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  1. #1

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    Last I knew, Gibson was producing only one jazz archtop style guitar...the Chuck Berry Model. Other than that and some small one man shops, it appears Heritage is the only American company producing traditional jazz archtops. Is that correct? American guitar builder, Collings Guitars, recently ceased production of their jazz archtop style guitars. I find this so sad. All the new, beautiful looking and sounding jazz archtops made by Gibson are now a memory.

    I had a worn out Gibson guitar catalog in the early '60s and I used to drool at the thought of someday owning an L5CES, Tal Farlow, Johnny Smith, or Super 400 guitar. Yes, there are plenty used American made Gibson, Guild, Gretsch, and Epiphone jazz archtops available for purchase. But prices keep creeping up. And you can't always trust a seller's judgement of the condition of their guitars for sale. So there is some risk involved when purchasing used guitars. At least if you purchase a new American made Heritage you won't have to be concerned about the condition of it. And the prices of new Heritage jazz archtop guitars seems to be in the sweet spot of $3000 to $5000 along with many of the used American made jazz archtops.

    I'll be in the market for a new/used American made jazz archtop next Spring. So I'm beginning my search early. I have a wonderful looking and sounding Eastman 580CE to get me by until then. So you can see I don't have anything against jazz archtops from the Pacific rim. However, I'll never be satisfied until I, once again, own a top quality, top sounding, American made jazz archtop guitar. I'm somewhat spoiled after having owned a few over the years, including an L5CES. But my budget stops at $5000. So that leaves another L5CES, Super 400, or Johnny Smith out of the picture. For now I'm thinking about a Tal Farlow or a nice ES175, as far as used guitars go.

    The next decision is, do I go with a new Heritage Standard Eagle Classic or one of the used Gibsons I mentioned above? Which way would you go? Perhaps there is a small shop jazz archtop guitar builder that can build me something within my budget constraints? Although, right now, I'm just lukewarm to the idea of having to wait on a custom made guitar. I've had to wait on custom guitars and amps in the past.

    I had a very sour experience ordering an L5CES from the Gibson Custom Shop in the late '90s. I waited almost 2 years on it only to discover some major QC issues the first time I opened the case. However, more recent Gibson Custom Shop examples were exemplary.

    The other issue is my age. I'll be 71 y/o in January and I'm at the age where you start to think about your mortality and how much time you have remaining on this planet. So, I'm not hot on the idea of having to wait for a guitar to be built. I'd like to have some time to enjoy it.

    So, given all the info above, what would you do?
    Last edited by jumpnblues; 10-27-2020 at 10:38 AM.

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  3. #2

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    Gibson's not making archtops at all? No L5's? No 175's?

    Wow. That's really sad. But I guess I get it...catering to jazz musicians hasn't been a strong business move in quite a while.

    I know for a fact that Heritage has streamlined big time in the archtop department...I think just 575's and maybe Eagles, now? Someone who knows more than me will confirm.

  4. #3

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  5. #4

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    Last I knew, Campellone, Buscarino, Andersen, Holst, Duff, and several others are still Americans and are making archtops. I suppose you are talking about ‘factory’-made American archtops?

  6. #5

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    Collings is a full scale company and they make lots of jazz guitars.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor
    I don't believe any of these Guild guitars are made in the USA. I could be wrong.
    We have many great custom builders so despair not.
    Godin also has archtops and their manufacturing straddles the border.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    Collings is a full scale company and they make lots of jazz guitars.

    Jim, I'm pretty sure I read where Collings shut down their jazz archtop line...about a year ago. I certainly could be wrong about that.

  9. #8

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    Benedetto

  10. #9
    I'll have to say, the examples of Heritage 575s and Eagle Classics I've seen, read about, and played were top notch guitars. They've made guitars for jazz players like Kenny Burrell. They must know what they're doing.

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by rsclosson
    Benedetto

    Way over my budget.

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by DRS
    I don't believe any of these Guild guitars are made in the USA. I could be wrong.
    We have many great custom builders so despair not.
    Godin also has archtops and their manufacturing straddles the border.

