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  1. #1

    'Lively' Acoustic Archtop

    I have a Loar acoustic archtop. It is very loud and bright sounding. I am trying to find a string which will cut out
    that over the top brightness ('Dumb' it down a little) of the guitar but will still maintain a good acoustic tone. Perhaps try a string that is made for an electric guitar?

    Have you tried a string that is made to suit an electric guitar on an acoustic archtop? Did it work for you? If so what make of string?
    As an example I have tried phosphor bronze strings and 'It will peel paint off the wall'--as they say!

    Your suggestions welcome.

  2. #2
    Hi, it would be helpful to know what strings you have on already – otherwise it will be difficult to say what strings could be brighter or darker. I have monel strings on my Loar (Martin retro light) and I like what I hear, but I suspect that if you have bronze strings on mine might actually be brighter than yours…

  3. #3
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    'Lively' Acoustic Archtop

    Quote Originally Posted by swingtoneman View Post
    I have a Loar acoustic archtop. It is very loud and bright sounding. I am trying to find a string which will cut out
    that over the top brightness ('Dumb' it down a little) of the guitar but will still maintain a good acoustic tone. Perhaps try a string that is made for an electric guitar?

    Have you tried a string that is made to suit an electric guitar on an acoustic archtop? Did it work for you? If so what make of string?
    As an example I have tried phosphor bronze strings and 'It will peel paint off the wall'--as they say!

    Your suggestions welcome.
    I prefer Monel Steels, or the d’addario nickel bronzes, they sound a little more ‘played in’’ PBs are bright for a short while and then sound a bit duller.

    Nickel electrics sound good but are quieter which might suit you, esp if you want to use a mag pickup, but the loudness is kind of the point of this axe imo

    This is not a bedroom guitar. I picked up mine the other day after ages and quickly remembered its ability to leave my ears ringing after a bit of enthusiastic chording.

  4. #4
    Martin Retro 13 was my choice on my Loar.

  5. #5
    When I had a Loar, I liked 80/20's the best.

    They start off ridiculously bright, but after a few good hours of hard play, they mellow out in a way Phosphor Bronze never does.
    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

  6. #6
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    I prefer pure nickel strings. I don't notice a huge difference in volume, but they do sound mellower, not so in-your-face bright. Monel and nickel-bronze are ok, but I find the nickel-bronze strings priced too high for their value. The Martin Retro monel strings are good, but I still prefer nickel by a small margin, because the monels are still just a little brighter. Try a set of each recommendation above, and see what works best for you.

  7. #7
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    I have used eletric strings on an acoustic eletric Guitars. The steel are to bright for me Pure nickel was less Bright then chromes where even less Bright. Strings are the first thing I suggest for changeing how a guitar sounds.

  8. #8
    Maybe D'Addario NBs or DR Zebras? I tried the NBs on an a/e flattop only because I wanted a set that would last longer. But I ended up really liking the sound too.

    D'Addario NB1253 Nickel Bronze Light Acoustic Strings | Musician's Friend

    DR Strings Zebra Medium Acoustic-Electric Guitar Strings | Musician's Friend


    Last edited by Woody Sound; 12-07-2018 at 12:49 PM.
    -- Isn't it crazy that "archtop" and "luthier" are spelling errors on this forum?

  9. #9
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    I’m one of the outliers it seems, but I love Thomastik Jazz Swing flatwounds on most acoustic archtops, either JS112 or JS113.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatRhythmMan View Post
    I’m one of the outliers it seems, but I love Thomastik Jazz Swing flatwounds on most acoustic archtops, either JS112 or JS113.
    JS112's are what I have on my Loar but I have not tried anything else so cannot compare except to the factory strings which I didn't like.
    -Danny

  11. #11
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    Try Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Bebop round wound strings. The .12-.50 or the .13-.53 gauge strings are great.

    These are electric-acoustic round wound strings. They are plenty loud and singing for archtop guitars, but are less bright and zingy than are the typical medium-gauge acoustic guitar string.

    This string makes my 17" carved body archtop guitar sound GREAT acoustically, and GREAT electrically.

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    'Lively' Acoustic Archtop

    Depends on one’s playing style. I like the way the bebop’s sound but live my rhythm playing destroys the winding on the D string, which is expensive so they aren’t an option for me personally - I play HARD. (This for .13s I think.)

    (The first rule of swing rhythm guitar is the D sting is EVIL and must be punished.)

    I would imagine that’s prob not so much of a concern for most. I love TIs gauging and they sound great.

