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  1. #101

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    Ok, just for fun let's review - "The Death of The American Archtop" (emphasis mine)


    1. Gibson has stopped making them (false)
    2. There is no demand for them (false)
    3. The only reason that Gibson is making fewer of them now than when Henry was in charge is because of low demand (false)
    4. Archtops don't make up the majority of Gibson or Fenders lines (true)
    5. Archtops, especially carved tops with extra binding and inlays etc. cost more than Stratocasters (true)
    6. The Beatles did OK without them (true)
    7. Jazz has been in decline for a long time (true)
    8. A working musician is defined as someone who earns $4,800.00 to $18.000 per year from gigs. (???)
    9. Working musicians don't have very many jazz gigs anymore (true)
    10. We don't need no stinkin' L5s, but since they exist they should be cheap, and "working musicians" should be able to easily afford one, and if they can't then no one should have one (contradictory)
    11. We don't need to worry about the financial security of working musicians in any terms beyond L5 ownership (so it would seem)
    12. It's fun to agitate class warfare using the L5 as a symbol of pretentious wealth (sadly true)


    Ok, just kidding. Have great weekend all.
    Lol!

    I dug that.

    #bring backES125

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #102

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    "A working musician is defined as someone who earns $4,800.00 to $18.000 per year from gigs. (???)" GTRman


    Classic! Play live! . . . Marinero

  4. #103

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    "A working musician is defined as someone who earns $4,800.00 to $18.000 per year from gigs. (???)" GTRman


    Classic! Play live! . . . Marinero
    I meant $4,800 to $18,000. Put a decimal in the wrong place.

    So,

    One (1) $100.00 gig per week, for 48 weeks is minimum?
    Three to four (3-4) such gigs a week, for 48 weeks is maximum?

    I don't know, you guys tell me. At any rate, that certainly won't fund too many L5s. Another primary job (not secondary) would be needed, or one might have to live with their parents (or have a wife who earns a nice living). Something like that.
    Last edited by GTRMan; 07-18-2020 at 09:14 AM.

  5. #104

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    Given that list of genres, archtop-ey guitars are not only used in jazz. I've seen plenty of such guitars in R&B, country, blues etc. But they are generally not carved, it's gonna be some Gibson ES that gives some of that tone but doesn't feedback on stage.

    This goes for jazzers too. Rozenwinkel, Sco, Metheny, Benson... that's not carved tops they are using on stage.

    I recently got my first carved archtop, a Heritage Eagle, and as a non-brainwashed newcomer I can make the following observations.

    1. The acoustic tone is not that great, I like my Lowden flattop way more (not just the Heritage, my teacher has a vintage carved Epi that's supposed to be da shiznit and it sounds comparable). I can see how that tone is useful in a historical big band setting, but that's a very specific narrow situation.
    2. The electric tone doesn't sound like the acoustic tone much. It's like having two guitars. I can get a really nice blended tone if I sit at the right spot in front of the amp and set the volume right. But that's a lot of work and how do you get it right every time on different stages?
    3. Lots of little irritating details. I have to keep my fingers off the pickguard because it's a thin piece of wood that sounds "tap tap" when my fingers brush across it. The part of the strings between bridge and tailpiece ring out sympathetically with certain notes, I'm gonna have to put some dampener there. The cable inside the body rattles sometimes.
    4. Feedback at stage volumes.
    5. I can get a good jazz tone with my tele.

    So a carved archtop is not a very practical instrument. Although some players have really been able to work magic with these, others stuff a full mattress of cotton into them, tape over the f-holes and whatnot. I don't think this is a symptom of jazz dying out. It's a miracle that carved archtops still have people willing to put up with these issues. But maybe those people mostly play in home studios?

  6. #105

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    I meant $4,800 to $18,000. Put a decimal in the wrong place.

    So,

    One (1) $100.00 gig per week, for 48 weeks is minimum?
    Three to four (3-4) such gigs a week, for 48 weeks is maximum?

    I don't know, you guys tell me. At any rate, that certainly won't fund too many L5s. Another primary job (not secondary) would be needed, or one might have to live with their parents (or have a wife that earns a nice living). Something like that.
    Last year an article was posted nationally that estimated the average professional musician in the USA made 30K

    This sounds about right. And the guys/gals who make around that much do so with a combination of gigs and teaching. Not enough bread to survive in most areas of the USA unless you have a wife/significant other bringing in as much or more.

    That is enough bread for a Godin Kingpin or Korean DA. That said, an L-5 amortized over a 30 year career might be doable if a cat wanted an L-5 bad enough.