    You're right, they're not. Godin makes darn good instruments. Very underrated, IMHO.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpnblues
    I'll have to say, the examples of Heritage 575s and Eagle Classics I've seen, read about, and played were top notch guitars. They've made guitars for jazz players like Kenny Burrell. They must know what they're doing.
    I've had my 575 about 9 years now, and I definitely don't ever "need" another jazz box. It's a great instrument.

  14. #13
    Anyone here own a Heritage 575 or Standard Eagle Classic? How do you like them?

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by cmajor9
    Last I knew, Campellone, Buscarino, Andersen, Holst, Duff, and several others are still Americans and are making archtops. I suppose you are talking about ‘factory’-made American archtops?
    Right! The OP needs to back up and alter the title and initial post!

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRS
    I don't believe any of these Guild guitars are made in the USA. I could be wrong.
    We have many great custom builders so despair not.
    Godin also has archtops and their manufacturing straddles the border.
    You are right, the archtops are made out of USA, my bad

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpnblues
    Way over my budget.
    Yeah they are pricey. I do see used ones that are very attainable. (Not for me, but within the same range as Gibson, etc)

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpnblues
    ... I don't have anything against jazz archtops from the Pacific rim. However, I'll never be satisfied until I, once again, own a top quality, top sounding, American made jazz archtop guitar. I'm somewhat spoiled after having owned a few over the years, including an L5CES. But my budget stops at $5000. ...

    The other issue is my age. I'll be 71 y/o in January ... I'm not hot on the idea of having to wait for a guitar to be built. I'd like to have some time to enjoy it.

    So, given all the info above, what would you do?
    I think you have mutually contradictory requirements. These are:
    • "a top quality, top sounding, ... jazz archtop guitar"
    • "[an] American made jazz archtop guitar"
    • "my budget stops at $5000"
    • "I'm not hot on the idea of having to wait for a guitar to be built"


    The old computer programing adage, "Fast, cheap, good: pick two". A top quality &c guitar can be had; since there is a very limited market for top quality archtops and since they're expensive to make, it's very unlikely that some luthier somewhere is making a lot of archtops on spec waiting for a sugar daddy to come along and buy one; and the idea of such a guitar under $5000 is marginally plausible, but mostly is laughable.

    Can you buy a new car in the USA for $5000? No. Can you buy a used car for $5000? Yes, but it won't be much of a car. Why is that? Some new cars were under $5000 as recently as the 1960s. What happened?

    What would I do? In order to be successful in purchasing a guitar, I would adjust my requirements to match instruments that actually are available for purchase. The requirements as set forth cannot realistically all be satisfied. Decide what's most important and make the best compromise you can.

  19. #18

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    You can easily have many Gibson archtops under 5k used.

    I doubt I'd ever buy a "new" expensive guitar. There's so much more bang for the buck in buying a high quality instrument used.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpnblues
    Jim, I'm pretty sure I read where Collings shut down their jazz archtop line...about a year ago. I certainly could be wrong about that.
    They still show several models on their website.

  21. #20

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    >>wonderful looking and sounding Eastman 580CE

    I think you should continue to use this one. While I haven't liked most of the Eastmans I have played, I thought the 580CE was very nice. I remember playing it and thinking it was like a modified/updated Gibson L5CT.

    If you want a Gibson then you will spend more money. You could buy an L5CES with an approval period, and then compare it to what you have.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpnblues
    Way over my budget.
    So what is your budget? We could better help you if we knew.

  23. #22

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    Guild, Gretsch and Epiphone have all become brands that are no longer American made. Small shops like Benedetto and Collings may offer archtops at boutique prices, but the day of the large factory American made archtop has passed. Get over it. Markets decide factory guitar production, not a few old men with nostalgia.

    I am a fan of traditional American archtops (I own 10 at present) and understand the nostalgia. I am also a businessman and understand why the archtop market is where it is at.

    Here are some facts:

    There are some very fine archtops coming out of Asia, particularly Japan, at prices that the American labor market cannot compete with.

    Demand for archtops is small compared to flattops, semi-hollows and solid bodies. No wise corporate businessman would sacrifice profitable production to make these.

    The boutique market is flooded with small builders, some of whom (Campellone?, Holst?, Cushman?) have prices that Gibson cannot compete with.

