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  1. #1

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    Westerly Guild always made a fantastic archtop at a great price. Then Fender bought them and moved to Corona. Still a great archtop but got pricey. Then Corona closed. A brief rebirth in New Hartford making great archtops then Fender sells Guild to Córdoba. The death of the USA Guild archtop.Heritage, the original owners died and got too old and sold the company.Now just the 575 and Eagle Classic. OK but not great choices.Gibson. Henry J drove them into bankruptcy and with Mr. Levi's at the helm no more hollow bodies. Yes you can still special order a L5 for $12-13K plus tax. Who has that kind of coin....not me. That also drives up used prices to what new was a couple years ago.Private builders. Campellone and Holst are the only 2 I can think of that are affordable. A Trenier is over $10K with a very long wait. I guess we must be thankful for Asian companies like D'Angelico. I don't think the love of American archtops is dying. I think the cost has killed them.
    Last edited by vinnyv1k; 07-14-2020 at 08:37 PM.

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  3. #2

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    They've always been a limited product line, especially the carved tops. As long as Gibson will make one for us, life is pretty good. I can't speak for the new Gibson owners but in past times the more I bought from the same dealer the "fairer" my prices became.

    Also, laminate archtops from Benedetto cost a lot less than a new custom order L5. Nice guitars too.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    Westerly Guild ...
    Heritage ...
    Gibson ...
    Private builders ...
    [summary: All dying or too expensive]

    I don’t think the love of American archtops is dying. I think the cost has killed them.
    I don't think I agree. The prices of guitars are about the same, in constant dollars, as they were decades ago. The price numbers are large, granted, but measured in terms of, say, loaves of bread, there's been little change.

    The music for which archtops are best suited is not very popular anymore. I think archtops, which haven't been particularly popular since the 50s or 60s, used in a set of musical genres that haven't been popular since maybe the 60s, are about like harmoniums - obsolete, but hanging on for just a little while longer.

    There's a small core of archtop afficianados, but not enough to lead to large-scale manufacturing that could lead to lower prices. Low demand, expensive to make, hence high prices for what's available.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by dconeill

    There's a small core of archtop afficianados, but not enough to lead to large-scale manufacturing that could lead to lower prices. Low demand, expensive to make, hence high prices for what's available.
    Absolutely. If there were more buyers, more manufacturers would be making them and the competition would hold the price down.

  6. #5
    I agree somewhat about the music popularity and demand.
    I bought a brand new L5 in 2010. The price has gone up 100% in 10 years. Archtops were not very popular then either.

    Harley Davidson sales have plummeted but there price has not doubled in 10 years.

    I just bought a new Toyota. Same price basically as my 2012.

    Supply and demand does play a role but only partly. I never think about a Ferrari because I cannot afford one.
    When I saw the price map of a 175 go to over $5K I saw it as a death blow for that model and yes discontinued in 2018. I bought a new 175 in 2004 for less than $2K. People don’t give much thought to products they know they can never afford.

  7. #6

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    . . . and yet s/he persisted.

    + + +

    Last month I had a conversation with Michael Viteri, the Texan archtop builder and player, which left me deeply impressed. His prices seem within reach of a lot of JGF posters too.

    Otto D'Ambrosio, latest scion of the D'A moniker, is also back to working for himself. He's got a ton of chops and great ideas. Plus, he has a track record of not building just the Granite Countertop Experience (although he sure can deliver that too!).

  8. #7

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    Times change. Companies disappear. Life goes on.

    Gibson turned the Epiphone brand into a bargain line of Gibson guitars made in Asian factories

    Fender did the same sort of thing to the Guild brand

    The Ferolito family has done the same sort of thing to the D'Angelico brand.

    One can buy some pretty well made Asian manufactured archtops these days for amazingly reasonable prices (one of the gifts of globalism)

    Handmade archtops can be had from many builders at fair prices (Campellone, Holst) to "silk stocking trade" prices (Buscarino, Trenier).

