acoustic electric archtops
I am starting to research custom acoustic electric guitars as I would really like to have one again. The last two I owned were a Gibson Johnny Smith (1968) and a D'Angelico (Excel? - 1929). Unfortunately I had to sell both of them in 1995 during some hard times in the engineering business. I have a preference for a 16 or 17 inch lower bout, ebony fingerboard, single pickup, approx 25 inch scale. It doesn't need a lot of fancy inlays or special tuniing equipment. Do any of you have thoughts about where to get a good buy on one of these guitars?
Good luck Wizard. There are two shops in the Seattle area; I know about, that would have archtops like the ones you are interested in. I'm also sending you a link to guitar builders. Sometimes there is a younger builder that is emerging and thier prices are not out of site yet. I saw one of the first Bennedettos in the 70's. Man, that thing cost $1700.00. Then I saw one on the internet in 2001. Man, that thing cost $50,000!!
Here are there links:
...::: Guitarville :::...
I actually saw three D'Angelico's hanging behind thier counter once (twenty years ago).
Very cool shop.
Guitar Builders and Repairers
This is a link to a list of guitar builders world wide.
Good luck on your search. If I see something I'll send you a post!
Thanks for the info Butch. Actually, I met the Benedetto family at a Namm show in L.A. in 1977 and I could have had one at a good discount at that time. He was in the process of making a 7-string for Ron Eschete and a 6-string for Joe Diorio and Les Wise. I've been kicking myself since that time for not getting one.
Namm Show in L.A.
I was at that Namm show!!
I used to work at a little store called Huntington Beach Music.
Hey Butch, I was in that store many times. I owned a small teaching studio/store in Huntington Beach called Howard's Guitar Studio! We had a good thing going there until I got sick (pnuemonia) and had to go back to engineering work to put food on the table.
I've met you!
I have met you! I lived in Huntington Beach from 1972 until 1980. I worked at Huntington Music from 1977 (behind the counter) until 1978 or 79 as the guitar teacher (totally unqualified at that time to do that).
Originally Posted by wizard3739
This is maybe how you know Howard Alden? He is from Huntington Beach as well from what I understand. I remember George Van Eps peeking through the store window sometimes as he lived in Huntington Beach. There was a guy named Reggie Norman (very heavy guy) who we all called Sid who used to be in Canned Heat. The store's owner was Shirley and the other guy who worked there was Steve Aker. Do you remember any of these folks?
I went to Howard's one time to see a guitar that someone purchased (you maybe?) from Montana I think. It was a beautiful guitar I was in awe, becasue I could not afford a guitar like that at that time. I am sure I was in Howard's guitar studio. If I recall it was near the beach, north of the pier?
Back to engineering work? I stopped playing to go to Engineering School (Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington)!! Are you still in engineering?
Where did you live then?
Best to you Wizard! I don't feel like such a wind bag anymore<g>. You know as well as I how many great players were living down there at the time. I saw Ron Eschete play with Carl Verheyen at the Sutdio Cafe on the Balboa peninsula, I met Kenny Burrel at Coast Music in Costa Mesa. Howard Alden and you are from Huntington Beach. The place was crawling with good guys and it was tough to not learn in that environment. The Golden Bear, Hungry Joes. The Lighthouse, Studio Cafe, Dante's, Concerts By the Sea. What a time to get into this music.
Hey Butch, those were my good old days and yes, Howard Alden is a good friend (he taught banjo in my studio for about a year in 1977). We probably did meet at sometime. We had an agreement with Huntington Beach music for buying Gibson guitars at a 10% discount because we were too small to afford a franchise. You may have come to the studio to attend one of our seminars. Ronnie Eschete (also a good friend) taught several at our beach location. Or, you may have come to see my D'Angelico when I got it. I had a good friend who found the guitar when he worked the oil fields in Texas. It had a great wood sound and I could never force myself to get it cut away. Sorry, I'm starting to ramble, my wife and I have a lot of good memories from Huntington Beach. I was an Electronic Warfare and Radar Engineer but I retired from Raytheon in 2002.
Last edited by wizard3739; 05-19-2007 at 03:08 AM.