    There are plenty of used American archtops in circulation and some very reputable dealers that can guarantee those guitars for those who are risk averse.

    Gibson will make you an L-5 or Super 400 at Benedetto prices if you really want a new one. If you cannot afford the price of admission, you do not get to enjoy the ride.

  24. #23

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    There is a beautiful L-5 CES in the For Sale section right now. Asking $6500. OP should jump on that!

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor
    Korean or Indonesian made.

  26. #25

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    Correct, most guitar companies have stopped producing the type of guitars which are generally unpopular i.e. archtops. Normal business behaviour...and it's not the fault of the companies! It's due to weak demand.

    But there are, as OP noted, many "one man shops" out there still doing this AND also let's not forget about Benedetto which pretty much only makes archtops and makes them all in the US. They've basically taken over that market from Gibson, Guild, etc.

    So things are not dire at all. Just changing business landscape, which is normal.

  27. #26

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    "There are some very fine archtops coming out of Asia, particularly Japan, at prices that the American labor market cannot compete with.
    There are plenty of used American archtops in circulation and some very reputable dealers that can guarantee those guitars for those who are risk averse. "

    That is it, really. There are so many good guitars available and you can purchase on approval. And you can try a few different ones.

    Or, make a recording of your guitar, playing the one you like the most. Listen to the recording. Does it sound good to you? If so, you probably do not need a Super400 or L5CES!

  28. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Doug B
    So what is your budget? We could better help you if we knew.

    It's in my original post.....$5000.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpnblues
    Anyone here own a Heritage 575 or Standard Eagle Classic? How do you like them?
    @jumpnblues~

    I own two H-575's and a Golden Eagle from the '90's and love them!! I have not ordered a new Heritage archtop from the revitalized Parsons Street factory. However, I just received a custom ordered solid body from them and it is a fantastic build. Also, since I ordered it direct from the factory, I was able to experience their updated and much improved customer service. The builder kept me up to date as it progressed, sending photos showing my guitar from wood pile to final prep before shipment. They also followed up afterwards to make sure I was pleased with my new guitar. The level of service is head and shoulders over the former operation, and dealing with their master luthier, Pete Farmer was a treat.

    Based on this experience I'd have no reservation ordering either a new H-575 or Eagle Classic from Heritage. That said, there are some excellent examples of brand new models for sale by other dealers. Do a search and you will see the current inventory. Good luck!

  30. #29

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    Several of the used Benedettos I saw were in the 3600 to 5000 range. AFAIK, they never sent any work oversees.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpnblues
    Jim, I'm pretty sure I read where Collings shut down their jazz archtop line...about a year ago. I certainly could be wrong about that.
    These sure look like archtops:

    Collings | Archtop Jazz Guitars

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    You can easily have many Gibson archtops under 5k used.

    I doubt I'd ever buy a "new" expensive guitar. There's so much more bang for the buck in buying a high quality instrument used.
    That may be the case in the USA, but it is not in the UK , Europe , or Australia or other far flung areas.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDeville
    "There are some very fine archtops coming out of Asia, particularly Japan, at prices that the American labor market cannot compete with.
    I really don't understand why this would be true. Japanese labor costs are not all that different than US labor costs, especially in manufacturing.

  34. #33

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    So depending on what model size archtop laminate, carved, floater, built in pickup? Definitely buy used if possible!

    Some suggestions besides GIBSON, For carved top these are your best bets
    1.) Campellone
    2.) Elferink
    3.) Eastman 810CE best Benedetto style for the low dough! Replace the pickup.