  13. #13
    Usually guitars that are very bright and bright sounding have thicker tops, this is espeically the case if the guitar has diminished bass response.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

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    I have found that with archtops the size of the body matters. 14-16" bodies have less bass response on average and have pronounced treble. 17-19" bodies. ..and I am talking lower bouts, here...have great bass response, all else equal.

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    I think perhaps depth also has some influence on it. Deeper bodies seem to have more bass than thinner ones. Not as much influence as body width, probably, but some. And always, everything influences everything else to some greater or lesser degree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    Try Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Bebop round wound strings. The .12-.50 or the .13-.53 gauge strings are great.

    These are electric-acoustic round wound strings. They are plenty loud and singing for archtop guitars, but are less bright and zingy than are the typical medium-gauge acoustic guitar string.

    This string makes my 17" carved body archtop guitar sound GREAT acoustically, and GREAT electrically.
    I have those (13's) on my somewhat-acoustic Godin 5th Ave Kingpin right now. I actually find them to be a little brighter than the Martin Retro (monel) strings I was using previously. Maybe a hair quieter, but not dramatically so. The Martins have a little more finger squeak. (And the claim that the TI's have less tension seems subjectively to be true.)

    Also, the OP didn't specify whether he was complaining about wound or unwound strings. So it might be worth noting that all the options listed in this thread will only affect the wound strings, since plain strings are all the same.

    John

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    'Lively' Acoustic Archtop

    The Loar is really a very specific thing. It’s not going to sound like a Benedetto...

    But yeah the monels give a good midrange cut.

    Flats on acoustic archtop? I’m puzzled as to why some people bother with acoustic archtops if they want to put flats on them. Why make a guitar whose sole reason for existing is to be loud and cutting, quieter? Takes all sorts.

    That said the Beatles had flats on acoustic guitars, so my opinion is null and void.

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    'Lively' Acoustic Archtop

    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    (And the claim that the TI's have less tension seems subjectively to be true
    Well it’s objectively true if you are enough of the nerd to look up the stats. The gauges on the lower strings are just lighter.

    (My excuse is I wanted to Bernstein a set of strings with a different top to feel like the TIs without running into the winding problem. Worked great, but the Daddario balanced tensions make that unnecessary now.)

  19. #19
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    I tried monels on my L-7 and took them off really soon.
    They were thin sounding -- did nothing for that guitar.
    Phosphor Bronze were better by far.
    I've now got Curt Mangan flatwounds on that guitar and I love 'em.

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Well it’s objectively true if you are enough of the nerd to look up the stats. The gauges on the lower strings are just lighter.

    (My excuse is I wanted to Bernstein a set of strings with a different top to feel like the TIs without running into the winding problem. Worked great, but the Daddario balanced tensions make that unnecessary now.)
    I'm comparing TI 13's to Martin Retro 12's, so I think it's not just a gauge thing (with caveats of salt about the uncontrolled subjectivity of the experiment).

    ... Never seen "Bernstein" used as a verb before, and curious as to the meaning ...

    John

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    The Loar is really a very specific thing. It’s not going to sound like a Benedetto...
    I always thought Benedetto would be brighter than Loar(?) But then, I've never played either one in person so....
    -- Isn't it crazy that "archtop" and "luthier" are spelling errors on this forum?

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    I'm comparing TI 13's to Martin Retro 12's, so I think it's not just a gauge thing (with caveats of salt about the uncontrolled subjectivity of the experiment).

    ... Never seen "Bernstein" used as a verb before, and curious as to the meaning ...

    John
    PB uses heavy top strings with a lighter set

  23. #23
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    'Lively' Acoustic Archtop

    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound View Post
    I always thought Benedetto would be brighter than Loar(?) But then, I've never played either one in person so....
    Brighter? Hmmm maybe but the differences are more profound than that to my kind.

    Bear in mind my perceptions are super subjective...

    Sustain, evenness, response. Loars are brassy, obnoxious cannons with a quick decay - they can do other stuff, but I think that’s their ace in the hole. It’s not a modern jazz tone- although I can get a passable one with a floating pup, I could never dial out that character.

    Benes are beautifully balanced and have a nice sustain that you know is going to amplify fantastically, good dynamic response and plenty loud enough to play quiet music with a bass and another guitar but you aren’t going to be chugging out a heavy chunk with a swing band on it without an amp; although amplified it would give a great rhythm tone.

    Having heard Peter Bernstein’s Zeidler unplugged and up close I would say the same for that guitar. I played my Loar alongside it and was able to balance though....

