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  1. #1

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    Hi all, I don’t think I have posted before here. Been playing mostly acoustic fingerstyle, last couple years got interested in jazz. Have a tele and a strat. Got this idea to try a hollowbody, something 175’ish maybe.... but where I live there isn’t really a good selection of such guitars. Can you help explain what to expect?

    Most shops here have one or two cheap ibanez or epiphones. These feel really heavy and clunky to me, covered in thick, sticky lacquer. When I pick one of those up, they sound dead and I don’t even want to plug them in, just to put them back asap.

    One shop has two lgb300, but these are heavy too, and the neck wasn’t my thing, so they went back on the wall pronto.

    My guitar teacher has an antique US made epiphone that’s completely different, not too heavy with a thin layer of nitro, very lively, he uses it often purely acoustically. Also he has a Japanese d’Angelico that’s more an electric guitar, but still feels elegant to hold. But both of these are “vintage“ and no way I can buy something that expensive.

    As an experiment I bought a Japanese gb10. It had that feeling of the d’Angelico and one of the best necks I ever tried. But it’s heavy and the floaters have a sound that I can approximate 90% with my tele. And it was heavy. So I got rid of it.

    So you see the problem. What kind of hollow body might work for me given these experiences? Is there a lightweight guitar with humbucker pickup(s) that costs say 2k euros or less?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    There are broadly two categories. Acoustic emphasized and electric emphasized designs (for the lack of a better term). They both are meant to be electric amplified. Acoustic group are lighter and either have carved tops or thin laminates. They typically have floaters or only mounted neck pickup. Examples are Dale Unger American Archtop or Eastmans. Sounds like your teachers guitar is in that group.

    Electric emphasized ones are heavier with thicker tops and braces. They can still be carved like modern Gibson L5's, Byrdlands or L4's but they are mostly laminates. This is the group that you might find heavy and clunky if you are mostly paying attention to the acoustic tone. Although I'm a bit confused about you finding them heavy if you are a Strat or Tele player. They generally are not heavier (in fact lighter) than most solid bodies. May be you're comparing with acoustic guitars.

    There are of course also purely acoustic ones (most of them vintage), but I'm under the impression that you're asking about electric archtops.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 01-20-2020 at 06:32 PM.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    .....What kind of hollow body might work for me given these experiences? Is there a lightweight guitar with humbucker pickup(s) that costs say 2k euros or less?
    Eastman AR503CE : light ? check !, humbucker ? check !, less than 2k€ ? check !
    On top of that, it has a nice acoustic sound
    If you find the pick-up too bright for your taste, you saved plenty money so you can arrange for a swap
    You can also experiment with strings (Brand, gauge, Roundwound/Flatwound, alloy ...) before spending €€€ on pick-up
    BUT :
    Be sure the neck will suit you (nut width is 1.75")
    No a problem for me, but this neck ain't Fender-like.
    Mine :
    Are jazz guitars all heavy and clunky?-dsc_0017-jpg

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Electric emphasized ones are heavier with thicker tops and braces. They can still be carved like modern Gibson L5's, Byrdlands or L4's but they are mostly laminates. This is the group that you might find heavy and clunky if you are mostly paying attention to the acoustic tone. Although I'm a bit confused with you finding them heavy if you are a Strat or Tele player. They generally are not heavier (in fact lighter) than solid bodies. May be you're comparing with acoustic guitars.
    @Tal good question. My strat is around 3.5kg, my tele is a thinline so it's lighter. Thing is, the laminate archtops I get to try here are cheap and to me, they feel substantially heavier (although this could be aggravated by the cheap feeling and crappy necks). The lgb300 was definitely heavier than the strats in the shop. And the gb10 I had at home felt heavy too (but not clunky). So is it the laminate construction that makes a guitar heavy? In other words, if I got to try a real Gibson 175, would that be heavy too? Or is it that cheap Korean/Chinese guitars, and George Benson models are heavy?

    Or put it like this. There is an Ibanez fg100, a Guild ce100 and an Aria Pro II PE-180 for sale far enough from that it would mean a substantial road trip to try them, or have them shipped. Also, there are guitars on Reverb such as Gibson 165 Herb Ellis, Ibanez PM100 etc. They are overpriced (but that's maybe a different thread). Will they be as heavy and clunky as those cheap Ibanezes/Epis/Bensons? Or did I just have bad luck with the guitars available locally?

    @339 thanks for the Eastman tip. The lgb300 had a 1.75 nut too and I wasn't a fan... too bad that most Eastmans seem to be built like that. For some reason I prefer thinner necks on electrics, while my favourite acoustic is a Lowden S25C with a Gibson scale and 1.75" nut.