    For laminates you have way more choices
    1.) Sadowsky
    2.) Heritage
    3.) Bill Moll
    4.) Stephan Holst
    5.) Dale Unger
    6.) Ibanez GB models

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by silverfoxx
    That may be the case in the USA, but it is not in the UK , Europe , or Australia or other far flung areas.
    You are not going to get a good used L5 in the USA either for $5K but you can get a new Campellone Standard for $5200.
    1 year wait though presently. Worth the wait IMO. Also better than a Heritage IMHO.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    I really don't understand why this would be true. Japanese labor costs are not all that different than US labor costs, especially in manufacturing.
    Country comparison Japan vs United States Average Wage 2020 | countryeconomy.com

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    I really don't understand why this would be true. Japanese labor costs are not all that different than US labor costs, especially in manufacturing.
    Some interesting data on hourly wages of the US music industry on the shop floor level recently came across after some googling. $15 is typical and explains why there's next to no guitar-making industry in Europe, where masons, plumbers and electricians may earn the double, and more. IMHO, the US wage level would definitely allow for the industrial manufacturing of basic laminated archtops, such as an ES-125 reissue, if there wasn't too much brass on the commanding bridge, marketing costs remained reasonable, and owners were less greedy. The resulting price/quality vs. Far East is another matter. I was really shaken by the poor quality of bracing on a dissected ES-275, shown elsewhere on this Forum.

  38. #37

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    Those are all good suggestions above.

    I can understand the age thing. If having a Gibson is important to you, there are a lot of used 175s at decent (not bargain) prices. Otherwise, in North America anyway Godin makes quality guitars especially archtops at reasonable prices.

    You can cite all your business models etc. but IMO it's a shame that Gibson can't offer a 175 at a reasonable price. It's like Ford and GM giving up on sedans. Some decisions are just sad, even if there's a reason for them.

  39. #38

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    Jads 57 made good recommendations here for alternatives.
    but just an observation, The Eastman guitars are great VFM
    and well made, but with one exception , all of their Archtops
    have a 1 .3/4" nut width . If there was an option for 1.11/16"
    nut, I suggest they might attract more interest.

    I must also concur with Vinny's assertion here too, He documented
    the build of my Campellone Deluxe , which is now in my possession,
    and has exceeded expectations in every respect. The price was
    very agreeable, and even taking into account the very high charges
    on import to the UK ( Duties and VAT in US Dollars $1621.40 ) which
    are unavoidable, the Guitar was still approximately 50% less than
    it's Gibson equivalent. In my opinion better QC , and all round playability.
    The current wait of 1 year is worth the wait , the same as Gibson waiting
    time I understand.

  40. #39

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    Hi OP
    here’s some typical jazzkritter ramble.
    68 here and fully understand not waiting. I did that with my concert classical guitar, in fact cancelled an order with Steven Connor the wait was 18mos, found a used Marin-Montero at a fair price and enjoyed it those 18 months I would have waited. Probably a “better” guitar anyway.
    Buying your next archtop, really any guitar, is a lot like finding a girl you like. You know it when it happens, by feel and response and that making you happy (if I recall correctly))). No one else’s advice is going to make the decision.
    The Gibsons you mention are all different guitars, play and feel unlike each other. Don’t know where you’re located but if not near a good supply of archtops you might look into a trip to go try some. See, kind of like dating. Last thing you want is your buddy saying. ‘dude you’ll love this girl, I do’. Lol
    (I as you experienced the ‘dark side’ of Gibson my 89 L5CESN went back three times in the first two years for build defects). I don’t hate Gibson btw. I just don’t go for slavish dedication to labels either.
    Its interesting how we bond with some guitars and not others. I’ve owned. 8-10 Gibsons over the years, but I love my MIJ Ibanez. I know many don’t. I’ve tried Eastmans and I don’t get the fuss. To each his own. But as to instrument quality, Heritage sure seems to have a leg up. Never played one.
    So I’m trying to say you need to find what inspires and speaks to you. Don’t fret (lol) over the headstock name or country of origin. Fine instruments have been coming in from overseas as long as the country’s been around.

    aint growing old a trip! Takes guts to handle it.

    I dunno if this makes sense but I enjoyed writing it. ?

  41. #40

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    I looked at that earlier. A difference in average income of less than 20% isn't big enough to answer that question and when you dig into the manufacturing sector even that 20% largely disappears. Japan is not China or Indonesia.

