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  1. #51

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    If tapped, tuned and carved right, a good arch top will have resonance with the strings which will prolong the notes and or make them louder (than a non-resonating solid body).

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #52

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    I could be wrong, or maybe I can speak only for myself but, if you want your L5 CES to sound more curt with less singing
    in the notes you play, isn't it a matter of YOU? How you attack, and sustain the notes?

    There is no rule that says your notes must sustain ! Change your technique.

    It's nice to have a guitar that will do both.

  4. #53

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    Actually, I swapped out the 57 on my '98 Wesmo for a high wind lollar imperial, warmed it up beautifully. Sounded a bit bright before that, but made all the difference. But I didn't like the 57s in any guitar I've had, ironically because they sounded muddy to me. Depends on the guitar and the player. It is nice not to have to change anything, but don't feel limited to a stock pickup, even on an L5

  5. #54

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    The Venerable Gibson L-5-dsc_7811-jpgThe Venerable Gibson L-5-dsc_7816-jpgThe Venerable Gibson L-5-dsc_7832-jpg


    The Venerable Gibson L-5-dsc_7915-jpg


    The Venerable Gibson L-5-dsc_7912-jpg


    The Venerable Gibson L-5-dsc_7922-jpg

    The Venerable Gibson L-5-dsc_7923-jpg
    Last edited by Groyniad; 08-17-2016 at 07:30 PM.

  6. #55

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    Groyniad, I think you have got the "Iconic Gibson Jazzbox" thing pretty well covered!

    Oh, and you take a nice picture, as well!

  7. #56

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    i used to be a working musician and will be again

    these are my only 2 guitars (not counting one that is being sold right now)

    its taken me a very long time a) to work out these are the 2 i want b) to get them
    Last edited by Groyniad; 08-18-2016 at 05:37 AM.

  8. #57

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    Ah, there's .... nothing like a nice L5 ....

    ... not a masterpiece of guitar photography, but here is my happy Gibson archtop family cuddling on my office couch

    The Venerable Gibson L-5-img_5176-jpg

  9. #58

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    I like my Gibsons as well - I only find them too expensive for what they are, but great iconic guitars nonetheless .... Strangely they don't fight my Heritages in my music room :-)
    i bought them all used and got good deals on them. The ES175 is 2009, the L5 is a 2006 (i've had it for almost a year and still 'owe' a NGD) and the S400 was not clear. In the thread we had after I got it it was dated 1974-1976.

  10. #59

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    Frank, this was on Reverb a week or two ago, no? previoulsy owned by some famous Euro player iirc.

    almost all the pre-58 electric L-5's and Supers have 2 piece carved backs, but interestingly the vast majority of PAF L-5's and Supers I've seen have lam backs, my '64 PAF was from a run of carved back guitars, and they all seem to be from the same tree.

  11. #60

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    I just found a 1928 Gibson L5 Purchased from an original owner (family) That does indeed have an ultra-flamed ONE PIECE NECK.....couldnt find mention of this before your post....im breathing much easier now....its all Orig cept the top has been Oversprayed.. Im setiing it up and cant wait to hear it with strings that arent 20 years old.....Any suggestion on strings? Thanks Kent

  12. #61

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    I have always strung mine with 12-53 80/20 bronze, either John Pearse or La Bella Criterion. I’ve found that D’Addario ball ends are troublesome fitting the tailpiece slots. Pics please! Also, be sure to register it over at prewarGibsonl-5.com.

  13. #62

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    I am just so envious of you guys who have actually played and/or owned these 16" L5s. As someone else commented, many of us have never even seen a 16" L5 or real D'Angelico in the flesh, never mind played one. Like hens teeth here in the UK. There is a 16" L5 for sale in the Netherlands at equivalent of $50k currently, so those at Retrofret and Gruhns at a mere (!) $20k look like bargains from here!
    When I was 16 (1960) I remember hearing jazz players in the London guitar shops talking about D'Angelicos in hallowed tones, and JD' was still alive and building then, a world away in New York. Sigh.

