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  1. #1

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    I will come into some money for a dream guitar (not enough for a D'Angelico, but between $5-$10K). There are no local stores with archtops so it will have to be an online purchase. I have questions about the guitar and the buying method.

    Question 1) I have a 1970-72 L-5C that was "converted" into an L-5CES in the seventies before I got it about 2 years ago. Two pickups were added and the back of the guitar cut open to do the installation. It took me a long time to find an acceptable tone as it is very bright. I don't know if this is typical of all L-5s or just this one as a result of who know what happened during "conversion".

    Question 2) I never had a 2 pickup guitar before this century. I never use it. I am considering a Johnny Smith but have heard that people got rid of them because they were too bright. Is this so? Any other recommendations for a single built-in pickup archtop? I was considering an ES-350 but most of the ones I've seen on Reverb are the slimline and double pickup models.

    Question 3) As the Johnny Smith guitar was developed by him asking Gibson to copy his D'Angelico, is there any similarity between them as to quality, action, tone?

    Question 4) I really need to play some of these high end archtops before settling on one. However, there are none in my area to try (Santa Cruz, CA). Even with a 48 hour return, I can't be ordering instruments to try them out. I've seen some nice Johnny Smiths online at Archtop.com and Reverb. It would be great if someone on the forum had one for sale.

    Question 5) I will only play it at home. No places to play, no one to play with, no car and health conditions keep me at home. I will leave the guitar to my benefactor after I die. How much money would be lost in the sale of a vintage guitar by consignment?

    Thanks in advance for your responses. I saw a Johnny Smith on the wall at Leo's Music in Oakland for $800 back in 1970 but couldn't afford it. The best archtop I ever played was a Gilchrist. I played an Epiphone Zephyr Regent from 1951 since 1970 and a few import models before getting the L5.

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  3. #2

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    With that much money coming in, some money for a trip to LA be possible? You could audition I’m sure many instruments in that area. I’ll leave the rest to experts here on the guitars you’re interested in.

  4. #3

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    If you know for sure you want a Johnny Smith, that's probably as low risk as you'll get buying online. I tried one once at a boutique shop, I liked it but it was way too pricey for me (maybe 8K?). I bought a different archtop that was "only" 3K, and I don't feel like I settled at all. I would caution, though, that dream guitars aren't always lifetime keepers- I friend of mine just sold his L5 after realizing it was simply too big for him.

  5. #4

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    You can let the folks at Gryphon in Palo Alto take a look at your L5 and have them swap out the front pickup (and maybe the pots as well) and/or the bridge - it should not be difficult to warm up the sound of the guitar. As for a second guitar your choices are manyfold IMHO : this sumptious ES350 would be very high up on my bucket list :

    Gibson ES-350P 1947 Sunburst (Mint) | Mike’s Arch-Angels | Reverb

    A JS guitar (floating mini-humbucker, thin solid top, reduced depth in the rims, NO tone pot) won't give the plummy thump of an L5 or Super-400 but with a decent EQ pedal ( > MXR 10 band graphic EQ) between any Johnny Smith model and your amp you can warm it up any way you wish. If you're set on that model you should be able to dig up a few and have them shipped one by one with a 48 hr approval. Call Norm Harris .... or get a used Benedetto Bravo or a Heritage Golden Eagle, plenty of those around in the 5 G bracket.

  6. #5

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    [QUOTE=gitman;1115640] As for a second guitar your choices are manyfold IMHO : this sumptious ES350 would be very high up on my bucket list :

    Gibson ES-350P 1947 Sunburst (Mint) | Mike’s Arch-Angels | Reverb

    Thanks, I've been looking at that one. It's beautiful and probably has the tone I would like.

  7. #6

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    You really need to play them in person to decide. But for me buying a used Campellone if I wanted a Great Gibson. And say the Hopkins Contessa for sale here at TGP if you want more of the Benedetto camp sound.

    Both are understated and as good as they fancy brethren. And at $4k and less a Win Win for you!
    Last edited by jads57; 04-19-2021 at 06:03 PM.

