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  1. #1

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    I have a cheap Ibanez hollowbody archtop, but have never been happy with the basic tone or resonance of the instrument. What are the best sounding archtops for $1000 and under?
    So far I've been looking at the Godin 5th Ave Kingpin guitars.

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  3. #2

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    What's a good sound to you? I like the Godin stuff, but I'd rather make a recommendation based on a sound you might have in your head.

    I'd also ask "what's the amp?"

  4. #3
    I'm going for something in the ballpark of a traditional Gibson electric archtop type of sound. I don't want it to sound like a full acoustic or like a solidbody electric either, but more like "woody" and "electric" at the same time if that makes sense.
    The amp I have is a Roland JC-22.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by ms80
    I have a cheap Ibanez hollowbody archtop, but have never been happy with the basic tone or resonance of the instrument. What are the best sounding archtops for $1000 and under?
    So far I've been looking at the Godin 5th Ave Kingpin guitars.

    This.

  6. #5

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    i tried Peerless Sunset that was very nice

  7. #6

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    My two best-sounding budget archtops are an Ibanez AFJ-91 (used on most gigs over the past 7-8 years) and a '90s Epi Emperor Regent. The one I like least is the Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin. Obviously, these three are very different in character. I wonder if my post is helpful at all, for the simple reason that IMHO you can't beat Ibanez in price/quality. They have a huge offering of archtops with some degree of tonal variety, counting in also discontinued versions from the past 15 years or so. Used ones are safe, having typically been in the hands of gentle and meticulous jazz players. The only structural issue I'm aware of is the AFJ-91 tailpiece, prone to break. I changed mine instantly. The Super 58PU is an asset and gives excellent jazz tones, while the Kingpin P90 is stingy and trebly.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by ms80
    I'm going for something in the ballpark of a traditional Gibson electric archtop type of sound. I don't want it to sound like a full acoustic or like a solidbody electric either, but more like "woody" and "electric" at the same time if that makes sense.
    The amp I have is a Roland JC-22.
    I think you mean the "thunk" sound.

  9. #8

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    If I had it to do over, I'd have stuck with the first archtop I got. This was a used Gibson Howard Roberts Artist model. I'd choose that because it could do almost anything pretty well and I got it very affordably. Regrettably, I let it go. I would have been okay with the Gretsch Country Gentleman that I had before that. After those, in the very lean years, I had a factory reject (a BGN or bargain) Gibson ES-175 natural that was wonderful. Any one of those would have worked just fine the rest of my life.

    But I've had a tremendous amount of adventure getting and moving guitars. Each one is a story and a chance to meet new people.

    Searching for a sound? I really wonder. You can tell a musical tale with a Telecaster or an Epi Casino. It's how you use the tones that make the story.

    Here's a track made by an 18 year old guitarist who commonly used a Sears Silvertone, although maybe not in this cut.



    Here's the Casino in action.


  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Grass
    If I had it to do over, I'd have stuck with the first archtop I got. This was a used Gibson Howard Roberts Artist model. I'd choose that because it could do almost anything pretty well and I got it very affordably. Regrettably, I let it go. I would have been okay with the Gretsch Country Gentleman that I had before that. After those, in the very lean years, I had a factory reject (a BGN or bargain) Gibson ES-175 natural that was wonderful. Any one of those would have worked just fine the rest of my life.

    But I've had a tremendous amount of adventure getting and moving guitars. Each one is a story and a chance to meet new people.

    Searching for a sound? I really wonder. You can tell a musical tale with a Telecaster or an Epi Casino. It's how you use the tones that make the story.

    Here's a track made by an 18 year old guitarist who commonly used a Sears Silvertone, although maybe not in this cut.



    Here's the Casino in action.

    Thats some hair!

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMgolf66
    Thats some hair!
    ......Not grey, not receding, and plenty of it...

    ......ah yes the good ol' days....: )

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by ms80
    I have a cheap Ibanez hollowbody archtop, but have never been happy with the basic tone or resonance of the instrument. What are the best sounding archtops for $1000 and under?
    So far I've been looking at the Godin 5th Ave Kingpin guitars.
    I had a Kingpin for a while and really liked the sound. It also sounds very good unplugged (at least for a laminated top guitar with a set-in pickup), so that's my pick in this category. Just be aware that it has a P90 pickup, which means a different (though good) sound from the humbucker sound you may have in mind, and it means single-coil buzz. It might not bother you, and to the extent it does there are ways to mitigate that (many threads here on that subject), but best not to be surprised. I passed mine on to a relative when I got a different archtop, but would have gladly kept it if he didn't need it.

