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  1. #1

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    I played one of these at Eric Schoenberg's shop last year but walked out with a 1937 Gibson L7, thinking it to be the better instrument for chord melody. I kept thinking I'd go back and revisit that Epiphone. When I first played it, it had brand new strings on it and hadn't been touched in a while, so it felt like it had closed up. I liked the sound, but I didn't "get" it. I couldn't really hear the uniqueness all that well. But I knew I'd come back.

    Well, I saved up enough change to pay Eric another visit. I called him beforehand to make sure the drive wasn't in vain. "That guitar," he told me over the phone, "is gone. Bought a couple of weeks ago. Come check out our new 1946 Epiphone Deluxe." Well, I didn't have enough for the Deluxe, and I told myself to be patient. I had seen a couple more Broadways on Reverb, either outrageously priced, or in disrepair.

    What attracted me to getting a Broadway was the big, cutting tone of a 17" archtop with parallel braces. After seeing Jonathan Stout's new L5, I was thinking of going for a post-1938 Gibson L7 with parallel braces. It's common wisdom that an X braced archtop has a sweeter sound for chord melody but tone bars work better with a band. However, having heard some chord melody on 40s Gibsons and Epiphones, I think it's a matter of taste. I love rudeness of the sound. For more context, I'm among those who would willingly listen to Derek Bailey play standards on acoustic all day. A swing era archtop appeals to me not just for cutting single lines and barking, chopping chords, but also for solo performance.


    L7s are much easier to come by than 30s Broadways. I saw a few in LA that I wanted to check out, but I never got the opportunity to head down there. Also, I really wanted an Epiphone. I happened to spot one not too far from my parents' place.

    People talk about the Walnut Epiphones being bright. "Bright" can be misleading. A "bright" guitar, you'd think, has a lot of overtones and potentially harsh trebles. Such a quality could not be more inappropriate to describe of the sound of the Broadway. The Broadway's response is extremely balanced, with the thickest sounding trebles I've heard on an acoustic guitar. It's significantly louder than my Gibsons. It doesn't shimmer like a Gibson, it's not as "pretty", it doesn't have the same reverb. The Epiphone is dry and extremely forward. I can't get over the evenness of the sound. The volume, tone, and clarity bring to life not just shell voicings played 4-to-the bar but also chords with extensions on the E and B strings around the 12th fret. Complex harmonies, dissonances, clusters, harmonics are friends of this guitar.

    I have strung it with Philippe Bosset strings 13 - 56, with 14 and 18 at the top. I first started to use them on Rob MacKillop's recommendation and have found them to sound consistently better than other strings on my guitars. I don't know the core-to-wrap ratio, but they also tend to balance much better than other strings with a magnetic pickup. I have installed a vintage Rhythm Chief 1000 recently and the strings balance fine. I don't plug this guitar in that often, but when I want to, I'm happy to have the option.

    Here it is.

    A very exciting NGD for me - 1938 Epiphone Broadway-img_6673-jpg

    One of these days I'll record some direct comparisons of my acoustic archtops. The walnut really gives this guitar a unique tone.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Good luck with Epiphone, Omph. Very classy guitar especially enhanced by the vintage DeArmond.

    Tony D.

  4. #3

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    Oh Boy that's a beautiful Guitar!
    Wow.
    Some very special Guitars have graced those walls. I seem to remember a certain 1935 D'Angelico Excel once marketed there.

    I don't know if its just the Quality of the photo, but the guitar looks pretty much Immaculate.

    I really cant wait to hear the comparison.

    Lotsa luck and enjoyment.

    Wow...

    JD

  5. #4

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    Amazingly fine condition. Very intrigued by your comments and description of the sound, I'd love to hear a vid of it in due course.

  6. #5

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    She's a beauty and I'm sure you'll enjoy her!
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A long journey starts with the first step...and although I have long forgotten about my destination I'm still enjoying the journey.

  7. #6

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    What a beauty. Play it happily in good health.

    Big

  8. #7

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    Like Joe said.....it sure looks minty and if it sounds as good as it looks you scored bid time. A big Christmas Congrats !

  9. #8

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    That looks STUNNING! Very happy for you (and a little envious!). Play it well!

  10. #9

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    Oh wow. That's some holy grail type guitar as far as I'm concerned.

    Enjoy it in health!
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  11. #10

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    A Black Walnut Epiphone Broadway. Woohoo!

  12. #11
    Thanks all for your comments. I'll have some free time to record early in the new year. Look forward to hearing some Brazilian waltzes on my American archtops.

  13. #12

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    It's really something. I've listened to a lot of vintage Epiphones, especially Broadways, out here in the Northwest, in the company of vintage Gibsons, during weekly sessions with JoeV's cord melody night class, and always loved that sound. Very distinct, and very rich tone that makes me understand why you would want to own one of these. It gets under your skin, or into your head. Either way, it's awesome. Congratulations! You're gonna love it!

  14. #13

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    What a beauty and congratulations!

    Great guitar and sound thinking on why you like that that old Epiphone.....to my view a sweet guitar does not mean it should only be pretty sounding, it should be raucous and turbulent also.

    What I like about my own Epiphone is that it can speak very very softly and then raise a din like no other within a musical phrase.

  15. #14

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    A dream rig! Congratulations, and play it in good health!
    Best regards, k

  16. #15

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    Lord, it’s beautiful. I am in awe.

  17. #16

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    Wow, 80 years old, please put a video up, i am very interested in how it sounds. Congratulations.