  7. #106

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Given that list of genres, archtop-ey guitars are not only used in jazz. I've seen plenty of such guitars in R&B, country, blues etc. But they are generally not carved, it's gonna be some Gibson ES that gives some of that tone but doesn't feedback on stage.

    This goes for jazzers too. Rozenwinkel, Sco, Metheny, Benson... that's not carved tops they are using on stage.

    I recently got my first carved archtop, a Heritage Eagle, and as a non-brainwashed newcomer I can make the following observations.

    1. The acoustic tone is not that great, I like my Lowden flattop way more (not just the Heritage, my teacher has a vintage carved Epi that's supposed to be da shiznit and it sounds comparable). I can see how that tone is useful in a historical big band setting, but that's a very specific narrow situation.
    2. The electric tone doesn't sound like the acoustic tone much. It's like having two guitars. I can get a really nice blended tone if I sit at the right spot in front of the amp and set the volume right. But that's a lot of work and how do you get it right every time on different stages?
    3. Lots of little irritating details. I have to keep my fingers off the pickguard because it's a thin piece of wood that sounds "tap tap" when my fingers brush across it. The part of the strings between bridge and tailpiece ring out sympathetically with certain notes, I'm gonna have to put some dampener there. The cable inside the body rattles sometimes.
    4. Feedback at stage volumes.
    5. I can get a good jazz tone with my tele.

    So a carved archtop is not a very practical instrument. Although some players have really been able to work magic with these, others stuff a full mattress of cotton into them, tape over the f-holes and whatnot. I don't think this is a symptom of jazz dying out. It's a miracle that carved archtops still have people willing to put up with these issues. But maybe those people mostly play in home studios?
    Your enumerated description would look great as an ad to NOT sell a guitar. LOL!

    I don't disagree with your points, but I enjoy the subtle differences between a carved vs. laminate archtop amplified or not. They're just different animals.

  8. #107

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    Last year an article was posted nationally that estimated the average professional musician in the USA made 30K

    This sounds about right. And the guys/gals who make around that much do so with a combination of gigs and teaching. Not enough bread to survive in most areas of the USA unless you have a wife/significant other bringing in as much or more.

    That is enough bread for a Godin Kingpin or Korean DA. That said, an L-5 amortized over a 30 year career might be doable if a cat wanted an L-5 bad enough.
    Thanks. I wonder if big shot stars are included in that "professional musician" average. They probably shouldn't be. And so teaching students hides the gig numbers, which are probably abysmal? These days the teaching numbers are what keeps the lights on, or at least flickering?

    Honestly, these are poverty numbers for anyone but the young, single, and living in an affordable location. The problem is, the more affordable the location, the fewer the gigs and students, most likely.

    That's why I made a subtle point that L5 pricing is the least of their concerns, or should be. Find something else, anything else.

  9. #108

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Given that list of genres, archtop-ey guitars are not only used in jazz. I've seen plenty of such guitars in R&B, country, blues etc. But they are generally not carved, it's gonna be some Gibson ES that gives some of that tone but doesn't feedback on stage.

    This goes for jazzers too. Rozenwinkel, Sco, Metheny, Benson... that's not carved tops they are using on stage.

    I recently got my first carved archtop, a Heritage Eagle, and as a non-brainwashed newcomer I can make the following observations.

    1. The acoustic tone is not that great, I like my Lowden flattop way more (not just the Heritage, my teacher has a vintage carved Epi that's supposed to be da shiznit and it sounds comparable). I can see how that tone is useful in a historical big band setting, but that's a very specific narrow situation.
    2. The electric tone doesn't sound like the acoustic tone much. It's like having two guitars. I can get a really nice blended tone if I sit at the right spot in front of the amp and set the volume right. But that's a lot of work and how do you get it right every time on different stages?
    3. Lots of little irritating details. I have to keep my fingers off the pickguard because it's a thin piece of wood that sounds "tap tap" when my fingers brush across it. The part of the strings between bridge and tailpiece ring out sympathetically with certain notes, I'm gonna have to put some dampener there. The cable inside the body rattles sometimes.
    4. Feedback at stage volumes.
    5. I can get a good jazz tone with my tele.

    So a carved archtop is not a very practical instrument. Although some players have really been able to work magic with these, others stuff a full mattress of cotton into them, tape over the f-holes and whatnot. I don't think this is a symptom of jazz dying out. It's a miracle that carved archtops still have people willing to put up with these issues. But maybe those people mostly play in home studios?
    I agree that other styles use them. (and again, stars buy the special ones for the house). And it's a bummer that you're having such a bad experience with your Heritage. Some of those things are probably fixable.

    "Stage volumes" these days means darned loud, right? Yeah, carved tops may have a problem there, although McLaughlin used a Johnny Smith on stage at very loud volumes throughout the 1990s.