    Gibson archtops are available at "silk stocking trade" prices if one wants a new one (Gibson does not seem to think it is a market worth supplying product to unless there is a very high profit margin).

    Fashions change and what is old becomes new again. I suspect that one day, musicians who play the guitar will rediscover the archtop, both in it's electric and acoustic forms. As for today, each player will have to decide what they want and can afford. Pretty much all that you want is available. Just not at yesterday's price point.

  9. #8

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    Nobody's mentioned Benedetto. American and alive? Yes. Kicking? I sincerely hope. At least they were present at NAMM, despite selling mainly direct. The Bravo is pricey for a laminate build, but it exudes quality and is perfectly sized as a gigging tool. And you don't have to wait 18 months for one. My gigs are few and far between these days, but choosing between the Bravo and an ES-175 1959 VOS is always an important part of the concentration ritual.

    EDIT: Oops, Benedetto was indeed mentioned, in the same vein as my comment. I only know what new 175s used to cost in Europe. Somewhere up on 4,000 euros, and that was the ballpark of my Bravo back in 2008. Fantastic build quality, ebony fretboard and coil split (not anymore) which is great for alternating between comping and solos. Why do I sense that there's some adversity towards Benedetto?
    Last edited by Gitterbug; 07-14-2020 at 01:27 PM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    I agree somewhat about the music popularity and demand.
    I bought a brand new L5 in 2010. The price has gone up 100% in 10 years. Archtops were not very popular then either.

    .
    List price for an L5 in 2010 wasn't 50% of what it was today. MSRP on an L5 in 2010 was just over $10k...they've gone up about 20%....which is pretty close to the inflation rate.

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by customxke
    List price for an L5 in 2010 wasn't 50% of what it was today. MSRP on an L5 in 2010 was just over $10k...they've gone up about 20%....which is pretty close to the inflation rate.
    The difference is nobody paid MSRP in 2010. In fact I always paid 40% below MSRP with my dealer. Today you must preorder at MAP price with no wiggle room.

  12. #11

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    I don't agree as such that prices are higher. It depends on the archtop. Real D'angelico's have gone way down in price since before the 2008 crash. Since that time they have not made a comeback in price. I am talking here strictly of D'angelico's and probably Stromberg's. I do have to say that in the end I believe Gibson has won the battle over any individual makers. They may not make as good sounding or as well made guitars as some makers for sure but the quality ones they have made hold there own. In the end it has zero to do with investing is just is a matter of what you or your estate will get for the guitar come time to sell. As our good friend Marty says we are only renting the guitars for a period of time.

    In my mind I would have to say that Mark Campellone is a winner for sure. Buying one of his guitars at a fair price is not a bad choice. The problem I see is a number of individual archtop makers trying to sell guitars with prices that are simply never going to probably be good resale. Certainly not in the short run but I am guessing you are buying these guitars because you like them. That said I do think there are some makers or dealers who have them that are dreaming.

    I happen to love and play my Bill Barker archtops. Among serious jazz archtop players he is/was a known quantity however my Barkers are not worth any more than they were 10 or even 15 years ago. Probably could not sell them real fast either. I was offered at least 10 years ago $8k for my Barker as it is one of the finest examples of his guitars around. It was the most I had heard and I probably should have taken the money and bought a Gibson but in fact I just love my Barker. It plays itself and again I bought to play and use. I doubt seriously if that price could be nothing more than laughing today.

    I would assume many of us in the forum are of the older age past 45 with many past 60-65. If we want a good guitar and use it till the Lord calls us home, the question becomes what do leave behind. Well right now if you buy a Gibson I think you have the best chance for the kids or wife to get a sale. I am not taking about rare a super expensive D'aquisto's or D'angelico's or whatever name you want to fill in................ Those guitars are out of the reach for most on the forum.

    I believe American Archtops are still probably going to be the standard that is set and we do a great job. The younger generation may well not take up the path and the demand will not ever be huge. If you take just for example beer. The world knows beer in Germany and in places in Europe is where the style began but just look at the beer explosion in US today. Sierra Nevada is a world classic beer that nothing like it is brewed in Europe. I think guitars are really no different.