  14. #63

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    I've probably told this story before, but anyway:

    I would never have seriously considered buying my 1928 L-5 if it weren't for Stan Jay of Mandolin Brothers. I brought a damaged 1933 L-12 into his shop to assess for repair options. Keep in mind that the store is over an hour's drive from me, so it was a special trip. Of course I had to have a leisurely look around. In one corner was this 16" L-5, just received from the prior owner, not even polished and ready for formal display. It had old strings and was dusty. As an L-5 nut I had read about these guitars but never seen one in person. I was like "Um, wow..."

    But I was encouraged to play it, and Stan told me that they planned to refret it before listing it on their website. He said there were at least 20 people with that vintage L-5 on their Want List. I, however, being so fortunate as having set foot in his shop that day, could earn "right of first refusal" simply with a $100 deposit. I had no trouble with the deposit. It was the rest of the $16k that was the problem. I could not justify pulling that kind of money from my accounts, but I definitely had some nice guitars I could sell, it would just take time.

    So I told Stan about that, and he allowed me to pay him in installments over a 3 month period. I managed to sell four guitars and recoup the necessary funds to buy the L-5. I almost flaked out halfway through, but he strongly encouraged me not to. Okay, I said, fine - you win!

    It's truly a special guitar. It's not just hype or lore (Loar! Get it?). Mine is not pristine - it has a couple of repaired cracks and plenty of surface wear. But the neck is fantastic, along with the tone and playability. If I had to own only one acoustic guitar of any kind, it would be this one, so I guess the investment was smart. Thank you, Stan.

    P.S. Stan did not live much longer (RIP), and this was probably the last L-5 he sold, certainly of this vintage.
    Last edited by rpguitar; 11-21-2017 at 02:12 PM.

  15. #64

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    Hi - Living in the UK, I don't get exposed to a lot of arch tops in the normal stores - they tend to only appear when the dealers have to take a few to get the LP's etc that they are after.

    I tried a blonde L5 recently in a shop over here. I seem to recall its is a 2012 or 13 and still with its stickers etc, so clearly has been collecting dust for some time hence it is a sale item and almost in my price range.

    On looking at it, i was surprised to find there were unsanded "splinters" of wood in the gap between the top box and the underside of the upper register of the neck (by the neck pickup). On a dream forever guitar, I would have expected a better attention to detail.

    BUT 30 mins playing never passed so quick and it was beautifully musical - felt streets ahead of the WESMO that I also tried there (and a less bright too).

    I guess, having not had much exposure to L5's, I don't really know what to expect from the build quality and if it pays to be more patient and wait for a used one to appear or whether i should quit moaning about the small finish issues and go for the tone? Any wisdom/thoughts would be greatly appreciated,

    Thanks,
    Joe

  16. #65

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    In case of doubt, I would walk away.

    There is no reason why there would be unsanded splinters in that area. The first thing that comes into my mind is that that L5 might have had a neck break and that the splinters in that location are from a neck repair. That particular L5 has gathered dust for a reason.
    Patience grasshopper patience, one day there will come a L5 on your path that will be yours..

  17. #66

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    You can't see if from this angle but it where the neck shapes away from the body.
    Attached Images Attached Images The Venerable Gibson L-5-1458667024_0205-jpg 

  18. #67

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    Its not unusual at all to have rougher finish under the fretboard extension, if its what you mean and not really exposed or cracked wood
    I had it on my Epiphone Emperor Regent, was even some sanding residue mixed with the in polished lacquer.
    On my Gibson Tal Farlow its aso a little bit rough there, nothing to worry about if its just unpolished finish in my opinion.

  19. #68

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    Is this the actual guitar you are talking about? Looks very nice to me.
    If so, I see no objections looking at this picture...

  20. #69

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    The guitars are lacquered with the necks glued on, so it is really hard to get lacquer under there and even harder to polish it. Don't expect perfection from a Gibson, they almost always have some little flaws, but then so do most guitars! If it played well then don't reject it completely. It is hard to tell what you mean about splinters without a photo, but I would be surprised if it had a neck break as I think there would be other more obvious signs other than bad finish under the neck extension.

