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  #16  
Old 08-31-2023, 07:45 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Originally Posted by stevo58 View Post
...I have a 1950 Devon, which was a short-lived model just below the Triumph. Laminate mahogany back, solid mahogany sides, cherry three-piece neck, 17 (+3/8)” lower bout. I get a lot of compliments on it - it has The Tone you want from a guitar like that. It also projects out the wazoo. It has absolutely killed my GAS for an acoustic archtop. And it has a wonderful C neck profile that is just soooo **** comfortable to play.
FYI before his passing the late Jim Fisch (collector and co-author of Epiphone: The House of Stathopoulo - the ultimate guide to New York-era Epis and sadly out of print) designed a series of instruments for Eastman, based on some of his favorite New York instruments; one of these was a latter-day version of the short-lived mahogany-bodied Devon (the post-1953 Philadelphia versions went with a maple body in a production-standardization/economy measure) with a carved back, still in the line as the AR610 and their lowest-priced 17" archtop:

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  #17  
Old 08-31-2023, 01:14 PM
RLetson RLetson is offline
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1930s-40s Epis show up with some regularity on archtop.com, though the Broadway and Triumph models aren't the dramatic bargains they often were when I found my Broadway at a show 25 years ago. Not that I need another archtop, but I would be mightily tempted should a walnut Broadway show up at a moderate (that is, under $4K) price. I've never had the chance to play a walnut Epi, but the word from pickers I trust is that they're pretty snazzy.
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  #18  
Old 09-01-2023, 12:35 AM
stevo58 stevo58 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
FYI before his passing the late Jim Fisch (collector and co-author of Epiphone: The House of Stathopoulo - the ultimate guide to New York-era Epis and sadly out of print) designed a series of instruments for Eastman, based on some of his favorite New York instruments; one of these was a latter-day version of the short-lived mahogany-bodied Devon (the post-1953 Philadelphia versions went with a maple body in a production-standardization/economy measure) with a carved back, still in the line as the AR610 and their lowest-priced 17" archtop:

Yep, similar vibe:

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  #19  
Old 09-02-2023, 02:11 PM
L50EF15 L50EF15 is offline
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Just left Rudy’s Music in Soho. The good news is that I played a very nice L30. The bad news is that it isn’t what I am looking for.

The other news is that the very knowledgeable and helpful staff assured me that Gibson could NOT do my custom order. No archtops, I was told: “They don’t have the luthiers.” Unfortunate. I would have thought that the Solid Formed process would have made this pretty straightforward, and cheaper than if hand carved.

Oh well. Vintage L4, L75, or L50 (or roundhole Epiphone Spartan) it is.
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  #20  
Old 09-02-2023, 06:26 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Originally Posted by L50EF15 View Post
Just left Rudy’s Music in Soho...

...the very knowledgeable and helpful staff assured me that Gibson could NOT do my custom order. No archtops, I was told: “They don’t have the luthiers.” Unfortunate. I would have thought that the Solid Formed process would have made this pretty straightforward, and cheaper than if hand carved...
FWIW I would have thought that, being the inventors of the archtop guitar, they would have trained at least some personnel to carry on the tradition...

On the other hand, when you have luthiers like Mark Casmpellone and Stephen Holst (as well as a few others) who are producing hand-carved jazzboxes for one-fourth to one-third what Gibson would charge - not to mention the offshore competition from Eastman, Loar, and Peerless in the bread-&-butter price range - a new instrument from a company whose quality has been, er, iffy over the last few decades will be a hard sell...

By the same token, the Solid Formed guitars weren't worth anywhere near the $6500 Gibson was charging for them during their justifiably short lifetime: they know it, the guitar-buying public knows it, and given the aforementioned availability of (relatively) inexpensive carved archtops I don't think they're about to get back into that game again...

There are a couple of other options, however:
  • In the early-2K's Eastman produced two short-lived models based on the early-1920's oval-hole L-4, the all-carved AR604 and the laminated (but fine-sounding in its own right) AR400 - and while they don't come up for sale very often one of these might be a viable option:



    https://reverb.com/item/884566-eastm...-price-lowered



    https://reverb.com/item/1996085-east...ck-sides-32952

  • Luthier Bryan Galloup operates a lutherie school, whose master-level students produce archtop guitars that occasionally come up for sale; although the one illustrated is a conventional 17" single-cut jazzbox, you could probably arrange to have an L-4 style instrument built to order (a 17-incher might be a nice variation on the theme ) for the price of an upper-line Eastman:



https://reverb.com/item/65281531-gal...netian-cutaway
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Last edited by Steve DeRosa; 09-02-2023 at 09:14 PM.
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  #21  
Old 09-02-2023, 08:42 PM
L50EF15 L50EF15 is offline
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[QUOTE=Steve DeRosa;7314788]FWIW I would have thought that, being the inventors of the archtop guitar, they would have trained at least some personnel to carry on the tradition...

On the other hand, when you have luthiers like Mark Casmpellone and Stephen Holst (as well as a few others) who are producing hand-carved jazzboxes for one-fourth to one-third what Gibson would charge - not to mention the offshore competition from Eastman, Loar, and Peerless in the bread-&-butter price range - a new instrument from a company whose quality has been, er, iffy over the last few decades will be a hard sell...

By the same token, the Solid Formed guitars weren't worth anywhere near the $6500 Gibson was charging for them during their justifiably short lifetime: they know it, the guitar-buying public knows it, and given the aforementioned availability of (relatively) inexpensive carved archtops I don't think they're about to get back into that game again..."