    To that end I am going to have a Sierra Nevada Torpedo Ale this evening and play my Super 400. Glad I am able to play what I have and if have not tried either................you don't realize what your missing.

  13. #12
    I too at 66 am archtop set for life and God has really blessed me with fine archtops.
    I really love American archtops and really want to see them revive and thrive into far past my future. I think just seeing the 175 back in production would make me very happy.
    My archtop passion will never fade though my buying days are over I hope to see great archtops being made the rest of my days. Long live the Archtop guitar.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    I too at 66 am archtop set for life and God has really blessed me with fine archtops.
    I really love American archtops and really want to see them revive and thrive into far past my future. I think just seeing the 175 back in production would make me very happy.
    My archtop passion will never fade though my buying days are over I hope to see great archtops being made the rest of my days. Long live the Archtop guitar.
    Vinny: it is a great moment for archtop guitars. Not for American factories or builders. It is a matter of economics.
    Take a look at this. My salary as a professional Viola player nowadays is 500$ each month. It is considered a high one my country. Here the most famous guitar teacher can charge you 10 - 15$ a one hour lesson, normal ones 5$. A guitar gig is payed 10$.
    A normal argentine guy cant buy a Gibson archtop. But can buy a Mr.Wu one.
    Costs (and salaries too) in USA are too high for us and many other countries.
    Are American archtop better than Asian made? yes, without any doubt on the high end market, but people cant just afford them, and Asians are getting every day better and better.





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  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    The difference is nobody paid MSRP in 2010. In fact I always paid 40% below MSRP with my dealer. Today you must preorder at MAP price with no wiggle room.
    That is completely up to the dealer.

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  16. #15

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    Gustavo, thanks and sympathies! On these pages, collectors and other wealthy archtop aficionados have a strong share of voice. Nothing wrong with that, but they are far removed from the reality of the majority of working musicians. I have listened to fantastic guitarists in Cuba and from many African countries. They couldn't dream of owning a Gibson, let alone a unique luthier-made masterpiece. The American archtop is an endangered species indeed, needed by, and affordable to, fewer and fewer. And what happens when the heirs of us baby boomers put our cherished treasures on sale?

  17. #16
    I would also like to see Japan really get back in the archtop game. I had a Vestax DA and a Epi Elitist Broadway that didn't hurt my wallet and the quality was drop dead perfect. Sadowsky's are Japan made and are very high quality guitars. Yes the archtop world is small but the passion is huge and Gibson will always be King of the Hill. Maybe not the best but most certainly the King. I have always said this, when Gibson gets it right nobody can touch them. Yes I bash Gibson but also praise them for the best archtop designs ever. They set the archtop bar to try and beat. If you can build a better archtop then Gibson you are darn good.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitterbug
    Gustavo, thanks and sympathies! On these pages, collectors and other wealthy archtop aficionados have a strong share of voice. Nothing wrong with that, but they are far removed from the reality of the majority of working musicians. I have listened to fantastic guitarists in Cuba and from many African countries. They couldn't dream of owning a Gibson, let alone a unique luthier-made masterpiece. The American archtop is an endangered species indeed, needed by, and affordable to, fewer and fewer. And what happens when the heirs of us baby boomers put our cherished treasures on sale?
    Gitterburg: yes, indeed everyones lives it is own reality. I agree with Vinny and also with you. Here we have also great luthier made classical guitars for 1500$ (spruce top and brazilian rosewood and ebony fingerboards). We can express well.
    Lets face it, no great artist "needs" a 10.000$ guitar. Would Wes Montgomery be a worst artist for playing a chinese Epiphone Broadway? No. But certainly it took his talent to a higher level.
    That being said, the fact that american archtop cant beat an asian one due to costs is sad and true. And is true that the highest quality builders cant just compete with low cost labor and salaries.

    Regards to everyone!

