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  1. #1

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    Feeling like I've hit a dead end with guitars (I'm sure many here have)

    So I just got my ar371 back from the shop, having them put a SD '59 in. It has 12 chromes. I honestly feel pretty underwhelmed. It just sounds and feels dead. Not that they are designed for everlasting sustain or great elrctric sound, but I was hoping for something a little better. It just doesn't seem to have much body; too bright.
    I've gone through a bunch of guitars in the last two years including:
    Yamaha AE1200 (should have kept that one ugh)
    Univox Barney Kessel
    Aria Pro Herb Ellis
    Ibanez AM93
    Ibanez AF75
    Cort Source
    Several solids including tele and LP.
    And this Eastman.



    The only one that is cutting it is the Cort and it's not even a true archtop.
    I'm pretty much fine with just playing the Cort (maybe my favorite guitar) "except for the situations where I gotta play a bit classier looking instrument."

    Should I give the Eastman some more time or move on?
    An Epi 175 or Cort Yorktown would be my next choices but getting a little tired of the game.
    Last edited by arielcee; 01-26-2020 at 04:04 AM.

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  3. #2

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    Just get a semi or a solidbody and get on with life. Some people just don't like acoustic archtop guitars, and that's okay. I'm not a fan of solidbodies nor of semis, but I understand why others are.

  4. #3

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    Ariel, have you played an L5 or an Eagle? Or if you must have a laminate top try--of all things--the earlier version of the Gretsch 6122-1959 (circa 2005-2015 with trestle bracing--not the "vintage select") or the final edition of the 6122-1958 (circa 2005-2015; also has trestle bracing). You should be able to shape the tone with string guages. Gretsch also makes a G400 Synchromatic and a much less expensive but similar version that I can't name at the moment. The archtops will be fundamentally bright because they were intended to punch through the band, which you've probably already considered. It's unlikely you'll get what you're after from the cheapy archtops. Maybe you've already played the better ones I mentioned, but I just happened to see your post and thought that I'd chime in. * Do you have a good amp? k

  5. #4

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    So seriously, we all know the whole "having the same gear as your idols won't make you sound like them" but who has a sound you really like?

  6. #5

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    sounds like you need to check out an old usa made guitar...doesn't have to be gibby....check out old harmonys, regals or kays...mr. b just put up a vid of him on a kay..great!

    think about it


    cheers

    ps- many have pressed spruce tops! kinda interesting!
    Last edited by neatomic; 01-25-2020 at 12:07 AM. Reason: typ-

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    So seriously, we all know the whole "having the same gear as your idols won't make you sound like them" but who has a sound you really like?
    Well honestly Herb Ellis. Esp his Aria pro era. Lol...

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    sounds like you need to check out an old usa made guitar...doesn't have to be gibby....check out old harmonys, regals or kays...mr. b just put up a vid of him on a kay..great!

    think about it


    cheers

    ps- many have pressed spruce tops! kinda interesting!
    My first guitar. A Harmony Rocket! I miss that one....

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by arielcee
    Should I give the Eastman some more time or move on?
    An Epi 175 or Cort Yorktown would be my next choices but getting a little tired of the game.
    I wouldn't give up on the Eastman. Have you played the guitar with a combo yet? Or in a big room so you can open it up?

    I played the AR371 for a few years, sold it about 18 months ago and missed it. So I just bought a new last week. Most agree the stock pick-up doesn't cut it. I put a Fralin P92 in the first 371 and it was very rich and round. I was very pleased ... would likely have installed another in the new 371 but the tone that Rob MacKillop is getting with his Creamery Charlie Christian inspired me to order one. I also have an Eastman T386. It has the stock Kent Armstrong pick-ups, but in a semi-hollow body, the tone is great. I wouldn't change out the pups in that guitar.

    The 371 has been discontinued, another reason to consider holding on to it and continuing to experiment with pups, and strings.
    Last edited by 3rdwaverider; 01-25-2020 at 01:32 AM.

  10. #9

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    Eastman makes better Carved Archtops than laminate ones in my opinion. The build is way too light for my tonal preference. Maybe get a used Herb Ellis Gibson with the built-in Humbucking pickup.
    If you can afford it get one of the later ES-175 they are a heavier build vs. The early ones.

  11. #10

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    My second AR371 came alive with a BG Pups Pure90. Transformed the guitar. I remember being surprised the day my 1954 ES-125 arrived because they sounded quite similar to one another.

  12. #11

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    You nailed it when you said you should have kept the Yamaha AE1200. It was a far superior guitar to an Eastman AR371.

    Where do you go from the Eastman? Hmmm, if you can afford twice the price I'd suggest keeping an eye out for a good buy on a Heritage, but on average they've become very very expensive, relative to the old days. Best buy today would be in a Gibson ES175 which can be had for below $3k.

