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  #1  
Old 11-01-2018, 12:31 PM
Carbonius Carbonius is offline
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Default Am I looking at the wrong guitar??

I'm looking at archtop guitars for the first time in my life! I could use some advice from those in the know. At this point, jazz would not be my main focus.

I've been an acoustic only guy for a good 20 years now. I have often wanted to get back into electric, however nothing really worked for me.

I'm looking for something that has some of the clarity of steel string acoustics, but with a less high end frequencies. I mainly want to do strumming type, acoustic rhythm work. I don't want to give up the woody warmth. I do want the ability to overdrive it a bit for some rhythms. Then overdrive it some more for some lead work. But not huge amounts of distortion. I got to thinking in the past weeks how I've come to like that short scale acoustic tone. It's a little sweeter overall, a little less highs to my ear. So then I got to thinking about archtops.

I did some research and was leaning towards Gretsch hollow bodies. Specifically the G5420T as it has the Filter'Tron pickups. This line is made in Korea, I've had some great guitars from Korea. These pickups seem to be an interesting in-between of that humbucker vs single coil tones. These have an odd scale length of just 24.6. I found a nice anniversary model in orange with upgraded hardware. I played it and was pleasantly surprised! It had 10's which felt too spongy with such a short scale. I think 11's would be perfect. The Bridge is pinned, so no worries about it moving around. The Bigsby is kind of fun, never tried one before. The tuners are geared high. A slight turn does WAY too much. I also found the fingerboard a bit cramped, but I've been playing a 2" Classical neck for the past 9 months. All and all it was pretty good. Very good playability, nice action everywhere.

Then against my better judgement () I tried a Joe Pass Emperor II Pro in Vintage Sunburst. I'm not a fan of guitar made in Indonesia... but maybe times have changed. This one really surprised me! More volume and warmth than the Gretsch, however also more string shifting noise and that screeeeech sound. The neck is a little wider, scale length a little longer at 24.75. The action at the nut was too high, but everywhere else was fine. I found this one quite nice for classical pieces as it is a jazz box. The single coil tone is quite usable as well (splitable humbuckers) I like that it has independant volumes, tones & coil splitters. The neck is gloss which I do not like. However the gloss neck & high nut are easy fixes.

I played both through the same amp without touching any settings as I compared them. I did fiddle with all the guitar controls to see how much tone shaping was available.

I use a TRIO pedal for bass and drums. I also add some loops sometimes for rhythm. The low mid warmth of that Epi is very attractive. But the Gretsch may be right with it's tone that's a little more cutting.

Here is my dilemma and my questions;

-Which guitar is best for strumming rhythm work??
-Will the Epi will be TOO warm in a band setting. Will it get lost??
-I worry about guitars made in Indonesia in general, not an issues??
-I don't like Epi's moveable bridge... but it means I COULD replace it, an issue??
-Finally, would a Godin 5th avenue be better?? Also in my price range but I can't try one out. Some jazz guys love them, but it may be too warm. Cantilevered fretboard, choice of P90's or HB'ers. Good jazz reviews... but a strummer???
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Old 11-01-2018, 01:56 PM
Dadzmad Dadzmad is offline
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I've got a Godin 5th Ave Kingpin, (single neck P90/no cutaway) I found it to be the perfect gateway drug for getting back into electric guitar after decades of using a flat top (you will want a Telecaster eventually). These are great for a rootsy vibe, and for a little over 5 bills used put you kinda sorta into Gibson ES125 territory. I am very happy with mine. It handles like a punchy acoustic and has a big ballsy sound through my Excelsior Pro.
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Old 11-01-2018, 02:43 PM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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I think the Godin would be a heck of a lot more "strummable." They actually have a decent unplugged sound, built very light. It's also a much better made guitar overall.

As for pinned bridges, unless you're doing Pete Townshend windmills, they're completely unnecessary and make it hard to properly intonate unless you go with a tune-o-matic style bridge top.
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Old 11-02-2018, 10:43 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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I own two Godin archtios - an all-acoustic 5th Avenue and a ES-175 style CW II electric - and I'll +1 everything Jeff said, with one caveat; if you're looking for maximum acoustic volume, IMO you'd be better served going for the acoustic version - IME the addition of the built-in pickup/controls to the Kingpin diminishes the acoustic output (not surprising given the very thin woods used in its construction) - and adding a suspended pickup like the recently-reissued DeArmond 1000 "Redhead":

https://shop.guildguitars.com/produc...-mount-pickup/

With a set of Martin Monel strings you'll have the 2018 version of a post-war in-the-trenches weekend player's go-to setup - not a bad place to start if you're after classic late Big Band/early Bop-era tone and visual vibe, along with total acoustic and electric versatility...
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Old 11-02-2018, 12:15 PM
Carbonius Carbonius is offline
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Thanks guys!