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  19. #18

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    Used archtops have been a buyers market for a while now. It's really hard to sell a QUALITY archtop guitar even at the 50% of it's new value.

    How can Gibson compete with this used market? Why would anyone buy a new ES 175 when they can choose from a whole bunch of them at the half price?

    Quality hollowbody archtops are not worth their price for the folk/acoustic crowd nor the pop rock crowd. They like how archtops look and all, but they are not gonna sell their Martin's, Taylor's, Telecaster's, ES 335's to get an L5.

  20. #19
    Thankfully their are some very fine Korean made archtops these days. I think of the DA EXL-1. A lot of bang for the buck. Great guitar and yes it is always the Indian not the arrow that hits the target. Eastman is another great archtop maker that gives a lot of guitar for the money.

  21. #20

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    It seems that jazz has declined significantly in popularity. If so, doesn't it logically follow that archtops, which are best suited for jazz, would also decline significantly in popularity? Therefore, demand is down considerably. So is the supply of new Gibsons. But aren't there numerous other good-quality alternatives, both new and used, available at reasonable prices?

  22. #21

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    Yes, archtops are expensive to make vs. other types of guitars. Yes, globalization competition has also played a role as well. We who participate in this forum are a rare breed. We love the music and the historic gear associated with it, But I think that this post ignores the elephant in the room.

    Share of total music album consumption by genre (US Data, 2018)

    21.7% Hip-Hop/Rap
    20.1% Pop
    14.0% Rock
    9.4% R&B
    8.7% Country
    3.9% EDM
    3.2% Religious
    2.7% Stage & Screen
    1.5% World
    1.1% Jazz
    1.0% Reggae
    1.0% Classical
    0.6% Children’s
    0.5% New age

    While this is US data, I think that it illustrates my point. Of the 1.1% who listen to jazz, I will posit the lion share listen to horns and piano with guitar well down the list. The majority of top tier jazz guitarists gig in small clubs today with the odd artist in a small theater here and there. Affording a carved archtop is a real stretch for most. Taking an instrument like this to gig in a tight spaced club introduces additional challenges.

    In the 1930s and 1940s it was popular music. The historic instruments (US Archtops) where the instruments of choice to create that music (D'Angelico, Epiphone, Gibson, Guild, Stromberg etc.). You could make a living back then, particularly if you were in a music mecca like NYC. It began its decline in the 1950s as other genre's took over (in came the Tele, Strat and Les Paul etc.) music got louder and plywood versions were introduced (ES). Over the next 40 years, jazz became a smaller and smaller musical genre. The record business collapse over the last 20 years was the icing on the cake for jazz artists in general let alone the niche of jazz guitar.

    So the market is tiny to start. Now add instruments from China and Korea that are lower priced and quite playable. Additionally, there are generations of historic instruments out there for sale. Specialty small shops like Benedetto make about 100 guitars a year with only about a 1/3rd being built on spec. That leaves individual luthiers who are at different stages of their careers at their benches. There is a very small market for these guitars due to the limited market and the price of entry is high. They also compete against the used market and many times their own work. When you compare what these skilled artisan's charge once you account for materials, equipment and hours it is far less than trades people electricians or plumbers (more akin to a carpenter or mason).

    We all love this musical genre and the tools used to make it. But the market is finite, aging and niche. Solo luthiers still create these instruments do not do it to get rich. It is physically demanding work and there is no retirement from this vocation. Like musicians, Luthiers basically build until they cannot.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by customxke
    Yeah, that one's at $10.6 and the retail is $12.2.


    Call 'em up and offer $9K take it or leave it. That would still be a good deal, and is about as good as most people have done traditionally. I used to pay about 75% of MSRP or whatever Gibson calls it.

  24. #23

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    I don’t think hand made guitars and working musicians go hand in hand.

    There is a limit to how many a luthier can make by hand. Likewise, you can only gig so much. Mark Campelleone has been transparent about building in batches of five. Three times a year? My most prolific musician friend gigs between 275 and 300 times a year.