  8. #7

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    If I wanted to buy a great guitar and my budget was up to $10K I'd lower my budget a few hundred dollars and fly to NYC. Lots of great guitars there, but you've gotta play them.

    Good luck with the hunt.

  9. #8

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    Selling guitars is a mug's game. That dream guitar you bought for $8750 you would be lucky to get even 50% back once the dealers take their 25% cut. Most of us overpay for our dream guitars unless you have your nose to the ground and know how to take advantage of clueless weak sellers when you are buying.

    My advice: forget your dream guitar for now. Put your money in the stock market for the next 5 to 10 years and get used to an Ibanez for now. In 5 years' time you may have enough to buy you 5 to 10 dream guitars.

    I am not ashamed to admit that I made bank on Tesla and Nio stocks (caveat: not investor advice). I spent half my fortune on dream guitars and put the other half in the stock market. That half I invested is worth about 1500% more than the half I spent on dream guitars. It was just stupid to buy dream guitars without growing my money first. Dealers are in it to make money off people with dreams. The amount I spent on guitars? I would be lucky to get 40% of it back. If I had invested all of it I would have been able to buy any guitar I wanted today without breaking a sweat, even $300 000 ones.

    Grow your money first. Your dream guitar can wait. Truth is, if you don't sound good on an Ibanez you are not going to sound good on a dream Gibson or whatever. If you sound good on an Ibanez you may find out you don't really want a Gibson or whatever wunderholz after all.

    Money is important. Those fellows who are cavalier about money do not yet know what it is like to be poor. Being poor is simply not pleasant, no matter how much we try to put a dignified face on it.

  10. #9

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    Do you want more and an acoustic archtop or are you simply looking at the sound from the amp. If acoustic sound that means one avenue while the electric means another. Certainly Gryphon is the place to do above all for sure. I might mention Gruhn's in Nashville. George has an Super V ces now for $6000 and Vince Gill's L5c for $8500 and I personally want that guitar but don't care a bit about Vince Gill. I just am not ready to pay the $8500 at the moment. Reverb is a nightmare avoid unless you can play the guitar in person. At least with Gruhn you will get service and could return the guitar if not what you want.

    Another option is to call Larry Wexler in New York he has in fact now a beautiful L7c blond. Larry is one of the best guys you could deal with no risk. Also any Campellone would be great just have to find one and be patient. A Johnny Smith is going to be one that needs to be played in person or you know the dealer and can possibly Zoom the guitar. A JS is different than an L5. In my mind you want a one pick up L5 Wes and I sure don't blame you because that happens to be on my list when I find the right one. Possible a Guild Artist Award too. There is one up in Canada now on Reverb but I would only buy it direct from the dealer not through reverb.

  11. #10

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    I'll second the Deacon's recommendation: Larry Wexer is a gentleman, pro player and trustworthy seller, carrying only quality instruments. And Gryphon's in Palo Alto was excellent when i lived there a long time ago. George Gruhn is not about discounts, but he has always treated me well and his expertise is legendary, imho.

    Deacon Mark's question about whether you want acoustic or plugged in should be taken seriously. I've heard pro's play Ibanez's and Epi's through good amps and sound better than i ever will on my 'dream guitar'. If acoustic, now you really should play them, many of them. I was at Gruhn's once playing a D'A and across the room was a very fine player. I asked if he would play the guitar 'to me', (or for me). We struck up a fine conversation and he was currently playing for Reba McIntire. He played beautifully; then I took the acoustic into the bathroom and played it toward the tile at his suggestion. But i think he would have made a squire strat sound better than me on a D'A, and i'm not kidding. It's the fingers and soul so much more than the frets and specs.

    Your comment about playing for yourself and wanting good tone is where a lot of us are it seems. My big band is finally rehearsing again and gigging soon, and some other things appear to be 'loosening up'; but for over a year I have essentially played for myself and truly enjoyed the tone. So best wishes in your quest. My 2 bits would be:
    1. Take your time on your dream. Buy a 'warm up' from someone trustworthy on this forum or dealers mentioned above, and...
    2. Patiently watch for deals on dream guitars as many of us have done here.