  6. #5

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    ES 175's vary in weight. Mine is a 2013 model that weights around 7 pounds. Most modern ones are a bit heavier. My American Strat weights 8 pounds.

    If acoustic liveliness is important to you, you won't like the modern ES 175's except for the 59 reissue model. The guitars in your list are mostly based on ES 175 or L5. It's hard to know if they will fall into the "clunky" category or not.

  7. #6

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    I've played a ton of archtops in all categories of price, and I don't remember "crappy necks" on any of them. If you are used to slinky strings on a skinny neck, I guess the traditional size of an archtop neck, which is somewhere between a solid body and flat-top acoustic neck, will seem larger, but they are not "crappy" to my knowledge. Maybe you just have horrible shops?

    "Different' is not the same as "crappy." Maybe you need to realize you will not find an archtop that plays like a Strat or a Tele. Different beasts for different feasts.

  8. #7
    @Tal very good question - I don't think I'm looking for another acoustic guitar at all (but as you can see, I have very little experience with these kind of guitars). It's just notable that the vintage Epiphone my teacher owns happens to have a very useable acoustic voice, while sounding absolutely fabulous plugged in. His d'Angelico doesn't have those acoustic properties, but the neck and overall feel of the guitar is classy, it's not heavier than a strat, and it sounds great plugged in. I guess I'm fantasizing that it's possible to buy a guitar like those for 2k euros or less, but maybe this is the problem.

    @lawson-stone my strat is a 56 CS reissue and the neck is definitely not slinky... and neither are my two acoustics. My tele however is... but I have played enough guitars in my lifetime to know a crappy neck from a good one, and this has little to do with the specs. As you say, the shops here are horrible, there is practically no selection of good jazz boxes to try.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    @Tal very good question - I don't think I'm looking for another acoustic guitar at all (but as you can see, I have very little experience with these kind of guitars). It's just notable that the vintage Epiphone my teacher owns happens to have a very useable acoustic voice, while sounding absolutely fabulous plugged in. His d'Angelico doesn't have those acoustic properties, but the neck and overall feel of the guitar is classy, it's not heavier than a strat, and it sounds great plugged in. I guess I'm fantasizing that it's possible to buy a guitar like those for 2k euros or less, but maybe this is the problem.

    @lawson-stone my strat is a 56 CS reissue and the neck is definitely not slinky... and neither are my two acoustics. My tele however is... but I have played enough guitars in my lifetime to know a crappy neck from a good one, and this has little to do with the specs. As you say, the shops here are horrible, there is practically no selection of good jazz boxes to try.
    Sorry about that! I wish you could try nice examples. The Epiphone ES175 Premium is very inexpensive, but has a fast neck and is rather light, more like the old ES175's and the VOS1959 Gibson ES175. The finish is low-gloss, not shiny. I love mine, and I have 3 Gibson ES175's and one ES165 to compare. The newer ES175s are about .5 kg heavier and you will notice it. I like it, but I understand if someone else doesn't. A Gibson L5 WesMo, with one pickup, might also be a good one to try, though they're expensive.

    I hope you find what you're looking for. As you know, the right guitar brings so much pleasure!

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Ibanez PM100

    Just stepped up on the weight with my 1998 Ibanez Pm100 and it clocks in at 3.2 kg. Funnily enough my 2002 PM120 clocks in at the exact same weight despite having a thinner body .. go figure (must be that black paint job! )

  11. #10

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    Try a Godin archtop if you get
    a chance

    they’re light and good

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by 339 in june
    Eastman AR503CE : light ? check !, humbucker ? check !, less than 2k€ ? check !
    On top of that, it has a nice acoustic sound
    If you find the pick-up too bright for your taste, you saved plenty money so you can arrange for a swap
    You can also experiment with strings (Brand, gauge, Roundwound/Flatwound, alloy ...) before spending €€€ on pick-up
    BUT :
    Be sure the neck will suit you (nut width is 1.75")
    No a problem for me, but this neck ain't Fender-like.
    Mine :
    Are jazz guitars all heavy and clunky?-dsc_0017-jpg
    +1 on Eastman. They seem to check all the boxes that you outlined in your post. I’d recommend one of the 16” carved models.

  13. #12

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    +1 on Godin. Light and comfortable.

  14. #13

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    +1 on the 59 reissue 175. Mine weighs less than 3KG

  15. #14

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    Mine are, but only because I store recycling in them....