  13. #12

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    A bit pricier than those you've tried, but I think it's worth checking out a used Collings Eastside LC or Eastside Jazz LC. Good deals can be found on Reverb. And with Collings you know the build quality is top notch and consistent. There's one at $3,750 on Reverb currently, which is a good deal, but still a lot of money so I understand if you prefer to look for something that costs less.

    I often practice on my Eastside Jazz LC without an amp - pretty impressive for a 15" x 1 1/16" width guitar. I've got other guitars with wider nuts than this thing is deep and yet this one sounds huge.

  14. #13

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    You have a guitar you like to play and it has a good sound. Ain't that a bummer?

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by arielcee
    Well honestly Herb Ellis. Esp his Aria pro era. Lol...
    Well hmmm...what kind of amp are you using?

  16. #15

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    Hey maybe the best jazz guitar FOR YOU ain’t a hollow body. Maybe a tele, les Paul or a strat will be Your Baby. Don’t feel you have to use what all us old guys use.
    Good luck

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Well hmmm...what kind of amp are you using?
    Strings can make a difference too... what you like on one guitar may not work at all for another. For example, I prefer completely different strings, amp and settings for archtop than for solidbody.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by arielcee
    Feeling like I've hit a dead end with guitars (I'm sure many here have)

    So I just got my ar371 back from the shop, having them put a SD '59 in. I honestly feel pretty underwhelmed. It kust sounds and feels dead. Not that they are designed for everlasting sustain or great elrctric sound, but I was hoping for something a little better. It just doesn't seem to have much body; too bright.
    I've gone through a bunch of guitars in the last two years including:
    Yamaha AE1200 (should have kept that one ugh)
    Univox Barney Kessel
    Aria Pro Herb Ellis
    Ibanez AM93
    Ibanez AF75
    Cort Source
    And this Eastman.

    The only one that is cutting it is the Cort and it's not even a true archtop.
    I'm pretty much fine with just playing the Cort (maybe my favorite guitar) "except for the situations where I gotta play a bit classier looking instrument."

    Should I give the Eastman some more time or move on?
    An Epi 175 or Cort Yorktown would be my next choices but getting a little tired of the game.
    hey the Cort source looks great ....
    what kind of gigs do you need a classier looking guitar for ?
    id take that guitar anywhere !

  19. #18

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    Just back from the shop and you can tell?

    More than I can do. I've loved and hated the same gear in different sets on the same night. My usual guitar, which I like a lot, sounds like crap when I play with this other guy who uses a Tele and a Strat and sounds great. But, when I play those guitars, I like my usual (Comins GCS-1) better. And, what sounds good at home, or in a solo guitar situation may sound awful with a combo. Not that the grass is always greener -- it's also every other color on the far side of the fence.

    The point I'm trying to make is that maybe it would be helpful to live with it for awhile.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu
    hey the Cort source looks great ....
    what kind of gigs do you need a classier looking guitar for ?
    id take that guitar anywhere !
    Well 1920s-30s swing. The leader has let me get away with the cort, but I know she wants the look and I can totally understand.

  21. #20

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    Yamaha G50ii 112.

    I'm just slightly surprised at how much of the acoustic sound comes through. It almost sounds like a manouche swing guitar. Even with chrome 12s.

  22. #21

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    My luthier made miracles both with my Epi Joe Pass and Eastman 371. Be sure you have a good luthier.
    Regarding sound, frets polishing do matter, up to 5000 or more.

    But as a simple diagnostic fact, (because of you have many instruments what are not satisfiing) it worth to consider is there any common mistake what you actually do on all of them, like lowering the action just under the optimal. I do not mean fret buzz, instead the tipical dead sound. It is an easy experiment to higher the action and examine the sound difference. An other common cause could be your string usage/preferences. Worth to try some high quality set both roundwound and flatwound.

    Eastman 371 should not sound dead, instead a dry, singing and elegant sound both acoustically and thru amp.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor
    My luthier made miracles both with my Epi Joe Pass and Eastman 371. Be sure you have a good luthier.
    Regarding sound, frets polishing do matter, up to 5000 or more.

    But as a simple diagnostic fact, (because of you have many instruments what are not satisfiing) it worth to consider is there any common mistake what you actually do on all of them, like lowering the action just under the optimal. I do not mean fret buzz, instead the tipical dead sound. It is an easy experiment to higher the action and examine the sound difference. An other common cause could be your string usage/preferences. Worth to try some high quality set both roundwound and flatwound.

    Eastman 371 should not sound dead, instead a dry, singing and elegant sound both acoustically and thru amp.
    Took your advice and raised the action a little. Wow. Noticeable improvement. Still pretty bright but better.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Just back from the shop and you can tell?

