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  1. #1

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    I came across this old video of Perry Beekman playing a Trenier Excel and was wondering, is this the tone players seek in a modern carved archtop? It sounds a bit too "wet" and "flattoppy" to me, but I like the old school archtop sound myself. Perry's playing is excellent and the guitar has a rich sound to be sure. What do you guys think?

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  3. #2

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    I'm not sure about "modern" but it sounds like roundwound bronze strings to me. Lots of high-frequency definition, crispness, and twang. I'm sure a broken-in set of flatwounds would yield a rounder, more traditional tone. But I do like that tone.

    Also, as I keep saying, archtops sound radically different to the listener (or the microphone) than to the player, who is only hearing a fraction of the sound that the guitar is actually projecting (hence sound ports). It's a conundrum.

    Playing facing a corner ala Robert Johnson helps with this.

    As does a good amp.

  4. #3

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    Too acoustic and bright for me. I like that dark thick thunk.

  5. #4

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    I'm also not into drenched harmonic tones, but I don't think that you can call all "modern" wet and flattopy. It has a lot to do with the specific guitar design and the player. Perry B is a great player with a lot of versatility of styles and it seems that he is intentionally highlighting that instrument's frequency range and sustain. Not everyone's trying to sound like that.

    Here's another "modern" archtop and "modern" player. Still sustain, but far from flattop.



    Also here's the builder himself playing fairly straight, relatively staccato chord-melody.

    Trenier Broadway on Vimeo

    I guess my point is I don't know what you mean by "modern" archtop. There's so much variety even in a single builder, and it's not like the instrument determines how you play.

    I'll add: "dark thunk" is the LAST thing I want coming out of an acoustic archtop, which is why I stick to my 1928 Gibson L5, which happens to be much more "wet" and "flattopy" than the bigger (and apparently more traditional) guitars that came out 10 - 30 years later.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    Too acoustic and bright for me. I like that dark thick thunk.
    am i wrong in thinking this an acoustic guitar?

  7. #6

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    The way a guitar is mic’d can make a pretty dramatic difference too. What part of the guitar it’s pointed at, distance, room, all these things can have a significant effect.

    That being said, I think it sounds very good, and I’m not a big fan of bronze strings in general.

  8. #7

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    To me, the first video with Perry Beekman sounds distinctly "old-timey". That jangle makes me think of early swing and country. The video of Craig Snyder where you get that clean bell like sound is what I think of as "modern".

    I also think don't think it is all that easy to classify. Are we talking acoustic sound? Honestly I rarely hear jazz players play acoustically. That seems favored by country and folk players. Although, of course, there are always exception. But if we are talking acoustic sound, a jangly metallic sound with a lot of percussive timbres are what I associate with "traditional" or "old-timey" arch tops. Somewhere in-between is the sound of a Selmer guitar with its pressed arch. The most "modern" sound is the very clean bell like tones with as little jangle as possible.

    That's just one person's opinion, but I offer it because I actually didn't hear much of what I would consider "modern" in that first clip.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    I came across this old video of Perry Beekman playing a Trenier Excel and was wondering, is this the tone players seek in a modern carved archtop? It sounds a bit too "wet" and "flattoppy" to me, but I like the old school archtop sound myself. Perry's playing is excellent and the guitar has a rich sound to be sure. What do you guys think?
    Sounds "flat-toppy" to me as well. Fantastic playing, but really does sound more like a nice Martin flattop with new brass round-wound strings.

  10. #9

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    Interesting post. This is an example of why we need to own more than one guitar though few of us will encounter one like this. It's not quite flat top sustain and the envelope is different somehow. Would like to play it.

  11. #10

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    good post SS.
    sounds kinda like a D'aquisto, more defined and clearer though not quite as round.
    and yeah, the older archtops have a much different sound, most were designed for big band playing.
    this does seem to be what the modern sound is and agree w/you I prefer the old L-5, D'Angelico sound, which probably explains why I only own 2 modern archies.

  12. #11

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    Agreed it sounds very flatopish and bright. I like a bit more round bass end that has really to mean a much different sound. Not sure if it modern idea but just a different direction. The real coin is in hearing the guitar in person, mics and such make a huge impact. This is different that even Joe Pass and John P when they get into the acoustic archtop recording. Close but different.