    On a serious note. My Eastman ar371 is very light. Good acoustic and electric sound. Nothing mind blowing though...

  16. #15

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    The Epiphone ES-175 Premium mentioned by Lawson is a great guitar option, certainly worth checking out.

  17. #16

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    yes

    stick with the tele like ed bickert did




    cheers

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu
    Try a Godin archtop if you get
    a chance

    they’re light and good
    Yep, my Kingpin is under 6 pounds. Great guitar, nice thin finish, "old" sound.

    The carved Eastmans are lightly built too, but if you want an old school Gibson like sound, look elsewhere.

    The Epi Premium 175 I tried wasn't heavy, I'd say about 7 lbs, well balanced, about the closest thing new to a real 175, and no thick goopy finish either.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    +1 on the 59 reissue 175. Mine weighs less than 3KG
    Agreed. I love my ‘59 RI VOS.

  20. #19
    Thanks all for chipping in! There is no Epiphone Premium anywhere in this country, nor any real Gibson 175 et the moment. So it seems I need to make a road trip to someplace where I can try Eastman and Godin.

    It's ridiculous really because I live in a major city with lots of shops. But there is a boutique relic trend going on at the moment, that seems to occupy all resources. There are hand reliced guitars by local builders everywhere, but no jazz boxes.

  21. #20

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    I've been following this thread with interest. I have on-and-off shoulder pain that I deal with through regular exercise, stretching, and checking my posture. But as I age I'd like to have an electric hollowbody that's legitimately lightweight as an option as well. I've been reading threads here lately for ideas.

    What about thinlines, such as the Godin Montreal Premiere or Ibanez AF200? Could either be classified as light?

    I live in an apartment with neighbors all around me. I'd like to have some acoustic presence, but it's not important to me to have a guitar that's loud unamplified. I just need something I can hear and enjoy well enough acoustically. I plug into an amp with headphones when I want to hear myself louder, or with backing tracks.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    ...There is no ... anywhere in this country, nor any .... So it seems I need to make a road trip to someplace where I can try ....
    It's ridiculous really because I live in a major city with lots of shops. ....
    In what city/country are you located?

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    In what city/country are you located?
    I’m in Stockholm, Sweden.

    As luck would have it, I went to a shop that used to carry lots of Eastman, but they don’t anymore. But they had one left, a used AR805. It was light and was more like an acoustic. So it is possible to make a light jazz guitar after all!

    An interesting observation was that on paper the neck was 1 3/4 but I would estimate it to more like 1 11/16, which was nice. Maybe the specs aren’t set in stone.


    I’ll look for an Eastman 372CE, could be just the ticket!

  24. #23

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    Sorry for the slight derail...just trying to help telejw 's shoulder.

    Quote Originally Posted by telejw
    I've been following this thread with interest. I have on-and-off shoulder pain that I deal with through regular exercise, stretching, and checking my posture. But as I age I'd like to have an electric hollowbody that's legitimately lightweight as an option as well.
    .
    You might like to consider an Epiphone Casino COUPE. Small 339 sized body, fully hollow, weighs in at about 6 pounds and is not too expensive. I have had one for several years and enjoy it very much.
    This is not me...how I wish I had these skills!

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greco
    Sorry for the slight derail...just trying to help telejw 's shoulder.


    You might like to consider an Epiphone Casino COUPE. Small 339 sized body, fully hollow, weighs in at about 6 pounds and is not too expensive. I have had one for several years and enjoy it very much.
    This is not me...how I wish I had these skills!
    You sound very good. Those 339's (Gibson or Epiphone) are very luring. I like their practical design. Accessible high frets, light weight, hollow body sound in a small size body.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    You sound very good.
    You missed reading in the post that it is not me.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greco
    Sorry for the slight derail...just trying to help telejw 's shoulder.


    You might like to consider an Epiphone Casino COUPE. Small 339 sized body, fully hollow, weighs in at about 6 pounds and is not too expensive. I have had one for several years and enjoy it very much.
    This is not me...how I wish I had these skills!
    I had one exactly like the one in the video. Really a great guitar as a starter jazz thin box. I graduated up to an ES-390 which is virtually the same guitar built to professional standards. It is an aspiration for me.

  28. #27

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    Heavy/clunky? Nope, definitely not all anyway...especially the modern builds. For example Steve Andersen's builds are quite light, especially his laminate builds (pretty rare). Ditto Steve Holst and Collings. And I'm sure many others.

