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  1. #1

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    Hi everyone

    I'm totally new to the forum and really only just getting into jazz guitar playing. It seems like a bit of a minefield at the moment but I'm slowly learning a whole host of new arpeggios and scales which is helping my playing immeasurably.

    Anyway, I'm just wondering if anyone has any suggestions for a really nice archtop guitar?

    The Ibanez AF200 has piqued my interest but I think on the current models the sunburst seems a little bit underwhelming, not the end of the world but not preferable.

    Are there any other options around this price range, give or take, that I should be aware of? I should also mention I'm in the UK so that may limit particular options. Any help provided would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks
    Karl

  2.  

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  3. #2
    Karl and to the JGF!

    The AF200 looks like a very nice guitar. Although they’re a little less expensive, I’ve heard very good things about the D’Angelico New Yorkers.


    Good luck in your search and
    Midnight Blues

  4. #3

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    For a long time now I have understood through observation that if you are seeking a Sunburst guitar you really need to look at it in person. Because Sunburst finishes vary in quality and beauty.

    As for what archtop to buy, that selection should result in playability and personal preference from gaudy to simple in appointments.

    Country-of-origin doesn't really matter much any longer as the top producing companies located in various countries have applied quality control to their products which enables the buyer to select a range of guitars that are surprisingly good... for a price.

  5. #4

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    Save your money until your taste crystallizes. Nothing wrong with the Ibanez AF200, but why spend US$2500 when you've only got a short time of experience? Any guitar can be used to play jazz, but an individual player will gravitate to some and not others.

    You might also be surprised at how uncomfortable a 16" or larger archtop can be if you're used to solid bodies.

    At US$2500 and less, there's Ibanez, but there's also Comins, Archtop Tribute, Eastman, Hofner, Peerless, and many others. There's solid maple tops, solid spruce tops, plywood tops in their many varieties, mahogany necks, maple necks, rosewood and ebony fingerboards, hollow bodies, semihollow bodies, and on, and on. Even Telecasters (Ed Bickert and Bill Frisell).

    There are two or more good shops for jazz guitars in the UK. Being American, I don't exactly know where they are, but a bit of internet sleuthing can reveal them to you. The only one I've visited was Ivor Mairant's in London. Another that I've heard of but know nothing about is Dawson's. There are a few UK posters on jazzguitar.be who might be willing to guide you to stores.

    Give yourself a chance to learn what you're looking for before you allow yourself to be seduced by a fashion statement.
    Last edited by dconeill; 09-27-2019 at 11:56 AM.

  6. #5

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    Boy, there's a lot of choices.

    Any players who have a sound you really like?
    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

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Boy, there's a lot of choices.

    Any players who have a sound you really like?
    Thanks for the replies everyone, some very helpful information so far. In my limited experience so far I've been listening to Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Joe Pass (I bought and watched his 'blue side of jazz' DVD which was excellent), Pat Martino and John Scofield. I was really taken by Wes' playing but loved the mellow tone I was hearing from Pat Martino.

  8. #7

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    Pat's played a lot of different guitars over the years...a particular recording?

    So generally, you like the classics...I mean, who doesn't? What are you playing now?
    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

  9. #8

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    As stated so well already, its the music not instrument itself. Play what instrument you feel most comfortable playing for the present time being.
    Then start experimenting with different style guitars. They are much like a good golf club. You use the one designed for its particular strength.

    Back when Jazz started out guitars were mostly acoustic in design. It was only later solid body guitars came into being. So most well known players just adapted to what they had available.
    Mike Stern,Pat Martino, John Scofield,etc don't use hollow body instruments. All 3 are Great examples of Jazz Guitarists!

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Pat's played a lot of different guitars over the years...a particular recording?

    So generally, you like the classics...I mean, who doesn't? What are you playing now?
    So far El Hombre has been my favourite in terms of guitar tone, in terms of playing I'd say Wes' playing on Smokin' at the half note was really enjoyable. I'm currently playing a telecaster which is fine but sounds a bit 'thin' for lack of a better word, even on the neck pickup. I'm looking for a sound with a bit more body to it I suppose.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kswilson89 View Post
    ... I'm currently playing a telecaster which is fine but sounds a bit 'thin' for lack of a better word, even on the neck pickup. I'm looking for a sound with a bit more body to it I suppose.
    Look up Ed Bickert, perhaps on the album "Pure Desmond", but Bickert had many other recordings. He used an alder (I think) Telecaster with a rosewood fingerboard, and except in the early days had a Gibson Humbucker in the neck position. Nothing thin about Bickert's tone.

  12. #11

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    Ok, based on your preferences, there's a lot of options, and yeah, music isn't gear, but sometimes having a guitar set up a certain way for a certain sound can be inspiring.

    You might start honing in on 17" guitars with a routed neck humbucker. I assume your budget is around $2500?

    Given your parameters and preferences, a guitar I'd put on my "look for" list would be an Epiphone Elitist Broadway.

    That Ibanez you mention is likely a very nice guitar. I've never played a Japanese made Ibanez that wasn't. I have always felt their pickups run a little on the bright side...but I do NOT have any experience with the particular model you mentioned.
    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

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Ok, based on your preferences, there's a lot of options, and yeah, music isn't gear, but sometimes having a guitar set up a certain way for a certain sound can be inspiring.