    A couple of other cheaper archtops I've tried and liked: Ibanez AKJV95 (not made any more, but they're easy to find, and usually in the $500 neighborhood). D'Angelico EXL-1 there are tons of used ones around for ~$800. There's a variant called "Deluxe" that was supposed to be the upscale version, but it came in butt-ugly colors, which no one wanted, so there are lots of these around for even cheaper. They're advertised as used, but a lot are new (Guitar Center has walls full of 'em).

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Grass
    I've had a tremendous amount of adventure getting and moving guitars. Each one is a story and a chance to meet new people.

    Searching for a sound? I really wonder. You can tell a musical tale with a Telecaster or an Epi Casino. It's how you use the tones that make the story.

    Here's a track made by an 18 year old guitarist who commonly used a Sears Silvertone
    Nicely said, Mark.

    Here's Pedro Martins, the Brazilian poly-instrumentalist best known here for his participation in Kurt Rosenwinkel's Caipi disc and band. It looks like he's working a POS Kent guitar from back when 'Japanese guitar' was an insult. If I could play like him I would smile like him . . .


  14. #13

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    I love the Epiphone Broadway, and used ones are out there. The Epiphone ES175 Premium is excellent too, as is the older re-issued Epiphone Zephyr Regent (like a 90's ES165). I have had all, still have two of these and love them. Play the all the time.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by ms80
    I'm going for something in the ballpark of a traditional Gibson electric archtop type of sound. I don't want it to sound like a full acoustic or like a solidbody electric either, but more like "woody" and "electric" at the same time if that makes sense.
    The amp I have is a Roland JC-22.
    [Takes a deep breath] Here's my opinion, for what it's worth: What we think of as "traditional Gibson archtop type of sound" is in my view less intentional and more artifactual than we might be comfortable with. We listen to our favorite jazz idols through media - records, tapes, TVnet, and so forth - generally in the context of group performance. What we tend to forget is that what we perceive of the tone is conditioned by its context. We tend to think of "jazz tone" as being mid-heavy and kind of dark. It's a lovely tone, without doubt. It is something also of an illusion, a trick of the light, so to speak, an artifact of our perceptual apparatus. The tone we hear is not necessarily the tone the artist intended or in fact produced. It is what is left after a long process of modification aimed at creating a listenable mix.
    If we use this perceived tone as a starting point, we work against our own interest in being heard clearly by starting with a relatively dark tone, which in context only gets murkier and murkier as the variables multiply - number of other instruments, room acoustics, the preferences of the engineers and producers, on and on - you get the picture.
    Perhaps we should direct our efforts to producing a clear, balanced tone that best expresses our melodic and rhythmic intent, one that pleases our own ears. Just a thought.

    BTW, I have and have had a number of inexpensive Ibanez archtops and played jazz on them in public and moreover got paid to do so. I like 'em just fine.
    I like my ES-175 just fine too.
    The Ibanezes were a bit easier to pay for.
    Last edited by citizenk74; 11-23-2021 at 02:09 PM.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    an artifact of our perceptual apparatus
    My favorite internet forum phrase of the week!

  17. #16

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    A second vote here for the Epi Broadway. I'm also a big fan of the Epi Joe Pass if you're looking for a smaller body. The Broadway will give you a deeper, "woodier" tone. All Epi jazz boxes I've played have outstanding necks -- extraordinarily playable.

  18. #17

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    Gretsch Electromatic Series: well-made, easy to play, and not an artifact of our perceptual apparatus. Clarity and sparkle as opposed to thunk and mid-range, easier to hear in the mix in live situations, and capable of a nice tonal variety. 5420 or 5422 are the hollow body arch tops, really good instruments, in case you're interested in creating your own sound. Generally well under $1000; I paid around $650 for very minty used examples of each model. I've been at it for decades, playing Gibson, Ibanez, Guild, Samick, Fender, etc. My new Gretsches really inspire me.

  19. #18

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    If I may hijack the thread, any recommendations on an acoustic archtop? Real, authentic acoustic, no piezo pickup, no hidden USB preamp no mucky-muck.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllanAllen
    If I may hijack the thread, any recommendations on an acoustic archtop? Real, authentic acoustic, no piezo pickup, no hidden USB preamp no mucky-muck.
    Your best bet would be a Loar LH600/700. For a proper acoustic archtop they're great value.
    The other option would be a vintage european archtop, some of the old Hofners for example are great acoustic archtops and are very inexpensive compared to anything made in the US.