  29. #28

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    Some of those heavy jazz boxes like modern ES175s or L5ces' have a really solid feel and mass that you get in the tone as well. I have light and heavy, love them both, but I can't disparage the contemporary "heavy build" ES175. My 2 of that vintage have the thunk and tone that I love. And they feel really solid to play.

  30. #29

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    I weighed a few guitars using the bathroom scale subtraction method, sorted by weight:
    Yamaha NTX700 4.1 lb (nylon string with preamp)
    Eastman AR810CE 5.7 lb (floating pickup)
    Gibson L-7 6.3 lb (floating pickup)
    Ibanez AF105NT 6.4 lb (two set pickups)
    Stratocaster 7.7 lb
    Telecaster American Standard 8.2 lb

    That might explain why I tend to grab the Yamaha or Eastman when I want to relax. Even 1/2 lb difference is quite noticeable.
    (I’ll edit later to convert to kg.)

  31. #30

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    I weighed my guitars directly and came up with this:

    Gibson ES165 1999 6 lbs 13 oz
    Gibson ES175D VOS 1959 6 lbs 7 oz
    Gibson ES175 Figured Sunburst 2016 7 lbs 12 oz
    Epiphone ES175 Premium 6 lbs 7 oz
    Gibson L5ces 2015 7 lbs 14 oz

    Interestingly the Gibson VOS and Epiphone 175s are the same weight.

  32. #31

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    Try a Heritage H525. Fantastic 'old school' P90 tone in a thin-line laminate full hollow-body weighing under 7 lbs.
    Or if you want an even thinner bodied version, go for an H530. They are in the 6 lbs. range.

  33. #32

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    I recommend a used Hofner Jazzica or New President.
    Light-weight, high-quality, carved-top, definitely within your budget of 2k euros or less.
    The Jazzica has a floating mini-humbucking pickup, and the New President has either a floating mini-humbucking pickup or two mini-humbucking pickups.
    You should have no problem finding one or the other used in Europe.

  34. #33
    @KirkP @lawson-stone interesting! So the Gibson/Epi 175/165 are all lighter than a strat. That's definitely not the experience I had with the cheap jazzboxes here. But that would explain why so many of them are on sale in the local want-ads...

    @Hammertone I'll be on the lookout, there are some shops here that have lots of old nondescript archtops that look like they spent years in someone's attic ;-)

    @GitFiddler would like to try a Heritage, lots of good comments about them online, but I have yet to see a single one for sale on this side of the Atlantic...

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    @KirkP @lawson-stone interesting! So the Gibson/Epi 175/165 are all lighter than a strat. That's definitely not the experience I had with the cheap jazzboxes here. But that would explain why so many of them are on sale in the local want-ads...

    @Hammertone I'll be on the lookout, there are some shops here that have lots of old nondescript archtops that look like they spent years in someone's attic ;-)

    @GitFiddler would like to try a Heritage, lots of good comments about them online, but I have yet to see a single one for sale on this side of the Atlantic...
    To be precise, the Gibson VOS1959 ES175 and the Epiphone ES175 Premium are the lighter instruments in my list. I don't know how much a strat weighs. But the ES165 and ES175 Figured are somewhat heavy, though they actually feel good to me. Nice and solid. I will weight a couple other archtops I have when I get the chance.

  36. #35

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    The archtops and semihollow guitars might feel heavier than smaller guitars. I had for years an ES-137 which I eventually sold because it felt so heavy. Although it was just 3,7 kg, as light as an average strat. And I normally play Les Pauls!

    My ES-175 VOS is only 2,7 kg and it feels light as a feather.

    I live in Finland and the hollowbodies are rarity here too. I am sorry to hear that it is same in Sweden. Maybe Copenhagen is the nearest place that have a shops with archtops (Woodstock Guitars)?


    EDIT: The ES-175 weight.
    Last edited by Herbie; 01-29-2020 at 03:36 AM.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie
    I live in Finland and the hollowbodies are rarity here too. I am sorry to hear that it is same in Sweden. Maybe Copenhagen is the nearest place that have a shops with archtops (Woodstock Guitars)?

    Not a lot to be found in Copenhagen either. Woodstock carries an ES-275, that has been hanging on their wall since at least 2015, otherwise I don't think they have a lot in terms of archtops. I think I might have spottet and Ibanez AS200 there too.


    Our biggest store was 4sound, but it's gone bankrupt earlier this year, so ... and it's not like they had a lot of archtops either, but they used to carry a single ES-175 usually and once every 5 years maybe a L5 would appear. At least I got to try the ES-175 '59ri there and it was indeed both great sounding and fairly light.