  42. #41

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    But it’s not just wages. Manufacturing in the US is saddled with regulatory costs as well as legal/ litigation costs that are the real problems in US cost structure. You can’t expect industry to foot the bill for social programs and still employ people. There’s no magic in the equation. Add taxes, legal and regulatory costs and guess what? Your archtop is too expensive.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzkritter
    But it’s not just wages. Manufacturing in the US is saddled with regulatory costs as well as legal/ litigation costs that are the real problems in US cost structure. You can’t expect industry to foot the bill for social programs and still employ people. There’s no magic in the equation. Add taxes, legal and regulatory costs and guess what? Your archtop is too expensive.
    And yet Godin is able to do it for well under $2000.

  44. #43

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    Gibson is still making them "every day" last we heard. They're not on the website though. There was a recent picture of a Super 400 with a floating pickup on the factory floor. The last we heard is that you can't negotiate price as easily as you used to.

    If they were really discontinued, then my collection - as well as others' here - would leap in value. That has not happened.



    Ad says - "we can get it!" They want $10,600 and say the following, lol:

    "We Can Get It!While this isn't an item we normally stock, we can still get it due to our great relationship with Gibson Custom. Go ahead and place your order and we'’ll follow up shortly to let you know when to expect it.

    Gibson Custom L-5 CES Hollowbody Electric Guitar - Vintage Sunburst | Sweetwater

  45. #44

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    This at $5300 (and accepting offers). Immediately available, USA made , solid top / floating pu , premier builder: Stephen Andersen Model 17 Custom Sunburst top, Natural back | Reverb

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzkritter
    But it’s not just wages. Manufacturing in the US is saddled with regulatory costs as well as legal/ litigation costs that are the real problems in US cost structure. You can’t expect industry to foot the bill for social programs and still employ people. There’s no magic in the equation. Add taxes, legal and regulatory costs and guess what? Your archtop is too expensive.
    Corporate income taxes accounted for 4.35% of US tax revenue in 2018, down from 6.46% the year before. Individuals accounted for 40.72%. Note that more than half of business income tax in the US is paid on individual tax returns, so that camouflages those tax dollars- the real contribution of business income tax is probably around 10% and individual taxes around 35%. Social insurance taxes were 25.1%, consumption taxes 17.58%, property taxes 12.2%. Most of the US's tax rates are low compared to the rest of the so-called first world, in part because our social insurance programs are less universal and less generous. The upshot is that industry doesn't foot the bill for social programs- half is paid for out of individual payroll taxes and most of the rest out of other individually-paid taxes.

    In the case of Gibson, your archtop costs too much because (a) the company management made a number of poor business choices which basically bankrupted them and forced the sale of the company to new non-musical owners, (b) they're really mainly interested in selling multiple expensive fancified Les Pauls to a shrinking group of collectors, and (c) there's not enough of a market for archtop guitars to be able to leverage economies of scale in their manufacture so they have to charge more to be profitable. Making an archtop requires actual luthier skill, rather than being able to teach someone to use a pattern jig and a machine to make a component that's passed on down the assembly line.

    Like most business problems, the real roots lay in the private sector not the public sector- but it's more fun to blame the government than accept responsibility in front of your shareholders and board. And in the case of guitar companies like Gibson, Fender, etc., they also have to compete with the used market made up of older and often better instruments.

    There are a lot of "good deal" archtops out there in the used market, which I am sure the OP already knows.
    Last edited by Cunamara; 10-27-2020 at 08:10 PM.

  47. #46

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    I see no issues at all with what the OP wants.

    -"a top quality, top sounding, ... jazz archtop guitar"
    -"[an] American made jazz archtop guitar"
    -"my budget stops at $5000"
    -"I'm not hot on the idea of having to wait for a guitar to be built"
    and:
    -"I'll be in the market for a new/used American made jazz archtop next Spring."

    I think that you can choose between many fine instruments based on those criteria.

    You do indicate that you are willing to buy used. As others have pointed out, you'll get much more bang per buck buying used. As well, many folks who sell American-made jazz guitars do not play them much, so the selection of available instruments in as-new or excellent condition is quite large.

    I suggest you post some specifics in terms of the feature set you prefer, and I can pretty much guarantee that the members here will post all sorts of specific recommendations, from private sellers as well as from retailers. You can just ignore the recommendations that don't correspond to what you seek.

