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  1. #1

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    I am looking at a used Heritage Sweet 16 made in 2000. I want to use it mainly as an acoustic guitar. Is this going to be a good acoustic? When did Heritage go completely electric? This has a pickup but it is mounted on the pickguard, rather than cut into the top.


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  3. #2

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    I will preface this by saying that I have not played a 16, though I do own 2 Heritage guitars - a 93 Johnny Smith and a 2000 575. Perhaps a forum member who has can offer an opinion.

    If I were looking for a guitar with excellent acoustic qualities, the 16 would not be my choice. The body, thickness even with a carved top, is simply too thin, approximately 2 inches I think. I don't believe the 16 was ever a purely acoustic, non-electric guitar.
    Most of the ones I have seen over the years have had a factory installed floating pickup.

    A second factor that would also impact the acoustic qualities is the size of the body - which is 16 inches.

    Third, Heritage guitars are a thinner, lighter build compared to their Gibson counterparts. My Heritage Johnny Smith, 17 inch with a floating pickup is much lighter than my Gibson Johnny Smith. The Gibson is far more reasonant and is built like a battleship.

    Hope this helps and good luck finding the right guitar.

  4. #3

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    Hello !
    I have a Sweet 16 made in 1997. It's a very nice guitar, easy and comfortable to play. I particularly like the neck.
    Heritage Sweet 16 - what years are good?-dsc_0044-jpg
    As an acoustic, it has a good volume and a good projection (for an archtop !) but I find it too bright, especially the e and B strings. (Strung with Thomastik JS-112)
    As an electric, the Schaller pick-up is smooth but the general brightness is still here.

    For an acoustic use, I much prefer my Eastman AR503CE.

    Best for you would be to try it in person if possible

  5. #4

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    Body thickness is 3" at the rim
    But the guitar is very light, that's true !

  6. #5

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    It really depends on the guitar itself. A freind of mine has a stellar sounding Sweet 16 with a floating pickup. But like on most Heritages the neck is to pencil thin for me.

    Make sure you can get a return policy!

  7. #6

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    Sweet 16’s are fabulous archtop’s. I’ve owned 6-7 of them. The finest had a single routed humbucker mounted and was a fabulous Chestnut Sunburst. As long as you’re not confusing it with an L4CES they’re great guitars, and especially handy on the sofa due to their shallow depth. And no, both the 575 and Sweet 16 are 2.75” in depth. The Golden Eagle and Super Eagle each feature a 3” depth, not the Sweet 16.

    Buying a year 2000 model would be a privilege.

  8. #7

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    I have a Sweet 16, made in 1990 (corrected from "sometime in the 80s"). It is an acoustic archtop with a floating pickup.

    Acoustically, it sounds like an archtop. Previously I had a pre-war Gibson L-12, and the Sweet 16 sounded a lot like that (not the same, since the L-12 was slightly larger and deeper). The 16 is loud, bright, and percussive, like many archtops. By comparison to an Andersen Ovalhole, the Heritage is much more heavily built. The Heritage doesn't have a particularly sweet sound, no pun intended, but in my limited experience a sweet-sounding archtop is not a common thing. One story about my 16: one night I was playing with a big band and the guitar's pickup failed; but other band members reported still being able to hear me even without the pickup.

    (After the pickup failed, I replaced it with a Kent Armstrong 12-pole floater. I liked the sound with the Armstrong much better than with the original pickup.)

    I'm not aware of any particular years of Sweet 16s that were better than other years, but then again that's not the sort of thing I pay much attention to.
    Last edited by dconeill; 01-22-2022 at 08:24 AM.

  9. #8

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    I agree that it is not all that useful to think of Sweet 16 characteristics in terms of year of creation.

    A few years ago I went through the old Gibson (now Heritage) plant and saw the neck carve guides used as templates for various guitars. For example, the L-5s changed every few years to different neck specs. These templates allowed the carver to guide the shape and depth of the necks at the 2nd and 10th frets. The templates were there also for LPs, 335s, and some others. The L-5s went back to the 1940s. Well, Heritage never had these templates. The necks were made by people who have done this chore for decades. The orders for the guitars commonly came in with request for a certain feel to the neck. Thin necks were frequently requested, especially for archtops, to accommodate chord melody with thumb over the fretboard technique. But some were medium or 59 carves as well. It depended on the dealer or the specific customer.

    Some wanted parallel bracing and some not. Some wanted tap tuning and some wanted a heavy top. Some wanted mounted pickups.

    A 16" thin archtop is going to sound bright acoustically. I would see it used as a four to the bar Freddie Green percussive style instrument in a band setting. Even then, it doesn't have the air movement to generate the volume. Amplified, it's very different.

    Kent Armstrong's pickup is hotter than the Floating #3. Both are nice. The Floating #3 is thinner in tone with less mids it seems and has no mud.

    If you are playing in your living room without an amp, the Sweet 16 is loud enough and comfortable. It's a quality archtop.

  10. #9

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    Thanks for all the info. This sounds like a really terrific guitar but I am looking for an acoustic and this one is not going fit the bill. If I had lots of money, I would buy it anyway, but I don't. I have to stay focused!

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Grass
    ... A 16" thin archtop ... doesn't have the air movement to generate the volume. Amplified, it's very different. ...
    I'm not at all certain that the depth or lower bout size has much to do with the loudness of the instrument. By way of contrast, a violin is much smaller than any archtop guitar but is much louder.

    I think the volume of air enclosed by the body affects the tonal balance, though. From what I've read (I'm not an acoustical engineer), the body of a guitar acts like a tuned, ported speaker cabinet to adjust the resonant frequency, and therefore the entire frequency response, of the instrument. So, other things being equal, a body enclosing less volume would have its resonant frequency shifted upward compared to the same guitar whose body enclosed more volume. Put another way, it would be less bassy, or brighter, than a deeper-bodied guitar.

    That said, my Sweet 16 does not seem deficient in bass to me. It's not as bassy as, say, a Taylor Grand Auditorium body (16", somewhere around 4.2" deep). But obviously that's an apples-to-oranges comparison.

  12. #11

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    Apples and oranges. Violin strings are very different and have more energy transferred to them than either fingerstyle or plectrum guitar playing. Compared the violin string plucked vs. bowed. The violin plucked sounds more like a ukulele.

    Heavy strings with a high action will increase the sound to the Sweet 16 quite a bit. If you excited the guitar string with long and heavy friction, like a violin, the sound would be greater.

    Check this out.

  13. #12

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    Many of the comments by people who have ownsed Sweet 16s are dead correct particularly those made by 2B and Marty Grass

    I own a rounded cutaway Sweet 16 with the floating pick up and it is a really gorgeous piece that used to belong to 2B at one time and it serves it’s purpose very well as a very comfortable couch guitar with a very sweet tone all its own
    Ad the name implies a Sweet 16

    If you were looking for a guitar with a deeper tone you should be looking at a Golden Eagle or a Gibson L5, yes ???