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  1. #1

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    Hi everyone,

    Currently looking to buy my first archtop with floating pickup. I play a 175 at the moment and love it, but I really dig the floating pickup sounds from GB.

    I had the chance to play a D'angelico EXL-1 deluxe the other day and it sounded amazing (the new one with SD Johnny Smith floater). But it had a purple matte finish (I prefer natural finishes).

    I am thinking to get the new natural EXL-1 D'angelico (with SD Johnny Smith) or Peerless Monarch. The Peerless is a little cheaper but I have heard so many amazing things about them (and wonderful sound on some YT videos like Matt Otten).

    I would like to hear your experiences with these guitars and recommendations (budget is 1000 to 1500). I am not able to try the Monarch before buying.

    Greetings,
    Marton

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  3. #2

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    I have a Peerless Monarch that I absolutely love. The workmanship, tone and appearance are all great. I must confess that I have not played a D'angelico, so cannot compare them. Hopefully somebody who has can give their impressions.
    Cheers,
    Ray

  4. #3

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    I had an exl-1 for several months and got rid of it. The tone was nothing extra and the pickup seemed very weak. I've owned and played many jazz boxes over the last 50 plus years and my current favorite is an Ibanez afc-151. The sound is fat and full, single floater, super neck, everything. And under a grand.
    p.s.
    The red finish looks nothing like the pictures, it is dark, deep, and rich looking. Check it out.

  5. #4
    Thanks Ray. That's great to hear! I would love to try a Monarch

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marton View Post
    Thanks Ray. That's great to hear! I would love to try a Monarch
    The best thing is I got mine used in mint condition for $600. If you live anywhere near Connecticut I would let you try mine.
    Cheers,
    Ray

  7. #6

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    I own an EXL 1 in natural clear finish and love it.

    Looking for an archtop with floating pickup-dangelico-jpeg
    Last edited by Musgo Real; 09-22-2019 at 04:37 PM.

  8. #7

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    I believe that Monarchs have sound blocks under their bridges if that is a consideration. Not the same as a full hollow FWIW.

    That said, the one that I had that was a neck set in humbucker model did. I don’t know if the floater Monarch does.

  9. #8

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    have you looked at the guild A-150 savoy....solid spruce top..and authentic dearmond floater...cordoba, the guild owners, own the dearmond pickup brand too..a classic pup




    cheers

  10. #9
    Thanks guys. That EXL-1 looks really sweet. @Musgo real: does your one have the SD Johnny Smith floater? And if so, have you compared it with other archtops? I am just curious.

    At this moment I just wonder about the difference beteeen the Monarch and EXL-1 pickups. But I see videos of both guitars with great warm and articulate sounds.

    I played a Guild Savoy, but was not too impressed by it. I preferred the EXL-1 that I played.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marton View Post
    Thanks guys. That EXL-1 looks really sweet. @Musgo real: does your one have the SD Johnny Smith floater? And if so, have you compared it with other archtops? I am just curious.

    At this moment I just wonder about the difference beteeen the Monarch and EXL-1 pickups. But I see videos of both guitars with great warm and articulate sounds.

    I played a Guild Savoy, but was not too impressed by it. I preferred the EXL-1 that I played.
    Hi Marton,

    my EXL is a 2015 model made in Korea in natural clear finish. It has a Kent Armstrong floating pickup, not the new SD Johnny Smith.
    My luthier, an Archtop maker here in Hamburg - Germany, told me to change the pickup on first sight, but after he played my EXL he was impressed by its tone and said I don´t have to do it. The EXL is my first and only archtop and I have not compared it with other archtops. I am playing it acoustic or amplified with my Roland Cube 60 and gauge 13 Thomastik Jazz Swing.

    Here is an example of the pickup sound. Played on an Korean made EXL 1 in natural tint finish, also with the Kent Armstrong floater.

    This guy is playing with his thumb Mi Cosa by Wes Montgomery. Also Kent Armstrong floater.


    Here is a demo of the pure acoustic sound.


    This guy changed the factory Kent Armstrong pickup with a DeArmond 1100 Rhythm Chief made by Guild. I think it sounds great.


    Here is a demo of the new EXL 1 model with the Johnny Smith floater. But Mr. Miller does not playing jazz.
    Last edited by Musgo Real; 09-22-2019 at 05:15 AM.

  12. #11

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    I have an A-150 Savoy and it’s a keeper and a sleeper. Korean build quality with quality materials. Can be had for less than the D’Angelicos. I really like the 9.5” fingerboard radius and the pickup.

  13. #12
    Thanks so much for the info and sharing videos @Mugso Real! Great sounds!

    I will have the chance to try a Monarch this week. Let's see what it will be.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marton View Post
    Thanks so much for the info and sharing videos @Mugso Real! Great sounds!

    I will have the chance to try a Monarch this week. Let's see what it will be.
    Hi Marton, you are wellcome.

    Am I wrong having the feeling that Peerless and D`Angelico are producing their guitars in the same South Korean factory? They are looking very similar in some ways like binding etc.

    I am satisfied with the build quality of my South Korean D`Angelico EXL 1. Maybe I will change the pickup one day with a DeArmond 1100 Rhythm Chief made by Guild. If I will buy my next Archtop it will be a full solid body like an Eastman AR810CE. Also I want to get a vintage acoustic archtop made by Höfner.