    The pick guard should not go "tap" when you "brush" it, but it should go tap when you tap it. I notice that too. The solution is to play with "quieter" more controlled hands.

    An F-hole guitar with a pickup is not going to compete with a flat top (or archtop) with a nice oval or round hole guitar for unplugged acoustic tone, ever. On the other hand those round hole guitars sound bad when amplified, and feed back even more so. Each has it's intended use.

    Carved tops have their place, just like all guitars. A small jazz ensemble in a relatively small space at reasonable volumes is the target.
    Last edited by GTRMan; 07-18-2020 at 09:18 AM.

  10. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitterbug
    In fairness, this was not about rap and music education either. My point is that the demise of the archtop has been evident for decades, and the U.S has been its last bastion. The demand is there but not enough of it and too scattered. While some posters are crying after the L-5, others suggest the return of the ES-125 or something similar for the working guitarist. For me, the Godin 5th Ave ticks most of the boxes in the Volks-Archtop category, but evidently does not satisfy the cork-sniffing archtop aficionados.
    Good for you if you like the Godin 5th Ave. I didn't. I have a 1966 es-125, a low-end guitar in the Gibson line. I like it a lot. Does that make me a cork-sniffer if I like something that costs more than yours did?

  11. #110

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    ...I recently got my first carved archtop, a Heritage Eagle, and as a non-brainwashed newcomer I can make the following observations. ...
    Partial information is not useful. Is this an all-mahogany Eagle with a floating pickup? Or some other configuration?

    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    ...An F-hole guitar with a pickup is not going to compete with a flat top with a nice oval or round hole guitar for unplugged acoustic tone, ever. ...
    Please be specific. Do you specifically mean a pickup (or pickups) mounted to the top of the guitar, with a hole (or holes) cut into the top to accommodate the pickup (or pickups)? Do you include archtop guitars with floating pickups?
    Last edited by Hammertone; 07-17-2020 at 11:54 PM.

  12. #111

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    Hmm.. Good archtops are available across the price and quality spectrum. Most any guitar player can have one. And if you want to spend $10K and something special, that's available from several sources. So what's the issue?

  13. #112

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59
    Good for you if you like the Godin 5th Ave. I didn't. I have a 1966 es-125, a low-end guitar in the Gibson line. I like it a lot. Does that make me a cork-sniffer if I like something that costs more than yours did?
    No, it does not. In my vocabulary, cork-sniffers refer to the wealthy collectors who in the early 2000s drove up the prices of vintage D'A's, Strombergs and L-5's. I'm sure your ES-125 is a fine guitar and, being properly aged, better than the Godin 5th Avenue. However, this contemporary, affordable copy proves that it's possible to profitably manufacture a laminated, no-frills archtop in North America and sell it for under $ 1,000.

    In my post I did not claim that I own or particularly like the 5th Avenue (I do and I don't). Many posters seem to like it, however. This thread amply proves that Gibson is part of Americana and, for many, an emotional issue. Sorry if I have hurt somebody. I have owned four samples of ES-175, two of which were lemons and the third one ok. The current 2014 ES-175 1959 VOS is my No.1 guitar, while there's nothing wrong with my 2007 Benedetto Bravo either. Both would benefit from more - and especially better - playing.

  14. #113

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    damned cork-sniffers:
    Attached Images Attached Images The Death of the American Archtop-nugent1-jpg The Death of the American Archtop-nugent3-jpg 

  15. #114

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    Partial information is not useful. Is this an all-mahogany Eagle with a floating pickup? Or some other configuration?
    This is an all solid mahogany Heritage Eagle with a Zoller floating pickup and Thomastik 12 gauge flats.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with this guitar, I'm under the impression that it does what it's supposed to do. Which is kinda my point.

  16. #115

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    Sure, if you're only looking at the supply side. The other half is the demand side: who's going to buy them and what does it take to sell sufficient archtops to make it worth going into business and not losing one's shirt? That is why the current primary builders of arch tops in America are small one person shops.