I was thinking the same thing re having at least some personnel who knew how to make archtops. It's sad that they don't, but then again, unless you get a Mustang, Ford means trucks these days...

I certainly agree on the Solid Formed pricing. Gibson blew it there. That prototype is being offered at about $2500, a much more realistic price that should have been their target.

I remember those early L4 style Eastmans, though I haven't seen one in a long time.

For what it's worth, Rudy's had a lot of Eastman instruments (Les Paul and ES 335 approximations) in stock, but while I was there only one person tried them out. Several people were checking out new 335s, the fit and finish for which seemed excellent; the tone certainly was gorgeous. I guess that means Gibson is doing well with their LP/335/SG strategy to some degree. Too bad they've literally forgotten their roots in archtops.
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  #22  
Old 09-03-2023, 02:39 PM
PineMarten PineMarten is offline
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Is there a fundamental difference between the design and construction of the "Solid Formed" models compared to the "Arco-Arch" of the `30s budget lines? It seems very similar in concept.
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  #23  
Old 09-03-2023, 05:51 PM
L50EF15 L50EF15 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PineMarten View Post
Is there a fundamental difference between the design and construction of the "Solid Formed" models compared to the "Arco-Arch" of the `30s budget lines? It seems very similar in concept.
Per the description here, it sounds like a new take on an old process: https://www.jazzguitar.be/forum/guit...ce-kunkel.html

So the designer himself envisioned these as more cost and resource efficient instruments. And from what I have read elsewhere, the acoustic timbre is highly regarded. It was designed for mass production, but Gibson priced it at a premium.

Idiotic move. This process could have made archtops that were cheaper to produce, I suspect, than a Les Paul or ES 335; certainly cost-comparable. I wonder if they still have the tooling. What a waste of a great idea.
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  #24  
Old 09-04-2023, 04:03 AM
PineMarten PineMarten is offline
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I suppose there must be a certain size of run where the cost savings would kick in, since the initial cost of tooling up would be higher than for a carved instrument but the labour and materials per unit somewhat lower. In the earlier era of press-formed archtops the archtop was a mainstream instrument and lower priced imports weren't a major market force, so the economies of producing a lower priced archtop in the US would be different from today.
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  #25  
Old 09-05-2023, 09:22 AM
Sam Sherry Sam Sherry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
]In the early-2K's Eastman produced two short-lived models based on the early-1920's oval-hole L-4, the all-carved AR604 and the laminated (but fine-sounding in its own right) AR400 - and while they don't come up for sale very often one of these might be a viable option . . .
I owned an AR604 for just under one month.

Probably the worst-sounding solid-wood guitar I have ever owned. The tone closely resembled that of the shipping box.
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  #26  
Old 09-05-2023, 02:19 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Originally Posted by Sam Sherry View Post
I owned an AR604 for just under one month.

Probably the worst-sounding solid-wood guitar I have ever owned. The tone closely resembled that of the shipping box.
I'm surprised - although individual tone inevitably varies between instruments, I've found the Eastman carved-tops to be pretty consistent - but as with all else there's bound to be a bad apple in every barrel...

I'm also curious which strings you were using - IME it's a rare archtop that doesn't benefit from not only heavier strings (13's on a modern instrument, 14's on those '30s-40s-vintage Epiphone/Gibson boxes), but a couple months of so of good old-fashioned Big Band-era full-boogie comping to break in the top...

By the same token the AR400 more than lives up to the Eastman reputation, and at well under $1K when it was new; here's a demo - hard to believe it's all-laminated construction, given the range of tone color/dynamics - and I'm just sorry that they discontinued them before I had the chance to score one :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrvzvbqmeqY[
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Last edited by Steve DeRosa; 09-06-2023 at 03:24 PM.
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  #27  
Old 09-06-2023, 09:55 AM
RLetson RLetson is offline
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Hard to judge precisely with YouTube videos, but to my ear the single strings on that 604 didn't sound bad, but it got a bit brash when pushed. (But then, Greene also was playing back by the bridge in those passages.)

On the other hand, a 904 video (also from Bernunzio's shop), sounded smoother, though still a little brighter than I prefer for rhythm. I suspect the spruce top has something to do with that. Again, it's hard to judge without having the guitars in hand in person.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1VkOPNcsx4

And another 904, a CE variant--and a very sweet (though rather understrung) L-12--

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtXbFsOb0_I
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  #28  
Old 10-07-2023, 02:24 PM
CarolinaGetaway CarolinaGetaway is offline
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I have an Eastman AR804CE I bought new from Lou Del Rosso seventeen years ago. It is a 2006, Serial Number 0094. Fantastic guitar, although quite light in weight. Floating Kent Armstrong pickup -- no tone control, just volume wheel under the pickguard. I have tried many different string sets on it, the best sounding to me being either light monels or TI Plectrums. I believe that after Eastman stopped manufacturing them they repurposed the body as a Mandocello -- their current Mandocello looks identical. I keep thinking a should get the Mandocello so that I have a matched set. Just -- don't particularly like the sound of a Mandocello.

Over the years I have seen one or two on Reverb -- one looked quite beaten up, the other I recalled looked to be in reasonably good shape. If you find one grab it -- you won't be disappointed.
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  #29  
Old 10-10-2023, 05:18 AM
L50EF15 L50EF15 is offline
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Default They still have the skills

That is, if they can do new mandolins, guitars will likely follow. Don’t know what timeline, but this gives me hope. I think these prices are fair, all things considered:

https://youtu.be/_rTOqyIwDpo?si=FNb5OgrI1MxDfkVj
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