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  1. #1

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    I have an Eastman AR603CED-15 and love the clean sounds I am getting from it. However, I cannot get a decent (IMO) sound when using overdrive or distortion. I have The Dude pedal and an HX Stomp, so lots of options to try out. I play through a GK MB112 mkii bass amp (I also play bass), but only use it with headphones.

    Are the cruddy distorted tones a result of the hollow body, the pickups, the amp, a combination of factors? I’m fairly new to the world of archtops, so thanks for your patience!

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  3. #2

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    Arch-tops and distortion are not a natural fit, to say the least. The fact that you are using headphones is the only thing preventing the howling feedback that will result if you try it through an amp at anything greater than a whisper level in volume and only the faintest hint of drive. I know this from experience.
    Your highly resonant Eastman is acoustically responsive, and will have its vibrating top easily pushed to feedback in the open air.
    If you are looking for greater sustain, perhaps a compressor will help; also lighter strings will sustain a little better, at the cost of tone and volume.
    I'm not sure why you want overdrive, unless you are looking for fusion-y sounds, in which case you will need a semi-hollow, at least. The problem certainly not your excellent pickups. You are running up against the laws of physics.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    I'm not sure why you want overdrive, unless you are looking for fusion-y sounds, in which case you will need a semi-hollow, at least. The problem certainly not your excellent pickups. You are running up against the laws of physics.
    A number of players have used full hollowbodies for loud rock styles. Yes, as you point out, they are way more prone to feedback than semi-hollow and solid bodies, but it can be done. I have played a number of rock gigs on an ES-175 w/ 2 pickups...making up for jazz gigs on "rock" guitars, which I have also done.

    Check out the 1970's live "Yessongs" for use of the 175 in rock, including OD and fuzz.

  5. #4

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    I don't have a clip on hand right now of my Ibanez single pup archtop but for overdriven HB archtop sounds you could check out Greg Koch at Wildwood guitars (Gibson archtops) or Gilad Hekselman playing with Real Feels.

    Ref. above the posts, feedback can definitely be a problem.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS
    A number of players have used full hollowbodies for loud rock styles. Yes, as you point out, they are way more prone to feedback than semi-hollow and solid bodies, but it can be done. I have played a number of rock gigs on an ES-175 w/ 2 pickups...making up for jazz gigs on "rock" guitars, which I have also done.

    Check out the 1970's live "Yessongs" for use of the 175 in rock, including OD and fuzz.
    Steve Howe also used an ES-5 back then. Here he is live.




    Then of course, there is the famous, very outspoken Byrdland player of contentious political views. Although he seems to have gotten much quieter in the last few years.

  7. #6

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    Hi! I've been using a bass amp for decades for solo jazz, small group and accompaniment gigs. I love the sound I can get from them - I think it's "jazzy" and I've never heard otherwise from bandmates, audiences or employers. On the other hand, the wedding band leader for whom I played regularly in the late '60s and early '70s told me I needed a "better" amplifier for the rock and pop stuff we had to play at the affairs that were our bread and butter. I foolishly sold the B15 to buy a Kustom 150, and that (along with the Electroharmonix Little Muff Pi that made my 175 through my B15 sound like a louder 175 through a B15) put out the sound that he and audiences paid to hear.

    I've never been able to get a good overdriven tone from a bass amp (at least one that has no high frequency driver) with any guitar, including LPs, Strats, Teles, archtops of various thicknesses, thin semihollow bodies etc. Even the Duncan Quarter Pounder in my solid maple Kubicki Express comes up short through a Dumblr or a Rockett Touch pedal driving my remaining original series MB112 - and to make matters worse, I put a Bag End driver in it with a magnet that could power MRI machines and a free air resonant frequency somewhere close to DC.