    Best wishes in your quest.

  12. #11

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    Ask Stringswinger about it. He lives around there, and knows as much as anyone about D'As.

  13. #12

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    I have a 1949 ES-350 Sunburst that I just put up for sale. I would be glad to sell it on the forum for less than what I am asking for it at my local shop. The only reason that I am selling it is that I now have a gorgeous 1950 ES-350N and i don't need two of them. I love the woody sound of the P-90's and I bet that you would too. Here is the listing at the local shop: Store - Austin Vintage Guitars
    If you want more info, PM me.

    Dan
    Attached Images Attached Images Dream guitar buying issues-img_0301-jpg 

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    Ask Stringswinger about it. He lives around there, and knows as much as anyone about D'As.
    PM me if you want my advice/help.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcrowe View Post
    I have a 1949 ES-350 Sunburst that I just put up for sale. I would be glad to sell it on the forum for less than what I am asking for it at my local shop. The only reason that I am selling it is that I now have a gorgeous 1950 ES-350N and i don't need two of them. I love the woody sound of the P-90's and I bet that you would too. Here is the listing at the local shop: Store - Austin Vintage Guitars
    If you want more info, PM me.

    Dan
    I know this guitar and I've played it. It's an excellent ES-350. And Dan is as honest as they come.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by zephyrregent View Post
    I will come into some money for a dream guitar (not enough for a D'Angelico, but between $5-$10K). There are no local stores with archtops so it will have to be an online purchase. I have questions about the guitar and the buying method.

    Question 1) I have a 1970-72 L-5C that was "converted" into an L-5CES in the seventies before I got it about 2 years ago. Two pickups were added and the back of the guitar cut open to do the installation. It took me a long time to find an acceptable tone as it is very bright. I don't know if this is typical of all L-5s or just this one as a result of who know what happened during "conversion".
    There are so many variables. A good guitar tech is the answer there. My suspicion is that the pickups put in that guitar are on the bright side. There are certainly darker voiced pickup options. However, bear in mind that the dark, woofy archtop guitar tone is a latter-day thing; our jazz guitar heroes such as Charlie Christian, Tal Farlow, Jimmy Rainey, Barney Kessel, Johnny Smith, Wes Montgomery, etc., had no fear of a bright tone. Jim Hall and those after him with a darker, softer sound are a sea change. Some of the younger guys are brightening up in terms of tone- Peter Bernstein, Julian Lage, Miles Okazaki, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by zephyrregent View Post
    Question 2) I never had a 2 pickup guitar before this century. I never use it. I am considering a Johnny Smith but have heard that people got rid of them because they were too bright. Is this so? Any other recommendations for a single built-in pickup archtop? I was considering an ES-350 but most of the ones I've seen on Reverb are the slimline and double pickup models.
    Johnny Smith liked a pretty bright tone; while there is quite a bit of variability from one instrument to the next, those guitars tend to be bright and clear. I happen to think it's a beautiful sound, but it is not an ES-175 with a humbucker tone.

    I think that all of the ES-350 cutaway models that I have seen have two P90 pickups. An utterly classic jazz guitar sound. If I was in the market for a guitar, and had the cash, I would be looking very hard at that possibility.

    Quote Originally Posted by zephyrregent View Post
    Question 3) As the Johnny Smith guitar was developed by him asking Gibson to copy his D'Angelico, is there any similarity between them as to quality, action, tone?
    I believe that Johnny Smith's 1955 D'Angelico New Yorker might be the single best jazz guitar ever made. That's not really a sentence that makes any sense logically, it's my gut reaction to the instrument. It was indeed the model for the Gibson Johnny Smith. Johnny, however, has stated that he thought his first Gibson JS- a sunburst- was the best instrument he ever had. That one was stolen or lost when it went back to Gibson to be repaired; they diverted another guitar already in production to replace it. That one was the blonde GJS that you see in photographs with him in the last decade or so of his career.

    Quote Originally Posted by zephyrregent View Post
    Question 4) I really need to play some of these high end archtops before settling on one. However, there are none in my area to try (Santa Cruz, CA). Even with a 48 hour return, I can't be ordering instruments to try them out. I've seen some nice Johnny Smiths online at Archtop.com and Reverb. It would be great if someone on the forum had one for sale.
    If at all possible, playing the instrument before you buy is essential to not being disappointed. At this price range, looking for our dream guitar, the stakes tend to be exaggeratedly high.

    Quote Originally Posted by zephyrregent View Post
    Question 5) I will only play it at home. No places to play, no one to play with, no car and health conditions keep me at home. I will leave the guitar to my benefactor after I die. How much money would be lost in the sale of a vintage guitar by consignment?

    Thanks in advance for your responses. I saw a Johnny Smith on the wall at Leo's Music in Oakland for $800 back in 1970 but couldn't afford it. The best archtop I ever played was a Gilchrist. I played an Epiphone Zephyr Regent from 1951 since 1970 and a few import models before getting the L5.
    We don't really own fine musical instruments; we rent them. Sometimes we get lucky and can sell it for more than we paid for it, but most of the time IME that doesn't happen. I have never successfully sold a guitar for more than I paid for it, or anything else for that matter. The price difference is the rent we paid to have it for the time we did.

  17. #16

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    "I think that all of the ES-350 cutaway models that I have seen have two P90 pickups."

    The first yr '47's are one pickup, I have an old blonde one.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky
    Selling guitars is a mug's game. That dream guitar you bought for $8750 you would be lucky to get even 50% back once the dealers take their 25% cut. Most of us overpay for our dream guitars unless you have your nose to the ground and know how to take advantage of clueless weak sellers when you are buying.

    My advice: forget your dream guitar for now. Put your money in the stock market for the next 5 to 10 years and get used to an Ibanez for now. In 5 years' time you may have enough to buy you 5 to 10 dream guitars.

    I am not ashamed to admit that I made bank on Tesla and Nio stocks (caveat: not investor advice). I spent half my fortune on dream guitars and put the other half in the stock market. That half I invested is worth about 1500% more than the half I spent on dream guitars. It was just stupid to buy dream guitars without growing my money first. Dealers are in it to make money off people with dreams. The amount I spent on guitars? I would be lucky to get 40% of it back. If I had invested all of it I would have been able to buy any guitar I wanted today without breaking a sweat, even $300 000 ones.

    Grow your money first. Your dream guitar can wait. Truth is, if you don't sound good on an Ibanez you are not going to sound good on a dream Gibson or whatever. If you sound good on an Ibanez you may find out you don't really want a Gibson or whatever wunderholz after all.

    Money is important. Those fellows who are cavalier about money do not yet know what it is like to be poor. Being poor is simply not pleasant, no matter how much we try to put a dignified face on it.

    We only get one go at this thing called life. Being around in 5 to 10 years is not guaranteed, let alone making that 1500% kind of return if you are even here to collect it (2000 bubble burst, 2007 collapse, on an on etc). If someone wants to buy one dream guitar and is asking for advice lets help them and not make assumptions on their financial status that they would be rich with buying stocks and poor after this purchase...

    Buy the one dream guitar if you are able to with some extra cash and enjoy the hell out of it.

  19. #18

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    Thanks for the advice. I like using an amplifier but it would be great if the guitar had a good acoustic tone also as I sometimes play acoustically late at night. I'm not an acoustic purist and have always used amplifiers. That Super V is rare and in good condition but it has two pickups which I am trying to avoid. I'm open to paying a little more from a reputable dealer like Gruhn or Wexler. I've been considering Guild Artist Awards and Campellones also. A single pickup L5 Wes Montgomery might be fine but I'm concerned about how much the difference would be from the one I have. As I'm older now (69) and not playing with people, the fat tone I was looking for in the past for single lines is not the main consideration. I would like a guitar that brings out every note in a chord clearly with the big tone heard on studio recordings of solo guitar and preferably can also get a fat tone for single lines. The L5 comes close but the brightness is hard to handle for me, I am not used to it. I'll check out Gryphon, usually they don't have a very large selection.