    The current ownership and management at Gibson, I am sure, took a long hard look at the bottom lines of the different products and jettisoned the ones that didn't make money. That would be archtops, because the audience to purchase them is very, very small and Gibson had to compete with the used/vintage market for sales. Since the standard belief in the guitar playing public is that old/vintage is always better than new, makers face some stiff headwinds in competition from their own past.
    Yeah .. Supply side probably isn't the problem, demand on the other hand ... Is the demand for archtops as large as double basses? (I have no idea, just asking out of curiosity)

  17. #116

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    " I have to keep my fingers off the pickguard because it's a thin piece of wood that sounds "tap tap" when my fingers brush across it." Frank


    Hi, F,
    I use a neatly folded piece of paper towel under the unsupported section of the pickguard (mine:closest to the strings aft) which works perfectly and cannot be seen. Play live! Marinero

  18. #117

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitterbug
    No, it does not. In my vocabulary, cork-sniffers refer to the wealthy collectors who in the early 2000s drove up the prices of vintage D'A's, Strombergs and L-5's. I'm sure your ES-125 is a fine guitar and, being properly aged, better than the Godin 5th Avenue. However, this contemporary, affordable copy proves that it's possible to profitably manufacture a laminated, no-frills archtop in North America and sell it for under $ 1,000.

    In my post I did not claim that I own or particularly like the 5th Avenue (I do and I don't). Many posters seem to like it, however. This thread amply proves that Gibson is part of Americana and, for many, an emotional issue. Sorry if I have hurt somebody. I have owned four samples of ES-175, two of which were lemons and the third one ok. The current 2014 ES-175 1959 VOS is my No.1 guitar, while there's nothing wrong with my 2007 Benedetto Bravo either. Both would benefit from more - and especially better - playing.
    First we complain that the American archtop is "dead" and there is no demand, then it's "wealhy" buyers driving up the prices (with demand, that is).

    That's contradictory, no?

  19. #118

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    Partial information is not useful. Is this an all-mahogany Eagle with a floating pickup? Or some other configuration?


    Please be specific. Do you specifically mean a pickup (or pickups) mounted to the top of the guitar, with a hole (or holes) cut into the top to accommodate the pickup (or pickups)? Do you include archtop guitars with floating pickups?
    Yeah either.

    There's these:
    Cremona™ Guitar _ Benedetto Guitars.pdf

    And then there's these.
    Sinfonietta™ Guitar _ Sinfonietta™ Archtop Jazz Guitar _ Benedetto Guitars.pdf

    The Death of the American Archtop-hotclub_hexaphone_711x563-jpg

    Why go to the trouble of making the second, more expensive type if the first covers everything (tone and volume) and the second one only tone?

  20. #119

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    I have an honest question: when playing an electronic instrument where much of its sound, if not all, can be mixed/tweaked on an amplifier, can one really tell the difference between a $1,000. laminate archtop and a solid wood instrument that sells for $10,000? And, how much is there in the mystique of the instrument and its rarity/cost that may potentially bend the ears of its owner? For example, Chris Whiteman, a forum member, plays an ES125 that sounds as good as any L5 I've heard on this forum. My original '66 ES125TC --also an entry level Gibson ,in a blindfold test, would be difficult to distinguish from the solid wood archtops I've heard on this forum. How much is real . . . and how much is imagined? This, however, cannot be said about Classical/Flamenco solid wood acoustic guitars where there is a real quantifiable difference. Play live! . . . Marinero

  21. #120

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    I have an honest question: when playing an electronic instrument where much of its sound, if not all, can be mixed/tweaked on an amplifier, can one really tell the difference between a $1,000. laminate archtop and a solid wood instrument that sells for $10,000? And, how much is there in the mystique of the instrument and its rarity/cost that may potentially bend the ears of its owner? For example, Chris Whiteman, a forum member, plays an ES125 that sounds as good as any L5 I've heard on this forum. My original '66 ES125TC --also an entry level Gibson ,in a blindfold test, would be difficult to distinguish from the solid wood archtops I've heard on this forum. How much is real . . . and how much is imagined? This, however, cannot be said about Classical/Flamenco solid wood acoustic guitars where there is a real quantifiable difference. Play live! . . . Marinero
    Great point about Chris Whiteman! Hes been recording/YouTube a ton with his ES-125T and it sounds SO good to me and I guess it does to him as well because he owns some very nice guitars and that one has been getting most of the playing time....at least in his videos.

  22. #121

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    I have an honest question: when playing an electronic instrument where much of its sound, if not all, can be mixed/tweaked on an amplifier, can one really tell the difference between a $1,000. laminate archtop and a solid wood instrument that sells for $10,000? . . Marinero

    Yep. The lam top has that thunk. The carved top not so much. Some prefer the former so I don't think one should think of it as the "cost" of sound, it's the characteristics.

  23. #122

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    "6. The Beatles did OK without them (true)"

    Even if you were just kidding above, GTRMan, one could point out in reference to #6 that many of the Beatles' later songs were produced on Epi Casinos, which, though thin-lines, are hollow-body archtops. Early on, George Harrison used Gretsch archtops.