    Have fun testing the Peerless Monarch, never had one in my hands, but red positive comments here in our forum about this model. You can get used D`Angelico EXL1`s for very affordable prices. Maybe you have to change the Kent Armstrong pickup if you don't like its sound but listening to the videos I have shown in my last post, I don't think it is really necessary. Personally I would not buy an EXL 1 of the Premier or Deluxe range. Don't like their colourations. The Excel range is the only one where you get the natural finish EXL 1.
    Have a look here:
    Hollow Body Guitars | D'Angelico Guitars
    Last edited by Musgo Real; 09-24-2019 at 03:51 AM.

  15. #14
    Thanks Musgo. I will post my thoughts here after I gave the Monarch a try. Yes, it is possible they are made in the same place.
    The Monarch is also solid woods by the way. I guess it makes mostly a difference when played acoustically.
    Eastman makes some great sounding archtops as well. Really all choices are good mentioned so far.

  16. #15

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    Just a reminder - Monarchs have sound blocks under their bridges. They aren't really acoustic canons. At least that was my experience.

  17. #16
    That's a good point Lammie. Thanks. I will check it out when trying the Monarch

  18. #17

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    Marton, I can't say you'll love the Peerless Monarch. But I did! I've owned 3-4 of them.

    It won't compare to your ES175. But then again, it shouldn't. The sound will be completely different.

    Monarch's are very very underrated guitars, imho.

    I've owned far more expensive archtops over the years. But I've never owned better than a Monarch.

    I've also owned the EXL1 guitars. Both by Peerless and by Vestax. The Vestax was slightly better, but only in overall workmanship.

    But for the pricing, I'd heartedly recommend a Peerless Monarch, or Cremona to anyone trying out these guitars. I've bought and sold many of them myself.
    "You've got to be in the sun to feel the sun. It's that way with music too." - Sidney Bechet

  19. #18
    That's great to hear from someone who has played both! Thank you. I am very excited to try the Monarch now
    Have you tried the Peerless Manhattan as well? It is about 100-200 cheaper, but with laminated wood. Just considering.

    Yes, the sound would be different of course, compared with the 175. I like to have the new archtop for a woodier and articulate sound. The 175 is more dark and punchy.

  20. #19

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    Hi Marton,

    here is a demo of both Peerless models, Monarch vs Cremona.


    He wrote about his test:
    An out-of-state customer asked me to compare the Peerless Cremona carved archtop guitar with the Peerless Monarch pressed archtop. In this clip, I alternate between the two guitars. In the first section, I play each guitar acoustically. In the second section, I strum a chord progression using a heavy pick. In the last section, I play fingerstyle (no pick). The video shows very clearly that I am not a jazz player. This clip is not intended to showcase my playing. Its sole intent is to compare and contrast the two guitars.To my ear, the Cremona has slightly more low end, better clarity, and is slightly louder when unamplified. The Monarch has more midrange. The Cremona has a slightly longer scale length, resulting in a bit more string tension (plus a little more brightness). The Monarch's shorter scale exhibits less string tension.The amplified bits in this clip are played through a Roland Cube 60, with all the tone controls set at 50%, and bright switch is off. There's just a touch of reverb. During the amplified section, the mic overloaded just a bit. Sorry 'bout that.



  21. #20

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    I owned an EXL-1 and just found something uninspiring about it. I agree it sounds fine on recordings. I might just have a bias against all the bling. My favorite floater I've owned was the Godin 5th Ave Jazz model. I had a factory second which was in your price range

  22. #21

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    I had a new Godin 5th Ave Jazz that I picked up for way cheap. It had to be an end of the year/clear inventory thing with Godin. They are very nice. Acoustically very clear and very well balanced IMHO. The things that made me trade it for something else were the extremely flat finger board radii and the neck/body joint at the cutaway which is done more like it would be done on a classical guitar with a cutaway. There is a pretty decent sized ledge to negotiate that sticks out past the neck contour and it just seemed as though the higher register was kinda just lip service to the instrument if that makes sense.

  23. #22

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    Hi Marton,
    don´t know if you noticed that Peerless got a limited range of 50 full solid Monarch guitars for their 40th anniversary at the moment.
    News - Peerless Guitars Co Ltd
    It got a Kent Armstrong floater, so I think on the regular laminated Monarch there will be also a Kent Armstrong floater. Maybe the same as on the EXL 1. I have not found any information about the price.

  24. #23
    Thanks for the comparison video you shared Mugso. In the end, the same instruments sound different in different videos. Just looking forward to try the Monarch on friday and see how it sounds and feels to me.

    @drbhrb: yes, I had a similar experience before. The first time I tried the exl-1 a few years back and didn't like it. But the new model with Johnny Smith pick-up sounded and felt great. I guess the overal contstruction has changed.

    @lammie: I tried the Godin as well. Very nice guitars

  25. #24
    Hi all,

    Yesterday I got to check out the Monarch. I played it every way I could and the instrument just sounded and felt fantastic. Got it at a good price and took it home.
    Just needs a little set-up (minor buzzes) and fresh strings and the guitar is good to go.
    The acoustic sound is not too impressive compared with my 175 even, but it has that clear and articulate sound when plugged in which I love.

    Let me try to insert a photo here: