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  1. #1

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    .......and some single note playing.

    Lately I've been doing some day dreaming about vintage acoustic archtops. It seems like the main characteristics that everyone discusses and is looking for is a strong comping voice. Is it a cannon, does it bark, Freddie Green, etc, etc. I don't hear as much about how warm they are and how good they would be for acoustic chord melody and some light single note work. This is what I would potentially be interested in down the road. I've played an L-7 from the 50's I believe, but it seems like the older ones are a bit different.

    ANyway, was wondering what are some of the models that you guys like that fit the description I mentioned above. Again, VINTAGE only. Not interested in Eastmans, customs etc. at this point.

    Thanks!

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Budget?

    I'd be after a 16" L5.

    D'Angelico's would probably be just perfect too.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Budget?

    I'd be after a 16" L5.

    D'Angelico's would probably be just perfect too.
    I have three non cut DA's and a friend has a 1927 L-5. I can report that all 4 of our guitars are perfect for chord melody work and everything else. They don't come cheap, but imo, Jeff's post is spot on.

  5. #4

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    if money is an issue, an old Epi Triumph or Broadway would fit the bill.
    heck even some of the lower line vintage Epi's sound great.

  6. #5

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    UPDATE:

    Budget is less than an L-5, D'angelico, etc. Let's say under 4k.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMgolf66 View Post
    UPDATE:

    Budget is less than an L-5, D'angelico, etc. Let's say under 4k.
    A Gibson L7 fits the bill and personally I generally find Gibsons to have a more refined sound that Epi’s. Not always but some Epi’s can be loud but loud does not equal better sound. Response and warmth are what I like usually it is an even sounding guitar.

  8. #7

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    My '34 L-7 is perfecto. Maybe not the prettiest guitar out there, but . . . mmmm.

  9. #8

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    I just remembered that I have an extra and lovely Advanced Gibson L-12 guitar from '37. I really don't need two of them. They both sound great - you can have one for under 4k. I was planning to put it up for sale here, but January was kind of busy for me, and I haven't gotten around to it yet. Hmmm.. I'll send you a note.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 02-13-2020 at 03:04 PM.

  10. #9

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    I recently heard a guy playing an Epiphone Blackstone (don't know what year, but my guess would be late 40s- early 50s based on looking at some pictures). It sounded beautiful. He was using a DeArmond RC1100, so I didn't hear the pure acoustic sound, but you could tell it was a good one. Prices seem very reasonable on these.

    John

  11. #10

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    I have a 1966 (?) Gibson L50. I haven't so far fully developed its potential. I should pull it out and make a clip. I like the guitar overall. And I really don't care for the "bark" tone others love in acoustic archtops. Chord melody is my main overall interest.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone View Post
    I just remembered that I have an extra and lovely Advanced Gibson L-12 guitar from '38. I really don't need two of them. They both sound great - you can have one for under 4k. Hmmm.. I'll send you a note.
    ....." Now you tell me - - -"

    ......16 or 17 in. ? Teaser photo maybe ??

    Thanks...

  13. #12

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    17" Advanced Gibson, meaning:
    - x-braced
    - 24 3/4" scale
    - carved top, carved back, solid sides
    - super-comfortable C-shape neck carve - not too big or small

    These guitars are renowned specifically for how warm they are and how good they are for acoustic chord melody and light single note work.
    It's a superb sounding, playing and feeling instrument.

    I have a pickguard for it that is off because it's beginning to gas.
    I also have a new Allparts pickguard that I was going to install, which is still in its package
    The guitar has a hardshell case as well.
    It has original, functional tuners, but I have replacement Waverlys I was planning to install, which are a direct retrofit and vastly superior to the originals.
    It has a replacement rosewood bridge and a replacement tailpiece.
    Frets are in great shape.
    It's a '37, according to the serial #.
    Currently string with a set of Pyramid polished nickel roundwound strings over a round core.
    Happy to provide you with lot more details.
    Here are a few quick pix to give you a general idea:



    Last edited by Hammertone; 02-13-2020 at 03:05 PM.

  14. #13

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    More quick pix (w/adjusted bridge intonation/position):



    Last edited by Hammertone; 02-13-2020 at 03:25 PM.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post
    if money is an issue, an old Epi Triumph or Broadway would fit the bill.
    heck even some of the lower line vintage Epi's sound great.
    I have a '45 Epiphone Zenith that sounds marvelous (the tone, not my playing).

  16. #15

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    Even though Lou at Guitars n Jazz is known for Eastman and Peerless instruments, he also stocks Vintage Epiphone, Gibson and Guild. I'd sure be spending time there playing as many guitars as I could-they are what? An hour away from you?<br><br>Are you looking for a cutaway or non-cut? Or no preference? Cutaways are a easier sell if you decide to upgrade.<br><br>I'm in the Epiphone camp, my 53 Triumph Regent does fingerstyle very well, however really shines on four to the bar swing material. Lots of folks prefer the L-7, like Deacon Mark says, perhaps more refined. And build quality is probably better. Be aware some Epiphones have a deep V neck profile-some can't get along with it.&nbsp;<br><br>Happy Hunting!<br><br>
    Attached Images Attached Images VINTAGE acoustic Archtop for Chord-melody-epiatsprings-jpg 

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone View Post

    More quick pix:
    Sorry HT I started out looking for a 16 in. w/ those picture frame inlays. That's how I ended up having Mark C build one.

    Thanks.

  18. #17

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    I'm late to the party because I spent all this time typing a response, and the closed my laptop while the post was still being submitted, so it got lost.

    Ok - so the question is whether you're going to play at home, or in (very) small groups, or in otherwise quiet acoustic environments... or not.

    I love playing my 1932 L-5 at home, and in places that are relatively quiet, but it's been quite a while since I've taken it on a gig, instead opting for my 1939 L-5. The 1932 is super sensitive, rich and smooth, perfectly balanced, however all of that lovely tone kinda gets lost when I'm playing in a loud room (say a bar with people talking). My 1939, by comparison, is lovely sounding, but it's definitely got pronounced mid-range peak and lot of extra high end, so it's not as perfectly balanced by itself. But in a loud room, the thing cuts through like a knife, so much so that I almost always bring it instead.

    I had an x-braced 1935 L-12, and I loved playing it at home for solo chord melody stuff, but it's scooped-midrange meant it disappeared in a band context.

    If you're going to play alone, you should totally get Hammertone's L-12. But if not, that "bark" is actually something you'll want even if you're not playing 4-to-the-bar rhythm on it.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone View Post
    More quick pix:

    Guitars strung but not clipped make me antsy. Do you have both your eyes? Because I would think at least one would've been poked out by those!

  20. #19

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    Jonathan,

    Thanks so much for reply!

    Should've mentioned for everyone that this would be for home use for the distant future. I would submit anyone to the "shot show" of my playing.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo View Post
    Guitars strung but not clipped make me antsy. Do you have both your eyes? Because I would think at least one would've been poked out by those!
    I usually clip the strings, or wear a Hazmat suit when I play. This particular guitar came to me this way and I haven't quite gotten to the strings yet, heh. [ed: OK, I was very concerned for your mental health, so, I trimmed the strings and posted new pix.]
    Last edited by Hammertone; 05-25-2020 at 05:17 AM.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone View Post
    More quick pix:






    On Gibson archtops, the bridge is normally placed at the middle of the F-holes. On this one, it's placed higher up, almost like on a Birdland / 1950s ES350T. Is the bridge just misplaced here, or is the scale length shorter than normal?

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldane View Post
    On Gibson archtops, the bridge is normally placed at the middle of the F-holes. On this one, it's placed higher up, almost like on a Birdland / 1950s ES350T. Is the bridge just misplaced here, or is the scale length shorter than normal?
    The F-holes on this particular guitar are of a somewhat unique shape (compared to the later Gibson shape) and therefor the bridge-placement looks like it's "wrong" - I'm sure the owner has it placed correctly
    and the guitar plays in tune .

    But still, is this the original finish ? If not, maybe the repair-person who did the re-fin also worked on the f-holes and widened them a bit in the center, for reasons unknown.....

  24. #23

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    there is a whole history of relative placement of bridge compared to the F-hole, but it is certain that this is not how it is positioned to have the right pitch

    I think it's more of an aesthetic issue since the lutherie in the violin and strings family

  25. #24

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    DMgolf66, I'm in my solid gold private jet right now beating you to Hammertone's door, so hurry... No, but it's a lovely instrument, and you can save yourself lots of head-/heartache if you buy from a member, no?

  26. #25

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    What are the differences between the L-12 and the L-7?

    I kinda dig the aesthetic of the smaller L-7 with the funky inlays. But thats just my eye talking.

  27. #26

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    The difference between L-12 and L-7 is L-5.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zina View Post
    The difference between L-12 and L-7 is L-5.
    Well-played!

    Quote Originally Posted by DMgolf66 View Post
    What are the differences between the L-12 and the L-7. I kinda dig the aesthetic of the smaller L-7 with the funky inlays. But thats just my eye talking.
    When Gibson introduced the L-5 in '23, it was a 16" guitar with f-holes. They subsequently introduced the L-12 ('32), L-10 ('32) and L-7 ('34) as 16" guitars
    with f-holes. These were similar to the L-5 model in most ways, with less ornate inlay and simpler finishes.

    By mid-1935, Gibson introduced the "Advanced" archtop style. The L-5, L-12, L-10 and L-7 became 17" f-hole archtops, with 24 3/4" scale and x-braced bodies. There were cosmetic changes as well. The cool windowpane banjo inlay package from the 16" L-12 was moved to the 17" L-7. Gibson occasionally mismatched inlay packages on other models - it was the Depression and they just wanted to sell some guitars.

