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  1. #1

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    Hello. I’m in the market for a full hollowbody, I’m a thin line player. I’ve checked out a few guitars and some threads here and I think it comes down to tone vs. quality at least in my case and wondering if similar people have had same dilemma.

    In the past I’ve owned a nice used Eastman AR903 which is a carved top full hollow with single neck floating pup. I thought the feel and build quality was amazing but the tone was too bright and brittle. I sold that a few years ago and haven’t had a full hollow since. Recently I played an Epiphone es175 and used Regent, Emporer 2, D’Angelico EX-DH and EXL1, Peerless gigmaster. I found the cheaper guitars sounded better and the more expensive played and felt better.

    My budget is $1k +/- a few. I feel like I want to sacrifice the tone I like for the playability and build quality. The Eastman and the D’Angelico played so well and felt so good in my hands but I’m not in love with there tone. The Epiphones felt not so great and had questionable long term quality to them but sounded great. The Peerless was somewhere in between.

    What would you choose when faced with tone vs. build quality?

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  3. #2

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    You might want to check out Guilds. Korean build quality similar to Peerless IMHO. The brightness can be controlled with a decent EQ pedal.

  4. #3
    Could it be that the eastman and the d angelico you tried have single coil floater pickups, and are of an acoustic nature, where the epiphone and the peerless had a built in humbucker? And maybe you just prefer the latter sound?

    I would personally always choose by tone. Feel can be setup (up to a point), and i don't believe any of the guitars you mentioned are bad enough for problems down the road. If you like a guitars sound, the cheaper the better!

  5. #4

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    I don't think this is a compromise you have to make.
    You just haven't found the right guitar yet.

  6. #5

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    Something to think about in your quest, tone can be remediated relatively inexpensively, while fixing playability is more expensive.
    Regards,

    Gary

  7. #6

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    If you look through this forum much, you'll note so many threads where folks have acquired a guitar for feel/playability of any price point, then immediately swapped out pups and maybe entire electric harnesses for their preferred tone.

    And some threads where they bought for tone/quality of builds and then immediately had it setup to their taste by a luthier.

    Some things of build/design can't be adjusted, like nut width and neck shape. So that part needs to feel "right" for your hands.

    String type and height can vary the playability of a guitar dramatically and a good luthier can do wonders with some guitars.

    My old Lyle L5/175 mashup was worked over by a good luthier and my oh my, is it a fine player now. The luthier was grinning with sparkling eyes when he brought it out, said he was very extremely pleased with the results. Played it and one of his custom rigs, and yea, it's nice. With an early T-Top Gibson in neck position I love the sound too.

    Sometimes even a full luthier workup can't make enough difference and there's threads of people who had a setup done, re-pupped, and tried to like the results but sold it. And someone else loves that same guitar.

    In general I feel more comfortable buying for feel and rebuilding electronics as needed.

    And your mileage will ALWAYS vary!

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  8. #7

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    It's far easier to correct a bright tone than an uncomfortable guitar. New amp, new pickups, new speaker or, the cheapest and best option, a good eq pedal. If a guitar feels right, keep it.
    Last edited by jorgemg1984; 06-12-2019 at 09:42 PM.

  9. #8

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    For my two cents, the L5CES is the perfect combination of tone/playability. Ithe is, however, expensive.

    Guild was recommended above. That's a great combination of tone/playability/price. A full-size Guild like the Stuart is great.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by jorgemg1984 View Post
    It's fair easier to correct a bright tone than an uncomfortable guitar. New amp, new pickups, new speaker or, the cheapest and best option, a good eq pedal. If a guitar feels right, keep it.
    +1 on this. "Tone" can be a few dozen factors -- including your playing, of course! -- and there are some potential quick fixes, as Jorge describes. If a guitar doesn't feel right, though, you may not pick it up much, so that's not helpful ...

  11. #10

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    While Eastman's are very nice guitars, for me, they are way too bright. Maybe part of that is being based on a Benedetto design but seems even more so. I suppose you can fix anything with enough EQ but it's nice when you can start with a basic tone you like. That and guitar amps have very limited EQ ability so you have to add something outboard increasing the cost and hassle. Amplifying is hard enough without additional challenges.