Well there you have it.
I met Ron Eschete when he played with Carl Verheyen and John Pattitucci at the Studio Cafe on the Balboa Peninsula. I met a guy up here in WA who also claimed to know Ron. Of course, to get Gibson's from Shirley at Huntington Beach Music you had to know Shirley! I should explain that I met Ron twice. Once at the Studio Cafe and once at a NAMM show. However, he would not know me as I only met him. I would call that less than 6 degrees of separation my friend.
I did run into Kenny Burrel a few times. I believed he lived in Garden Grove or Fountain Valley. I was playing in a store once and noticed these feet very close to me (I was looking down while I was playing). I looked up and Kenny was standing watching me play. This was way too early in my music career for him to have been impressed by my playing, but he was such a gentlemen. He was all encouragement for anyone attempting to play jazz.
Just great times for me as well, although I don't know how I didn't meet Howard Alden back then. I was everywhere someone was playing - just one of those things. I'm 50. Perhaps Howard is a few years younger than me.
Man, do I have an idea for another thread. I can't believe the numbers of engineers that I have met that either play, or are very involved in music as listeners. Maybe some of you professional educators can elighten me on that one. I believe that there is a connection between the two, and I suspect that the part of our brain that is concerned about music is also involved with math.
Ron & I used to ride to G.I.T. together when he was teaching and I was a student in '77. I spent a lot of time collaborating with him on a couple of his books. Did you ever meet Don Mock? He was one of my favorite teachers at G.I.T. as he was very friendly and down to earth with no attitude problems. Also, Les Wise was a good friend and used to do a jazz guitar seminar for me at the studio about once a month. Wes was the best guitar teacher I have ever met. I lost track of him when he moved to France to open a guitar school over there but one of my friends told me he is back in Redondo Beach and working a lot of Jazz gigs now.
I think you may have something with the engineering/music connection. When you think about music , it is very logical and symmetric in many ways. Similar to Algebra. Everything kind of fits real nice.
Engineers as Musicians
That would be an interesting thread Butch! I'm an electrical engineer and guitar player. My step father, who has a PhD. in Mechanical Engineering from Princeton, and retired from teaching ME at Rutgers University in NJ about 10 years ago, has been playing cello for many years.
Originally Posted by Butch
There's definitely beautiful mathematics behind music, so maybe scientists, engineers, and mathematicians are drawn to music as a hobby!
It's interesting that you guys left music to become engineers. My undergrad/masters is Electrical Engineering. Given the state of engineering these days, there's a big part of me that wants to teach guitar full time. I teach for a few hours on Saturdays now.
Engineer vs. Music
I'm with you. I would go full-time into music again if I could afford it. I am actually trying to figure out how to do this, and teaching would have to play a part.
I got out of "practicing" engineering (building commissioning) to get into HVAC sales. It is just more fun to me, and I work from home when I am not out calling on contractors. I keep thinking I need to test for my P.E., but I just can't get excited about it. I am glad I got into engineering, no regrets as it has been great for my family, but I do miss playing guitar full-time.
The intergral of Butch with respect to music
∫d(Butch)/d(music) = Playing all night long in some smokey club wearing sunglasses and generally being regarded as ultimately cool!
Heheh, I love that integral---It kind of says it all Actually I gave up engineering for a few years when I started my teaching studio in Huntington Beach.
Last edited by wizard3739; 05-21-2007 at 09:44 PM.
That integral equation made me look for this....
As another guitar playing engineer I find that last post quite funny! Thanks for posting it FunkyE9th.
Very funny FunkyE9th!! I am also a retired electronic enigineer who plays guitar (mostly jazz). By the way, I followed your list for posting music lines and it works except I am still getting a post with a small version of the lines and if I left click on the resulting lines, the image pops up full size. I'm not sure where to go next but I haven't given up.
Mr. FunkyE9th, (may I call you Funky?) Very good, very good
Wizard, if you're still looking, check out Gary Stroup -- Stroup Guitars - Archtop handcarved by luthier Gary Stroup. He's located in Colorado and right now only seems to sell through eBay, but it seems he builds what you're looking for. My avatar is my Stroup archtop: 17", sitka spruce top, maple sides and bottom, ebony fingerboard, 25" scale, single floating p'up.
