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  1. #1

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    Hello everybody, my first post here. I am a German guitar player, looking for an archtop.

    I am not much into classical mellow jazzguitar sounds, rather like my guitarsound a bit more clear and crisp (my jazz is more on the blues or funk side). I have a collection of old Teles and Strats, also a 65 Trini Lopez semi hollow, a very beaten 63 Gibson ES 330, a 63 Guild DE-400 with DeArmonds. As I get older and the gig times are almost over, I realise, I should have at least one archtop because different guitars make you play different stuff. Important for me: I prefer 1 11/16 nut widths, so the pre 66 guitars are what I am looking for in general.

    After a long search I have the chance to buy whether a 64 Guild CE-100 (2 PUs) or a 64 Gibson Barney Kessel, both with original parts, the Gibson with a lot of laquer checking and a tiny binding damage at the headstock. I assume both have the wider nut (dont have the measures yet), the Guild most positive because it can be seen even from the photos, with the Barney Kessel I am not so sure because the headstock is so big and the nut appears smaller. Well, the Gibson price is almost doubled.

    Why these two? I read the Guild CE-100 seems to compare favourably to the ES-175 shape- and built-wise. And the sound is different. The Barney Kessel is supposed to have a clearer, airyer sound than the ES-175 which is a good thing for me. The neck is said to be very comfortable wit low string action. I also remember from Youtube videos that the sustain of the Barney Kessel was pretty good. This is really important to me. And I like the strange look of this guitar, bit love and hate.

    But maybe I am all wrong and you can educate me on this matter. Which one of the two would you prefer when it comes to sound, sustain and versability?

    Thanks a bunch folks for chiming in.
    Last edited by Heinrich; 12-03-2021 at 02:51 PM.

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  3. #2

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    Hallo Heinrich,
    welcome aboard !
    IMHO it's not possible to make general statements re the sustain characteristics of various models - the differences between 2 instruments of the same model can be pretty drastic. Too many variables at play .... Much depends on your choice of strings : a medium roundwound set sustains considerably longer than a set of flatwound strings, heavy strings sustain even less. Taller frets make a difference, your pick-attack etc.
    If you cannot play both guitars before a purchase then you should negotiate a return-policy with the seller - be on the safe side.
    An original Barney Kessel model in good condition will keep it's value, I'm not so sure about the Guild guitar. Re the sound : check out Nels Kline with Julian Lage where he plays his Kessel guitar and the sound he gets is far from the whoolly bebop tone you're referring to.

    ?

  4. #3

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    I would have thought a 63 DE-400 was a very fine Archtop guitar.

    The CE-100 will likely have a quicker attack with better note separation. Most Guild Laminated maples do.

    Is the Kessel solid Spruce or Maple topped

    I would assume both necks are thin and the CE-100 has a shorter scale length 24' 3/4" (ES-175) where the BK has a 25'5"

    If you want an Archtop and don't consider the DE-400 to be one I don't know how much more milage you would get out of a CE-100. The CE-100 is more like a slightly thinner ES-175 which is getting away from what you might consider an 'Archtop' given you already have a slightly slimmer Guild X500.

  5. #4

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    Welcome...

    I would say you're already ahead of the game- -you have a good idea what a Guild guitar is, and which Guilds to look for. Yes wide neck Guilds aren't that readily available, but they're usually worth looking for, and then some.

    Now, would I pay twice the money for a BK ? No. And maybe this would help - -which would you rather have to sell, if you tired of either of them - a '60's Guild or a BK ? Again, I'm guessing the next guy may not want that BK design at any price much less double the price of a Guild.

    Just MHO..I keep thinking of going to jazz clubs back in the '60's, wondering why so many of the pro's were playing Guilds.....

    I found out too late...: )

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heinrich
    Hello everybody, my first post here. I am a German guitar player, looking for an archtop.

