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  1. #1

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    I have an idea for the construction of an electric archtop. But as I'm not a luthier I have no idea if it is a good one. So please give me some feedback.

    How I came about it (skip that if you like):
    My experience with archtops is mixed: The first one I had (in the 80s) was an experiment by a local builder with a spruce top and rosewood back. It had a block under the bridge and was fairly heavy. Frankly, I can't remember the tone and all recordings were 4 track cassette.
    I played solid bodies and an Ibanez AS50 all through the 90s.
    Then in 2002 the Ibanez artcore series started and I bought a humble plywood AG75 – the poor man's george benson model. I love that guitar and did some of my best sounding recordings with it. I got involved with the online community (I'm a writer so I did some articles for them just for fun) and that fostered my interest in solid wood, carved archtops. Eventually I acquired an Eastman AR905 and started a jazz trio. The guitar sounds great on recordings and in rehearsals but is delicate in live situations as it feeds back very easily. I adjusted by *never* playing sustained bass notes – but eventually I was fed up with this musical limitation and got myself a telecaster which I played exclusively for the next ten years.
    Then my wife gave me an Ibanez JSM10 for my birthday and we started an organ trio playing jazz, NOLA funk and similar music. The telecaster didn't cut it so I started using the JSM, then got a gibson ES 335 and lately an ES 330 – a thinline guitar, but a real hollowbody. Of the three thinline guitars I like the 330 best. It has the perfect size and feels very comfortable to play. I think the semi-hollow tone is not for me. But just as I liked the AG75 a lot but liked the Eastman better I wonder if a solid wood carved thinline would be the ticket? I remember playing a PRS hollowbody spruce sometimes in a music store and I thought that was the greates guitar I ever played – but neither could I afford it back then nor do I like the PRS aesthetics very much. I bought a used hollowbody 2 last year but It was too small to be comfortable so I sent it back before the trial period expired.

    In this forum I read about the Phifer archtop guitar he built for Ronny Jordan and if I understand correctly it is not built in the traditional way with back and sides but hollowed out (routed) from one piece of wood – just like the PRS.

    What I want:
    A great amplified sound, with a lot of acoustic (archtop) properties, but with high feedback resistance. And a very comfortable player.

    So here's the idea:
    A thinline with the size of the 330, carved from solid woods. Aesthetically I prefer a single cut shape (maybe inspired by the phifer and or the ibanez?) I thought that maybe the top could be construted in a way that bracings are just carved, not added later, to prevent feedback. I have no idea if a routed back would be superior or inferior to one traditionally built with sides and back.
    I don't care for acoustic volume it has to be perfect for playing with a dynamic band (our drummer and organ player aren't shy).

    What do you think?
    And (if you think it's a good idea) can you maybe recommend a builder – preferably local (Cologne, Germany) who would be open to building such a concept?
    Edit: And please let me know if a guitar like that is readily available from a brand or small builder.


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    That almost sounds like a Gibson ES-336. *Almost*

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    1948 Gibson L-7N
    1981 Epi Emperor T (MIJ Matsumoku)
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    1992 Gibson Les Paul Studio
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    2013 Squier Affinity Telecaster, BSB
    (among others)

  4. #3

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    I've owned a few Comins archtops. This one meets all your requirements in my opinion (except for solid wood). Don't overlook a good laminate. It helps tremendously with feedback issues.


    2019 Holst 16" Custom

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by guavajelly View Post

    What I want:
    A great amplified sound, with a lot of acoustic (archtop) properties, but with high feedback resistance.
    hi man,
    those 2 requirements are kinda at odds with each other
    it the physics....

    we all have to find the balance bettween those two requirements
    that we can live with

    I go with a laminate 16" hollow body
    half stuffed with foam ....
    works for me

    others here go with other options
    from full carved top hollow bodies to full solid body

    have you tried a GB10 ?
    low feedback , carved top , hollowbody
    might work for you

  6. #5

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    Check out Stefan Sonntag Gitarren.

    "What I want:
    A great amplified sound, with a lot of acoustic (archtop) properties, but with high feedback resistance."

    With the wonders of technology today not as mutually exclusive as one might suppose. This has been coursing through my reptilian T-Rex brain: Tonedexter, K&K/JJB Electronics Transducers in your guitar. Map acoustic waveforms of your guitar with your favourite condensor mike. Mix Transducer output with magnetic pickup signal or play it by itself. You may stuff your archtop with wool or try f-hole plugs for feedback resistance as it is of no matter. The Tonedexter superimposes the acoustic waveform of your guitar as heard by the condensor mike on the Transducers. What comes out is an acoustic simulation of the acoustic profile of your guitar as captured by the mike and superimposed over the Transducer signal.

  7. #6

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    Molly Tuttle gives you an idea of how it is possible.

  8. #7

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    PRS Hollow body guitar sounds like what is looked for.

  9. #8

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    Byrdland or L-5T get close.

  10. #9

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    PRS JA15 ? Did you look at that one? Not the Private Stock ones but the standard production ones made between 2011 and 2015.

    Also, Gibson Pat Martino and the Gibson CS-446 Paul Jackson. Gibson CS-336.

    Gibson Moderne Archtop

    Modern Archtop '18 (Madison 608-405-8770) - Dave's Guitar Shop ? Dave's has 3 for sale.

    Modern Archtop '18 (Milwaukee 608-790-9816) - Dave's Guitar Shop

  11. #10

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    There are plenty of great luthiers in Europe who could build you what you want. Your description sounds a bit like a fully-hollow version of the Rietbergen from Nik Huber (based in Rodgau).

  12. #11

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    Eastman thinlines, specifically a T145 or T146. The T145 would have to be used, because they no longer build it. The T145 has a 15" bout, and the T146 is 16". Fully hollow, carved spruce top, decent acoustic volume (actually amazing volume for the depth), 1.75" deep at the rims.