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  1. #1

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    Archtop noob here again with a question. Suppose you have two carved archtops:

    A. 17 inch, x-braced, L5 inspired, floating KA 12-pole humbucker (Heritage Eagle).
    B. 16 inch, parallel braced, 175 (?) inspired but with solid carved maple, two Seth Lover humbuckers cut into the top (Heritage 575).

    Both strung with Thomastik jazz 12 flatwounds.

    Suppose you want to try Thomastik bebop strings instead (or a similar roundwound). Which guitar would benefit the most and why?

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Archtop noob here again with a question. Suppose you have two carved archtops:

    A. 17 inch, x-braced, L5 inspired, floating KA 12-pole humbucker (Heritage Eagle).
    B. 16 inch, parallel braced, 175 (?) inspired but with solid carved maple, two Seth Lover humbuckers cut into the top (Heritage 575).

    Both strung with Thomastik jazz 12 flatwounds.

    Suppose you want to try Thomastik bebop strings instead (or a similar roundwound). Which guitar would benefit the most and why?
    Try it and see

  4. #3

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    It's not the guitar that benefits, it'll be a question of what you and your fellow band members want to hear. VERY generally speaking :
    - for noodling around at home it doesn't matter at all outside your personal preference
    - for small group (or solo for that matter) playing/comping flats will perform
    - in a larger group with a more dense sonic spectrum you'll get "better" results with roundwounds since they produce a somewhat brighter tone,
    especially for comping (which is what the guitarist usually + mostly does in a group with several soloists).

    I don't get it when fellow 6-stringers show up at a bigband gig with their archtops strung with heavy flats, producing a dark, ploppy tone that falls right in the
    same sonic space as the bass, the trombones, the toms and the lower keyboard octaves ... I get the best results with either my Tele or my Hofner Thin President - both guitars are on the brighter side and can easily be tamed down to produce a "bebop" sound when it's time for the occasional solo.

  5. #4

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    The 175 is perfect that kind of situation - I have flats on it, but it's still quite a bright guitar.

    Above all EQ with your ear to the room and the band. Don't roll off your treble more than a touch, obviously. That's for the practice room.

    I like the Tele live, it has a very 'clean sound'; perfect for ensembles of course, just how it was designed.

  6. #5

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    I tried to like flats on my ES 175 because I like how they feel. They are nice when I first install them but then they get too dull and lifeless in one or two weeks. Rounds are the opposite, they start out a bit too bright, but after a week or so they are perfect and stay that way for a month or two. So rounds are more practical for me. I don't have to cash out 30 CAD every week instead of 9 CAD every month or so.

    You'll hear some people consider ES 175's to be dark guitars others consider them to be bright guitars. The thing is ES 175's have clarity and definition on high strings which make them seem bright but these are plain strings, so irrelevant to rounds vs flats discussion. Through the amp with humbuckers wound strings can get very dark. But also of course each guitar is a bit different. Especially ES 175's from different era's.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 10-17-2020 at 09:05 AM.

  7. #6

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    That is a tough one. I think the rounds are much more responsive and that I like. I have to work hard to control the finger squeak and that I hate. Flats sound best to me when they are pretty new. When it comes to thomistik that becomes a pretty expensive proposition. Been going back and forth for 40 years or better don't have an answer yet....

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    I tried to like flats on my ES 175 because I like how they feel. They are nice when I first install them but then they get too dull and lifeless in one or two weeks. Rounds are the opposite, they start out a bit too bright, but after a week or so they are perfect and stay that way for a month or two. So rounds are more practical for me. I don't have to cash out 30 CAD every week instead of 9 CAD every month or so.

    You'll hear some people consider ES 175's to be dark guitars others consider them bright guitars. The thing is ES 175's have clarity and definition on high strings which make them seem bright but these are plain strings. so irrelevant to rounds vs flats discussion. Through the amp with humbuckers wound strings can get very dark. But also of course each guitar is a bit different. Especially ES 175's from different era's.

    I've had good results re the life-span of my TI Bebop roundwounds by wiping them down regularly (using a lint-free rag) with either some formulated stringcleaner or plain nail-polish remover. It gets the gunk out of the grooves....

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by gitman
    I've had good results re the life-span of my TI Bebop roundwounds by wiping them down regularly (using a lint-free rag) with either some formulated stringcleaner or plain nail-polish remover. It gets the gunk out of the grooves....
    Believe me, I tried. I wash my hands before my practice sessions. I tried wiping the strings with ghs fast-fret before and after the sessions. It seems to me that corrosion process starts once the strings are played and exposed to air. It's possible the extend the liveliness for a little bit, but I haven't been able to dramatically improve the string life with string cleaners. By string life I mean the life of its original tone.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 10-17-2020 at 09:51 AM.

  10. #9

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    To the original question, I'd try roundwounds on the Eagle first. Here's why: Roundwounds tend to help showcase the acoustic properties of an archtop guitar. An x-braced guitar with a carved spruce top--as I believe the Eagle is equipped--is intended to produce a more acoustic tonality, even with a pickup run through an amp, than a maple topped, parallel braced guitar.