    Hard to find a good hollowbody for $1K. Even used. I had great luck with Yunzhi and Wu guitars. It's been awhile though and I don't know the current state of things. Over time I like the quality of a Korean D'Angelico EX-SS I bought to swap pickups on. That was one of their better models. Don't know about the quality of the Premier line though. You can get an EXL-1 for $400 on Musician's Friend's SDOTD at times. This is both tempting and cautionary. Then there are the Loar models a lot of folks like for a woody tone. Sure there are some here that can fill you in on those.
    Hell is full of musical amateurs - George Bernard Shaw

  12. #11

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    Doc Dosco (Forum member) has this nice Peerless for sale on Reverb; a little over your budget, but it sure looks nice!

  13. #12

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    Upgrading pickups can work miracles.

    I own a 2014 Ibanez AF125. It is a stunningly beautiful guitar, but I was unimpressed with the cheap Chinese Super 58 Custom pickups. I replaced them with the Bartolini "Jazz Pair" (PBF55/PBF57). They were just what the doctor ordered. The Bartolinis breathed new life into the instrument and now I have a beautiful guitar with beautiful tone.

    As far as new guitars go, I am a big fan of Peerless instruments. Very high quality at reasonable prices. I have played a Peerless Gigmaster Jazz and really liked it. Although I decided on the Peerless Monarch 16 ($1400).

  14. #13

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    With your budget stick with the epiphone 175. I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be able to get it to play real nice. Fret level whatever it takes still within your budget.

  15. #14

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    Wait until you find the one you bond with. Get the one that makes you want to play it more. For me that’s usually the feel and build quality. Tone can always be modified with parts and electronics upgrades. Plus you will be able to spread out those costs is you spread them out over time vs doing them all at once. I typically do this with my guitars. My Córdoba flamenco is the only one I haven’t modded out (outside shaving the bottom of the saddle to lower the action).
    Redeemed, Husband, Father, Veteran. Thankful for all four!

    I play a customized Godin 5th Avenue, Córdoba GK Studio, Gibson L6-S and a Hamer Korina. I also play a Kala uBass on occasion

  16. #15

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    Thank you all for input. I think some of you have confirmed what I already was feeling, which is I need it to feel right, I need it to feel up to my personal quality standards, and I need it to play this way over time. The Epiphone 175 did not feel quality at all and that was a real front runner for me. The D’Angelico EX-DH felt most comfortable and durable so it’s a mattter of finding the right used one to fit my budget. I did find one but when I went back it was gone.

    Someone mentioned my my preference to set dual humbuckers a and that definitely is the case but I didn’t want to rule out other possibilities, like the Epiphone regent I played, I really liked it but it was lacking in quality. I foresee another trip to GnJazz to play the gigmaster again, it seems to check off a lot of boxes but the one I played there had super light roundwound strings and I could not get a good feel for the guitar. I like flat wound 12’s and I think it makes a huge difference when trying a guitar.

    Btw my main and only electric guitar is a Gibson es335. It feels absolutely right and sounds exactly how I want my sound. If I could only find this again but without wasting all those years looking!

  17. #16

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    Sorry, I didn't think about your budget in my response. A Guild is going to burn right through $1K.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Triple_Jazz View Post
    Thank you all for input. I think some of you have confirmed what I already was feeling, which is I need it to feel right, I need it to feel up to my personal quality standards, and I need it to play this way over time. The Epiphone 175 did not feel quality at all and that was a real front runner for me. The D’Angelico EX-DH felt most comfortable and durable so it’s a mattter of finding the right used one to fit my budget. I did find one but when I went back it was gone.

    Someone mentioned my my preference to set dual humbuckers a and that definitely is the case but I didn’t want to rule out other possibilities, like the Epiphone regent I played, I really liked it but it was lacking in quality. I foresee another trip to GnJazz to play the gigmaster again, it seems to check off a lot of boxes but the one I played there had super light roundwound strings and I could not get a good feel for the guitar. I like flat wound 12’s and I think it makes a huge difference when trying a guitar.

    Btw my main and only electric guitar is a Gibson es335. It feels absolutely right and sounds exactly how I want my sound. If I could only find this again but without wasting all those years looking!
    If you’re seriously considering buying the guitar, you might ask if they will let you buy a set of flatwound strings and put them in to let you test it. Seems reasonable for a $1,000 instrument.
    Redeemed, Husband, Father, Veteran. Thankful for all four!