I actually need something that is less acoustic, not more. I don't want the solid body electric tone though. I need lower acoustic volume, but still the acoustic resonance.

I have some rare hearing issues that have made steel string acoustic guitars unbearable for me. The high end grinds my ears horribly. We are talking the 4,000hz to 12,000hz range. You can do all sorts of things with the 4 wound strings, however there's no solution for the unwound E & B. They cut through everything like a saw blade to my head for me. I can only play with earplugs in... not much enjoyment in that, so I don't play.

I bought a great classical last year at this time and have really enjoyed that. However I miss strumming and all the songs I wrote in the last 20+ years.

Archtops of course have unwound strings, but they don't cut the same. The shorted scale also helps with this. I went and A'B'ed the 2 guitars again and found just how much the resonance affects tone. The Epi has higher top end unplugged, so it's those frequencies are louder plugged in.

That said, I see various used Godin 5th ave with dual pickups (HB and P90 versions) here in Canada for good prices. I want the dual pickups for more plugged in options. Prices range from $600 to $750 CDN ($450USD to $575 USD). I'm guessing the Rosewood has killed their cross-border sellability. That's half price vs the Gretsch that I like! None are within 300 miles of me, so I'd have to buy used blind. I've never done that!

Does Paypal protect buyers in private sales like these?
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Old 11-02-2018, 10:14 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carbonius View Post
...I see various used Godin 5th ave with dual pickups (HB and P90 versions) here in Canada for good prices. I want the dual pickups for more plugged in options...None are within 300 miles of me, so I'd have to buy used blind. I've never done that!
PSA: I bought both my Godins brand-new/sight-unseen, based strictly on my experiences with the Seagull line and their well-deserved reputation for quality - couldn't be more satisfied with my purchases and wouldn't hesitate to buy another the same way. BTW I'd recommend saving your money and buying/ordering a brand-new one from a reputable Canadian retailer - you'll most likely have liberal return privileges, you could have the instrument set up to your specs (possibly at a nominal additional charge), there's the security of a factory warranty, and since the guitar isn't crossing borders the rosewood parts become a non-issue...
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Last edited by Steve DeRosa; 11-03-2018 at 09:12 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 11-03-2018, 09:50 AM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Originally Posted by Carbonius View Post
Thanks guys!

I actually need something that is less acoustic, not more. I don't want the solid body electric tone though. I need lower acoustic volume, but still the acoustic resonance.

I have some rare hearing issues that have made steel string acoustic guitars unbearable for me. The high end grinds my ears horribly. We are talking the 4,000hz to 12,000hz range. You can do all sorts of things with the 4 wound strings, however there's no solution for the unwound E & B. They cut through everything like a saw blade to my head for me. I can only play with earplugs in... not much enjoyment in that, so I don't play.

I bought a great classical last year at this time and have really enjoyed that. However I miss strumming and all the songs I wrote in the last 20+ years.

Archtops of course have unwound strings, but they don't cut the same. The shorted scale also helps with this. I went and A'B'ed the 2 guitars again and found just how much the resonance affects tone. The Epi has higher top end unplugged, so it's those frequencies are louder plugged in.

That said, I see various used Godin 5th ave with dual pickups (HB and P90 versions) here in Canada for good prices. I want the dual pickups for more plugged in options. Prices range from $600 to $750 CDN ($450USD to $575 USD). I'm guessing the Rosewood has killed their cross-border sellability. That's half price vs the Gretsch that I like! None are within 300 miles of me, so I'd have to buy used blind. I've never done that!

Does Paypal protect buyers in private sales like these?
I assume you must have hyperacousis. I also have the condition, so I can sympathize.

If I wanted an archtop but had steel string issues I'd think about just picking up something like the Epi Olympic and retrofitting with nylon strings that are commonly run on the crossover acoustics. Crossover strings are usually hard tension with flourocarbon trebles and might be a good option. Since the Epi has a piezo saddle bridge that should work for amplification purposes.
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Old 11-04-2018, 08:31 PM
Carbonius Carbonius is offline
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Originally Posted by Rudy4 View Post
I assume you must have hyperacousis. I also have the condition, so I can sympathize.

