a 600 for a while, and it would have been great to set up as a rhythm box and just use it for that...but it sounded so good, I wanted to play all over the neck, and that's when the pretty hard V shaped neck started to bother me.

I really thought though that it was a great instrument, and unbeatable at the price.
I'm sure it is, and mine also came with a beautifully dense and homogenously black ebony fingerboard (I'm sure that makes a difference for the sound).

I've only avoided the LH600 (or 700) because of that neck and since the LH650 wasn't too hard to find. With the 6/700 I would have wanted to have the neck slimmed down by a luthier willing and capable to do that. For a more expensive guitar that's probably not something you'd want to do "out of the box" but esp. on a used Loar acquired for a nice price it's an option, IMHO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldFrets View Post
Neither Loar model is a faithful recreation of any Gibson model, from any era. That's not a positive or negative, just a statement of fact.
So what are the differences according to you (the ones significant for the sound of the beast)? I know the Loar L5s had beech back and sides (and don't know if that was changed to maple before the model became a 17" and/or got x-bracing).
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Old 05-27-2022, 11:47 AM
OldFrets OldFrets is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJVB View Post
So what are the differences according to you (the ones significant for the sound of the beast)? I know the Loar L5s had beech back and sides (and don't know if that was changed to maple before the model became a 17" and/or got x-bracing).
Depends on how you define significant to the sound. The biggest one would be the mahogany neck on the 600, which makes it closer to a later L-4. Aside from that, it's mostly cosmetic: chrome hardware, the shape of the fretboard end, etc. But there are a lot of those small differences.

L-5s never had beech backs. Early Gibsons had birch backs, but as far as I know the L-5 had maple right from the beginning. The Loar-signed ones I've played all did.
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Old 05-27-2022, 12:35 PM
RJVB RJVB is offline
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Originally Posted by OldFrets View Post
L-5s never had beech backs. Early Gibsons had birch backs, but as far as I know the L-5 had maple right from the beginning. The Loar-signed ones I've played all did.
My bad, as often I confounded birch and beech. I did mean the former. I have never held one but the ones from the early 20s that I've seen presented (including the Gruhn's, IIRC) all had birch back and sides. Clearly not flame maple, but maple that isn't flamed can look a lot like birch.

What counts here is the body design, IMHO; to me that looks a lot like an early L5, but then again the L50, L48 and L7 also do. Neck profile matters too (though not for the sound) and indeed I have understood that L5s never had such a pronounced V profile.
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  #14  
Old 05-27-2022, 08:17 PM
Sage Runner Sage Runner is offline
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I have never played a newer -Loar Arch-top. For the $ —most people that played or own one regard them as decent instruments. I take advantage of the sea of Vintage old Arch-tops out there to fill my Itch.
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Old 05-28-2022, 03:34 AM
RJVB RJVB is offline
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It's true that you guys in "conus" have a lot of choices in the vintage department that we have not (or aren't so ready to make). A decent L48 will not be that much more expensive than an LH-700, will sound at least as good from that I've heard recently and also be a properly sustainable choice.

Good thing for me I've always been attracted to new(ish) instruments
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