Thanks for the reference Goshawk, I couldn't get on his website but the guitar does look like exactly what I want. Thanks again
Odd that the Website is down. Anyway, if you check on eBay, he generally puts a guitar up every week -- his ID is Rainymac. If you're interested, drop me a private message and I'll send you his e-mail address.
I don't think it is his website, it is my computer. I have a problem with my particular version of Windows "home Edition". The most recent patch from Microsoft updates disables my active x exe files and I get booted off any site that uses active x. Microsoft is working on a solution. Yes, I would like you to send me Mr. Stroup's email address. Send it to email@example.com. Thanks for your help.
Hey guys, My avatar is a picture of my new archtop guitar! It was custom made for another jazz guitarist who backed out on the deal. The price was right!! With shipping and a custom hard case the total cost to me was $1220. Even if I have to make some setup changes to the guitar, it will still be an excellent buy. It was made by Luthier Gary Stroup in Colorado. I should have it in my hands by Tuesday or Wednesday this week (I can hardly wait). It looks very much like a Benedetto but I have been told by other owners of Stroup guitars that there are imperfections in the finish. That is OK with me since I am only interested in playability and intonation/separation characteristics. For those of you who are interested, the guitar specifications are listed below.
Stroup guitar specs
body--------> 16" lower bout, 3" body depth, Venetian cutaway
top------> hand carved, tuned, hi-grade Alaskan Sitka Spruce
back-----> hand carved, tuned, hi-grade Maple
sides-----> hi-grade Maple
bracing---> scalloped, tuned, Spruce cross (X) bracing
fingerboard-----> 12" radius, Ebony, round inlay & side dot fret markers
width at nut----> 1 7/8" (great for chord melody /fingerstyle)
scale--------> 25 "
bridge ------> Ebony, adjustable wheels
tailpiece------>Ebony, similar to Benedetto
pickup-------- suspended, Kent Armstrong jazz model, 6 adj pole pieces
vol. & tone controls-----> edge mounted under fingerest
machines----> Gotoh Deluxe 510 Chrome tuners (18:1 ratio) lifetime warrantee
fingerest-----> Ebony, simlar to Benedetto
finish------>Antique Vintage Timber Amber
strings----->D'Addario nickel flat wound, 12---54 (got to change these)
That sound like a wonderful guitar! It's nice when people get great deals, and in particular with something like a custom guitar where the price can easily double, triple, or quadruple almost overnight based on various factors.
You have to post a picture of it, as soon as you can
Oh yeah -- congratulations!
Please post a review of the guitar when you get it. I went to the builders web site and it seems like he's got some nice guitars. I'm kinda interested in the ones with the 14.5" lower bout.
Originally Posted by wizard3739
I've had my Stroup for about 3 weeks now, so I guess I could offer a mini-review. The problem is that I've only been playing guitar for about two years and this is my first archtop, so I have neither the technique nor the experience to offer much enlightenment.
I will say this: everyone who has heard me play it has commented on the tone - and believe me, they're not complimenting my technique. A friend who is a professional musician and recording engineer/producer said it has a "cello-like vibe." To my ears, it's very round, full and sweet.
Now, if you've looked at Gary's website, you know that he's not into factory-perfect finishes. I actually like the look - you can tell this is a handmade instrument.
Anyway, one other thing you should know: I'm not sure Gary is doing much custom work anymore. He puts a guitar or two up on eBay once a week or so. So if you really want one of the smaller models, it may mean waiting till he puts one up for auction.
Of course, the easiest way to find out is to contact Gary directly. He's very responsive.
Thanks for the info. I really like what I see on his website, so I'll probably contact him one of these days.
My pleasure. Of course, I still want to read Wizard's review...
My new guitar
This is my new archtop. Finish is rough but it sounds wonderful both acoustically and amplified. It needs to be set up but I will wait until it has been in Arizona for a few weeks.
image not working
can't seem to get the image to work today =(
Seems to be working ok...