  24. #123

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    Another American builder- forum member Matt Cushman, whose prices are way reasonable. I've had mine for 14 years (!), play it every day. It only goes in the case to or from somewhere to play, otherwise it is always handy to pick up and play something.
    I just had a peek at the site and he has a beautiful arch top for sale 3.5k.

  25. #124

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    I recently got my first carved archtop, a Heritage Eagle, and as a non-brainwashed newcomer I can make the following observations.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    Partial information is not useful. Is this an all-mahogany Eagle with a floating pickup? Or some other configuration?
    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    This is an all solid mahogany Heritage Eagle with a Zoller floating pickup and Thomastik 12 gauge flats. I don't think there is anything wrong with this guitar, I'm under the impression that it does what it's supposed to do. Which is kinda my point.
    Thanks for the clarification. I can better understand your opinion, which is based on a sample of one - your guitar. More to come.

  26. #125

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    " Hi, F,
    I use a neatly folded piece of paper towel under the unsupported section of the pickguard (mine:closest to the strings aft) which works perfectly and cannot be seen. Play live! Marinero
    Thanks! After I wrote that, I realized that what the heck, I’ll just remove the thing, it’s just a holder for the volume pot. Just have to figure out where to put the volume...

  27. #126

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    Very few pro guitarists own any real carved Archtops to make their living with. And even the few usually use laminate builds like John Pizzarelli, Julian Lage.

    Like I said before for me, I'm just sad that the music itself that was made with these instruments is essentially dead. And that aside from the very few situations, people aren't interested in well composed music.

    It really has become more of a Folk minimal harmony based form, where the lyrics are first and foremost.
    And again not talking about the one off newer Jazz guys. I'm referring to to public's taste in music.

  28. #127

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    I clearly hear a difference in amped sound between my thin and thick carved tops. They both have the same pickup.

    My Godin Kingpin sounds entirely different. That's a $800 axe compared to a $5K one.

    They probably all sound the same to an audience. Maybe I'll find out one day...

  29. #128

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone

    Thanks for the clarification. I can better understand your opinion, which is based on a sample of one - your guitar. More to come.
    Actually my teacher has a vintage Epi that afaik is a very desirable archtop with solid carve (spruce I think) also with a Zoller. And I thoroughly tested an Eastman 805 in a shop. So it’s a sample size of 3, not counting the old, dried out, barely playable Hofners and Levins, or the dead plywood Asian lookalikes they sell in the shops here.

    I would love to come across a counterexample.

  30. #129

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    I clearly hear a difference in amped sound between my thin and thick carved tops. They both have the same pickup.

    My Godin Kingpin sounds entirely different. That's a $800 axe compared to a $5K one.

    They probably all sound the same to an audience. Maybe I'll find out one day...
    I'm derailing, but this thread probably triggers me to try a Zoeller in lieu of the sharp-as-needles P-90 on my idle 5th Avenue. Those who think this is a bad move: the floor is yours.

  31. #130

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Actually my teacher has a vintage Epi that afaik is a very desirable archtop with solid carve (spruce I think) also with a Zoller. And I thoroughly tested an Eastman 805 in a shop. So it’s a sample size of 3, not counting the old, dried out, barely playable Hofners and Levins, or the dead plywood Asian lookalikes they sell in the shops here.
    I would love to come across a counterexample.
    I, too, would love for you to come across a counter-example. Where are you located? What model of Epiphone does your teacher have? What year, or decade?
    Last edited by Hammertone; 07-18-2020 at 02:21 PM.

  32. #131

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    ? There must be hundreds of choices of good, cheap archtops worldwide.

    My current one cost $700 + tax. Previous one, $1,000----W/$100 off b/c I called Paul Ash and told him I'd endorse it.

    Crafty devil, that Paul...

  33. #132

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond

    I recently got my first carved archtop, a Heritage Eagle, and as a non-brainwashed newcomer I can make the following observations.

    1. The acoustic tone is not that great, I like my Lowden flattop way more (not just the Heritage, my teacher has a vintage carved Epi that's supposed to be da shiznit and it sounds comparable). I can see how that tone is useful in a historical big band setting, but that's a very specific narrow situation.
    2. The electric tone doesn't sound like the acoustic tone much. It's like having two guitars. I can get a really nice blended tone if I sit at the right spot in front of the amp and set the volume right. But that's a lot of work and how do you get it right every time on different stages?
    3. Lots of little irritating details. I have to keep my fingers off the pickguard because it's a thin piece of wood that sounds "tap tap" when my fingers brush across it. The part of the strings between bridge and tailpiece ring out sympathetically with certain notes, I'm gonna have to put some dampener there. The cable inside the body rattles sometimes.
    4. Feedback at stage volumes.
    5. I can get a good jazz tone with my tele.

