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  1. #1

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    Hi all,

    I used to play a little bit of Jazz, but still a bit of a Jazz novice (typically play blues). I am trying to get back into it and recently purchased an Eastman AR 810 solid wood archtop. I love the sound of the archtop acoustically, but I can't quite achieve that electrified sound I want.

    This video shows the exact archtop I have and I love the sound Mark is getting here:

    .

    I guess the tone I like is typically on the lines of Wes Montgomery (which I realize he played an L5 with usually a Twin Reverb type of amp), but I guess that will give you an idea of where I am going.

    I have 3 amps at the moment: a Fender Blues JR with a 12in jensen, a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe (which I'm looking to sell unless I can use it for this case), and I just bought a Dr. Z Z Master (which is what I was hoping to use with this - but I'm still having trouble fine tuning the tone for Jazz).

    In an ideal world, I would love to get the sound I want from one of these amps without making modifications or additions to gear, but I'm looking for suggestions on the following:

    - Should I get a jazz amp specifically? If so, a tube amp or solid state? Something that won't break the bank?
    - Should I upgrade the pick-up to a handwound?
    - Are there settings that anyone would recommend for this type of tone on the amps I have? Modifications?

    Thanks very much for reading - any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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  3. #2

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    The Eastman 810CE is a great guitar for sure. But it is based on Bob Benedetto archtop book plans. It's meant to have an acoustic voice primarily.
    To my ears due to the thinner carved top and back, it sounds less midrangange in tone. Than say a heavier built Gibson Johnny Smith guitar.

    One thing that will help you improve your electric tone is to upgrade the pickup.Kent Armstrong USA handbuilt floating 12 polepeice is a much better pickup than the std that's on it.
    Peter Biltoft Vintage Vibe Pickups, also makes great alternatives like a Charlie Christian type pickup.

  4. #3

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    The cheapest way to start is to use heavier strings and thicker picks. Both will give a thicker tone without breaking your pocketbook. I like at least .012 sets for strings, usually .013, and picks at least a millimeter thick, more often approaching 1.5mm. Smaller just sounds thinner to me. Amps are highly subjective. None of the ones you have are what I would consider, but I'm not you. My current favorite amp is the DV Mark Little Jazz. It just sounds good to me. With a Fender amp (at least most, I haven't played nearly all models) to get a flat, thicker tone you need to start with the tone controls at zero, then add just a little bit at a time back in if necessary.

  5. #4

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    The sound i hear on the video should be obtainable with the Eastman, it has the characteristic acoustic quality Eastmans have, in the Benedetto style.

    Have you tried recording your guitar? A lot of the recorded sound comes from close miking and the compression involved in the whole process. Maybe when you hear it this way you 'll realize it already sounds closer than how it is perceived when played.

    What do you feel is missing now? Is it eq, compression, gain structure, thumb (or "knock"), the woody part of the sound?

  6. #5

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    I have had both a Blues Jr. and a Hot Rod Deluxe and I couldn't get rid of them fast enough. The guy in the video is plugged into what looks like a very standard Deluxe Reverb. If you already have that guitar and you want the sound you hear the guy getting from that model in the video, why not get a Deluxe Reverb? It's a very different amp than the ones you have, even if they're all Fenders.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    One thing that will help you improve your electric tone is to upgrade the pickup.Kent Armstrong USA handbuilt floating 12 polepeice is a much better pickup than the std that's on it.
    Peter Biltoft Vintage Vibe Pickups, also makes great alternatives like a Charlie Christian type pickup.
    I had read similar on this forum before - so that confirmed some thoughts on that for me. I will definitely look into the Charlie Christian pickup as well. Thanks!

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    My current favorite amp is the DV Mark Little Jazz. It just sounds good to me. With a Fender amp (at least most, I haven't played nearly all models) to get a flat, thicker tone you need to start with the tone controls at zero, then add just a little bit at a time back in if necessary.
    This is great to hear - I have seen these amps and wondered about grabbing one - it's also not one that's gonna break the bank for me. Thanks!

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    What do you feel is missing now? Is it eq, compression, gain structure, thumb (or "knock"), the woody part of the sound?
    I played around with the Z Master today and I think I found some success with it by using a volume pedal about 1/2 way and turning the volume knobs up on the amp (it doesn't have a master volume). I had read on here before that compression could help, so that's where I got the idea to try playing with the volume pedal. Basically, when I use an amp it's either been a bit thin when I try to get more of the acoustic sound to shine or a bit muddy when I was trying to get the electric jazz sound I wanted.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Chazmo
    I If you already have that guitar and you want the sound you hear the guy getting from that model in the video, why not get a Deluxe Reverb? It's a very different amp than the ones you have, even if they're all Fenders.
    If I hadn't just bought the Z Master, I would consider that haha.. Maybe once I sell the hot rod, I will consider that option in the future.