    Here's a typical list of variables - it will be much easier to find a guitar that interests you if make a list to cover off your preferences (or lack thereof) regarding:
    -body size
    -rim depth
    -cutaway/no cutaway/style of cutaway (Florentine or Venetian)
    -scale length (typically 24 3/4" or 25" or 25 1/2")
    -carved top / laminated top
    -carved back / laminated back
    -number of pickups
    -set-in pickup or floating pickup or no pickup
    -controls mounted into top or attached to pickguard
    -width at nut and general size of neck
    -style of top bracing (typically parallel-braced or x-braced)
    -fretboard wood - (typically a choice between ebony or rosewood)
    -wood species for neck
    (typically a choice between maple or mahogany)
    -wood species for body (typically maple, but the occasional mahogany, walnut, or "other" comes up)
    -colour/finish
    -cosmetic condition

    There are plenty more, of course.



  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpnblues
    Anyone here own a Heritage 575 or Standard Eagle Classic? How do you like them?
    I've had a 575 for maybe 15 years. About 10 years ago, I thought I would "upgrade" to a Sadowsky Jim Hall and sell the 575.

    The 575 is still here. It's that good.

    (I still have the Jim Hall too. But the 575 is just different and too good to let go!)

    Currently the only American made jazz archtop?-575_nopickguard-1-png
    Last edited by Flat; 10-28-2020 at 04:16 AM.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Gibson's not making archtops at all? No L5's? No 175's?

    Wow. That's really sad. But I guess I get it...catering to jazz musicians hasn't been a strong business move in quite a while.

    I know for a fact that Heritage has streamlined big time in the archtop department...I think just 575's and maybe Eagles, now? Someone who knows more than me will confirm.
    That's all Heritage has shown on their site for a bit now.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Gibson's not making archtops at all? No L5's? No 175's?
    Wow. That's really sad. But I guess I get it...catering to jazz musicians hasn't been a strong business move in quite a while.
    I know for a fact that Heritage has streamlined big time in the archtop department...I think just 575's and maybe Eagles, now? Someone who knows more than me will confirm.
    Gibson will be happy to build you an archtop guitar on a custom order basis. All you need to do is pay them a lot of money for it. Their current approach is to cater to affluent folks who love Gibson archtop guitars.

    Heritage will also be happy to build you any of their archtop guitars as well, through their Custom Shop. Again, all you need to do is pay them a lot of money for it.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    I see no issues at all with what the OP wants.

    -"a top quality, top sounding, ... jazz archtop guitar"
    -"[an] American made jazz archtop guitar"
    -"my budget stops at $5000"
    -"I'm not hot on the idea of having to wait for a guitar to be built"
    and:
    -"I'll be in the market for a new/used American made jazz archtop next Spring."

    I think that you can choose between many fine instruments based on those criteria.

    You do indicate that you are willing to buy used. As others have pointed out, you'll get much more bang per buck buying used. As well, many folks who sell American-made jazz guitars do not play them much, so the selection of available instruments in as-new or excellent condition is quite large.

    I suggest you post some specifics in terms of the feature set you prefer, and I can pretty much guarantee that the members here will post all sorts of specific recommendations, from private sellers as well as from retailers. You can just ignore the recommendations that don't correspond to what you seek.

    Here's a typical list of variables - it will be much easier to find a guitar that interests you if make a list to cover off your preferences (or lack thereof) regarding:
    -body size
    -rim depth
    -cutaway/no cutaway/style of cutaway (Florentine or Venetian)
    -scale length (typically 24 3/4" or 25" or 25 1/2")
    -carved top / laminated top
    -carved back / laminated back
    -number of pickups
    -set-in pickup or floating pickup or no pickup
    -controls mounted into top or attached to pickguard
    -width at nut and general size of neck
    -style of top bracing (typically parallel-braced or x-braced)
    -fretboard wood - (typically a choice between ebony or rosewood)
    -wood species for neck
    (typically a choice between maple or mahogany)
    -wood species for body (typically maple, but the occasional mahogany, walnut, or "other" comes up)
    -colour/finish
    -cosmetic condition

    There are plenty more, of course.


    Are you not "close enough" to USA to put together an excellent European-parts guitar "made in North America" that would satisfy his needs and actually be musically functional? THere must be some lingering in the parts-cave surely?