    So a carved archtop is not a very practical instrument.
    As someone who actually makes his own, and even helped teach a carved arch top building class at a community college, I completely understand your criticisms. I have literally been involved as dozens of people got their first carved arch top guitars and have heard many of the same complaints. A lot of it, I believe, comes from thinking an arch top is just a fancy looking dread. I offer a different perspective.

    Acoustic tone:

    No, it won't sound like a Martin dreadnaught. If you want a dreadnaught, get a dreadnaught. Dreadnaughts have sparkling highs and boomy lows. That's why people liked them to accompany a singer. It doesn't step on the singer's midrange toes. I good acoustic arch top has great projection, clear single note sound, and balanced tone across its range. It takes on the role a banjo might in the 1920's, but with greater warmth and tone. There is a reason few people pick up a dread to play lines in an acoustic jazz trio. Likewise, if you hoping to accompany yourself on a Joan Baez song at a campfire singalong, an arch top probably won't be your instrument.

    Quality:

    Not all archtops are the same. Flat top guitars have had over 100 years of modern evolution since the first steel string guitars showed up. There is a "standard" design that, if followed, produces an acceptable acoustic tone. Flat top guitars can be produced by the tens of thousands in factories with workers who have never played a guitar (and some in Asia may never have even heard an acoustic guitar played). Archtops were acoustic instruments only for a few decades before becoming fancy electric guitars. There is no standard shape, thickness, gradation of the carved arch top plate that gives a consistent acoustic tone. Tuning a carved top to produce a good acoustic tone is hard and takes practice and skill. Just because it has a carved top doesn't mean that the luthier who made it was making an acoustic instrument. Most leave the factory with little acoustic tone and are meant to be plugged in.

    My own journey in building my own came from having played a 1936 Epiphone Deluxe unplugged. It was amazing. Each single note was like playing a little bell, and a drop2 on the middle strings gave a satisfying harmonic blanket. I was hooked. I couldn't build another boring dread. Other than one Benedetto I played at a guitar show, I've never come across another arch top that even came close. Certainly no dread. If you want an acoustic arch top be prepared to kiss a lot of frogs.

    Electric tone:

    Can I get a good jazz sound on my Tele? Sure. I've posted pictures of my Tele before, and I am justifiably proud. But I don't play it. When I want to plug in, I reach for my full hollow thin line. Not because it sounds like an amplified acoustic guitar, but because I like the sound it makes as an electric guitar. There isn't a lot of daylight between the electric guitars as far as tone, but I do have a preference. If all I wanted was a versatile electric guitar, I wouldn't choose an arch top. Just like if I was playing acoustically with a piano, an upright bass, or a clarinet I wouldn't pick up my Tele (or dread).

    As for feedback, I know plenty of people who gig with some form of flat top. Usually some Martin D-28 clone. Somehow they are getting the job done, and those guitars make arch tops seem like dampening acoustic tiles in comparison.

    Ergonomics:

    I honestly don't know how people play with an 11lbs Les Paul anchor around their necks; and I find sitting with a 3" arch top guitar more comfortable than a 4-1/2" dread. I have the action and neck profile dialed in for my archtops. Likewise, you can see from my post over on the "black arch top" that I don't put a finger rest on my guitars. If you don't like yours, take it off. Yes, fix the rattles. I've never had any "sympathetic" ringing on strings from the bridge to the back on any of my guitars. I suspect the saddle slots, but I couldn't know.

    The point is, arch tops can be very comfortable instruments to play. Yes, like any tool, they need to be set up properly and maintained, but none of your "irritants" are an inherent feature of arch tops.

    So as far as them not being "practical", all I can say is that they are their own instrument. If you want an Ibanez JEM or a Martin D-28, an arch top isn't a practical replacement. But if you want what only a full carved arch top seems able to give, you will never be satisfied with anything else.

    Of course, not many seem to want or need that. So, back to the OP....

  34. #133

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    Ironically, I found this thread on our own Builders Bench page . . .

    List of Archtop Luthiers

  35. #134

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    I, too, would love for you to come across a counter-example. Where are you located?
    Stockholm, Sweden.

  36. #135

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    Very few pro guitarists own any real carved Archtops to make their living with. And even the few usually use laminate builds like John Pizzarelli, Julian Lage.

    Like I said before for me, I'm just sad that the music itself that was made with these instruments is essentially dead. And that aside from the very few situations, people aren't interested in well composed music.

    It really has become more of a Folk minimal harmony based form, where the lyrics are first and foremost.
    And again not talking about the one off newer Jazz guys. I'm referring to to public's taste in music.
    I can't disagree with any of that.