    It is simple math. Median national household income in the US is around $65k. If as a gigging musician or luthier aspire to just median income, the luthier would have to gross in the neighborhood of $100k. If all you can build is fifteen a year, you have to sell them for $7k, or so. The musician has less overhead, but still needs to gross $75k to earn $65k. That’s an average of $250 per gig.

    It is easy to see that the market for $7k arch tops and the ability to book 300 gigs at $250 a pop are both very limited. Even if you did get those gigs, could you afford the $7k tool?

    We don’t mass produce consumer goods in the West much anymore. Whether it’s wise to rely on Asia for all our consumer goods is a different question. That leaves only bespoke hand made luxury goods to be made in the US. And those, almost by definition, are not the tools of working people.


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  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitterbug
    Gustavo, thanks and sympathies! On these pages, collectors and other wealthy archtop aficionados have a strong share of voice. Nothing wrong with that, but they are far removed from the reality of the majority of working musicians. I have listened to fantastic guitarists in Cuba and from many African countries. They couldn't dream of owning a Gibson, let alone a unique luthier-made masterpiece. The American archtop is an endangered species indeed, needed by, and affordable to, fewer and fewer. And what happens when the heirs of us baby boomers put our cherished treasures on sale?
    If they are as rare/endangered as you suggest, then our heirs should hang onto them, take care of them, and sell them right before they retire. You only need one buyer for one guitar.

  26. #25

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    When we say "working musician" we're talking about people who play small clubs and restaurants and that's about it? What was it people used to say? "Keep your day job". In other words, if it pays so little and gigs are so few, why aren't they doing something else as well? I mean, homes and cars cost a heck of lot more than a guitar.

    Another thing is, there are other "working musicians" who may not be big music stars but still do pretty well. They can afford nice guitars.

    Finally, the list below adds up to about 60%. The people that create that music like to buy nice guitars and pianos. They don't have to play like Wes or Franz Liszt, they just have to purchase. I suspect Gibson knows that as well.

    20.1% Pop
    14.0% Rock
    9.4% R&B
    8.7% Country
    3.2% Religious
    2.7% Stage & Screen
    1.5% World
    1.1% Jazz

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    If they are as rare/endangered as you suggest, then our heirs should hang onto them, take care of them, and sell them right before they retire. You only need one buyer for one guitar.
    Who are they going to sell them to? Other broke Millennials? If you want to take care of your heirs leave them money, not toys.


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  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett
    Who are they going to sell them to? Other broke Millennials? If you want to take care of your heirs leave them money, not toys.

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    Millennials won't be broke forever unless they're slackers, and who besides a rich kid wasn't broke when they were young?

    Agreed, if you want to "take care" of your heirs leave them money.

    But, why can't they take care of themselves, and why can't we leave them both?

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    Millennials won't be broke forever unless they're slackers, and who besides a rich kid wasn't broke when they were young?
    But first they have to get off your damn lawn and maybe cut their hair, dagnabbit! ;-)


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  30. #29

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    Have we managed to engage in yet another “Gibson L5s sure are expensive” thread?

    Why is it so easy to fall into?

    K, final word (from me anyway). They have never been “our lineup’s most affordable model!”. It’s a good thing they aren’t 100% hand made, you can just imagine the price...

  31. #30

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    Another American archtop builder.

  32. #31

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    Seems to me that there are more builders of great archtops than ever.

  33. #32

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    I happen to be part of the minority of guitarists who enjoys archtops. But I couldn't care less about Gibson or Guild stopping production. There are plenty of great used archtops out there for those who want them and lots of options for new guitars if you must have one.

    If there was enough demand for Gibson to be making new jazz guitars, and they could do it profitably, they would! A new L5 is a luxury item in low demand and is going to be priced accordingly.

    I would hardly call the current situation "the death of the American archtop."

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by lukmanohnz
    Another American archtop builder.
    OK, one more post (sorry). Those are beautiful! And prices start at $9K.

    Ya get what ya pay for, folks.