  13. #12

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    Another example of why I prefer standard nickel round wound strings on acoustic archtop. Those brass especially cut my ears a bit too much. Once the phosphorus bronze get broken in a bit they are ok. Give me the regular for almost anything.

  14. #13

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    Sound is subjective and so is this discussion.

    We have straight solid carved acoustic Archtop guitars , solid carved parallel braced types, solid carved built in pick ups , solid carved floaters .....and a variety of laminates, just to name a few. All deliver different sounds to satisfy our desires.

    As we know, the Archtop guitar originated as a purely acoustic - unamplified instrument. The best of which arguably began with the Gibson Loar L5’s -then came all the other off spring interpretations, the best of which were know to be the D’Angelico’s and D’Aquisto’s.

    The electric jazz movement brought in that “ thunk” sound of tight, dark non- sustaining notes with flat wound strings to dampen down dynamics and sustain. Electric jazz guys love this sound - and play plugged in.
    Gibson ruled the “ jazz sound “ with the ES series guitars and the L5 electrics.

    As for modern sound, not sure what that means, but Jim D’Aquisto felt his later ( straight acoustic ) instruments intentionally bridged the gap between an Archtop and Flat top sound - and he felt that was a modern Archtop movement in the early nineties - and it served finger-style guitarists. We also had an unplugged movement back than - Eric Clapton for example.

    Today, you have builders like Bryant Trenier building straight acoustic guitars to celebrate the best instruments of the early period such as; The Broadway parallel braced, D’Angelico and D’Aquisto style X braced , and some with sound ports which John Monteleone uses on almost every guitar.

    Most of us play guitars that replicate earlier music, and we prefer to play that music on instruments which were “ period modern “ and used to create that music at the time. Others , like my self , play straight acoustic-with a microphone.

    Modern jazz music will be created by the new young guns and we will relate back to what they used to get that “sound” .

    Bryant Trenier feels that his floating laminate is perhaps his best interpretation of what will be the “modern Archtop” of things to come. This is a 7 ply guitar - different than anything on the market, and bridges the best of both worlds , and is meant to be plugged in, and also enjoyed acoustically.

    Here is a young gun - which creates a pianistic sound on a 7 ply laminate Trenier - and this is undeniably a “ modern “ jazz sound- being produced today.




  15. #14

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    Here is a link to Trenier Guitar Facebook page. Contained therein is a video clip of a floating laminate -which he feels is the direction of the modern Archtop sound.

    He may very well be on to something.

    Trenier Guitars - Home | Facebook

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    Another example of why I prefer standard nickel round wound strings on acoustic archtop. Those brass especially cut my ears a bit too much. Once the phosphorus bronze get broken in a bit they are ok. Give me the regular for almost anything.
    I used to feel this way too but my 2016 Trenier Motif oval-hole (mahogany body and neck incidentally) came with bronze rounds, which sounded great from the beginning (both fingerstyle and plectrum) and so I've stuck with that. Just the other day I was thinking it's time to change them to newer ones but all I have at home is about 10 packs of various nickel rounds! In the case of this guitar, I think Trenier may have designed it with bronze strings in mind since it doesn't have a magnetic pickup.

  17. #16

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this is an all-acoustic take. The way it was recorded plays a major role. The amount of left-hand noise - too much of it for any demo IMHO - suggests there was no effort to control the highs.

    EDIT: I was in a hurry yesterday and did not even notice there's no PU on the guitar. The fundamental question is, what purpose does a contemporary acoustic archtop serve? Solo chord-melody? Even Joe Pass did that amplified. Surely not period-perfect big band comping, if they sound like this. Against Martin's over 100,000 flattops per year, acoustic archtops are few and far between. Most archtops made since WWII have a pickup or two.
    Last edited by Gitterbug; 10-10-2020 at 07:53 AM.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by QAman
    Here is a link to Trenier Guitar Facebook page. Contained therein is a video clip of a floating laminate -which he feels is the direction of the modern Archtop sound.

    He may very well be on to something.

    Trenier Guitars - Home | Facebook
    Did you mean my 2020 Jazz Special laminate? If so, note that it sounds much better since that video now that I have Bebop 13's on it and it's opened up a bit.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by QAman

    Here is a young gun - which creates a pianistic sound on a 7 ply laminate Trenier - and this is undeniably a “ modern “ jazz sound- being produced today.



    Respectfully, isn't the Pasquale Grasso model a carved top? His website says it has a spruce soundboard (the earlier version had a laminate back).