If I wanted an archtop but had steel string issues I'd think about just picking up something like the Epi Olympic and retrofitting with nylon strings that are commonly run on the crossover acoustics. Crossover strings are usually hard tension with flourocarbon trebles and might be a good option. Since the Epi has a piezo saddle bridge that should work for amplification purposes.
Yes. Hyperacusis... and 2 other things.

Tinnitus that has been going on for 6 years non-stop, 3 frequencies always ringing with one that oscillates a bit; 3600 hz, 7800 hz and 8000hz. VERY annoying. I have to have music at 85+ db to drown it out if I want a break. Although that leads to MORE ringing when I am done... It's a nasty circle

I also hear well beyond what I should for a mid 40's male. Up to 12,500 hz. My Hyperacusis kicks in at the 4000hz and beyond range. Sounds will hurt me when other people barely or don't even hear them at all! You probably know what I'm talking about.

I quit playing guitar for a couple of years, then tried to get back into it. It's hard to play when you find your head trying to get away. Sounds bizarre, but you may not what I mean. I literally found that I was subconsciously pulling my head more and more away as I was playing. Hard to play when you are running away from yourself.

Classical guitar was my door back in. hardly any issues as all with it. The position shifts can bother me a pinch, but I limit that through technique. I run Carbon strings on my Classicla and it is SOOOOOO nice. I bought a good one, Solid Rosewood B/S with a double Cedar Top. Warm, dynamic range, good volume if I want it.

I'm liking the Gretsch so far for me ears. I wanted to get back into something that I could strum and also dirty up a bit if I want to. I bought a POD500 years ago. I can run one guitar through 2 virtual amps. I liked having one clean, then a 2nd signal dirty that I could bring in with the volume pedal. I could even pan it (clean left, dirty right), many options. Acoustically the Gretsch doesn't hurt me the way steel string acoustics do. So then plugged in I should be able to control whatever offending frequencies may appear. Low pass filters can help.

I have thought about a Godin Nylon Multiac. I just tried one the other day and it played well. Although strumming and lead work just doesn't work as good.

Thanks for your input. I am sorry for any pain you suffer! Just curious, have you had any luck with hearing aids or any external tools like that? I've stuck to earplugs and noise canceling Bose headphones. However the tinnitus complicates the earplugs, it just accentuates the ringing. The Bose headphones let me play music. Nice for blocking out the world, but bad at meals! Cutlery on plates is one of the worst things for me!
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:10 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Yes. Hyperacusis... and 2 other things.

Tinnitus that has been going on for 6 years non-stop, 3 frequencies always ringing with one that oscillates a bit; 3600 hz, 7800 hz and 8000hz. VERY annoying. I have to have music at 85+ db to drown it out if I want a break. Although that leads to MORE ringing when I am done... It's a nasty circle

I also hear well beyond what I should for a mid 40's male. Up to 12,500 hz. My Hyperacusis kicks in at the 4000hz and beyond range. Sounds will hurt me when other people barely or don't even hear them at all! You probably know what I'm talking about.

I quit playing guitar for a couple of years, then tried to get back into it. It's hard to play when you find your head trying to get away. Sounds bizarre, but you may not what I mean. I literally found that I was subconsciously pulling my head more and more away as I was playing. Hard to play when you are running away from yourself.

Classical guitar was my door back in. hardly any issues as all with it. The position shifts can bother me a pinch, but I limit that through technique. I run Carbon strings on my Classicla and it is SOOOOOO nice. I bought a good one, Solid Rosewood B/S with a double Cedar Top. Warm, dynamic range, good volume if I want it.

I'm liking the Gretsch so far for me ears. I wanted to get back into something that I could strum and also dirty up a bit if I want to. I bought a POD500 years ago. I can run one guitar through 2 virtual amps. I liked having one clean, then a 2nd signal dirty that I could bring in with the volume pedal. I could even pan it (clean left, dirty right), many options. Acoustically the Gretsch doesn't hurt me the way steel string acoustics do. So then plugged in I should be able to control whatever offending frequencies may appear. Low pass filters can help.

I have thought about a Godin Nylon Multiac. I just tried one the other day and it played well. Although strumming and lead work just doesn't work as good.

