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  1. #1

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    I am considering buying an arch top but am trying to understand what I may be getting into. At present I have a tele which is relatively insensitive, though not entirely of course, to weather change, temp, humidity etc as far as avoiding fret buzz. It occurs to me that an arch top, because of its innate construction will be all the more sensitive to these changes thus requiring more time resetting action and intonation. Am I correct in these assumptions? If the above is true, is there a lessening of sensitivity in older instruments as they have solidified in adjustment to the environmental changes? Looking forward to your comments

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  3. #2

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    Well there's a big variance in "archtop" construction. The heavily built laminates are rather care free. The more delicate light weight thin carved tops do take some care.

  4. #3

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    I’m playing archtop guitars from Ibanez for about 3 years now, played them outside on a hot summer day, inside under an air conditioner, on a rainy day under a roof...I can say, that in my case, I didn’t notice any changes due to weather change, humidity, etc. I have a Ibanez AFC151, and a AKJV95-DAL, got them set up the first day after I bought them and till now they are still playing great. Both guitars have 3 piece mahogany, maple, mahogany.

    Greetings, Adam.

  5. #4

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    If it's a good guitar you just need to watch extremes.

    If it's a "fine" guitar keep it indoors at comfortable temperatures (66-76) and relative humidity between 45-55. Summer temperature of 72 and humidity at 50, or winter temperature of 68 and humidity of 48 might be a good rule of thumb.

    When not playing it, put it in it's case.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by 0zoro
    I am considering buying an arch top but am trying to understand what I may be getting into. At present I have a tele which is relatively insensitive, though not entirely of course, to weather change, temp, humidity etc as far as avoiding fret buzz. It occurs to me that an arch top, because of its innate construction will be all the more sensitive to these changes thus requiring more time resetting action and intonation. Am I correct in these assumptions? If the above is true, is there a lessening of sensitivity in older instruments as they have solidified in adjustment to the environmental changes? Looking forward to your comments
    I have an arcthop with laminated back, sides, and top that's relatively lightly built (Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin). In my experience, it needs seasonal truss rod adjustments (or not) to the same extent as my solid body and semi-hollow (i.e., sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't depending on how much the heat is on in my apartment in the winter). I've never found intonation to be affected on any of my guitars. Action height is a different story though. I find myself tweaking the Godin's bridge height quite a bit, especially to deal with fret buzz on the fingerboard extension. My gypsy jazz guitar is even more sensitive to humidity changes. Keeping a humidifer in the case mitigates all of this considerably. But none of this is particularly bothersome. A minute here and there to tweak something that's easy to tweak.

    John
    Last edited by John A.; 08-06-2020 at 11:23 AM.

  7. #6

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    It depends on the guitars and environment no way to say for sure. Certainly they are different than a Tele but not necessarily as it relates to fret buzz. Some Tele's move around just due to the neck and body construction. I have not touch the trussed rod on any of my guitars in years and in one case 35 years.

  8. #7

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    I agree with Mark that it depends on the guitar, the environment, and also greatly on the action. If the guitar has relatively high action, probably no adjustments will be necessary. If the action is very low, then the probability of needing adjustments will increase, just as it will on a solid-body guitar. The neck will move with temperature and humidity changes regardless of what type body it's on. Large changes in humidity will have the most effect, IME. I keep my action very low, 1 mm or less, and I have to tweak the truss rod and/or the bridge height once in awhile. That takes a few minutes, but very few. I could avoid the tweaks by accepting higher action, and many players do, but it's not enough trouble to bother me, and I don't want to spend the many playing hours with discomfort. Some use lighter strings as they get older and arthritis sets in, but I just use lower action. Obviously there is a limit, though. So tl:dr, the answer is a definite maybe. Or maybe not.

  9. #8

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    I mean the Tele is probably as stable as it gets so compared to that… Even my cheap Squier, I had it in rather not so environmentally controlled storage during a moving-countries situation and when I took it out of the case again for the first time after one and a half years (!) it was like perfectly in tune and ready to go… So there is that.

    My experience is that its often more the individual instrument than construction type per se… My Heritage Millennium for example is quite a Diva, needs seasonal adjustment etc. and it‘s not an archtop, not even a semi-hollow (it‘s construction is more „semi-solid“). With way cheaper archtops I’ve owned I didn‘t have to put in that much effort.

  10. #9

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    My 2017 es-175 is a heavy total laminate. I live in Phoenix and spend some effort insuring the acoustics are properly humidified. Don’t really worry about the Gibson.

  11. #10

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    OP, in theory you are right, of course.
    I have some very delicate instruments, and have been surprised at how stable they remain through seasonal changes. If you can keep a consistent relative humidity in your home (~42% RH), and then are careful about letting the instrument equilibrate when you travel(gigs, etc), you may be pleasantly surprised. I'm finding that I adjust bridge height and truss rod maybe once per year, if that.

    The worst thing I ever did was take a cold guitar out of its case too soon and the entire lacquer top became checked, almost instantly. Don't do that.

  12. #11

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    I have two archtop guitars. One of them is an Ibanez GB10 from 1981; I have owned it since 1986 and I don't believe I have ever adjusted the truss rod, even when changing string gauges rather significantly. It just always stays in tune and very stable. But that is a rather heavily constructed laminate instrument.

    The other one is a 2006 17 inch carved archtop by forum member Matt Cushman. It sounds wonderful and plays great, but does need a minor seasonal tweak to the truss rod twice a year. It takes less than five minutes, an eighth to a quarter turn tighter or looser depending on spring or fall. With some archtop guitars there does seem to be some rise and fall of the top seasonally; the Cushman is sealed on the inside as well as finished on the outside which appears to prevent that problem.

    all things considered, I would say that my archtop guitar maintenance is not really any more time consuming than that for my Telecaster.

  13. #12

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    Living in the desert southwest for nineteen years (so far) with a bunch of archtops and semi's I've found I almost never have to adjust anything. When we lived in the northeast I did lots of it but never found that archtops needed any more attention than other types.


    Quote Originally Posted by mikeSF
    The worst thing I ever did was take a cold guitar out of its case too soon and the entire lacquer top became checked, almost instantly. Don't do that.
    Yeah--don't ever do that.

    Danny W.

  14. #13

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  15. #14

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    1 Tempered coastal climate is not too bad
    2 Laminated designs are robust
    I have no experience with carved archtops but have no issues with solid top flattop guitars.

  16. #15

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    As a resident of Stockholm, Sweden I judge the climate to be favorable, especially considering the stability witnessed upon above. Thanks all for the input! I have my sights set on an Ibanez AF 95 and will shortly get to know it better.

  17. #16

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    I have a AG75 which has survived the danish conditions with no problems. I have tweaked it once to my liking, and it seem stable as far as I can perceive.

  18. #17

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    But ya never know what can happen. Our home is perfectly maintained for temp, humidity, and allergens. And now a big crack is appearing on my wife's wonderful baby dreadnaught.

    Are archtops fickle?-crack-jpg