    And thank you all for your quick and thorough responses, this is so very helpful!!!

  11. #10

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    Had some similar experience but one thing I found is that turning up the "Mid Range" helps tremendously to warm things up and fatten. Turn down the Treble, and use the Bass sparingly to taste. The Deluxe Reverb does not have a Mid control if I am not mistaken.

  12. #11

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    I've had really good luck with the small 1x8" Quilter Aviator Combo. The smaller speaker in a closed back is really the ticket. And it definitely has enough power for that guitar anywhere.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malias17
    I played around with the Z Master today and I think I found some success with it by using a volume pedal about 1/2 way and turning the volume knobs up on the amp (it doesn't have a master volume). I had read on here before that compression could help, so that's where I got the idea to try playing with the volume pedal. Basically, when I use an amp it's either been a bit thin when I try to get more of the acoustic sound to shine or a bit muddy when I was trying to get the electric jazz sound I wanted.
    I haven’t used the Z Master, but if the tone stack circuit is modeled on Fender amps I’d suggest starting with bass and treble set to zero, then gradually bring up bass and treble until you are happy.

    I’d also suggest starting with the volume control on the guitar dialed pretty far down. This will help smooth out the frequency response of the pickup. Your volume pedal might have a similar effect, but the guitar’s volume control is closer to the source, so why not use it instead?

    I’d try this with the normal channel and and bright channels separately then decide whether to go with one or blend.

    I have an older AR810CE, but I use it when I want a primarily acoustic voice, with just enough amplification to fill it out.
    Last edited by KirkP; 08-06-2020 at 04:09 PM.

  14. #13

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    Sorry, but in my opinion you’re not going to get a Wes tone from an Eastman 810. I’ve owned several Eastman’s including an 810 and 910. Great acoustic guitars but there’s a limit to their respective tones. To get a full jazz tone you’re better off with an ES175, again IMO.

  15. #14

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    I have a very early 810 that had replaced a 90’s L5 Wesmo (yup, you read it right), in the early 2000’s.
    I’ve had that L5 for a good decade (throughout college and beyond) as the main/working instrument. It was my dream guitar, and I had worked hard and saved for it for a long time.
    I still remember the excitement when I got the call from Mr. Music in Allston, MA that my order had finally come.
    It wasn’t a dud or the best L5 ever, but was a good one. However, over the years it had it’s share of problems typical of modern Gibsons. And it turned out not to be the be all, end all guitar; it did a few things right for sure.
    Perhaps my expectations were too high for a guitar that was supposed to be the ultimate jazz box that looked exactly the same as one played by my biggest influence during college, on which I spent every dime I saved from all sorts of gigs.
    But I was too invested/committed to it to look elsewhere (though I did talk to Campellone and got his catalog at one point when I got sick and tired of the occasional neck swellings...).
    Anyway, fast forward to 2000’s.
    When Eastman offered me the first gen. 810, I was impressed with what it was, and for what was not L5.
    In other words, I’ve had it enough with the weight, quality/price ratio, the sound, and etc, of the L5. On the other hand, I liked what the Eastman had to offer; light weight, size, resonance, delicate acoustic sound quality not to be found in the L5.
    After all, these are two different instruments with different approaches to almost everything from bracing to top thickness, to pickup mounting and etc,.

    But most of all, my playing and style evolved over the years and subsequently my needs from musical instruments.
    After receiving the Eastman, I sold my L5. It was like a mixture of breaking up with your crazy gf that you’ve been crazy about, and parting with your old battered battle ax. Ok, maybe not as violent as the former.

    Anyway, I still have the 810 as a back up after 16-plus years. Over the years, I’ve had a hole carved out and dropped a Gibson ‘57 classic, switched out the damned volume wheel, installed a tone knob on the pick guard, replaced the pos tail piece with a Benedetto (with a custom made brass plate underneath for grounding), replaced the cheap tuners, and etc,.....
    I’ve basically turned it into a versatile jazz box that can do Wes, Kenny, Martino, Benson, etc, if you’ve got the skills and know how to get the right sound for the occasion.
    No, it can’t do it all, or do it better than each of 6 different kickass guitars that can do one thing so well.
    But neither can I sound like all (or any) of these musicians playing their stuff with their signature instruments. But I get by, and my Franken 810 serves me well.
    Why all this extra work/modifications on a lowly Eastman, after getting rid of an L5? Because for my needs, 810 is a better instrument. It has the right “bones” to be an actual musical instrument, so to speak.
    I like my jazz boxes to have decent acoustic sound, resonance, and not weigh a ton with flashy hardware. I have my Les Pauls and 335’s when I feel like playing music through some appliance.