    You might start honing in on 17" guitars with a routed neck humbucker. I assume your budget is around $2500?

    Given your parameters and preferences, a guitar I'd put on my "look for" list would be an Epiphone Elitist Broadway.

    That Ibanez you mention is likely a very nice guitar. I've never played a Japanese made Ibanez that wasn't. I have always felt their pickups run a little on the bright side...but I do NOT have any experience with the particular model you mentioned.
    Given the budget don't you think he could aim a little higher than a $550 Epi? I'm sure it's a fine guitar but in his budget he could be looking at used Heritage, many models of Eastman, or my choice would be a new Comins GCS-16


  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by drbhrb View Post
    Given the budget don't you think he could aim a little higher than a $550 Epi? I'm sure it's a fine guitar but in his budget he could be looking at used Heritage, many models of Eastman, or my choice would be a new Comins GCS-16

    That Comins is sweet.

    The Epiphone Elitists were about $2400 new. They're outstanding guitars, and capture much of the vibe of an L5 CES, which is definitely a vibe the OP would be after.
    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

  15. #14

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    Oh sorry I got it mixed up with the normal broadway model they are producing today. The Elites look really nice.

  16. #15

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    Pat Martino did play larger L-5CES,Johnny Smith as well as Koontz Archtops before he had his brain surgery. Since then it has been a succession of smaller or even solid body guitars along with perhaps an Adamas acoustic.

    But Since the mid 1990s he pretty much settled on a design he and Mike McGuire at Gibson came up with. His change to Benedetto seems like a very similar design as well.

  17. #16
    Thanks for the replies everyone, some great suggestions. There's a local 1998 Guild X-170 I've just found that's really caught my eye. Does anyone have any experience with these?

  18. #17

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    A great place to start is an Epi Emperor Regent;
    17"maple and neck, body, spruce top, floating mini-humbucker, pickguard mounted controls.

    I got mine for $600 with a hardshell case, it had not been played very much and looked new.
    Put Tomastik .011 flatwounds on it, sounds and plays great acoustically, sounds even better through my Blues Junior. Has real nice marquetry as well; abalone inlay and vine on the bound peghead.

    Many people have maligned the stock pick-up, but the right strings and adjusting your amp's tone controls will do wonders. I found no need to change the pick-up. One must bear in mind the price point of this guitar, and have reasonable expectations based on that; an L-5 it is not, but it is capable of nice jazz tones and can be adjusted for great play-ability.

    Like all Jazz boxes with a Venetian cut-away and full body, it is hard to reach the higher frets compared to say an ES-175.

    I value my Epi Regent not only for it's good sound and play-ability, but also because unlike my costly Gibsons, I can go take it on the road to play, and if it gets damaged or stolen, it's not a big fiasco, and replaceable. I call mine a poor mans L5.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by jaymen View Post
    A great place to start is an Epi Emperor Regent;
    17"maple and neck, body, spruce top, floating mini-humbucker, pickguard mounted controls.

    I got mine for $600 with a hardshell case, it had not been played very much and looked new.
    Put Tomastik .011 flatwounds on it, sounds and plays great acoustically, sounds even better through my Blues Junior. Has real nice marquetry as well; abalone inlay and vine on the bound peghead.

    Many people have maligned the stock pick-up, but the right strings and adjusting your amp's tone controls will do wonders. I found no need to change the pick-up. One must bear in mind the price point of this guitar, and have reasonable expectations based on that; an L-5 it is not, but it is capable of nice jazz tones and can be adjusted for great play-ability.

    Like all Jazz boxes with a Venetian cut-away and full body, it is hard to reach the higher frets compared to say an ES-175.

    I value my Epi Regent not only for it's good sound and play-ability, but also because unlike my costly Gibsons, I can go take it on the road to play, and if it gets damaged or stolen, it's not a big fiasco, and replaceable. I call mine a poor mans L5.
    My MIK EER is a marvel. And the neck is nothing short of superb! Real value for money. A sleeper for sure.
    Best regards, k

  20. #19

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    That Guild X-170 may be a good choice, I have a 2013 Guild Manhattan X-175 that does it for me. I've seen them go for $500-700....very happy with mine, plus it is very versatile. Sorry I do not have a pic for you.

  21. #20
    Thanks for the replies everyone. I haven't bought the Guild yet, I'm still doing some research. I had the opportunity to play my guitar teacher's Ibanez PM200 today and I was totally blown away. Over here they cost £2699 however the AF200 is more in my price bracket at £1799. Are both models pretty similar in build and quality? (Despite the obvious 2 Vs single pickup config)

  22. #21

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    Hi !
    I tried today an Hofner New President (2012 anniversary edition) and it might be an interesting archtop at 2000€: superb blonde finish, confortable nut, mellow sounding pup and even beautiful acoustic sounding. I found it by "accident" on my road to try an ES175. The Gibson doesn't impress me at all (very poor sounding and skinny neck) but the Hofner (which the owner refused to sell) was a big surprise for me. An elegant and not so common archtop.
    Ps: The best archtop I've played under $1000 is the Peerless Monarch.