  35. #34

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    I preffer japanese archtops so I don’t see the problem here

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan

    20.1% Pop
    14.0% Rock
    9.4% R&B
    8.7% Country
    3.2% Religious
    2.7% Stage & Screen
    1.5% World
    1.1% Jazz
    This seems to add to about 60%

  37. #36

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    adds up to 89.4% (you culled categories)

  38. #37

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    60.7 Categories were culled because I didn't think they were very guitar oriented, or electric guitar oriented.

    In other words, it seemed to suggest that because jazz was only 1.1% that the archtop market must be likewise tiny, although not explicitly stated.

    What I am saying is, the creative artists who make that music have money, and they like guitars. They buy whatever they want, even if they don't always use it on stage or in the studio.

    Clapton had archtops, CSN&Y had Gibson archtops, country artists like nice guitars including archtops.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan View Post
    60.7 Categories were culled because I didn't think they were very guitar oriented, or electric guitar oriented.

    In other words, it seemed to suggest that because jazz was only 1.1% that the archtop market must be likewise tiny, although not explicitly stated.

    What I am saying is, the creative artists who make that music have money, and they like guitars. They buy whatever they want, even if they don't always use it on stage or in the studio.

    Clapton had archtops, CSN&Y had Gibson archtops, country artists like nice guitars including archtops.
    Guys used to buy Harleys. Not so much anymore. Same trend.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post

    Share of total music album consumption by genre (US Data, 2018)

    21.7% Hip-Hop/Rap
    20.1% Pop
    14.0% Rock
    9.4% R&B
    8.7% Country
    3.9% EDM
    3.2% Religious
    2.7% Stage & Screen
    1.5% World
    1.1% Jazz
    1.0% Reggae
    1.0% Classical
    0.6% Children’s
    0.5% New age
    What?? New age is the lowest?? I live in a bubble.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59 View Post
    Guys used to buy Harleys. Not so much anymore. Same trend.
    interesting point. Not sure it’s true. I kinda think it’s not, but interesting point

    lots of things are changing.

    I remain confident that humans will continue to love music. I’m not as certain that they will continue to love the kind of crap that we Americans have produced over the last few decades. I realize that I could be wrong, but hope I’m not. Who knows, we could have another Renaissance.

  42. #41

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    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.

  43. #42

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    "Guys used to buy Harleys. Not so much anymore."

    Maybe not the same guys but others are buying/renting electric scooters like crazy. Times are a-changing.

    BTW, what I said in a previous post about choosing between a Bravo and an ES-175 for the occasional gig wasn't the whole truth. In most cases, an Ibanez AFJ-91 gets the job. The point is, the quality of factory-made archtops from Korea and China has been excellent for the price for two decades at least. Designs, brands and QC are governed by American or Japanese parent companies.

    In the interesting revenue calculation in a previous post, a gig was valued at $ 250. My contacts in NY say that a typical jazz club gig is $ 100, even $ 50 if it's in the low-attendance wee hours. Same story from a saxophonist/cab driver in Berlin. For many musicians, teaching is the daytime job that keeps them afloat. Needless to say, in Covid times, these people have other things to worry about than the price of an L-5.

  44. #43
    [QUOTE=Marty Grass;1047535]
    Quote Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post

    Share of total music album consumption by genre (US Data, 2018)

    21.7% Hip-Hop/Rap
    20.1% Pop
    14.0% Rock
    9.4% R&B
    8.7% Country
    3.9% EDM
    3.2% Religious
    2.7% Stage & Screen
    1.5% World
    1.1% Jazz
    1.0% Reggae
    1.0% Classical
    0.6% Children’s
    0.5% New age

    What?? New age is the lowest?? I live in a bubble.
    Hey at least Jazz is .1% higher than Reggae!

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan View Post
    interesting point. Not sure it’s true. I kinda think it’s not, but interesting point

    lots of things are changing.

    I remain confident that humans will continue to love music. I’m not as certain that they will continue to love the kind of crap that we Americans have produced over the last few decades. I realize that I could be wrong, but hope I’m not. Who knows, we could have another Renaissance.
    Agree people will love music.
    Hope the music improves, but it's been a long decline.
    Doubt the future will include archtops in a big way.