  20. #19

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    Now that you mention it, it does sound like its being played on an arch top. But give that guitar to a different player and it’s likely to sound different is my thinking. Beautiful Trenier Excel!

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by coolvinny
    Did you mean my 2020 Jazz Special laminate? If so, note that it sounds much better since that video now that I have Bebop 13's on it and it's opened up a bit.
    Yes- that floater laminate is what Bryant thinks might be the future “ modern Archtop”, since it satisfies “plug in” needs, and provides a respectable amount of acoustic capability.

    Your fortunate to own one - they are made in small batches. Here is a pic of current batch with my new sound port guitar.

  22. #21

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    Pasquale really floats my boat. He has Tal Farlow fingers too. He was born to play guitar.
    His playing really excites me. I'm a uptempo guy.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by coolvinny
    Respectfully, isn't the Pasquale Grasso model a carved top? His website says it has a spruce soundboard (the earlier version had a laminate back).
    Bryant had mentioned to me that this guitar was a laminate.

    Sent from my GT-N5110 using Tapatalk

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by QAman
    Bryant had mentioned to me that this guitar was a laminate.

    Sent from my GT-N5110 using Tapatalk
    Pasquale told me it was carved and I've seen him play in person enough times to know it's way too loud to have a laminated top, even if it's a Trenier laminate. I think the sides are laminate.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by omphalopsychos
    Pasquale told me it was carved and I've seen him play in person enough times to know it's way too loud to have a laminated top, even if it's a Trenier laminate. I think the sides are laminate.
    Thanks for the claification, perhaps I mis understood Bryant. I just wrote to Bryant for clarification on which Pasquale guitar is indeed the laminate.

    Sent from my GT-N5110 using Tapatalk
    Last edited by QAman; 10-09-2020 at 08:23 PM.

  26. #25

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    I think for the style, Perrys sound is incredible. I would have totally ruined the sound by putting flatwounds in that guitar but it would definitely take that edge and string sound down a notch.
    Bro, your 35 Excel sounded like that when I got it. It had phosphor bronze strings on it. I couldn’t remove them fast enough.
    JD

  27. #26

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    just for info....phosphor bronze strings weren't around till around the mid 1970's...a d'addario item...

    so if you like acoustic archtop jazz (guitarists) before that, it's all on bronze 80/20's...bell-like!

    as well as on flat tops!! blues, country, hokum, hank, elvis etc

    cheers

  28. #27

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    I recall a vaguely similar sound to Perry's from a 30's Gibson L5. A kind of resonance you don't expect. The L5 wasn't quite as bright, though. It reminds me most of the first new notes played with a new set of bright sounding strings. After a few hours, either I acclimate or the strings actually sound duller.

  29. #28

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    I think this is really hard call from these videos. For me the modern archtop is a thinner top and back plate producing less pronounced midrange.

    Bob Benedetto is generally the one who started that trend. Although there are guitars he's made that have the more trad thicker tops and backs as well.
    Eastmans especially the 810CE model is a good example of this newer tone.

    For me I prefer the thicker Gibson Johny Smith acoustic tone.I would bet Bryant Trenier makes most of his builds in that style as well.

  30. #29

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    I'm going to agree with those saying the recording is odd. I think there's a rather solid compressor on that mic or in post, which is bringing up the finger noise considerably.

    I'd like to add that the player is using a lot of open strings in his voicings, which can make the melody sound a bit more "folk."

    However, I do hear some serious low-mid punch in this video. Again, the player's style is just sparse. If he decided to use full-fisted 6th, 9th, and 13ths, you'd really hear the wallop.

    I think the sound you prefer is one that our friend Romain in Paris has zeroed nicely. Here he is on a 36 Epi Broadway, which Bryant Trenier has drawn a good deal of inspiration from.


  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk1701


    I think the sound you prefer is one that our friend Romain in Paris has zeroed nicely. Here he is on a 36 Epi Broadway, which Bryant Trenier has drawn a good deal of inspiration from.

    Yes! That is the acoustic archtop sound that I like....

    That said, I like electric archtops, laminated and carved as well, but if I wanted an acoustic guitar to sound like a Martin, I would play a Martin

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    if I wanted an acoustic guitar to sound like a Martin, I would play a Martin
    Or you could save a few grand and get an eastman

  33. #32

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    Can anyone tell me something about "floater laminate"? I'm sure it's of a top grade but laminates as a whole are new to me, even though I lived most of my life as a Carpenter.