    So I estimate played with a heavy old school technique, the Loar is quite a lot louder the Bene I tried..... I didn’t play them side be side. Bit it’s not like you can’t balance one. It’s not like playing with an unplugged 175 lol.

    Bass isn’t the strong point of any archtop I’ve heard tbh. Some people who own archtops as well, I think they want the flattop sound with archtop looks. Pre war archies are all about that midrange to sit in the band sonically, not necessarily an all enveloping solo sound.

    Modern high end archtops seem designed to work as semi amplified guitars. They can have an extremely attractive acoustic voice but they aren’t built for sheer volume.

    Maybe the experts can tell me I got it wrong though :-)

  24. #24
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    I think that's pretty much right. Modern archtops don't need the sheer volume that was necessary before amplification. You don't find many guitarists in any type of band playing unamplified now. With current amplification methods, it's possible to get almost any sound you like, as loud as you like, so the current luthiers go for a nicer, more rounded sound without worrying about building something loud and brash. Using an amp is the norm, and expected. Things change.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Brighter? Hmmm maybe but the differences are more profound than that to my kind.

    Bear in mind my perceptions are super subjective...

    Sustain, evenness, response. Loars are brassy, obnoxious cannons with a quick decay - they can do other stuff, but I think that’s their ace in the hole. It’s not a modern jazz tone- although I can get a passable one with a floating pup, I could never dial out that character.

    Benes are beautifully balanced and have a nice sustain that you know is going to amplify fantastically, good dynamic response and plenty loud enough to play quiet music with a bass and another guitar but you aren’t going to be chugging out a heavy chunk with a swing band on it without an amp; although amplified it would give a great rhythm tone.

    Having heard Peter Bernstein’s Zeidler unplugged and up close I would say the same for that guitar. I played my Loar alongside it and was able to balance though....

    So I estimate played with a heavy old school technique, the Loar is quite a lot louder the Bene I tried..... I didn’t play them side be side. Bit it’s not like you can’t balance one. It’s not like playing with an unplugged 175 lol.
    Bass isn’t the strong point of any archtop I’ve heard tbh. Some people who own archtops as well, I think they want the flattop sound with archtop looks. Pre war archies are all about that midrange to sit in the band sonically, not necessarily an all enveloping solo sound.


    I want an archtop because it does not sound like a flattop. I do not particularly like the sound response of a flattop. For jazz they ring too long and do not have the definition of sound to my ears. I not a fan of Martin D guitars give me a nice Martin 000 any day for sound. Flattops guitars for my style of playing just do not work and produce much less individual string response. They tend to ring together as such a archtop will bring out the moving lines on chords for chord-melody. Finally if I played in a bluegrass band I would still prefer my archtop.

    Modern high end archtops seem designed to work as semi amplified guitars. They can have an extremely attractive acoustic voice but they aren’t built for sheer volume.

    I suppose this is probably true to a point but you need to ask individual makers. I know Hollenbeck always built his carves tops with only concern for the acoustic sound. I believe that if you go to the good makers and say voice this guitar for acoustic playing they would.

    Also an individual maker can do things like vary the body depth and even the f hole sizes. Just yesterday Hot Ford Coupe and I were discussing the D"angelico's with the smaller shaped F holes. These are from usually the earlier guitar he made and they are different. I think those particular D'angelico's have an edge in sound. There is always a balance in making a acoustic archtop. It is possible to make one very loud but at the expense of tone. Simply making the guitar 19 inches can be boomer but getting that big top to be carved to produce nice quality sound is a challenge. As the guitar gets bigger more issues enter into the equation. More top to consider when bracing and structural issues. The pinch at the waist can also be a factor.

    Maybe the experts can tell me I got it wrong though :-)


    Bass isn’t the strong point of any archtop I’ve heard tbh. Some people who own archtops as well, I think they want the flattop sound with archtop looks. Pre war archies are all about that midrange to sit in the band sonically, not necessarily an all enveloping solo sound.


    I want an archtop because it does not sound like a flattop. I do not particularly like the sound response of a flattop. For jazz they ring too long and do not have the definition of sound to my ears. I not a fan of Martin D guitars give me a nice Martin 000 any day for sound. Flattops guitars for my style of playing just do not work and produce much less individual string response. They tend to ring together as such a archtop will bring out the moving lines on chords for chord-melody. Finally if I played in a bluegrass band I would still prefer my archtop.

    Modern high end archtops seem designed to work as semi amplified guitars. They can have an extremely attractive acoustic voice but they aren’t built for sheer volume.