  11. #10

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    I'm with Chazmo. Further I'd think the flats on the ply top 175 will maximize the thunk factor, giving you two distinctly different sounds and the two main voices of jazz guitar. I like rounds on my solid tops and flats on the ply top.

  12. #11

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    You can replace the bass strings one-at a time to compare the round wound string to the other two. Or make a unison pair with two low E or whatever.

  13. #12
    Thanks for all the input, just to clarify, the 575 is all carved too. But it's a thicker top designed to be played electrically, and overall design suggest a 175 kind of guitar.

    I was thinking same as Chazmo - the Eagle has an acoustic presence, intuitively that should respond to roundwounds and produce a more complex tone.

  14. #13

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    listen to Larry Koonse on his Borys lam-top , using roundwounds and getting wonderful tones :

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by gitman
    listen to Larry Koonse on his Borys lam-top , using roundwounds and getting wonderful tones
    Hm I wonder if that Borys is x-braced...

  16. #15

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    I use TI Jazz bebop 14-55 on my Gibson Johnny smith and TI GB flats 14 on my Gibson Super 400.

    I find the round wounds just seem to sound better in the far more acoustic JS especially when playing in a large group 4 to the bar type stuff. cuts though so much better than the S400.



    cheers

    Mike

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Hm I wonder if that Borys is x-braced...
    The various B120 models I've played over the years were VERY consistent re sound, playability and overall build quality, all of them fitted with parallel braces. My Trenier Jazz Special
    is basically the same type of guitar : lam-top and back, one-piece maple neck, 16" wide, 2 3/4" rim, parallel braced for some extra acoustic projection. With a set of TI Bepop 12's (013/017 for E and B)
    I get the best of both worlds : a warm and round fundamental tone with just enough top-end and definition that I can tap into when needed. I use TI flats on my Super-400 CES for the classic Kenny Burrell tones
    but that guitar is MOS DEF not the best choice for comping in a large ensemble ! In a trio setting for straight ahead jazz it's just perfect - for me.

  18. #17

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    The heritage Eagle will, for sure. Everything about that guitar is rock solid. The tone with bebops should mellow out the brightness of the Eagles top. Some can’t deal with the ribs on the bebops, but I love em so much that they’re my preferred string choices. I only wish I could find them in .14.

  19. #18

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    As a sort of compromise between flats or rounds, try a set of D'Addario half-rounds. They come in Light (10)/Medium (11-12)/Heavy (13) gauge. You might like them, especially on the Eagle.

    Half Round Electric

  20. #19

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    I like the D’Addario Flat Top Phosphor Bronze strings on my, uh, flat top. They’re a polished flat(er) round wound. Died after about two weeks. But nice feel and tone, on a Taylor.

    My late model, heavy, G.175 sounds best with those TIJazzSwing 112 flat wounds.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bornot2bop
    The heritage Eagle will, for sure. Everything about that guitar is rock solid. The tone with bebops should mellow out the brightness of the Eagles top. Some can’t deal with the ribs on the bebops, but I love em so much that they’re my preferred string choices. I only wish I could find them in .14.
    If I try to buy 0.14's at a local music shop I get that "you gotta be kidding" look so nowadays I always order online. just keep an eye out for specials.

  22. #21

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    I just bought some GHS pure nickel Rollerwounds that I will be trying out soon. A third the price of TIs which I have been using for many years. Just looking to save some money and I have never like Chromes.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by lammie200
    I just bought some GHS pure nickel Rollerwounds that I will be trying out soon. A third the price of TIs which I have been using for many years. Just looking to save some money and I have never like Chromes.
    I really like these strings.

    La Bella also offers afew sets of pure nickel rollerwounds, but their heaviest set is only 12-52.

    SIT has "Silencer semi-flat electric" strings - "Compression-wound" nickel-plated steel, but the heaviest set is only 11-50.
    SIT also offers "Silencer semi-flat 80/20 bronze" strings - "Compression-wound" 80/20 - the heaviest set is 13-56.
    And SIT recently introduced a couple of sets of roundwound Monel strings - a nice option to the roundwound Monel strings offered by Martin and Pyramid.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by gitman
    listen to Larry Koonse on his Borys lam-top , using roundwounds and getting wonderful tones :
    Wow!

    Never heard Larry Koonse, but after listening him in this video I spent hours to get know him by searchin in youtube, reading his website and finding his albums in Apple Music. I also found his classes, what seems to me very focused and usable material.

    Thx for this (yes I know the guitar sound was the motivation, that is also übercool)

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Archtop noob here again with a question. Suppose you have two carved archtops:

    A. 17 inch, x-braced, L5 inspired, floating KA 12-pole humbucker (Heritage Eagle).
    B. 16 inch, parallel braced, 175 (?) inspired but with solid carved maple, two Seth Lover humbuckers cut into the top (Heritage 575).

    Both strung with Thomastik jazz 12 flatwounds.

    Suppose you want to try Thomastik bebop strings instead (or a similar roundwound). Which guitar would benefit the most and why?
    I could answer your question directly but it wouldn't be useful to you.

    I put this in the category of questions that can only be answered through trial and error. Nobody can tell you which strings, pickups, picks, straps, guitars, amp settings etc. are best. What works for me might be terrible for you. You've got to figure that stuff out for yourself.