    More than I can do. I've loved and hated the same gear in different sets on the same night. My usual guitar, which I like a lot, sounds like crap when I play with this other guy who uses a Tele and a Strat and sounds great. But, when I play those guitars, I like my usual (Comins GCS-1) better. And, what sounds good at home, or in a solo guitar situation may sound awful with a combo. Not that the grass is always greener -- it's also every other color on the far side of the fence.

    The point I'm trying to make is that maybe it would be helpful to live with it for awhile.
    This is why I have too many guitars.

  25. #24

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    I assume you play with a pick. The right pick can really warm up the tone, particularly thicker picks. I really like the D’Andrea Pro Plec pick in the 351 shape: PRO PLEC – 351 SHAPE – D'Andrea USA. Give that pick a try along with a set of flat wound strings like D’Addario flat wound chromes: ECG25 Chromes Flat Wound | Electric Guitar Strings | D'Addario. You might consider moving up a gauge or two on the first and second strings to get a fatter tone. These are relatively inexpensive changes to try.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by arielcee
    Took your advice and raised the action a little. Wow. Noticeable improvement. Still pretty bright but better.
    ...then raise more... :-)

    Regarding still too bright: Pick matters. Try jazz picks like below. You may have some loss of articulation and loss on control volume nuances, but will be less bight for sure. The main benefit is on the high E and B (supposing you are using a set with wound G, which is also recommended)

    Striking out on archtops...-2020-01-26-10-46-52-jpg

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor
    ...then raise more... :-)

    Regarding still too bright: Pick matters. Try jazz picks like below. You may have some loss of articulation and loss on control volume nuances, but will be less bight for sure. The main benefit is on the high E and B (supposing you are using a set with wound G, which is also recommended)

    Striking out on archtops...-2020-01-26-10-46-52-jpg
    Been using clayton acetal rounded triangle 1.52mm. I have some jazz iii's regular and tortex, big stubbys, etc. Clayton still has the best tone imo. Gave the action another raise and it's seemed to have helped.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by arielcee
    Been using clayton acetal rounded triangle 1.52mm. I have some jazz iii's regular and tortex, big stubbys, etc. Clayton still has the best tone imo. Gave the action another raise and it's seemed to have helped.
    I ruled out big stubbys, because their surface makes noise and unions all the drawbacks of heavy and light picks (imho) like surprisingly unwanted highs, and loss control of articulation.

    Material matters in the tone character similarly like EQ. Btw the pick what is the best for a particular instrument not necessary fits to an other, so I have no favourite pick, instead best match. Also the pick which is the best match for acoustic may or may not be the best match for electric for the very same instrument.

    I am glad the action raise helped some. The tipical sign to be alerted is the zingy zangy character and the weak and muted type sound. This still is there when action raised above fret buzz, so action must be raised toward except you are using a way high cut (low pass) EQ, and delay + reverb like Pat Metheny in Rejoicing. The high cut will eliminate the zing zang, and the delay + reverb will correct the missing singing character, so with this gear you can go for the extreme minimum action. But I guess, that is not your cup of tea, if you named Herb Ellis. One last idea, you must pick with some energy, which has attack, to get a decent sound like Herb Ellis, Jim Hall, or Jesse van Ruller, or Peter Bernstein.
    Last edited by Gabor; 01-26-2020 at 04:01 PM.

  29. #28

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    The H575 in particular would be one I would have suggested you try out but if an Aria HE didn't do it for you another Yama may be your best bet.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by arielcee
    Feeling like I've hit a dead end with guitars (I'm sure many here have)

    So I just got my ar371 back from the shop, having them put a SD '59 in. It has 12 chromes. I honestly feel pretty underwhelmed. It just sounds and feels dead. Not that they are designed for everlasting sustain or great elrctric sound, but I was hoping for something a little better. It just doesn't seem to have much body; too bright.
    I've gone through a bunch of guitars in the last two years including:
    Yamaha AE1200 (should have kept that one ugh)
    Univox Barney Kessel
    Aria Pro Herb Ellis
    Ibanez AM93
    Ibanez AF75
    Cort Source
    Several solids including tele and LP.
    And this Eastman.





    I'd probably turn the BASS all the way down on the amp and try to get some of those other guitars back if you sold them...

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by arielcee
    Feeling like I've hit a dead end with guitars ...
    I wonder if the problem isn’t the guitars but something downstream in the signal chain: amp, speaker or your tone control settings. My impression (with earphones) is that your tone has scooped midrange. I’ve found that some scoop can be desirable with a band but when playing solo or duo can take life out of the tone.

  32. #31

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    This is a cheap easy potential solution: MXR Micro Amp +. You can return and get your money back if it doesn't work.