  34. #33

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    Okay, I think what you're hearing is the tight bass response of the Trenier. It is indeed very similar to a D-28.

    I would encourage you to plug in some headphones and compare your Trenier video with one featuring a prewar Martin dreadnought. The differences will be subtle at first, but eventually the archtop's midrange will pop out at you.

  35. #34

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    Floater laminate, AFAIK, refers to a guitar with a laminated top and a floating pickup, not a set pickup.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogfaceboy
    Can anyone tell me something about "floater laminate"? I'm sure it's of a top grade but laminates as a whole are new to me, even though I lived most of my life as a Carpenter.
    Sure- most laminates have a cutout or two, for set in humbucker type pickups. Bryant is making jazz electric laminates with no cutouts in the top, and he then mounts a floating pickup on the pickguard. Similar to a Gibson Es-165 herb Ellis floater.

    A major difference between the Gibson Ellis (besides general design) and Trenier , is the weight. The Trenier is very light with a more pronounced woody acoustic voice, and the Gibson has that heavy thick throaty voice typical of that Gibson sound.

    Sent from my GT-N5110 using Tapatalk

  37. #36

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    I liked the sound of the guitar in the OP quite a bit. It met my expectations.

    Luthiers make their acoustic archtops to sound... very acoustic. Benedetto etc. The guitars without a pickup have to have a big voice and yes they string them differently too, which leads to squeak city. I like such guitars but my fingers don't tolerate the heavy strings. Plues, the use of these models is strictly solo guitar situations, perhaps with a mic, like a classical guitar. In other words, they're going for something different with these models.

    I much preferred the sound of the OP to the second sample (Epiphone?) which sounded comparatively thin and lifeless to me. But of course a valid side-by-side test would make use of identical strings, room, recording equipment and settings etc.

    Sinfonietta™ Guitar | Sinfonietta™ Archtop Jazz Guitar | Benedetto Guitars

    La Venezia™ Guitar | Benedetto Guitars

    Manhattan™ Guitar | Benedetto Guitars
    Last edited by GTRMan; 10-10-2020 at 11:21 AM.

  38. #37

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    I am a flatwound guy on every guitar I have. Finger squeak to my ears is like a dog whistle or nails on a blackboard. I hate the rough feel also. I am not a floater guy either. I am not into the acoustic sound.
    I am a electric archtop player. Always through a amp. Everyone's ear is different and has its specific tonal sweet spot. No wrong answers just individual taste. My son is a rocker. He hates the sound of all archtops. His ears love a overdrive pedal. To me it sounds like a blown speaker.
    I am super picky about my specific tonal palate. If there were only Strats and Martins in the world I would play the clarinet.
    For my whole life I chased this magical tone in my head with countless guitars and amps. What I realized about 5 years ago is I had that tone all along. I basically dialed everything I had in to sound almost the same. My whole life I was just chasing my tail but it was still a lot of fun. Wasted a lot of moola but no regrets. I had a really blessed guitar life. Loved one wife but a total archtop whore.

    My wife said to me once : Why do you need all these guitars ? They all sound exactly the same.
    She is 100% correct but I will never admit to it. LOL.....

  39. #38

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    This loar guy definitely read the benedetto book. Sounds just like a martin.



    Personally, I think versatility is just the hallmark of a great instrument.


  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by omphalopsychos
    This loar guy definitely read the benedetto book. Sounds just like a martin.

    That was sweet. Not too many of those hanging around.

    Carter Vintage is good. I'm a customer.

  41. #40

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    [QUOTE=vinnyv1k;1067215 Loved one wife but a total archtop whore. [/QUOTE]

    No, no. You're an archtop Playboy!

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk1701
    I'm going to agree with those saying the recording is odd. I think there's a rather solid compressor on that mic or in post, which is bringing up the finger noise considerably.

    I'd like to add that the player is using a lot of open strings in his voicings, which can make the melody sound a bit more "folk."

    However, I do hear some serious low-mid punch in this video. Again, the player's style is just sparse. If he decided to use full-fisted 6th, 9th, and 13ths, you'd really hear the wallop.