    I play a customized Godin 5th Avenue, Córdoba GK Studio, Gibson L6-S and a Hamer Korina. I also play a Kala uBass on occasion

  19. #18

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    "Quality feel" varies with individuals, I guess. My Epi 175 feels every bit as good as a Gibson, and sounds as good to me. But it doesn't feel like an ES335. No archtop will. I do feel that an Epi ES175 Premium is the best bang for the buck that you will find. But it does need to be the Premium, not the basic model.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    Sorry, I didn't think about your budget in my response. A Guild is going to burn right through $1K.
    The Korean reissues are less than a grand.

  21. #20

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    Another guitar you can try is the Godin 5th Avenue. Under a grand, single or double pickup--P90 or humbucker--cutaway or non-cutaway, amongst the most comfortable guitars I have played--with 16" bout, light weight, and vey nice neck--very durable build, and they sound great.

    I think playability and tone are inextricably linked. Low action plays well, but may not sound as good. High action can sound great, but is hard to play. I can set up a 5th Avenue very quickly. I lowered the polepieces on my P90 a bit and set the action at medium height to dial in the tone.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chazmo View Post
    Another guitar you can try is the Godin 5th Avenue. Under a grand, single or double pickup--P90 or humbucker--cutaway or non-cutaway, amongst the most comfortable guitars I have played--with 16" bout, light weight, and vey nice neck--very durable build, and they sound great.

    I think playability and tone are inextricably linked. Low action plays well, but may not sound as good. High action can sound great, but is hard to play. I can set up a 5th Avenue very quickly. I lowered the polepieces on my P90 a bit and set the action at medium height to dial in the tone.
    I went this route myself. Got the acoustic 5th Avenue for under $350, added a custom Vintage Vibes Charlie Christian pickup for $200 including pots/capacitors. $12 more for D’Addario flatwound chromes and she set up beautifully. Professional-quality guitar under six bills. The only other upgrade I might make would be the tuners, though these perform perfectly satisfactory.

    i almost mentioned it but the 5th Avenue gets knocked by some who don’t consider it a professional instrument (I would gig with it any time, if I was a professional musician). And OP seemed like he had a set group of instruments he had narrowed his choices down to. But if you want to consider the 5th Avenue, it’s a great guitar.
    Redeemed, Husband, Father, Veteran. Thankful for all four!

    I play a customized Godin 5th Avenue, Córdoba GK Studio, Gibson L6-S and a Hamer Korina. I also play a Kala uBass on occasion

  23. #22

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    I came here to say "no need to compromise" and suggest a used Heritage 575, but after checking Ebay, it looks like the days of getting one of those for just a little over your budget is over.

    So I'll say save a little more and look for a used Gibson 165.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
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  24. #23

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    I think it's something of a false dichotomy. Most of us have tonal ranges that will work for us and feature sets that are most likely to be comfortable. It's like a Venn diagram: anything inside the intersection of those two sets can probably work for us, anything outside that intersection probably can't.
    Last edited by Jim Soloway; 06-09-2019 at 01:50 PM.
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  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by zcostilla View Post
    i almost mentioned it but the 5th Avenue gets knocked by some who don’t consider it a professional instrument (I would gig with it any time, if I was a professional musician).
    P.S. I play three versions of the 5th Avenue professionally all the time.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway View Post
    I think it's something of a false dichotomy. Most of us have tonal ranges that will work for us and feature sets that are most likely to be comfortable. It's like a Venn diagram: anything inside the intersection of those two sets can probably work for us, anything outside that intersection probably can't.
    Well said. And with a budget it’s ultimately it’s about choosing the two most important qualities you are looking for and living with/modifying to get as much of the third as you can (a. playability/feel/fit/finish b. tone/sound c. cost).
    Redeemed, Husband, Father, Veteran. Thankful for all four!

    I play a customized Godin 5th Avenue, Córdoba GK Studio, Gibson L6-S and a Hamer Korina. I also play a Kala uBass on occasion

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chazmo View Post
    P.S. I play three versions of the 5th Avenue professionally all the time.
    I agree. But somehow it still gets knocked by “purists” as a budget instrument.
    Redeemed, Husband, Father, Veteran. Thankful for all four!