  46. #45

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    I hate to say this, but I think we're going to have to keep looking to the far east for affordable archtops. It's unfortunate, but true. So why can't a domestic company do something like Eastman, etc? I'm no economist, so I have no knowledge about wages, etc.

  47. #46

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    Not everyone in the world thinks guaranteeing wages and worker safety is as important as it is in the USofA. A domestic company is saddled with factory requirements that do not exist in other parts of the world. OSHA, EPA and of course wages will effectively kill or maim any new US attempt at a new production company.
    Rant starts now....
    Not sure why Ibanez gets so little notice here but the Ibanez archtops made in Japan models, of which I have both, are very well made, and the workmanship on them is consistently excellent. Way under the prices being discussed. And they play nice and sound good. (Yea I have the zealotry of a convert, but I did keep my L5.)

    But we have another problem here. The “American Standards” (Rodgers, Porter et al) repertoire died off long ago in the general public. Those were compact listenable tunes the audience knew and could identify with. (Note how the Joe Pass standards albums kept him earning ‘Best Jazz Guitarist’ for years.) Sure we can, and Joe did too, throw in the occasional “real” jazz piece but seriously the general listening public isn’t all that keen on Giant Steps. With the noted shrinking of attention spans, the continuous improvisation on a couple of modes isn’t catching to the ears of a ‘civilian’. They want to tap their toes to the music. We need as practicing musicians to be honest with ourselves about playing what the audience wants and understands. As Tal Farlow said: “we’re playing to the Satin Doll set”. Which is dying off.

    So we are in the position of playing an instrument with a narrow range of use to a declining base of interested listeners. And, having to either play standards that few under 40 ever heard, or playing “Real” jazz stuff that has now mostly been heard by jazz students. The archtop market, American or not, is dying because of those factors. Do you really think the vulture capitalists now at Gibson would have essentially killed the line if they thought there was money to be made? On the number one lusted-after brand of archtop? Products losing money is not how to sell a company at a profit, and KKR people buy companies to sell at a profit.

    Personally I blame schools throwing out music and art programs to fund sports, leaving us with a whole bunch of untrained ears. But that’s another rant)))

  48. #47

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    As much as I love the sounds associated with archtops, and they sure are beautiful as well, perhaps the genre also moved to a place where other kinds of guitars are more useful. The diversity of instruments is certainly greater than ever, and Fenders seem to be gaining ground.

    I can see why a touring musician would rather bring a Fender plank with him on the road.

  49. #48

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    At NAMM, two Gibson reps promised the return of the 175 in a year or two. Hope they haven't been fired by now.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitterbug View Post
    At NAMM, two Gibson reps promised the return of the 175 in a year or two. Hope they haven't been fired by now.
    Gibson should always have their iconic archtop guitars available, even if at a price point that will result in very few sales. The L-5, Super 400 and ES-175 should be out there. Even if only on a "custom shop" type of basis. Why abandon any particular market to competitors?

    My prediction is that companies like Gibson and Harley-Davidson will need to contract in order to stay profitable with declining customer bases. Old guys should not cry in their beer regarding changing fashions. Life is not static. It never was.

  51. #50

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    I respectfully disagree with the pessimistic, and depressing prospect of Jazz dying out
    jointly with the gloomy outlook of the same applying to the Archtop Guitar. Jazz has
    always been niche music and up and down in popularity as new genres come and go.
    But we are talking about an Art Form, taking years to appreciate for some ,and learning
    how to play this most difficult of music forms with any degree of dexterity and finesse.
    Gifted musicians may find it relatively easy to absorb and play, but for the man in the street
    not quite so. Someone suggested that the Great American Songbook is passe' now.
    That is not the case at all, most great players employ the "Standards " to great effect.,
    improvising and embellishing these songs to renew them for the listener. Pop Music
    can induce a soporific state, which is fine for insomnia.