Thanks for your input. I am sorry for any pain you suffer! Just curious, have you had any luck with hearing aids or any external tools like that? I've stuck to earplugs and noise canceling Bose headphones. However the tinnitus complicates the earplugs, it just accentuates the ringing. The Bose headphones let me play music. Nice for blocking out the world, but bad at meals! Cutlery on plates is one of the worst things for me!
I totally understand your issues. I also have tinnitus that I've lived with for more than 20 years. I've had full audiology profiles run and the doctors have told me that I could try "hearing aids" if I wished, but the chances of them helping the tinnitus and hyperacousis are very slim, as the hearing problems I have are more related to intelligibility and not actual loss of range. I have very slight upper range loss and everything else is pretty normal, especially in the mid-60 age range.

I played in bands semi-professionally for something like 30 years and gave that up after a very bad collarbone injury that kept me from performance for over a year while it healed. I decided at that time that I liked playing in lower-key venues and situations that didn't include 1 am teardowns.

The hyperacousis is the greater issue now, and I do everything I can to avoid the types of sounds that aggravate or trigger it. There are still triggers that cause me extreme discomfort and the need to cup my hands over my ears, such as my wife putting away the dishes in the cupboard, and many other similar examples. Others just don't understand how something so innocuous can cause so much pain.

I do not even think about power tools or lawn mowing without 30db attenuating ear plugs, and avoidance of loud sound situations helps me greatly with being able to tolerate occasional music performances or even playing gigs occasionally now. I've found that limiting my exposure has allowed me to pick and choose the situations I would like to accommodate.

Oddly enough, one of the things that have helped me more than anything else is using "masking" programs with a good set of headphones fairly often.

Here is a free masking site that I often use:

https://www.audionotch.com/tinnitus-masker
The "City Street Sweeper" with a good set of stereo headphones is my favorite...

The masking programs bring a huge amount of relief, and although they don't decrease the background level of the tinnitus they make it mush easier to "ignore" and live with.

My wife finds it interesting that I don't pay much attention to television if she watches, but I've explained to her that the volume she listens at is below the level of the several constant frequencies that I listen to all the time. I think that helps folks understand exactly what we're up against.

The steps I have taken now permit me to play mandolin, steel strung guitar, and even open back banjo acoustically, and also plugged in for looping and lower volume performance situations. Relating to your particular question I also have a Cordoba Orchestra Fusion crossover guitar that is just plain refreashing to sit down and play. It seems that this is the direction you may need to pursue.

Last edited by Rudy4; 11-05-2018 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 11-06-2018, 10:21 AM
Carbonius Carbonius is offline
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Thanks for the reply Rudy4!

I 100% understand what you're saying about dishes! The second the dishwasher is opened I must leave the entire floor. We only eat with paper plates and even then some sounds are difficult... like crispy breaded chicken scraping across a paper plate. Most kitchen sounds are pretty bad for me.

Granite countertops and ceramic tile countertops are atrocious to my ears. I'm planning on putting in a custom countertop made out of acacia wood. Oddly enough you can get big slabs of the stuff very cheap at big box stores. It's solid wood glued together in a butcher-block fashion. I did some tests just by banging a set of keys on the wood and it is substantially better than anything else I've found. The lady at Home Depot thought I was insane when I said I can't stand the sound of granite... LOL! She said she had never heard anyone say such a thing and was actually offended.

Thank you for the link to tinnitus Maskers. I'm going to try some of those out with my headphones. Currently I sleep with a box fan on full blast close to me. I can't sleep with headphones on as I just can't sleep on my back due to injuries, but I've been thinking about getting some in ear headphones like musicians use. Maybe I can sleep with those.

Maybe I can convince my wife to move right next to a roaring waterfall. Actually, that would require no convincing at all. She'd love it! The trouble would be making money there. Unfortunately I'm too young to retire, LOL.

Up to this point I haven't met one other person that has conditions like me. It's nice to know that life goes and that it can be enjoyable. Thank you for sharing, all the best!
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Old 11-08-2018, 03:02 PM
moondoggie999 moondoggie999 is offline
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Hi Carbonius,

Your story sounds similar enuf to mine that I thought I'd throw my story in the ring. I am primarily an acoustic guy but still like a good electric now and then. I've owned a lot of electrics over the years but I had sold everything I owned awhile back except for my main acoustic. Naturally it didn't last and I decided I needed one good electric guitar on hand. I ended up going thru 3 different archtops before finding my match.