    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    Do you want more and an acoustic archtop or are you simply looking at the sound from the amp. If acoustic sound that means one avenue while the electric means another. Certainly Gryphon is the place to do above all for sure. I might mention Gruhn's in Nashville. George has an Super V ces now for $6000 and Vince Gill's L5c for $8500 and I personally want that guitar but don't care a bit about Vince Gill. I just am not ready to pay the $8500 at the moment. Reverb is a nightmare avoid unless you can play the guitar in person. At least with Gruhn you will get service and could return the guitar if not what you want.

    Another option is to call Larry Wexler in New York he has in fact now a beautiful L7c blond. Larry is one of the best guys you could deal with no risk. Also any Campellone would be great just have to find one and be patient. A Johnny Smith is going to be one that needs to be played in person or you know the dealer and can possibly Zoom the guitar. A JS is different than an L5. In my mind you want a one pick up L5 Wes and I sure don't blame you because that happens to be on my list when I find the right one. Possible a Guild Artist Award too. There is one up in Canada now on Reverb but I would only buy it direct from the dealer not through reverb.

  20. #19

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    Thank you. I am not looking for an investment and the purchase of a dream guitar won't effect my finances as it will be a gift. I don't expect to be around in 5 or 10 years, but who knows? I just want a high quality guitar after playing fairly low quality ones (before the L5) for most of my life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulie2
    We only get one go at this thing called life. Being around in 5 to 10 years is not guaranteed, let alone making that 1500% kind of return if you are even here to collect it (2000 bubble burst, 2007 collapse, on an on etc). If someone wants to buy one dream guitar and is asking for advice lets help them and not make assumptions on their financial status that they would be rich with buying stocks and poor after this purchase...

    Buy the one dream guitar if you are able to with some extra cash and enjoy the hell out of it.

  21. #20

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    While you are visiting Gryphon, plan a stop at Guitar Showcase in SJ. They are a reputable shop with a nice vintage collection, some of which is online here.

  22. #21

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    Dream guitar buying issues-7eacd131-4dcf-4049-b632-dd7000679157-jpegDream guitar buying issues-60395417-18b7-4a4b-aaec-f717f1042383-jpegDream guitar buying issues-202cec8e-ec1c-4969-888c-4f213aec1b2f-jpegDream guitar buying issues-6cc5c5c8-3036-4868-8268-ebb82cced8d2-jpegDream guitar buying issues-8009b586-a456-47a1-89a7-ea184d887ded-jpegDream guitar buying issues-2617bd92-7270-4fb5-a8d4-11ec66bc249a-jpgYou can try these at my house near you. A possibility of selling one if the price was right. At least you can see if this is what you want to buy.
    I have others also but 2 pu.

    If you are looking for new I highly recommend a Campellone.

  23. #22

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    Thanks for the generous offer to let me try them. Those are all beautiful guitars. I like the blonde and sunburst single pickup Gibson Wes Montgomery L5s. The Campellones have a classic archtop look too and I've read nothing but good things about his work. I'll be in contact.



    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    You can try these at my house near you. A possibility of selling one if the price was right. At least you can see if this is what you want to buy.
    I have others also but 2 pu.

    If you are looking for new I highly recommend a Campellone.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    Dream guitar buying issues-7eacd131-4dcf-4049-b632-dd7000679157-jpegDream guitar buying issues-60395417-18b7-4a4b-aaec-f717f1042383-jpegDream guitar buying issues-202cec8e-ec1c-4969-888c-4f213aec1b2f-jpegDream guitar buying issues-6cc5c5c8-3036-4868-8268-ebb82cced8d2-jpegDream guitar buying issues-8009b586-a456-47a1-89a7-ea184d887ded-jpegDream guitar buying issues-2617bd92-7270-4fb5-a8d4-11ec66bc249a-jpgYou can try these at my house near you. A possibility of selling one if the price was right. At least you can see if this is what you want to buy.
    I have others also but 2 pu.