    I think the sound you prefer is one that our friend Romain in Paris has zeroed nicely. Here he is on a 36 Epi Broadway, which Bryant Trenier has drawn a good deal of inspiration from.

    We all have different tastes. Which is a wonderful thing. For me, this video is the opposite of what I'm looking for in an acoustic archtop sound. That "cut" which was so necessary a little less than a hundred years ago, sounds harsh, strident, nasally and boxy. Admittedly I'm a Trenier aficionado, but the videos at the beginning of the thread are more of what I'm looking for tonally in a great acoustic archtop. Although I don't use bronze strings for many of the reasons already discussed. I also think the Trenier clips sound very different than a flattop guitar. But again, to each their own!

  43. #42

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    Here's an acoustic archtop of extraordinary beauty.

    La Venezia |

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max405
    Bro, your 35 Excel sounded like that when I got it. It had phosphor bronze strings on it. I couldn’t remove them fast enough.
    JD
    And during my guardianship of the 35 Excel, bronze strings will get nowhere near it.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by D'Aquisto Fan
    We all have different tastes. Which is a wonderful thing.
    Exactly. As we used to say in the American Biker subculture, "one man's queen is another man's sweathog"

  46. #45

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    Those clips have me thinking that Johnny Smith may be the progenitor of the "modern jazz" sound. Tal Farlow might be the exemplar of the old-school thunky tone.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    Those clips have me thinking that Johnny Smith may be the progenitor of the "modern jazz" sound. Tal Farlow might be the exemplar of the old-school thunky tone.
    I see both of those guys as very old school. TF was an electric archtop player from the bebop school while JS was an acoustic archtop player from the cool jazz school.

  48. #47

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    This works for me....

  49. #48

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    Many wonderful instruments and sounds here, and really exciting players, who I did not even know, a really worthful reading and listening.

    Many of us are using the two words "bright" and "flattopy" as synonyms, especially when reflecting the starting Perry Beekman video.

    I think it is not quite true. I would use the open/close instead when describe flattop/archtop, and keep the bright/warm as an other dimension. If we string a Martin with flatwounds, it will not became "archtopy". It will still keep its open character, but turns to be warm, and supposedly not in a good way.

    Similarly, the starting Perry Beekman video, is not flattopy. It is not open, instead a narrowed, closed sound, which is an attribute of the archtop. Yes it is true, it has bright strings, so it is bright.

  50. #49

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    For flat top comparisons, a Martin 00 or other small bodied fingerstyle flat top maybe. Martin D28's are too bass heavy and boomy for comparisons sake.

    The Trenier was great. It was interesting and 3 dimensional. The Epiphone was, for me, thin and tinny and exactly what I want to avoid in an acoustic archtop sound. Of course with string differences, recordings, et al, it's always going to difficult to actually compare the guitars. But we can compare the sounds that were captured on particular recordings. Everything else fell somewhere in between those two end points.

    It is good we have diverse tastes. And that we can own many guitars and amps and enjoy the different sounds they make.

  51. #50

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    Interesting post - and lots of different personal opinions on Perry’s tone playing the Trenier.

    We can’t lose sight of the fact that an Archtop guitar was designed to be played acoustically, and evolved along with music itself. The introduction of an electric pickup changed the original intent of an acoustic Archtop guitar , and required some internal changes to prevent feedback. Gibson guitars continued to become heavier and focused on a plug in experience, which seems to be what most electric jazz players on this forum prefer.

    D’Angelico’s even changed , and I feel the transitional models in the early 40’s with floaters - bridged the gap perfectly for that time period. They were amplified , but retained that pure, fat , sweet acoustic tone - and weren’t wet sounding or thin.

    So - when it comes to determining the modern Archtop sound - one cannot simply put there finger on it , because jazz music has not evolved like other forms of music. Will players like Pasquale and the new breed create a movement of style and sound which future generations will want to emulate ? Will they continue to play Archtops , or switch to Telecasters like Julian Lage - who knows.

    Until the future presents itself (long after most of us are gone )- we will all continue to play on guitars which bring us BACK to the music we enjoy replicating.

    For me , I’m a chord melody style guitar player who enjoys creating arrangements from music written in the 30’-40’s - and to my senses - nothing beats the sound of an un amplified acoustic Archtop guitar.

    The “past“ will always be “modern “ sounding to me when it comes to re- creating music from my favorite period.
    Last edited by QAman; 10-10-2020 at 09:14 PM.