    I suppose this is probably true to a point but you need to ask individual makers. I know Hollenbeck always built his carves tops with only concern for the acoustic sound. I believe that if you go to the good makers and say voice this guitar for acoustic playing they would.

    Also an individual maker can do things like vary the body depth and even the f hole sizes. Just yesterday Hot Ford Coupe and I were discussing the D"angelico's with the smaller shaped F holes. These are from usually the earlier guitar he made and they are different. I think those particular D'angelico's have an edge in sound. There is always a balance in making a acoustic archtop. It is possible to make one very loud but at the expense of tone. Simply making the guitar 19 inches can be boomer but getting that big top to be carved to produce nice quality sound is a challenge. As the guitar gets bigger more issues enter into the equation. More top to consider when bracing and structural issues. The pinch at the waist can also be a factor.

    Maybe the experts can tell me I got it wrong though :-)[/QUOTE]
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  26. #26
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    Building and tuning a guitar for a beautiful acoustic voice is not the same thing as tuning it for volume. The loudest archtops don't sound beautiful, just loud. And that was the point of them, once upon a time.

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    'Lively' Acoustic Archtop

    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    I think that's pretty much right. Modern archtops don't need the sheer volume that was necessary before amplification. You don't find many guitarists in any type of band playing unamplified now. With current amplification methods, it's possible to get almost any sound you like, as loud as you like, so the current luthiers go for a nicer, more rounded sound without worrying about building something loud and brash. Using an amp is the norm, and expected. Things change.
    There are some bands. Gypsy Jazz, Bluegrass, trad jazz and some vintage style big bands are where its lingered on. It’s quite common for street bands to play unamped in New Orleans for instance.

    (Also roaming bands are quite trendy now and that has to acoustic unless you dick around with wireless stuff.)

    It’s nice to have the Loar for when I need it. Also it’s nice for that music semi amplified. I also played it on my last album, Balagan Cafe Band, which is swing influenced music....

    The stridency of the tone is kind of a benefit, if you want to avoid the ‘mainstream jazz’ tone.

    However, it is TOUGH to get the Gypsy jazz guitar or acoustic archtop sound as loud as you like it unless you have an attentive sound man and it’s your band and you can soundcheck the guitar for 30 minutes.

  28. #28
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    Even in New Orleans, amps are becoming rather common. They make strolling more difficult, but in clubs amps seem to be the norm nowadays. There are still, and probably always will be, strictly acoustic bands with guitar and banjos, but they're in the minority. As for Blighty Olde, I defer to you.

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    'Lively' Acoustic Archtop

    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    Even in New Orleans, amps are becoming rather common. They make strolling more difficult, but in clubs amps seem to be the norm nowadays. There are still, and probably always will be, strictly acoustic bands with guitar and banjos, but they're in the minority. As for Blighty Olde, I defer to you.
    Nah I usually play through an amp. Musicians are sensitive, and acoustic sound is a thing of beauty, and I have the technique to play that way, but ‘audiences’ are loud.

    Agents are stupid as well, they have no idea. Often they say acoustic and I ignore it because unless we are playing to a listening audience in a concert room or something there is no way that is what they want. I have a battery amp that improves my life somewhat in these situations.

    But I do get some calls to do it. I did a shit one last night, all acoustic. Agent booked the wrong thing.

    I did a gig where the restaurant really did mean it. No amps at all. It was fine.

    But roaming is big here. Amps - even battery amps, don’t quite work in this set up. That’s a challenge at a party. Good way to fuck up your voice too if you’re not careful.

    But in general that’s always going to be a tricky one. A guitar is a guitar. A loud one is better but in a noisy room it’s all much of a muchness.

    That’s why I say if you are working player you might be better off getting a quieter guitar that amplifies well, maybe the Godin 5th ave, or something. Strident, loud guitars are difficult to faithfully amplify.

    This used to be an issue when I played in a band that wanted that sound specifically and not electric but never really allowed enough time in the soundcheck to get the guitar sound right. Fantastically frustrating, I can’t tell you. (Jonathon Stout can do what he likes, he’s the leader.)

    Now I just play a 175. Learned my lesson. Fuck em:-)
    Last edited by christianm77; 12-08-2018 at 07:17 PM.

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    'Lively' Acoustic Archtop

    Btw it’s easy to view the past with rose tinted spectacles, but I wonder if the audience hum was really any quieter in the age before amplification.

    I can imagine guitar players just getting really pissed off all the time but there being no option. There’s a reason the electric guitar took off.

    On the other hand, listen to that racket on the Mintons tapes - reminds me of a lot of present day places lol

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