    If you are looking for new I highly recommend a Campellone.
    that natural Wesmo checks a lot of boxes.

  25. #24

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    Vinny, if that ain't HIGH quality guitar porn, i dunno what is ... drooled all over my phone ... sheesh ...

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

  26. #25

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    I am not a floater pu guy so if zephyr is wanting a JS style guitar I am the wrong guy.

    SS has both and also the finest of both worlds to audition.
    You are not getting his axes till his toes curl though.

    Being a pro player he also has the finest amps.

    Huge difference between a floater and a set in pu.
    Apples and oranges IMO.....

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    I am not a floater pu guy so if zephyr is wanting a JS style guitar I am the wrong guy.

    SS has both and also the finest of both worlds to audition.
    You are not getting his axes till his toes curl though.

    Being a pro player he also has the finest amps.

    Huge difference between a floater and a set in pu.
    Apples and oranges IMO.....
    oh good, I bought the right guitar!

    Dream guitar buying issues-736b55d8-f8ba-49e2-ae97-824da3c5536b-jpeg

  28. #27

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    Considering what you descrive I would probably look for some vintage solid top archtop ... but I would not buy over 5K guitar (and even over 0,5 K guitar) without trying it uless I am totally sure what I will get.


    I actuall ordered recently a baroque lute from the best of the best world luthier but I played many of his instruments I know precisely the specs and so on... and also I know if something is not for me I will easily sell it for the same money 9if not more actually.

  29. #28

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    on the floating/mounted issue (surely one of our basic issues)

    the Kent Armstrong 12 pole piece floating paf changes everything. it's nicer than the best mounted paf style pickup I've ever used - and I have always favoured mounted over floating pickups. It's convinced me to replace the mounted pickups I have on my other axe with the mounted version of the KA 12 pole piece black epoxy pickup.

    so I really don't think you need to feel pushed into a mounted type pickup - just because you want a fat, thick, friendly sound. (But I do think that whatever jazz guitar you get some version of this KA pickup is the way to go.)

  30. #29

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    I'm a little confused here. The OP is in Santa Cruz, CA with no transportation, however esteemed forum member Stringswinger is in the same town and offers his assistance. Hopefully they have connected, I don't know SS personally, however my guess is he would be a fantastic resource for this kind of search, and is close by.

    Secondly, isn't the Bay Area one of the ground zeros for upper end instruments? All that money in the area, how about going to Gryphon and getting on a WTB list? Something may be lurking in one of those multi-million dollar homes just waiting to be played.

    Besides the usual archtop vendors such as Archtop.com and Gruhn, also keep an eye on Carter Vintage, Tom Van Hoose (who happens to have a couple of Monteleones on the market), Dream Guitars in NC. Ironic isn't it that Wexer has a Gilchrist on the market, the best archtop the OP has ever played. How about looking under the sofa cushions and making an offer?

    I don't mean to be snide, however it took me literally years and many travels to find my dream guitar. In the end it was word of mouth. It's my working instrument, I wouldn't have it any other way. Fortunately some of our venues are opening back up and we have two on the books for May.

    I would also think outside the box a bit and look at builders such as Ribbecke, Buscarino, Trenier, etc.

    Patience. And Uber.

    Attachment 81057

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by SierraTango
    I'm a little confused here. The OP is in Santa Cruz, CA with no transportation, however esteemed forum member Stringswinger is in the same town and offers his assistance. Hopefully they have connected, I don't know SS personally, however my guess is he would be a fantastic resource for this kind of search, and is close by.

    Secondly, isn't the Bay Area one of the ground zeros for upper end instruments? All that money in the area, how about going to Gryphon and getting on a WTB list? Something may be lurking in one of those multi-million dollar homes just waiting to be played.

    Besides the usual archtop vendors such as Archtop.com and Gruhn, also keep an eye on Carter Vintage, Tom Van Hoose (who happens to have a couple of Monteleones on the market), Dream Guitars in NC. Ironic isn't it that Wexer has a Gilchrist on the market, the best archtop the OP has ever played. How about looking under the sofa cushions and making an offer?