    The distortion you want comes from added harmonic content, most of which is above 1KHz. The MB112 is just not designed to bring out the upper end of the frequency spectrum. It has no high frequency driver, and the 112s were originally marketed to upright bass players. Yes, I've seen Lee Sklar and other fabulous players use them with electrics - but they're not great for poppers and snappers for the same reason they're not for guitarists who use distortion. I don't know anything about the HX, but the Dude is a great pedal that would keep me happy if used through an amp that will let it do its thing. And the Seth Lover pups on your Eastman (assuming it's stock and the same as the ones I've seen before) are quite capable of making the smooth "noise" you probably seek. So my bet is that your amp is doing its best to keep you clean despite your efforts to dirty it up. As I recall, the 2nd series MBs have an FET front end design that they claim reduces harmonic distortion in the input signal. So your amp is probably removing some of what your pedals are adding. And if I remember correctly, there's no effects loop on the 112 that might bypass that function (which GK calls a "gate").

    Before doing anything about it (e.g. running out and buying another amplifier), I'd try the guitar and pedal through a standard guitar amp to see if the above is correct.

  8. #7

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    I know it been done but it's difficult and not a natural fit.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrventures
    I have an Eastman AR603CED-15 and love the clean sounds I am getting from it. However, I cannot get a decent (IMO) sound when using overdrive or distortion. I have The Dude pedal and an HX Stomp, so lots of options to try out. I play through a GK MB112 mkii bass amp (I also play bass), but only use it with headphones.

    Are the cruddy distorted tones a result of the hollow body, the pickups, the amp, a combination of factors? I’m fairly new to the world of archtops, so thanks for your patience!
    If you're able to get a good OD sound through the same set-up with a different guitar, than the problem is the guitar not playing well with that set-up. The only way to figure out what's going on for sure is to experiment with different combinations of effects, amp, and guitar, and with settings on all of the above. All that said, my experience is that bass combos* make for lousy overdriven guitar sounds (Fender Bassman, nothwithstanding), headphones make for a lousy overdriven guitar sounds, and headphones driven by bass amps make for lousy^2 overdriven guitar sounds.

    *Sometimes because the amp itself is a poor match for guitars, sometimes because of the speaker, sometimes because of both. Sometimes bass combos make for good clean tones if you're going for a very hi-fi kind of guitar tone, but that doesn't usually carry over well to distorted sounds.

    ** Headphones close to your ears give you all kinds of detail you don't get from guitar speakers, plus proximity effects, minus the all the effects acoustic effects from playing a guitar through an amp in a room. Again, sometimes OK for some sounds, but usually not for distorted sounds.

  10. #9
    Thanks for all the great info; learning lots. I’ll try to mix things up. Just now remembered I can go straight from the Stomp to headphones and bypass the bass amp, in order to play with some of the amp/cab sims on the Stomp. Although this may not help if it’s true that headphones aren’t amenable to OD.

    I only have this one guitar and one (physical) amp, so I thought I’d reach out here. Of course I’d love to have another axe, but tiny apartment living makes that difficult. I also only play in my bedroom at the moment, so I’m not so worried about feedback issues.

    As for the why of OD, there are definitely times I want to rock out, but like I said I only have the one guitar. It also seems pretty common today for jazz guitarists to utilize overdrive, though I know they are mostly using semi-hollows or solids for that.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS
    A number of players have used full hollowbodies for loud rock styles. Yes, as you point out, they are way more prone to feedback than semi-hollow and solid bodies, but it can be done. I have played a number of rock gigs on an ES-175 w/ 2 pickups...making up for jazz gigs on "rock" guitars, which I have also done.

    Check out the 1970's live "Yessongs" for use of the 175 in rock, including OD and fuzz.
    I am one of that number. I am merely pointing out that there are difficulties with that approach that are inherent and unavoidable.

