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  1. #1
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    North Central OKC
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    05.12.18 @ 08:18 AM
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    Default Archtop Acoustic Guitars

    I just played my first archtop acoustic on Saturday morning. It was a Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin. I have to confess here: for a guy that knows so much trivia about music and instruments, I never knew they existed until yesterday. I had always thought they were hollow-body electrics. I'd heard the term archtop acoustic before, but it never sunk in to my brain.

    I'm thinking about buying one in the next year or so, but I wanna try several out before I take the plunge. Do any of you Linkers own an archtop acoustic? What brand and model is it? Do you like it? Any recommendations?

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  2. #2
    Little Dreamer Alanj23's Avatar
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    Ice Cream Man
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    04.17.12 @ 07:45 PM
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    I have a 1930's Slingerland Songster Archtop that I picked up in Seattle from Emerald City Music... I love it! Probably my favourite guitar.

  3. #3
    Sinner's Swing!
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    05.18.18 @ 05:41 AM
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    I wanted to reply the other day....I love old archtops.
    A guy I know online has a real old 1950's Kay (which are known to be usually a pretty marginal guitar at best), but it sounds absolutely awesome. He has a pickup installed on it and does a lot of slide with it.
    My aunt also has a cool old arch that I pluck around on when I visit. Her's is from the late 30's early 40's and is a real gorgeous piece of wood. What amazes me most about some of these guitars is how loud the project the sound and just how ballsy they can sound.

    You should check out Craigslist. There are usually vintage archtops listed.
    In most cases, it seems these are hand me downs that the new owners don't know what to do with, and they can be had for amazingly low prices. we're talking the $200, to $400 dollar range for instruments that would fetch much higher Deniro at the right guitar show....No lie.

    For new arch's, one you can consider a true investment, and assuming you are willing to pay accordingly for quality, may I recommend Eastman. They are made in China, but these are not your typical stigma instruments. They are finely crafted guitars and are usually sold online or by boutique type shops. I took a look at one in person here in Vancouver and was amazed at the detail and quality of workmanship. Here's a pic of one of my favorites of theirs, the John Pisano model.

    The price may knock you on your ass, but I've spoken to numerous players, dealers and luthiers who swear that Eastman are among one of the best built acoustic guitars around today. They use nothing but premium traditional tonewoods, and pretty much everything is done by hand with traditional methods.

    Now if that's too rich for your blood, then Godin make a great production instrument, but I would suggest some of the smaller production number manufacturers. There's something to be said for attention to detail when it comes to properly shaving/tuning the top, ensuring excellent fitment of internal braces, and having a properly trimmed bridge base to the specific top of each guitar.
    Not to sound preachy, but it's something to consider. Iv'e worked on numerous acoustics (yes even Taylor, Gibson) that have developed mysterious rattles, warped tops and even cracks because of improper workmanship...Mainly poor fit-up of the top bracing. Some even separate almost completely from the top allowing it to buckle or worse crack under the pressure of the strings over time.

    Like I said, check out the vintage arches first, like Kay, Harmony, Commandor (actually built under the Harmony umbrella) and don't be discouraged if you look and don't find one on CL, Kijiji, etc right off the bat. They will show up.
    The nice thing about the vintage guitars is they are pretty much as settled as they are gonna get. Not much settling left in them, so no mystery...It may need a fretjob, but no big deal. A new saddle or nut...again no problem.

    Good luck in your quest.



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