    I don't mean to be snide, however it took me literally years and many travels to find my dream guitar. In the end it was word of mouth. It's my working instrument, I wouldn't have it any other way. Fortunately some of our venues are opening back up and we have two on the books for May.

    I would also think outside the box a bit and look at builders such as Ribbecke, Buscarino, Trenier, etc.

    Patience. And Uber.

    Attachment 81057
    Thanks for the kind words ST! ZR and I have been in touch.

  32. #31

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    [QUOTE=SierraTango;1116412]I'm a little confused here. The OP is in Santa Cruz, CA with no transportation, however esteemed forum member Stringswinger is in the same town and offers his assistance. Hopefully they have connected, I don't know SS personally, however my guess is he would be a fantastic resource for this kind of search, and is close by.

    We're good. We talked on the phone and he was very helpful and informative.

    Secondly, isn't the Bay Area one of the ground zeros for upper end instruments? All that money in the area, how about going to Gryphon and getting on a WTB list? Something may be lurking in one of those multi-million dollar homes just waiting to be played.

    The stores in the Bay Area don't have much of a selection. I checked Gryphon and they had 2 archtops. They did repair work on my Epiphone back in 1995 and they do good work. I think the days of being able to go to a store and checkout a lot of archtops are over, even in NY, with the exception of a couple stores.

    Besides the usual archtop vendors such as Archtop.com and Gruhn, also keep an eye on Carter Vintage, Tom Van Hoose (who happens to have a couple of Monteleones on the market), Dream Guitars in NC. Ironic isn't it that Wexer has a Gilchrist on the market, the best archtop the OP has ever played. How about looking under the sofa cushions and making an offer?

    Thanks for the tips for shops to check out. That Gilchrist reminds me of the one I played. It was the easiest playing guitar I've ever played.

    I don't mean to be snide, however it took me literally years and many travels to find my dream guitar. In the end it was word of mouth. It's my working instrument, I wouldn't have it any other way. Fortunately some of our venues are opening back up and we have two on the books for May.

    I watched my friend and student go through many guitars over the past 20 years - ES350, ES175 with a Charlie Christian pickup, other ES175s, a Byrdland and several Telecasters. All the Gibsons definitely have the fat tone I like. Even the Telecasters can get a good tone on the amp.

    I would also think outside the box a bit and look at builders such as Ribbecke, Buscarino, Trenier, etc.

    Patience. And Uber.

    It's going to be an interesting search for a guitar. Just the logistics of it are complicated. I'm not really suitable for travel and without a car it looks like it might be an online purchase from one of the members or one of the well known online sellers. Thanks for your response.

  33. #32

    User Info Menu

    Last year I bought a fabulous L5 online that is my dream
    of dreams. Bought from Mike’s Arch Angels on reverb. The 2nd guitar I bought from him. He’s super honest, super responsive and friendly.

    it can be done online, especially with these high-end guitars where quality control is usually very very good. Just go with someone with a good return policy. Talk to them a bunch before by Luton get to see how helpful and communicative they are.

    im in a limited area myslelf
    and have only bought online for the last several years. Being careful I haven’t been disappointed at all.

  34. #33

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    Also keep in mind that while you might not use the bridge PU, just having it on the guitar makes it sound different.

    the difference between the Wes and ces is the Wes is a little brighter and more acoustic sounding and the ces has that deep classic neck PU sound we all know and love.

    you can hear the difference clearly on YouTube.

  35. #34

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by 6v6ster View Post
    Last year I bought a fabulous L5 online that is my dream
    of dreams. Bought from Mike’s Arch Angels on reverb. The 2nd guitar I bought from him. He’s super honest, super responsive and friendly.

    it can be done online, especially with these high-end guitars where quality control is usually very very good. Just go with someone with a good return policy. Talk to them a bunch before by Luton get to see how helpful and communicative they are.

    im in a limited area myslelf
    and have only bought online for the last several years. Being careful I haven’t been disappointed at all.