  12. #11

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    Back in the mid/late 1970s I played a lot of rock on a 1958 ES-175D into a 1964 Vox AC30 Top Boost. I used an MXR distortion+ for crunch, a Big Muff for creamy sustain and a Colorsound wah pedal. Provided I kept a healthy distance (and my body) between the amp and guitar, then feedback was not a major problem. The 175´s laminate construction certainly helped.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrventures
    Just now remembered I can go straight from the Stomp to headphones.....this may not help if it’s true that headphones aren’t amenable to OD.
    I'm not into effects in general, so I knew nothing about your HX. I just looked at the Line 6 website, and that looks really cool! There's no reason why you can't get a full spectrum of its output thru 'phones - and you'll have no worries about feedback. Some of the spatial effects may sound a bit different when heard binaurally (as opposed to stereophonically). But a simple overdriven tone through a simulated Champ should be no problem. Enjoy!!

  14. #13

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    Are you using flatwound strings? I’ve noticed a lot of splattiness and other undesirable sounds when flatwound strings are overdriven unless the gain is really low. I thought this was limited to digitally modeled overdrives, but recently discovered it happened with an analog overdrive pedal as well.
    Last edited by wzpgsr; 06-18-2021 at 03:43 PM.

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by wzpgsr
    Are you using flatwound strings?
    Yes! Thomastik J112s. I wonder if that’s it! Not sure I want to switch over to rounds on this, but could be part of the issue.

    In my early testing, I am finding that going direct from the Stomp vs. running everything through my amp is improving things. Also finding that using both pickups or just the bridge pickup makes a positive difference as well. Still not to my liking, but better. Grazie a tutti!

  16. #15

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    My experiences, and those I have watched from the pros, say that OD PEDALS and archtops are not a good fit. But if you have the right amp, and can turn it UP to get power tube distortion (instead of preamp tube distortion), NOW you're talking some cool sounds...

    Charlie Christian (altho he had no choice, those amps had no headroom)
    Kenny Burrell gets a little grind on (again- it's the amp itself, no pedals)
    Brian Setzer (Fender Blonde Bassman turned up LOUD... it's a glorious sound, and quite versatile actually)

    It's why I love my Supro Tremoverb with my Gretsch: the Princeton is too clean (and turned up isn't a circuit that sounds good overdriving anyway, imo), but the Supro, which has some headroom but not alot, makes that Gretsch sing... dirt comes right from the amp. One volume control, no master volume. You just turn it up (and I actually have an attenuator on it for home use, because it's pretty loud when turned up that much, it's 25W I think)

  17. #16

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    Actually 2 of the only players that were able to achieve a pleasing tone to my ears are John McGlaughlin, and Austrian Guitarist Karl Ratzer.

  18. #17

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    That's not how you spell McLaughlin, silly.

    Here's a clip of Gilad (a guitarist actually born after 1960 - jeez) playing an overdriven archtop, strung with TI roundowunds, if memory serves. Yes, definitely lose the flatwounds IMO.


  19. #18

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    it sounds badass and you should do it all the time.

    if you could plug your headphones into the helix and skip the amp you should be golden.

  20. #19

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    Just had to give it a quick try.


  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatRhythmMan
    Steve Howe also used an ES-5 back then. Here he is live.




    Then of course, there is the famous, very outspoken Byrdland player of contentious political views. Although he seems to have gotten much quieter in the last few years.
    I was not mentioning the Byrdland guy! but I understand he checks out the stage during soundchecks and finds the best places for controlled feedback...or so I'm told.

    Howe also used a 345 semi-hollow too.

    That ES-5 had a killer tone through those Dual Showman amps and JBL's.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatRhythmMan
    Just had to give it a quick try.

    if a guitar doesn't sound like this it's broken and i don't want it

    carry on

  23. #22

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    Flatwounds and overdrive isn‘t a good idea.
    You can get beautiful low overdriven sounds with an archtop and roundwounds (pure nickel is a fine compromise). Listen to Brian Setzer. Feedback is on the other hand a thing you‘ll have to live with.

  24. #23

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    IIRC Mr Clapton played a Byrdland at the Concert for Bangladesh back in 1970

  25. #24

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    Gilad Hekselman uses overdrive frequently with his VB and Moffa archtops. They sound great.

  26. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by ThatRhythmMan
    Just had to give it a quick try.

    Hell yeah!