  21. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinlander
    Its not unusual at all to have rougher finish under the fretboard extension, if its what you mean and not really exposed or cracked wood
    I had it on my Epiphone Emperor Regent, was even some sanding residue mixed with the in polished lacquer.
    On my Gibson Tal Farlow its aso a little bit rough there, nothing to worry about if its just unpolished finish in my opinion.
    Yeah - perhaps splinters was a touch aggressive. essentially - just looked like it hadn't been sanded properly, so perhaps its as you describe here Vinlander. It just seemed so surprising as the rest of the instrument looked amazing. And the important part - tone and playability were great (again given my limited exposure to Gibson arch's).

  22. #71

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    That marks you out as a Gibson newbie, newbie. Just ribbing you but they are all like that under fretboard extension. The buffing wheel cannot reach under there. That 's part of the Gibson magic; the unbuffed portion imparts extra resonance...

    When you see enough of them it soon becomes charming. You just accept it as a Gibson foible.

    Oh, well, Gibson archtops may soon become a fond memory so you may not have a chance to agitate over this feature soon.

    A very nice blonde L-5CES, by the way.

  23. #72

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    That L-5CES is exactly as it should be. The area under the fingerboard extension is always rough to a greater or lesser degree. If the guitar plays and sounds beautiful, then it IS beautiful, period. I wouldn't consider the unsanded area an issue for even a second.

    Hope this helps your GAS come back.

    The Venerable Gibson L-5-img_5922-jpg

  24. #73

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    You beat me to it RP, here is my very early 1970s L-5. A little roughness in that area is normal.
    The Venerable Gibson L-5-l-5-neck-extension-2-jpgThe Venerable Gibson L-5-l-5-neck-extension-1-jpg

  25. #74

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    Thanks everyone - much more reassuring to hear it from this forum than from the sales person in the store (who can't understand why I'd buy an L5 over an LP)!

  26. #75

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    Buy it! Today it's getting rare to get your hands on a guitar before deciding. At the end of the day it's a tool. A perfectly finish under the fretboard will do you little good, if you struggle to play it, or don't love what your hearing. Gibson on the headstock with the right purchase is a pretty protected investment.

  27. #76

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    You could always use it as a bargaining tool to maybe get a few bucks off which may make you feel a little better about the purchase.

  28. #77

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    All I can offer as help is this: A "bad" L-5CES is a great guitar. A "good" L-5CES is a sublime guitar. AND, they can be re-sold more easily than other archtops if you change your mind.

  29. #78

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    Joe,

    In my opinion, you would do well to not consider a guitar bought new from a dealer as an investment.

    A USED Gibson L5 guitar bought at the prevailing cost is likely to not drop in value.

    But compare the prevailing used price for an L5 in excellent condition to the cost your dealer is quoting. That will be the value drop out the door.

    On the other hand, if a recently-built blonde L5 that sings to you is the dream, then who cares about the calculation of value? These are not popping up on the used market every day.

    Good luck with your decision.

  30. #79

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    Can you take some pictures of those splinters? I'll have a knockoff built in Asia and I'll make sure they replicate the rough patches to give it some feeling of authenticity. Yeah, next year archtops will feature "chin stubble" as a relic feature-ha ha!
    One time after working on a violin where there was some extensive work done on the inside of the corpus, the newly rejuvenated instrument was returned to the owner. She picked it up, played it, seemed really pleased and went to put it into the case. Then her smile turned to distress. She shook the violin, and shook it again. "Where's the tone ball? Did you remove the tone ball? Why?" Vexed, we looked at one another, then my partner dashed downstairs to the workbench and returned with an old ball of dust and shavings that had rolled into a fuzzy marble inside the violin (a very common thing) and holding it preciously in a pair of tweezers dropped it through the F hole. "I'm so glad you picked up on that. You have an incredible ear" to which she played the violin with increased gusto.
    There's magic in an instrument. You just don't know where it comes from.