    But for a little perspective, how many people who buy nice pianos ($$$) play professionally? Or for that matter, take them out of the house? We can do the same with nice archtops.

  37. #136

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    I, too, would love for you to come across a counter-example. Where are you located?...
    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Stockholm, Sweden.
    I was going to suggest you pop over to my place to try some nice acoustic archtops, but I guess that's a bit of a commute. I suspect that when you have the opportunity to play a really good acoustic archtop guitar, you may alter your opinion. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to play some superb acoustic archtop guitars when I was a young man, that inspired me to seek out these instruments and learn as much as I could about them.

    As far as the OP, goes, well, most of the points I'd make have been covered, above and below.
    IMO, the "Death of the American Archtop" is .... greatly exaggerated.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 07-20-2020 at 01:38 AM.

  38. #137

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    Probably a topic for another thread, but yes, you can hear the difference between a solid wood carved archtop and most laminates even when amplified. That assumes you're amplifying the acoustic sound with a reasonable fidelity pickup and acoustic type amplifier. If you've got a humbucker and a standard guitar amp, to my ears (YMMV), not so much. Can't say I can tell the difference between an ES175 and an L5 running through a Fender Deluxe from a stage. In the living room or studio maybe more of a difference.

    As for musicians in the wild using solid carved instruments, there are a lot of folks playing carved Eastman's out there.

  39. #138

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    I was going to suggest you pop over to my place to try some nice acoustic archtops, but I guess that's a bit of a commute. I suspect that when you have the opportunity to play a really good acoustic archtop guitar, you may alter your opinion. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to play some superb acoustic archtop guitars when I was a young man, that inspired me to seek out these instruments and learn as much as I could about them.
    See, here's the thing about acoustic arhtops vs flattops: the flattop has a near-field monitor (soundhole) that the player can hear clearly. Archtops project: you have to be 10' - 15' in front of an archtop to get an idea of its sonic potential. I play mine facing a corner of the room (corner loading) or facing a reflective surface (my computer screen). What you hear behind the guitar is a pale image of its true richness.

  40. #139

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    Well this thread spurred me to

    1. Get rid of the pickguard, for me it’s only a holder for the volume control
    2. Replace the Zoller with a Lollar Johnny Smith and see what happens. Only they are hard to come by in the EU, anyone has one for sale?
    3. Play into a corner and see if I like the acoustic sound better.

    Not bad.

  41. #140

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitterbug
    I'm derailing, but this thread probably triggers me to try a Zoeller in lieu of the sharp-as-needles P-90 on my idle 5th Avenue. Those who think this is a bad move: the floor is yours.
    You don’t know unless you try. I find that I’m not that excited about its tone on my Heritage, it’s very “transparent” which can also mean “non-committal”. I keep expecting a certain electric quality that it doesn’t have, and it doesn’t quite sound like the acoustic tone either.

  42. #141

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    Archtops that typically perform well acoustically are specifically designed to do so. They are carved and braced with this in mind. They usually are only useable with floating in lower volume playing situation. They are way too reactive to ambient sound to reliably play in anything above a small trio sound volume wise (what I call low/moderate below). So they are not a versatile tool, but a specific one. They work well for solo play. They will not work well for many playing situations.

    Carved archtops for higher volume playing situations tend have thicker carved plates and braces so they are less likely to feedback. In turn, acoustically they can be somewhat anemic to my ears. You can see the evolution of guitars matches the evolution of music and the venues they were played in.

    Volume————-Guitar Type
    Low——————Carved Acoustic Archtop/w or wo a Floating PU
    Low/Moderate—-Carved Electric Archtop/w Floating PU
    Moderate——-—Carved Electric Archtop/w Built-in PU
    High————-—-Laminate Electric Archtop/w Built-in PU(s)
    High/Highest——Laminate or Carved Electric Semi-hollowbody/w Built-in PU(s)
    Highest————-Electric Solid body/w Built-in PU(s)

    Regarding any comparison to acoustic flattops, they are designed to be different tools. In my view, good acoustic archtops excel at attack, balance in volume across the strings, string-to-string note separation, strong mid fundamentals, headroom and projection. A good acoustic flattop share some of these characteristics such as balance in volume across the strings, string-to-string note separation and sometimes headroom. Where they truly excel is in responsiveness to touch, sustain, harmonic complexity and extended frequency response. I enjoy both types of guitars for different reasons.

    For me, who primarily plays solo, acoustic archtops suit my needs perfectly. I play them both acoustically and plugged in, but at a modest volume. For higher volume playing situations, I bring a semi-hollowbody or a Tele. They are more versatile tools.