  18. #17

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    Glad to hear that you got it and that you’re happy with it. I haven’t had enough time on mine to get it to really open up yet. I really need to get it refretted before that’s going to happen. These guitars have their own sound, although I still find mine very distinctly Epiphone in flavor. I really need to get the refret done. I know it’s going to be a great playing guitar after that. It’s already awfully good even with some frets being extremely low for a guy that prefers jumbos.

    Congrats on a great guitar!

  19. #18

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    Wow. Just. Woooooooow.

    That is beautiful. Congrats!!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    1948 Gibson L-7N
    1981 Epi Emperor T (MIJ Matsumoku)
    1998 Epi Zephyr Regent (Peerless)
    1992 Gibson Les Paul Studio
    2004 Gibson SG Special Faded
    2006 Epi G-1275 (MIK, Unsung)
    2013 Squier Affinity Telecaster, BSB
    (among others)

  20. #19

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    That's one stunning guitar !

    If you find time, can we see pics of the black walnut back ?

    John

  21. #20

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    Gorgeous!
    -- Isn't it crazy that "archtop" and "luthier" are spelling errors on this forum?

  22. #21

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    It sure it a nice one like the sunburst a real deal.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark View Post
    It sure it a nice one like the sunburst a real deal.
    I am pleased to say that the setup and fretwork are immaculate. One of the previous owners had purchased it through archtop.com where it was fortunate to receive top notch care.

  24. #23

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    Absolutely gorgeous ! Wise choice...., not too many Broadways around in good condition. I love these early Epi's - they are such great value ......do enjoy.

    Sent from my GT-N5110 using Tapatalk

  25. #24

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    Beautiful! And you found that not too far from your parents house. Was meant to be! Probably waiting for you to come over and take her home.

    You've got a great knack for for describing the feel and tone of these Walnut Epi's. I too was on a quest for one of these. My trials and tribulations were posted on the forum, I was ready to pull the trigger on the '39 that was at Eric's but went with another one, a 38 I found on the djangobooks website. When it arrived, my heart sank as it had many issues, chief among them was in need of a neck reset. The seller was very kind about it and refunded my funds. I kind of got turned off to the whole quest and in the meantime the '39 at Eric's sold, I believe to forum member That Rhythm Man. Fine says I, guess not to be for me, so the funds from the seller went into another passion of mine-Italian motorcycles. A friend had a Aprilia Futura he was selling and it came to live in the garage with the Ducati 900SS/SP. A great pair of Italian mistresses!

    Well, I still longed for a vintage Epi, I had been wanting another Triumph Cutaway like my '49. So when I saw the '53 Triumph Regent on Joe V's site I went for it, and I very happy with it. So just like finding a '38 Walnut Broadway near you, I guess things work out in mysterious ways.

    Best Wishes and enjoy your Broadway!
    Attached Images Attached Images A very exciting NGD for me - 1938 Epiphone Broadway-fut-jpg 

  26. #25

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    Another beautiful guitar! You're building up quite the collection. I was wondering what your thoughts are regarding the differences in tone, playabilty etc. between the Broadway and the Triumph you recently purchased. I'm currently obsessing on 30's/40's Epiphones and am trying to set up a time to play a couple of local 30's Broadway and late 30's Triumph. A comparison video would be awesome if you have the time and/or interest.

  27. #26

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    Nice score, man! And that pickguard looks gorgeous!
    Jonathan Stout
    www.campusfive.com/swingguitarblog
    My new solo acoustic archtop CD, "Pick It and Play" is available NOW!
    Preview and pre-sales at jonathanstout.bandcamp.com

  28. #27

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    Had to log on to congratulate you on this!

    Thrilling voluptuous curves in your photo, too.

    Not that that stuff gets to me.

  29. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by marcut View Post
    Another beautiful guitar! You're building up quite the collection. I was wondering what your thoughts are regarding the differences in tone, playabilty etc. between the Broadway and the Triumph you recently purchased. I'm currently obsessing on 30's/40's Epiphones and am trying to set up a time to play a couple of local 30's Broadway and late 30's Triumph. A comparison video would be awesome if you have the time and/or interest.
    Yeah I'll try to remember to include the Triumph in upcoming round of comparisons. The only issue is that I've set it up with TI Swing JS112s and haven't looked back because they sound so good through the Guitar Mike. To set it up equivalently to how I set up my purely acoustic archtops may take me some time, since the bridge and truss rod will need some adjustment to the added tension of 14 - 56 bronze. If I have the free time, I'll be happy to do it.

    However, I will say this,:if there's a 30's Broadway local to you, go get it!

  30. #29

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    Those old "parted hair" Epiphones are _the best_. Very nice acquisition.

    Your description of the sound of the Epiphone Broadway is simply superb. In my hometown there was a music store owned by two brothers who made their money early on by recording regional music hits. They were both excellent guitarists. In the early days, they were Epiphone dealers (New York Epiphone, that is). When I would visit they would show me their NOS inventory of old Epis that they had added to via collecting. They had an entire wall of Epiphone acoustics and electrics. The Broadways and Deluxes were some of the best guitars I heard anywhere--before or since.

    Through the years, I have made it my mission to play all of the 30s and 40s Epiphones I could get my hands on. For orchestral and small group acoustic accompaniment, I am not convinced that you can find a better guitar than an Epiphone--especially a Broadway or Deluxe. As you say, there is a very coherent sound that manages to lift through the clutter.

    And, as you suggest, the Broadway (and, I might add, the Deluxe) is a wonderful solo guitar.

  31. #30

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    Congrats. It looks perfect in every sense. Gorgeous guitar.

    Cheers.
    Archtop YT Channel: www.youtube.com/+FredArchtop