    I am not much into classical mellow jazzguitar sounds, rather like my guitarsound a bit more clear and crisp (my jazz is more on the blues or funk side). I have a collection of old Teles and Strats, also a 65 Trini Lopez semi hollow, a very beaten 63 Gibson ES 330, a 63 Guild DE-400 with DeArmonds. As I get older and the gig times are almost over, I realise, I should have at least one archtop because different guitars make you play different stuff. Important for me: I prefer 1 11/16 nut widths, so the pre 66 guitars are what I am looking at in general.

    After a long search I have the chance to buy whether with the original parts a 64 Guild CE-100 (2 PUs) or a 64 Gibson Barney Kessel, both with original parts, the Gibson with a lot of laquer checking and a tiny binding damage at the headstock. I assume both have the wider nut (dont have the measures yet), the Guild most positive because it can be seen even from the photos, with the Barney Kessel I am not so sure because the headstock is so big and the nut appears smaller. Well, the Gibson price is almost doubled.

    Why these two? I read the Guild CE-100 seems to compare favourably to the ES-175 shape- and built-wise. And the sound is different. The Barney Kessel is supposed to have a clearer, airyer sound than the ES-175 which is a good thing for me. The neck is said to be very comfortable wit low string action. I also remember from Youtube videos that the sustain of the Barney Kessel was pretty good. This is really important to me. And I like the strange look of this guitar, bit love and hate.

    But maybe I am all wrong and you can educate me on this matter. Which one of the two would you prefer when it comes to sound, sustain and versability?

    Thanks a bunch folks for chiming in.
    You have an enviable dilemma! Myself, I would go with the Barney Kessel, were it within my means, because I've always wanted one. I like Gibsons, and wouldn't mind another. On the other hand, Guild instruments are pretty nice, as well. I don't think you can go wrong here. Best of luck with your decision!

  7. #6

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    B.K.

  8. #7
    Thanks for your advice, fellas!
    @gitman, thanks for the attached video. I came across that before, also found a few Youtube videos with a Barney Kessel played clean, that showed quite a bit of sustain - maybe the PAF Humbuckers are not so whooly after all ;-).
    @ArchtopHeaven, interesting observation about the CE-100s better note separation and faster attack than the DE-400. I asked myself, if the difference between the two would be big enough to justify having both. But the DE-400 has a depth of nearly two inches and the CE-100 nearly three inches (measured at the rim), so I thought the CE-100 would be a decent jazz axe whereas I think the DE-400 is not, with the Dearmonds even rolled back a little.
    @Dennis D, I feel you, I had two Guilds in my life and sold a black (!) DE-400, that's how stupid I was...
    @citicenk74, dilemma?, I agree, sometimes I lean back and ask myself: What the heck are you doing, you started playing guitar with a beaten german archtop that cost around 30 Euros on a flea market ;-)

    Whatever happens, I will let you know guys and post some pics.
    But if someone else wants to add some thoughts...

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heinrich
    Thanks for your advice, fellas!
    @gitman, thanks for the attached video. I came across that before, also found a few Youtube videos with a Barney Kessel played clean, that showed quite a bit of sustain - maybe the PAF Humbuckers are not so whooly after all ;-).
    @ArchtopHeaven, interesting observation about the CE-100s better note separation and faster attack than the DE-400. I asked myself, if the difference between the two would be big enough to justify having both. But the DE-400 has a depth of nearly two inches and the CE-100 nearly three inches (measured at the rim), so I thought the CE-100 would be a decent jazz axe whereas I think the DE-400 is not, with the Dearmonds even rolled back a little.
    @Dennis D, I feel you, I had two Guilds in my life and sold a black (!) DE-400, that's how stupid I was...
    @citicenk74, dilemma?, I agree, sometimes I lean back and ask myself: What the heck are you doing, you started playing guitar with a beaten german archtop that cost around 30 Euros on a flea market ;-)

    Whatever happens, I will let you know guys and post some pics.
    But if someone else wants to add some thoughts...
    Good points.