  43. #142

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    I think a good compromise would be, Gibson only selling guitars online and direct.
    I learned a lot when I was told Sam Ash paid Gibson $3500 for my Solid Formed and was forced to keep it for sale at $6,999. It hung on the wall for 4 years. Yes, ugly pickguard and all..
    Let the stores sell the import stuff. The world is built for it.
    If Gibson sold only direct, think of how many L5’s they could build and sell for $7,000? (List $12000 x 50% plus $1,000 [which they weren’t getting before] = $7000, plus shipping).
    If They need help understanding how to build And sell an L5 for $7,000, they should try and hire Mark Campellone as a consultant right before he retires and he can teach them how. He’s made a living at it for a while now..
    JD

  44. #143
    That "IS" the answer Bro.

  45. #144

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    [QUOTE=Max405;1048522]I think a good compromise would be, Gibson only selling guitars online and direct.]

    This would be a very different Gibson, especially for the rest of the world. Hundreds if not thousands of dealers whose empty racks Fender and Ibanez would be happy to fill. And, talking of experience, communication with direct customers, individual packing and shipping as well as handling "I didn't like it" returns consumes time and resources. How would Epiphone fit in? What's good for Benedetto's scale of operations (and they may have second thoughts about direct-only) is not feasible in a Les Paul and SG world. So I assume that Max suggests direct sales for Gibson's archtops, not flattops or solidbodies.

  46. #145

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    First we complain that the American archtop is "dead" and there is no demand, then it's "wealhy" buyers driving up the prices (with demand, that is).

    That's contradictory, no?
    Not really.

    Car companies have stopped producing sedans, because there’s little demand from the general public.

    And yet rich people still buy Bentley Flying Spurs and Mulsannes.

    Think about it.

  47. #146

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    A couple of points.

    There is a lot of interest in archtops thanks to mainly Americana/roots music. I see them all the time at festivals.

    I bought a 175 in 1981 or 2 for about $900. If just adjusted for inflation, it would cost $2552. And that’s not considering the improvements in manufacturing such as CNC etc. that have occurred in the interim.

    So the amount Gibson was charging for the 175 until recently was a “prestige tax"
    Price is a function of demand not only cost


    The thing is If you have a large demand then even a small increase in price can lose you a lot of units sold making that price increase unprofitable

    But on the other hand, if your demand is very small then lowering the price won't sell enough units to make up for the loss and then you just milk the die hards for all they got.

    That is the issue here. It's not just Gibson greed .. The main issue is that practically no one buys new ES175s anymore.

  48. #147

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    And no sense in having to explain unprofitable product lines when they go to sell the ‘new improved Gibson’.

  49. #148

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max405
    I think a good compromise would be, Gibson only selling guitars online and direct.
    I learned a lot when I was told Sam Ash paid Gibson $3500 for my Solid Formed and was forced to keep it for sale at $6,999. It hung on the wall for 4 years. Yes, ugly pickguard and all..
    Let the stores sell the import stuff. The world is built for it.
    If Gibson sold only direct, think of how many L5’s they could build and sell for $7,000? (List $12000 x 50% plus $1,000 [which they weren’t getting before] = $7000, plus shipping).
    If They need help understanding how to build And sell an L5 for $7,000, they should try and hire Mark Campellone as a consultant right before he retires and he can teach them how. He’s made a living at it for a while now..
    JD
    Just think what new L5's selling at $7k would do to the resell market too!

  50. #149

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobomov
    Price is a function of demand not only cost

    The thing is If you have a large demand then even a small increase in price can lose you a lot of units sold making that price increase unprofitable

    But on the other hand, if your demand is very small then lowering the price won't sell enough units to make up for the loss and then you just milk the die hards for all they got.

    That is the issue here. It's not just Gibson greed .. The main issue is that practically no one buys new ES175s anymore.
    Well of course the price is based on cost + demand. But the 175 wasn't a particularly popular guitar in the early 80's, nor the 00's. (I can't find sales figures for this guitar over the years, but if anyone knows, feel free to chime in.) What did change over the last 4 decades is it's collectability. That's what I mean by "prestige tax."

    I wouldn't call it greed. Gibson just charged what the market would bear. And well-heeled buyers were willing to pay $5000+ for a new 175, which pushed it out of reach for a typical buyer.

    Pursuing the luxury or lifestyle market will run out of steam eventually for most companies.

    That still doesn't negate my point that Gibson could produce a reasonably priced archtop made in America that I think would appeal to a lot of people. Godin has been doing it in Canada for years. Martin produces flattops at all price points.

  51. #150

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    Maybe Gibson actually prefers to address "common" buyers through Epiphone.