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DjangoDisciple mrguitar

Best archtops?

Considering an archtop and have many thoughts. Vintage or new? Brands? All I am thinking at present is acoustic that can be played and sound natural with a pickup, loud, percussive but also good for soloing, no cutaway. Since this would be for a side band that's Americana, I want Maybelle Carter's L5! I obviously have to settle for less. Money is also a concern; isn't it always? I do have a '74 Tele Custom that I can use to finance this but my wife will want some of the profits from that sale!!
I've read a lot about the new vintage Epi's, the Loars, the Godins, Gretsch, etc. All budget models but if they're good, I'm willing.
I've also been watching some guitars on Reverb: vintage Triumphs, Gibson 50's etc.
I've gotten to the point where the more I read, the less I know!


  • Eastman's are fairly inexpensive and worth a try.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited March 2018 Posts: 2,757
    If you happen to be out in California I have a whole closet full that you could chose from :-)

    Acoustic guitars amplified 'loud' are VERY prone to feedback and you will lose some of the acoustic 'natural' tone unless you spend some $ on electronics. If you want loud I'd go with a semi-hollowbody but I'm not sure what you mean by loud.
  • @Bones though I do want to be able to amplify it, I’d also like to be heard at a jam with banjos and mandos. I don’t mean overly loud; I guess I mean, not too quiet!
    I’ve been the route of amplifying acoustics, including my Dupont, and know only too well the quest of doing it adequately and not sacrificIng the acoustic sound.
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,645
    I would second Jazzaferri's Eastman recommendation. They are made in China but exceptionally well crafted, definitely professional caliber instruments. I had an AR805CE which I sold when I bought my 1946 Epiphone Triumph. Acoustically it may have actually been louder than the Epi, but I really dig the vintage sound.

    Many of the Eastman models have floating pickups, so you can plug in if you wish, but because they are suspended abpve the top they don't affect the acoustic sound at all. Others have pickups routed into the top; you probably want to avoid those. There's probably an Eastman for pretty much any budget.

    The other guitars you mention - present day Epis, Loars, etc. are also Chinese made (except the Godins, which are built in Canada) - but generally not of the build quality of the better Eastmans. I've got a Godin 5th Avenue P90, great single coil electric sound but weak as an acoustic.

    If you can afford a vintage guitar Epiphones are every bit as good as the Gibsons and generally less expensive. I prefer vintage Epis.

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,369
    The thing I've found with vintage archtops, including old Gibsons and Epiphones, is that for every great-sounding one like Mother Maybelle's or Eddie Lang's, there are eight or nine clunkers...
    I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

    If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.
  • B25GibB25Gib Bremerton WA✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2018 Posts: 164
    I'm happy with the sound and volume of my 2004 Eastman AR805 noncut which is loud enough with a few other jam members, but I haven't used it yet on stage. It has a Bartolini upgraded floating pickup, a little better than the lower model. For gigs I've been using either my Holo Busato, or Dell 'Arte Hommage, but want to try the Eastman.
    Correction: Kent Armstrong upgraded pickup! My Ibanez 700 bass has Bartolini pickups!
  • Jazzaferri wrote: »
    Eastman's are fairly inexpensive and worth a try.
    Thanks, Jay. A friend has one and loves it. On my list.
  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 221
    The Eastmans are definitely pro-grade and pretty consistent--an AR805 CE is the one I take out most often. I also have a Loar LH-600 I couldn't say no to at half the price of the Eastman, and with the addition of a NOS single-coil and a pickguard, it's gig-worthy. Acoustically it's not as refined an instrument, but it has more of the swing-band sound than, say, the Godin 5th Avenues I've heard. (Though I've heard a Godin Kingpin with a set-in pickup that had a very decent electric-jazz voice.) I'm less certain about the new Epiphone revival line--not enough samples, though one I got my hands on was OK.

    To my ears, the challenge for an inexpensive archtop, old or modern, is the bottom end. Mediocre archtops sound thin and nasal--they go graak rather than chunk. My Eastman has much of the chunk that I hear from my '46 Broadway (which also has a bit of braak--lower than graak--in its voice, depending on the strings).
  • richter4208richter4208 ✭✭✭
    Posts: 353
    Consider peerless as well
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