    The 17" L-12 got new inlays, with a double parallelogram pattern on the board and the unique cross inlay on the headstock (never used on any other standard Gibson model before or since).

    Advanced L-7 and L-12 guitars are essentially the same instruments, built the same way, the same size, with different inlays/binding, finishes, tailpieces, and metal plating (nickel vs gold). They sound and feel the same.

    Last edited by Hammertone; 02-14-2020 at 07:00 PM.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zina View Post
    The difference between L-12 and L-7 is L-5.
    Yes you got that exactly correct. And just to make it clear anyone looking for a carved top guitar and wanting to find the "animal" that simply works and will always be in demand just get an L5. It does not matter what year or even if it is a 16 or 17 inch, finding an L5 that you like and plays well is basically the end of story. Sure you can get a custom made puppy, or go all out on a vintage D'a, in the end the Gibson L5 will be THE guitar and always have a market for selling. Pony up the extra cash and you won't be sorry.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldane View Post
    On Gibson archtops, the bridge is normally placed at the middle of the F-holes. On this one, it's placed higher up, almost like on a Birdland / 1950s ES350T. Is the bridge just misplaced here, or is the scale length shorter than normal?
    Quote Originally Posted by gitman View Post
    The F-holes on this particular guitar are of a somewhat unique shape (compared to the later Gibson shape) and therefor the bridge-placement looks like it's "wrong" - I'm sure the owner has it placed correctly and the guitar plays in tune .But still, is this the original finish ? If not, maybe the repair-person who did the re-fin also worked on the f-holes and widened them a bit in the center, for reasons unknown.....
    The guitar was refinished many, many years ago. Whatever work was done to it happened prior to the refin. There are no repaired cracks - my guess is that it was played a lot and the owner decide to have it refinished. 83 years old and going strong. I checked bridge placement/intonation, adjusted it, and grabbed a quick shot, replacing the one above (one can see how much it was moved). Standard @24 3/4" scale. My own experience with bridge placement on old f-hole archtop guitars is that it tends to be close but not exact with relation to f-hole points. Gibson has never been too fussed about it, to which anyone with a Byrdland or L-5Rit can attest.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 02-13-2020 at 06:07 PM.

  31. #30

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    Yeah, if you're just playing stuff at home Hammertone's L-12 would be a killer choice in that range.
    Plus, the 24.75" scale is easier to work with for chord melody stuff, and you don't need 25.5" for added projection (like I typically do).

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive View Post
    Yeah, if you're just playing stuff at home Hammertone's L-12 would be a killer choice in that range.
    Plus, the 24.75" scale is easier to work with for chord melody stuff, and you don't need 25.5" for added projection (like I typically do).
    Also good for acoustic guitar duo work with two really nice complementary tonalities:

  33. #32

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    I just bought a Triumph from 1947. I had the option of the Triumph or a ‘41 L7. I chose the Triumph for the better balance and the volume. With the punch I can play easy and light and still get out there, it allows for better dynamics. I’m sure there are L7s out there that will do the same but that particular one didn’t. Here is a short clip of some chordal stuff. It’s recorded with an iPhone so it’s not the best but with headphones or good speakers you can hear the tone and punch of the guitar. I’m just getting going on chord melodies and I’m a little spastic on this one so there is that....


  34. #33

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    Has anyone else had any experience with 50's Epiphone Zeniths? There is one for sale locally at a good price and was trying to gather info.
    Thanks for any help!

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone View Post
    Also good for acoustic guitar duo work with two really nice complementary tonalities:
    Hammertone,

    Your L-12 looks great. If I didn't own a '44 L-7, I'd be seriously tempted. But I'm curious about what epi and gibson models these two are? I agree about the complimentary sounds of the vintage Epiphones and Gibson's, having been around the combination quite a bit.

    Also, someone who was quite experienced with repairing old Gibson's and Epiphones once told me that there was a period during the last decade of Epiphone, which includes the early '50s, that they were working down through their existing wood inventory into the highest quality materials, and therefore vintage Epiphones from that period could have some very nice wood!
    I own a 1936 Epiphone Masterbuilt Emperor, and it is a true work of art and sonic canon. The wood is nothing short of incredible.
    Steve

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by skykomishone View Post
    Hammertone, ... I'm curious about what epi and gibson models these two are? I agree about the complimentary sounds of the vintage Epiphones and Gibson's, having been around the combination quite a bit.
    1938 Epiphone Triumph, 1938 Gibson L-12 (with a temporary tailpiece).
    Last edited by Hammertone; 05-24-2020 at 05:57 PM.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMgolf66 View Post
    Has anyone else had any experience with 50's Epiphone Zeniths? There is one for sale locally at a good price and was trying to gather info.
    Thanks for any help!
    I sold my 1951 Zenith, but I wish I had kept it. This video I did whan I was selling it gives you an idea of what it looks and sounds like.

    If the current owner is still out there and wants to sell it back, give me a PM!