    Just to note I wasn't comparing the attack and separation of the CE-100 to the DE-400, it was in comparison to the BK.
    But yes you get the point that the CE-100 seems like a half way house between the DE and the BK, which it likely is.

    The BK likely offers you the furthest step into the big box Jazz guitar world. In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say.

    Good luck with your choice and don't forget to post a NGD

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by ArchtopHeaven
    Good points.

    Just to note I wasn't comparing the attack and separation of the CE-100 to the DE-400, it was in comparison to the BK.
    But yes you get the point that the CE-100 seems like a half way house between the DE and the BK, which it likely is.

    The BK likely offers you the furthest step into the big box Jazz guitar world. In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say.

    Good luck with your choice and don't forget to post a NGD
    Oh, thanks for clarifying, I was like, the CE-100 is the slightly shallower Guild twin of the ES-175, then again the B.K. sounds clearer than the ES-175, so the better note separation is the B.K.s thing. But what do I know? That´s why I am here asking ;-). .

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heinrich
    Oh, thanks for clarifying, I was like, the CE-100 is the slightly shallower Guild twin of the ES-175, then again the B.K. sounds clearer than the ES-175, so the better note separation is the B.K.s thing. But what do I know? That´s why I am here asking ;-). .
    ]

    Well there are some things to take into account that might prove you right after all.

    Guilds have shorter necks that Gibson so they don't drive the top as hard. That would/could/should mean that the Gibson would have quicker attack.
    But if you have heavier bracing in the spruce top of the Gibson compared to the laminated maple of the Guild, that could switch things around or even things up.
    If the Guild has a thin maple top, that would make it more responsive.
    If you use heaver strings on the Guild due to the shorter scale length, that could drive the top harder too.

    In all it's best to try both and likely not listen to me.

    One thing you can likely be assured off, the BK will have a deeper tone due to the body size and if you associate deep tone with jazz, then the BK will likely be the one that's more pleasing.

    Although it will feedback more.

    Go play both.


  12. #11

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    I used to own a 63' Barney Kessel Custom. Definitely a bit airier and clearer than my other guitars from the ES school. It sounded a bit "throaty" ...

    DB


  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    I used to own a 63' Barney Kessel Custom. Definitely a bit airier and clearer than my other guitars from the ES school. It sounded a bit "throaty" ...

    DB

    Love the snap you go for with your dynamics. Very tasteful.

  14. #13

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    In 1967 I had a '65 Gretsch Tennesseean that got knocked over while it was on a guitar stand at a coliseum gig. It fell face down and the headstock broke completely in half at the neck. The truss rod was the only thing left holding the guitar together. <br><br>I was in an R&amp;B band and immediately needed a guitar to play. My music store dealer let me trade the Gretsch in for a new guitar. My parent's home owner's insurance policy paid for the damaged Gretsch. The dealer sent the Gretsch off to the factory to be repaired.

    In the meantime, I traded the broken Gretsch in for a Gibson Barney Kessel Standard with a Bigsby tailpiece. It was really a great guitar and back then I liked Bigsby tailpieces. I wasn't playing jazz back then. Wouldn't have a Bigsby tailpiece now.

    Anyway, I would love to have a Gibson Barney Kessel guitar now...sans the Bigsby tailpiece. They're a great jazz guitar.<br><br>Side note...a couple years later San Francisco/hippy/West coast rock was really getting prominent so I wanted a different style of guitar. I traded the Barney Kessel in for an ebony/walnut ES335 with (another) Bigsby tailpiece. <br><br>Turns out it was a good thing I traded the Barney Kessel.