  33. #32

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    Hmm.. for the price of a used car you could follow all the advice in this thread. And you still might not like your tone. Interesting.

    I've had pretty good luck with inexpensive guitars like Washburn's and D'Angelico's. And the Seymour Duncan '59 pickup. Still, the Eastman is going to be bright. That's Eastman in general. You're already using one of the best picks for a soft/round sound. You could go to flat wounds but that will cost some acoustic tone and in a swing band not sure how that would be.

    My suggestion would be .012 or even .013 round wounds and a proper EQ pedal. Empress has a very good one in their Parametric EQ. Roll down above 8Khz a bit. Maybe just a little up in the 200hz-300hz range then mid's to taste. Another possibility would the xotic EP boost. Not for the boost but for the EQ it applies. While I don't care for it on acoustic instruments, I could see it being good at taking a thin sound and making it thicker.

  34. #33

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    Sincerely appreciate all the input. Took Gabor's advice and raised the action some which did seem to help. After going through different amp settings and picks, back and forth between guitars, etc. I realize as several have noted, it's still just going to be a bright guitar. I'm more used to the p-up being closer to the neck. If the neck was a little skinnier and body a tad thinner I may give it more time but for my personal needs it feels more loss than gain at this point. But certainly worth the experience. There's a relatively limited supply of jazzboxes in the area via store or classified and don't mind the adventure.

  35. #34

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    I'm hearing you arielcee. I'm thinking about keeping one nice carved top for more intimate at-home stuff, but I have a hard time getting a good *loud* archtop sound in live situations.

  36. #35

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    One way to get more bass out of the guitar is with the pick as mentioned. Use a thicker one, and mainly avoid ones with a pointy edge, as they sound more trebly. Also work with the angle you hit the strings, a slanted angle can reduce treble. You can go to extremes tone wise with your pick attack if you put in the work. Try round strings if you are using flats and your guitar sounds dead to you.

    But some guitars are brighter than others. And some pickups too. Bass is a classic problem when gigging with an archtop, its feedback etc. I use a semi hollow Gibson 335 as a solution, but really should get a good laminate hollow body..

    Keep trying guitars, and try to find and play some really good ones. It could be that your aesthetic has developed to where medium category archtops don't do it for you any more, it could be a technique issue or just a preference towards a different kind of guitar, but it could also be that you haven't found the right guitar yet. Lots of budget hollow bodies have that "wood" sound. I'd try the cheaper solutions first!

  37. #36

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    Have you tried an Epiphone Broadway or Emperor Regent?

    They often show up on used gear sites and can often be had for peanuts. A Broadway would give you that mellow tone you’re looking for and it has that slim neck profile you prefer. Plus it looks like a legit classic jazz guitar. Maybe not early jazz period, but the bloopy bebop sound is in the Broadway more so than the smaller body guitars you’ve been trying.

    I make this recommendation assuming you don’t have 2 or 3 grand to lay out for an ES-165 or ES-175. My favorite budget jazz box is the Epi Broadway.

    Good luck!

    Roli

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by rolijen
    Have you tried an Epiphone Broadway or Emperor Regent?

    They often show up on used gear sites and can often be had for peanuts. A Broadway would give you that mellow tone you’re looking for and it has that slim neck profile you prefer. Plus it looks like a legit classic jazz guitar. Maybe not early jazz period, but the bloopy bebop sound is in the Broadway more so than the smaller body guitars you’ve been trying.

    I make this recommendation assuming you don’t have 2 or 3 grand to lay out for an ES-165 or ES-175. My favorite budget jazz box is the Epi Broadway.

    Good luck!

    Roli
    The Broadway is a very good guitar. It has the L5ces look but is slimmer, has the faster neck, but I love mine and reach for it daily. And I have an L5ces in the very same room. Likewise, the Epi ES175 Premium is a very fine guitar if someone wants a slim neck.

  39. #38

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    I kind of gone on a journey of archtops, and mostly Eastman's to be honest, and one Benedetto. The Benedetto was an incredible guitar (Bambino), but I moved it because I just didn't really connect with it like I had hoped I would (which bummed me out, but that's life). Last week, I grabbed an Eastman T184MX to get something "jazzy", versatile, and relatively budget friendly.

    That's my long-winded way of saying that you really have to try out a lot of guitars to determine what's going to work best for you. I get the aesthetic part of your gig, but you have to play something that works. Spook410 offered great advice too, an EQ pedal can do wonders to shape your tone, especially a good one. I'm also using a Red Bear Big Jazzer, and find that the material helps tame some harsh trebles on every guitar I use.

  40. #39

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    If I couldn’t afford the real deal, here’s the one I would swing for:

    Archtop Tribute AT105 NEW Natural / incl. Hard Case / Made in | Reverb