    I play a customized Godin 5th Avenue, Córdoba GK Studio, Gibson L6-S and a Hamer Korina. I also play a Kala uBass on occasion

  28. #27

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    I bought an Aria FA-71 about 15 years ago, set it up for 12 or 13 flat chromes and I've been very happy with it. It's got that whoop that I like and there is a fix for the howling if you want to plug the holes with an F hole shaped piece of wood on a drywall hanger assembly. But I only play in small little places so it's not an issue. I've been real happy with it. If I go to larger places or I'm playing in a group setting that's larger than the trio that I kind of work with on occasion then I will use either my Holdsworth Fatboy or tele that's heavily shielded.

  29. #28

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    Thin line... tone... build quality... budget constraints?

    I’d look for a Soloway on Reverb and JUMP on it. You won’t regret it.

  30. #29

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    The guitars you list are

    Eastman AR903 (?, I think you meant 905) --carved top with floating pickup
    D’Angelico EX-DH -- laminated top with 2 set-in pickups
    D'Angelico EXL-1 -- pressed top with floating pickup
    Epiphone Emperor Regent --
    pressed top with floating pickup
    Epiphone - ES 175
    laminated top with 2 set-in pickups
    Peerless Gigmaster -- laminated top with 2 set-in pickups

    On top of the differences in top/pickup differences there are also differences in other materials, scale length and body dimensions. You can't take that collection of models and draw any conclusions about a relationship between price and tone. I'd add that if you're defining quality in terms of durability (as you seem to be doing), they're all good guitars that will last as long as you're likely to need a guitar to last. These days, above a certain fairly low price point (around $400), there are no bad bad guitars. There may be guitars you don't like for various reasons and/or you may wind up changing some components on a guitar, but build quality is highly unlikely to be a problem.

    Keep trying guitars until you find one that has the right sound and feel for you. If it's $500, don't worry. If it's $1000, don't worry. Based on the sound you seem to prefer, stick to laminated tops with set-in pickups. I'd add Eastman AR371 and Ibanez Akjv90 (or 95, same thing with slight cosmetic differences) to the list. Both are great sounding, great playing guitars in similar tone spaces to ones on your list you say you like. I play a Godin 5th Ave Kingpin (great, absurdly cheap guitar).

    John

  31. #30

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    See if you can find an Ibanez AFC-95 to try. I own one and for $700 it's a good deal. Richie Zellon ranked it at #2 on his list of top 10 jazz guitars for under $1k. I purchased mine before he did his reviews. I have the natural finish model which has a flat finish and to me feels like a high quality acoustic with that warm natural feel. It has 2 floating pickups. It's not flashy looking, but it's nice. It has figured maple sides and back with a spruce top. It came with chrome 11's and I've moved up to TI Swings in 13. I play it through a 20 year old Peavey Classic 30 and I can get any sound I want or need. I believe there's a couple other members here who own one. It's a fairly newer model. I believe it debuted in 2017?

  32. #31

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    So I’ve made a purchase and I’m pretty happy so far. Thanks for everyone’s input, it helped clarify my decision process. I wound up with a Peerless Monarch. I found I love the tone from every clip I watched. While I didn’t play a Monarch before purchase, I played the gigmaster and Cremona while searching and the Monarch has the same feel they had. I found it used so it was right in my budget.

    In in the end it was a compromise, but not a major one. It doesn’t feel as perfect as some other guitars I own or have owned but it feels very good. It sounds absolutely fantastic, not amazing but fantastic. I think it comes down to doing your homework and finding the best deals!

  33. #32

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    I’ve been know to pimp the out of production but easily available used Ibanez af85.
    https://www.musicgoround.com/product...SABEgL76PD_BwE
    Ignorance is agony.



  34. #33

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    I have a vintage ES-345 tdw that i never play, due to the neck feel and boat anchor weight. I also owned and fairly quickly sold both a Godin Jazz and an Eastman AR803ce-16. The Godin was beautifully constructed and felt terrific, but wasn't the right sound, for me. The Eastman was closer to what I was hunting for but still didn't quite deliver. After parting with those two, I took a chance on a used Epi ES-175 reissue (non Premium) and after a very budget-minded upgrade of wiring and PU, it sounds better and feels better than those previous two archtops for around a quarter of the price. It's not nearly as nicely put together as the Godin and it's not as sexy as the Eastman but it begs to be played. That's what matters to me. Price/Pedigree be damned.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskey02 View Post
    I’ve been know to pimp the out of production but easily available used Ibanez af85.
    https://www.musicgoround.com/product...SABEgL76PD_BwE
    Me too
    worked great