    The dealer I traded the Barney Kessel to said he discovered a crack in the body a couple months or so after the trade. I didn't have a clue the guitar had a crack. I never actually saw the crack so I was skeptical about his claim. But I took the salesman's word for it. The store I traded the Barney Kessel to was noted as being pretty shady and they had a questionable rep. Not sure what he would have to gain by making up a story about the crack, especially 2 months after the trade. <br><br>I think he knew he was had since a couple of months had passed since the trade. He couldn't prove the crack took place when I owned the guitar or after the trade, and when the dealer owned the guitar...Kharma?

    But he didn't let me forget it. He would bring that experience up every time I saw him. He did so for many years after the trade. And he always did it with an accusatory tone of voice. Nothing ever materialized from the situation. I got to keep the ES335. I really think he planned to rip me off somehow...I really don't know. I was just a HS kid and pretty naïve' at the time. I just made sure never to do business with that store again.<br><br>

    Anyway, did I say I really like Gibson Barney Kessel guitars?&nbsp; Not sure what the heck happened to my post. I'm not techy enough to figure it out.

  15. #14

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    Beside both being archtop guitars, they seem pretty different to me. Especially the body size and neck scale length. The gibson is 17" lower bout with 25 1/2" scale neck. The Guild is 16" bout and 24 3/4" scale. I have both sized guitars, but I usually pick up the smaller bout/scale when it really comes time to play. It may be helpful to decide which is more comfortable for you, too.

  16. #15
    Sorry for the silence. I wanted to thank all of you in this thread for your great feedback and, damn, @Dutchbopper played a nice jazz piece, I can hear it walking ;-).
    I did not have the time during the last days to check out the guitar(s) I am after. These are the 64 Guild CE-100, the 64 Barney Kessel, a 74 ES-175 and a 64 Guild X-175 with Franz pickups, the first two being on top of the list, hence my question. Unfortunately only the Barney Kessel can be played before I buy (still a 9 hours drive to get there), the others are too far away, without a chance to return them. I do trust the quality of the Guilds more, but in the end longer sustain, playability and more comfort to hold the guitar are the main drivers to decide. I will keep you posted how it turned out, but further thoughts are always welcome.

    Merry X-mas to everybody.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heinrich
    Sorry for the silence. I wanted to thank all of you in this thread for your great feedback and, damn, @Dutchbopper played a nice jazz piece, I can hear it walking ;-).
    I did not have the time during the last days to check out the guitar(s) I am after. These are the 64 Guild CE-100, the 64 Barney Kessel, a 74 ES-175 and a 64 Guild X-175 with Franz pickups, the first two being on top of the list, hence my question. Unfortunately only the Barney Kessel can be played before I buy (still a 9 hours drive to get there), the others are too far away, without a chance to return them. I do trust the quality of the Guilds more, but in the end longer sustain, playability and more comfort to hold the guitar are the main drivers to decide. I will keep you posted how it turned out, but further thoughts are always welcome.

    Merry X-mas to everybody.
    Merry Christmas and good luck. We're looking forward to the results.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heinrich
    Sorry for the silence. I wanted to thank all of you in this thread for your great feedback and, damn, @Dutchbopper played a nice jazz piece, I can hear it walking ;-).
    I did not have the time during the last days to check out the guitar(s) I am after. These are the 64 Guild CE-100, the 64 Barney Kessel, a 74 ES-175 and a 64 Guild X-175 with Franz pickups, the first two being on top of the list, hence my question. Unfortunately only the Barney Kessel can be played before I buy (still a 9 hours drive to get there), the others are too far away, without a chance to return them. I do trust the quality of the Guilds more, but in the end longer sustain, playability and more comfort to hold the guitar are the main drivers to decide. I will keep you posted how it turned out, but further thoughts are always welcome.

    Merry X-mas to everybody.
    Everything you say here underscores how difficult it is to map other people's preferences to one's own, in either making or receiving recommendations. I think the BK wins the cool and collectible contest there, but generally find 17" uncomfortable. So while I'd rather have one of those than am X-175, I'd probably not take either. I already have a 175-like object, so would probably for the CE-100. But if I didn't already have the 175 base covered, I'd go for the 175.