    David

  31. #80

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    FWIW mine is a ‘70 and had an outgassing pickguard at some point in its life. There is some white build up under there in mine that is pretty unsightly. I never see it unless I look for it and when I’m playing that fine guitar I am certainly never thinking about it. And as the other guys said every L5 is going to be less pretty under there compared to the rest of the guitar. So as long as they are not splinters as in the wood is taking apart then you are good to go. The most important thing is if you resonate with the guitar and it sounds like that box has been checked. Also that there is no structural damage - that sounds good to go. It’s a blonde so that’s a big plus! And you said it is well priced...this all sounds like you might have a new L5 in your future.

    Post the pictures when you get it


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  32. #81

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    Every L5 I've owned has had a rough finish beneath the extension. AND Every L5CES I've owned has sounded warmer, aka less bright than every L5 Wesmo I've owned. If that blonde L5CES is a great buy, but it before someone else does! I mean, just look at that thing!

  33. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by joeUK
    On looking at it, i was surprised to find there were unsanded "splinters" of wood in the gap between the top box and the underside of the upper register of the neck (by the neck pickup). On a dream forever guitar, I would have expected a better attention to detail.
    As others have explained, this is due to the guitar being laquered after the neck has been glued to the body. It is normal with archtops. All my archtops are a little rough under the neck extension, even my 1996 hand made Benedetto and my Triggs.

    I would not for one split second let that get between me and an otherwise great guitar.

  34. #83

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    Back looks pretty clean too ... not that am overly concerned about the looks
    Attached Images Attached Images The Venerable Gibson L-5-alt-jpg 

  35. #84

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    Not to pile on here, but if a squeaky clean and very blonde and new L5 is what you want - these are not exactly a common thing.

    Sounds like a very good opportunity.

    And agreed with the other comments about under the FB extension. Try shooting lacquer under there sometime, big pain with a natural finish, even worse with a sunburst, and hardest of all wth a trans-red. The weird air flow and blow back makes it very tricky.

    Here is my 2015 Byrd, with the typical dried lacquer spatter/dust under there. Something about like this is absolutely normal. It looks worse than it really is due to my lighting blasted under to highlight the white dusty dried lacquer.

    Now they could have cleaned the Titebond from gluing on the FB a bit better,...

    The Venerable Gibson L-5-fc499e7d-2501-4d6e-a437-e677b35abcd7-jpg

  36. #85

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    I have never seen a pristine finish under the neck extension of a Gibson archtop. Never stopped me.

  37. #86

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    This was my last natural L5CES. It was relatively clean under the extension, but I've owned others that were not as clean.


  38. #87

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    Quote Originally Posted by joeUK
    You can't see if from this angle but it where the neck shapes away from the body.

    I have a 2013 L5CES exactly the same as the one depicted in your post, I suggest that
    you take note of Jabberwocky's post plus others, You will not get absolute perfection in
    that area under the extension as has been explained, It's your call, I've had mine from
    new. It is, without doubt, the top of the pile, I have five other Gibsons, all carefully chosen
    But the L5 has the legs on all of them.
    If you have doubts walk away, but you will find this model particularly sought after and
    I suggest will retain resale value in the future.

  39. #88

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    The deal has been done, thanks to everyone for the feedback!
    Attached Images Attached Images The Venerable Gibson L-5-1458667051_7604-jpg 

  40. #89

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    Hearty congratulations. I sprung for a recent L5ces sunburst that had some very obvious finish issues, but they were restricted to one thing, a bit of binding "bleed" the rest of the guitar was a heart-stopper of a beauty. And those dark places in the binding I rarely see, all I know is I pick it up, and I sound way better than I have any right to sound.

    You've joined a very privileged club. Play that guitar with joy.

  41. #90

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    Took delivery of the L5 and it really is something special ... only problem is my dog has taken a shine to the case and tries to jump in every time I get it out. Oh well!
    Attached Images Attached Images The Venerable Gibson L-5-ymqsshcvqvqt0syb8vod7g-jpg The Venerable Gibson L-5-jo57aj6-qyauxqa0vim9dw-jpg 

  42. #91

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    Great guitar and great dog !

    I have the same problem with my cat. As soon as I open a case he jumps in.

  43. #92

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    FWIW, not only does the L5 CES make one sound better, I find that your playing actually improves. It's that good.