I started with a The Loar LH309VS, it was my first archtop and I really liked it, until I tried a Godin 5th Ave Kingpin II. The difference acoustically was dramatic. The Godin being so much lighter and responsive, plus the P90's were better on the Godin. I sold the Loar, but before I bought the Godin, I tried a Gretsch 5420 (which I found a deal on locally, used) and although it was great fun electrically, it didn't really satisfy my acoustic needs. I sold the Gretsch and bought the Godin and haven't looked back. The Godin does what I need, it plays and feels like a real acoustic and I can plug it in and go electri-fried when needed.

If I wasn't so addicted to that acoustic resonance, the Gretsch would've won hands down.

Hope this helps.

Brett
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Old 11-10-2018, 07:30 PM
Carbonius Carbonius is offline
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Hi Carbonius,

Your story sounds similar enuf to mine that I thought I'd throw my story in the ring. I am primarily an acoustic guy but still like a good electric now and then. I've owned a lot of electrics over the years but I had sold everything I owned awhile back except for my main acoustic. Naturally it didn't last and I decided I needed one good electric guitar on hand. I ended up going thru 3 different archtops before finding my match.

I started with a The Loar LH309VS, it was my first archtop and I really liked it, until I tried a Godin 5th Ave Kingpin II. The difference acoustically was dramatic. The Godin being so much lighter and responsive, plus the P90's were better on the Godin. I sold the Loar, but before I bought the Godin, I tried a Gretsch 5420 (which I found a deal on locally, used) and although it was great fun electrically, it didn't really satisfy my acoustic needs. I sold the Gretsch and bought the Godin and haven't looked back. The Godin does what I need, it plays and feels like a real acoustic and I can plug it in and go electri-fried when needed.

If I wasn't so addicted to that acoustic resonance, the Gretsch would've won hands down.

Hope this helps.

Brett
Thanks for the feedback. I'm surprised by all the Godin praise. As a Canadian, I'm happy to hear it though! It's highly praised by some jazz guys I see as well. That got my attention as I thought about it the other day. Jazz guys need their complex chords to be heard, not buried in mud.

A big thing for me is all their years building acoustics. I notice this 5th ave has the exact same scale as their acoustic short scale. Not 24.75, but 24.84. I played one of those acoustics and was shocked at it's tone. AND... it cost peanuts compared to the "BIG NAME" guys. My nephew who's been clubbing for years got his hands on it and didn't put it down until 2 hours later!

I was excited when Godin emailed me back about the HB's being splitable. I imagine the HB split wouldn't be very strong, but who knows. Worse case scenario, hit a boost pedal and it is another usable tone. I can't decide between P90's and HB. I think the HB are perhaps more diverse.

There is very low stock on these in Canada right now. It almost like Godin stopped production for a bit. My thought is that the CITES changes through them off as they had to find new fret-board material. Many new 5th Ave have Ebony now.

The 5th ave uptown with the Bigsby and Godin HB pu's seems good to me. I'd love to give some Duncan P-Rails with triple shot rings a whirl in it. They are a direct drop in for an HB slot. There's a special Godin Montreal with them, but they are missing a sound because they went with the on/off/on mini-toggles. I also prefer the full hollows vs semi hollow. Some guys say the P90 with the single coil rail out of phase is quite the sound.

Still pondering... thanks for the input!
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Old 11-10-2018, 09:40 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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...Many new 5th Aves have ebony now...
Thanks for the heads-up - an excuse to buy the single P-90 Kingpin to complete my collection...
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Old 11-11-2018, 10:13 PM
Dadzmad Dadzmad is offline
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go for it Steve, you will love it thru your tube amp.
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Old Yesterday, 03:13 PM
Carbonius Carbonius is offline
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Thanks for the heads-up - an excuse to buy the single P-90 Kingpin to complete my collection...
I may have spoken too soon. They just updated their website... but the info makes no sense.

The TV Jones Silver/Gold & Uptown Trans cream come with Richlite. Fine, makes sense.

The Red and Black are gone with only 3 Cognac Burst remaining. It comes with a Rosewood fretboard... that can't be right! That REALLY limits their market. Several vendor websites show them with Ebony fretboards. Some still show Rosewood, I assumed it was old stock.

Safe to say there is some sort of transition in process. I guess you have to double check the info if you order one!
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