    Jazzisten.dk is currently closing shop too, so he has a final sale on his webpage featuring mostly Eastman and Ibanez

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobomov
    Not a lot to be found in Copenhagen either. Woodstock carries an ES-275, that has been hanging on their wall since at least 2015, otherwise I don't think they have a lot in terms of archtops. I think I might have spottet and Ibanez AS200 there too.
    Our biggest store was 4sound, but it's gone bankrupt earlier this year, so ... and it's not like they had a lot of archtops either, but they used to carry a single ES-175 usually and once every 5 years maybe a L5 would appear. At least I got to try the ES-175 '59ri there and it was indeed both great sounding and fairly light.
    Jazzisten.dk is currently closing shop too, so he has a final sale on his webpage featuring mostly Eastman and Ibanez
    Damn, sorry to hear. These kinda news make me FEEL heavy and clunky. Like some rare species just before extinction.

  39. #38

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    If you can find one, an Eastman T146 is a nice guitar and very light, should be 5 lb or less. My T145 is well under 5 lb.

  40. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    If you can find one, an Eastman T146 is a nice guitar and very light, should be 5 lb or less. My T145 is well under 5 lb.
    Looks like a great alternative, but it seems to be out of stock in the entire world... looks like Eastman are really killing it right now and raising prices to meet demand.

  41. #40

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    They're often available used. There are several available on Reverb.

  42. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    They're often available used. There are several available on Reverb.
    I can only see one in Canada that costs almost 3000 euros.

  43. #42
    Ok, came across an Ibanez JP20. The guitar was light and resonant, not at all like those cheap clunky monsters hanging in the shops. Too bad about the pickup placement, right in the way of my right hand :-( ... So with your help, I guess we established that not all archtops are heavy or clunky, and that one must them in person. The local jazzers sometimes surface with a guitar for sale, an Aria Pro II pe180 just appeared. Those are supposedly heavy, but maybe not clunky... We’ll see... Thanks everyone!

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    I've played a ton of archtops in all categories of price, and I don't remember "crappy necks" on any of them. If you are used to slinky strings on a skinny neck, I guess the traditional size of an archtop neck, which is somewhere between a solid body and flat-top acoustic neck, will seem larger, but they are not "crappy" to my knowledge. Maybe you just have horrible shops?

    "Different' is not the same as "crappy." Maybe you need to realize you will not find an archtop that plays like a Strat or a Tele. Different beasts for different feasts.
    oh man when ever I try an archtop at a mass market guitar shop the set up is always horrendous. I feel like taking my own Allen keys and screwdriver and setting the things up so I can actually evaluate the instrument.

    they just put on a set of .12 D’addario chromes (regardless of the guitar) and don’t bother to adjust neck relief, intonation or action. It’s no surprise they never sell them.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    oh man when ever I try an archtop at a mass market guitar shop the set up is always horrendous. I feel like taking my own Allen keys and screwdriver and setting the things up so I can actually evaluate the instrument.

    they just put on a set of .12 D’addario chromes (regardless of the guitar) and don’t bother to adjust neck relief, intonation or action. It’s no surprise they never sell them.
    I was looking for a cheap acoustic archtop a few months ago, and they actually had one I could try at my local music shop. I was surprised and happy that I could actually play before buying. The set up was horrible, I couldn't even get an idea how it would play. I was hitting and listening to all the buzzing notes, and probably shaking my head, and the salesman comes over and says "oh that just needs a quick setup, it will be perfect." And I was just thinking "Then set up the damn guitar."

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    oh man when ever I try an archtop at a mass market guitar shop the set up is always horrendous. I feel like taking my own Allen keys and screwdriver and setting the things up so I can actually evaluate the instrument.

    they just put on a set of .12 D’addario chromes (regardless of the guitar) and don’t bother to adjust neck relief, intonation or action. It’s no surprise they never sell them.
    Well, shit, at least they do that.

    I've seen archtops around here with .010's and a plain G.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Well, shit, at least they do that.

    I've seen archtops around here with .010's and a plain G.

    Oh yeah .. ES-175 apparently come with 10s from the factory


    Usually don't see heavier flats before you hit something like a L5

  48. #47

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    PRS is coming out with a guiltar called the SE Hollowbody Standard. It's PRS double-cutaway shaped, but it's hollow. Top is mahogany. PRS just recently announced this guitar at NAMM, cost is around US$1000. It's said to weigh about 6.5 or 7 pounds. It sounds pretty good on the YouTube demos I've heard. Probably will be available in Europe.