  44. #93

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    I had an interesting experience playing a musical - it was a very short job with two rehearsals and a performance. The musical was Spring Awakening. If you aren’t familiar with it (I wasn’t) it is kind of a rock thing with some ambient parts, some aggressive sounding tunes that call for distortion in the part and some more folk sounding things both with traditional and alternate tunings.

    After the first rehearsal I wasn’t really pleased with the sound I was getting. The guy who did it first on broadway used 11 guitars and given the the different tunings and different styles of songs I can see why. I tried to get away with four but the sound guy wasn’t mic’ing the acoustics and overall I wasn’t happy with my sound.

    So the next day I said “oh well” and decided to just bring my L5 for ALL of the standard tuning songs (which ranged from clean to dirty electric sounds and the acoustic songs that called for steel string, nylon string and 12 string). I used an “acoustic” patch on my old Zoom G 2.1u, a BB Preamp for distortion and my Mustang GT100’s effects for everything else and the L5 pulled it off admirably. If I weren’t playing it myself I would not have believed that an L5 could work on most of the styles of music called for in the part and it was a huge sound improvement over using different guitars for different songs the previous day.

    I thought of it after thinking about it at home and remembering all of the different things Howard Roberts used his L5 for and figured it was worth a shot. I have only used the guitar for jazz before so it was really surprising that it worked!

    I wanted to post about it because I was so pleased with how it went but also as kind of a PSA - I think the L5 is thought of as a jazz guitar first and foremost (as it should be, the king of jazz guitars to me) but man it can rock if asked to and has a very convincing acoustic sound if processed a certain way. Oh and it also had a very nice clean electric sound on the ambient songs - those called for delay, compression and sometimes a slide and I was really digging that sound.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  45. #94

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    Great post Rio.
    the L5 was built to withstand all the working pro can throw at it. Just take notice of what Tuck Andress throws at his L5. It’s a wonder that guitar can still hold a bridge anymore!
    And the pickups are proven and world class. I am happy to hear you sing the praises of the L5 but I am not at all surprised by what you said.
    It’s very hard to hit the limits of an L5.
    thanks Rio!

  46. #95

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    The only problem with using an archtop for rock stuff is feedback. Otherwise, it's just an electric guitar. Amplified, through effects and distortion, in a big room, they all sound nearly the same, our princess-and-the-pea sensibilities notwithstanding. I've never owned an L5, but have used a laminated archtop for rock stuff many times. Hey, if it's good enough for Scotty Moore, Jimmy Nolen, Steve Howe, Eric Gale, and T-Bone Walker, it's good enough for the rest of us (OTOH, Ted Nugent uses archtops, so maybe that should give us pause for thought ...)

    John

  47. #96

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    Interesting post. What strings gauge did you use on your L5?

  48. #97

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    In a similar vain I love using my 175 for everything. Obviously it does funk very well, just ask Jimmy Nolan.

    With so much wordiness and oomph in the sound the clean can replace overdrive in a lot of situations because it can sound quite aggressive. The bridge can cover a lot of acoustic territory.

    I do find overdrive tricky re the eq. It can easily sound odd but as I often find a scratchy thin fuzzy although on its own is not to a guitarists liking necessarily, in the mix of a band it is perfect.

    Do you have any recordings of your axe in that setting? Would love to hear it


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  49. #98

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    Listen to Wes, then listen to Moby Grape, and then imagine everything in between.

  50. #99
    Curious if you found the bridge pickup settings useful/usable or the both pickup settings to pull this off (or did you just hang out on the remarkable neck pickup of the L5).

  51. #100

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    The only problem with using an archtop for rock stuff is feedback. Otherwise, it's just an electric guitar. Amplified, through effects and distortion, in a big room, they all sound nearly the same, our princess-and-the-pea sensibilities notwithstanding. I've never owned an L5, but have used a laminated archtop for rock stuff many times. Hey, if it's good enough for Scotty Moore, Jimmy Nolen, Steve Howe, Eric Gale, and T-Bone Walker, it's good enough for the rest of us (OTOH, Ted Nugent uses archtops, so maybe that should give us pause for thought ...)

    John
    Don't forget Jerry Miller of Moby Grape. He used to play a 175, I guess...