    So the point to this diatribe is (if there was any), that if you know what you’re doing, you’ll be able to figure out what it is that you need/want from your instrument. And get the musical results without necessarily having to own a specific piece of equipment that’s “supposed to” yield that result. There’s more to it than owning the right appliance, though it certainly can help or make you feel better, at least.

    I’m not trying to be a jackass or be condescending to anyone, but am just sharing my own experience; took a long enough time, and cost me more than I cared for.
    For anyone reading this though, it’s definitely too long of a post for the two cents it’s worth.

  16. #15

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    If you run .012 stings you should be able to achieve a similar tone through one of your amps. Not optimal maybe but close enough. If you want to dial things back on the chime beyond rolling the treble back a bit, try flat wound strings and something like a Dunlop Jazztone pick. Pickup swaps are a last resort and, IMHO, are counter productive unless you know where you're headed. New amps are fun but you should be able to get a usable tone out of one of the amps you already have.

    Of course, none of this will help get you through that big stack of jazz standards you're learning but gear is fun and the Eastman 810 is a resonant, acoustic, great sounding guitar. Should be a relatively easy way to get where you want to go.

  17. #16

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    Zhahn's experience may be pretty typical. Lightly built, floating pickup-equipped acoustic archtops can be kind of an acquired taste, often after one has played a heavier, set pickup jazz box for a while.

    I have posted this video before, but in the hope of making my point and helping others get the guitar that gives them the tone they want, I'm posting again.


  18. #17

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    This might be handy:



    Rich gets great sounds from set and floating pickups.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    This might be handy:



    Rich gets great sounds from set and floating pickups.
    Rich’s sound is in his fingers. That said his tone on the humbucker GE is sweet!

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malias17
    Hi all,

    I used to play a little bit of Jazz, but still a bit of a Jazz novice (typically play blues). I am trying to get back into it and recently purchased an Eastman AR 810 solid wood archtop. I love the sound of the archtop acoustically, but I can't quite achieve that electrified sound I want.

    This video shows the exact archtop I have and I love the sound Mark is getting here:

    .

    I guess the tone I like is typically on the lines of Wes Montgomery (which I realize he played an L5 with usually a Twin Reverb type of amp), but I guess that will give you an idea of where I am going.

    I have 3 amps at the moment: a Fender Blues JR with a 12in jensen, a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe (which I'm looking to sell unless I can use it for this case), and I just bought a Dr. Z Z Master (which is what I was hoping to use with this - but I'm still having trouble fine tuning the tone for Jazz).

    In an ideal world, I would love to get the sound I want from one of these amps without making modifications or additions to gear, but I'm looking for suggestions on the following:

    - Should I get a jazz amp specifically? If so, a tube amp or solid state? Something that won't break the bank?
    - Should I upgrade the pick-up to a handwound?
    - Are there settings that anyone would recommend for this type of tone on the amps I have? Modifications?

    Thanks very much for reading - any advice would be greatly appreciated!
    A few years back I played regularly in a studio using their HRD amp. It was a 2x12, I think. I thought it sounded the best of any amp I've used. I would describe the sound as "rich", for want of a better way to describe it.

    So, I would think that would be a good enough amp.

    For those that can't resist another amp purchase, I love my DV Mark Little Jazz. Tiny, light,bigger,better sound than you expect and about $360.

    As far as achieving the sound in the video -- it seems to me that the striking component of his sound is in his attack. It has an edgy quality except at the end when he played the octaves. May have something to do with his picking style. Pick and string gauge may matter. How close the pickup is to the strings is another variable.

    My impression is that decent quality humbucker equipped archtops don't all sound the same, but they're all grossly within the same ballpark. The player makes a big difference.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chazmo
    I have had both a Blues Jr. and a Hot Rod Deluxe and I couldn't get rid of them fast enough. The guy in the video is plugged into what looks like a very standard Deluxe Reverb. If you already have that guitar and you want the sound you hear the guy getting from that model in the video, why not get a Deluxe Reverb? It's a very different amp than the ones you have, even if they're all Fenders.
    Funny, I have a Fender Blues Jr and a Hot Rod Deluxe, and love both of these amps. The only issue I have with the Hot Rod Deluxe is it’s hard to control the volume for home use. One trick is to use a Boss GE-7 (Graphic Equalizer) in the effects loop to better control the HRD volume better. Brian Wampler has a good video on YouTube that shows how to do this.


    I’m sure you can get that tone with either of those amps. You just need to experiment with the tone controls on both the amp and guitar.

  22. #21

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    Note that if you do switch to flat wound strings in search of tone, that will only effect the wound strings. If you aren’t satisfied with the tone of the plain strings, that’s not gonna help. Sorry if that’s too obvious. :-)