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Epiphone archtop question?


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Now that I'm learning jazz, my attention is focusing towards an archtop. I've had my eyes set on a Lucille, but not being able to try one out, I'm wondering what the tone differences might be between a Lucille with no f-holes and that of, for example, a Dot or Casino with f-holes? I sure like the sound that BB King produces on his Lucille, but then again his is a Gibson, which I'm sure is a bit different than that of the Epi model. I'm looking for a more warmer sound. I'm liking the sound I now can produce from my Les Paul, but feel the archtop might have that little extra.

 

Cheers

Wayne

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I own 3 Epiphone archtops, a Casino. a '62 Sheraton RI and a Zephyr Blues Deluxe. I have a friend that plays jazz/big band for a living and has some of the most beautiful jazz guitars I've ever had the pleasure to play. But when he comes back to town, from NY, he borrows my guitars, rather than bring his all the way across the country. He was very happy with the Casino, until the ZBD came along. That is the guitar he uses now (along with my Deluxe amp) when here. Don't let the "Blues" in the name (or P-90's) throw you off. It's as much a jazz box as a blues guitar. I would put the Casino as a close second, though. I just got done swapping it's pickups to Lollars, and can't wait for him to try it, now. Could be a game changer.

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I own 3 Epiphone archtops, a Casino. a '62 Sheraton RI and a Zephyr Blues Deluxe. I have a friend that plays jazz/big band for a living and has some of the most beautiful jazz guitars I've ever had the pleasure to play. But when he comes back to town, from NY, he borrows my guitars, rather than bring his all the way across the country. He was very happy with the Casino, until the ZBD came along. That is the guitar he uses now (along with my Deluxe amp) when here. Don't let the "Blues" in the name (or P-90's) throw you off. It's as much a jazz box as a blues guitar. I would put the Casino as a close second, though. I just got done swapping it's pickups to Lollars, and can't wait for him to try it, now. Could be a game changer.

 

Do you think they might do a reissue of the ZBD? Awesome looking guitar with those three pups.

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Now that I'm learning jazz, my attention is focusing towards an archtop. I've had my eyes set on a Lucille, but not being able to try one out, I'm wondering what the tone differences might be between a Lucille with no f-holes and that of, for example, a Dot or Casino with f-holes? I sure like the sound that BB King produces on his Lucille, but then again his is a Gibson, which I'm sure is a bit different than that of the Epi model. I'm looking for a more warmer sound. I'm liking the sound I now can produce from my Les Paul, but feel the archtop might have that little extra.

 

I'd say get to a guitar store and try out as many hollow bodies as you can to get a feel for what you like. There's such a wide variety in terms of size, tone, neck thickness and so on that it's really hard to recommend one thing or another.

 

The Lucille, btw, should be the least prone to feedback since it has no tone holes, Casino, a true hollowbody with no center block will be the most prone to feedback.

 

All that said, in the 1970s I played jazz guitar on my brother's SG Custom. Tossed extra heavy strings on it, turned down the tone and stuck mostly to the neck pickup. It sounded pretty good for what it was. So don't sacrifice playability for a particular body shape or size if that shape or size doesn't work well for you.

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Do you think they might do a reissue of the ZBD? Awesome looking guitar with those three pups.

Doubtful it will be re-issued, but they come around, from time to time. It took me 4 months to find mine, but well worth it. There are two on eBay right now, but they want a lot for them, almost twice what I paid for mine 18 months ago. If you like the 3 P-90 configuration, look at the Riviera Custom P-93. The Broadway is also an excellent suggestion, along with the es175-styled Zephyr Regent (one of those on eBay right now, too).

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I'd say get to a guitar store and try out as many hollow bodies as you can to get a feel for what you like. There's such a wide variety in terms of size, tone, neck thickness and so on that it's really hard to recommend one thing or another.

 

The Lucille, btw, should be the least prone to feedback since it has no tone holes, Casino, a true hollowbody with no center block will be the most prone to feedback.

 

All that said, in the 1970s I played jazz guitar on my brother's SG Custom. Tossed extra heavy strings on it, turned down the tone and stuck mostly to the neck pickup. It sounded pretty good for what it was. So don't sacrifice playability for a particular body shape or size if that shape or size doesn't work well for you.

 

I have tried out a few, including the Dot and Casino at GC. I like them both. The feel is quite different from my Les Paul. Obviously due to the larger body. I didn't notice any difference between the two of them regarding tone. Perhaps there is, but minor. Besides, when you factor in the ambient noise of the store, its is somewhat difficult. I will need to go back and try them out in their quiet room and bring headphones. But what I really wanted to do was compare them with the Lucille.

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for an affordable, good playing, good sounding Epi Jazz box, my first suggestion is the Broadway.

 

slap a set of flatwounds on that baby, and you got an excellent guitar for Jazz style playing.

 

Would the Broadway be any different than the Dot, Casino, or some of the other archtop models I wonder? I agree with you on the flat wounds as that's what I did with my Les Paul. A marked improvement. So with that in mind, flat wounds on any of the archtops would most likely work fine.

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The Broadway is different in that it has a BIG (17") body, spruce top, and longer scale (25.5", like a Fender), which gives it a different response than the Dot or Casino, both of which have a 24.75" scale. Some players find the big-box Broadway unwieldy.

 

In re: bender4life's comment about a solid spruce top, many players do love the spruce top, but it's worth noting that the biggest-selling jazz guitar of all time is the Gibson ES-175, which has a laminated maple top. So do the Gibson Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow, ES-5 and ES-350 (and the Epi Zephyr Blues Deluxe), so it's not an absolute requirement.

 

The Lucille is the least "jazz-guitar like" of all the models you mentioned. B.B. requested it be made without f-holes to reduce feedback, and between that and the varitone switch, it's a heavy guitar that has barely any more acoustic response than a solidbody. I own one and love it, but I don't use it for jazz.

 

Scott Marlowe gave you some great advice --- try out as many guitars as you can to see what feels and sounds best to YOU. If you want to be able to practice unplugged, a fully hollow model offers definite advantages, but any guitar can play jazz if you develop the right combination of touch, strings, and tone/amp settings. Most of the players we think of as great jazz guitarists (Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow, George Benson, Grant Green) use or used primarily hollow body instruments, but others (Larry Carlton, Mike Stern, John McLaughlin) use a variety of solidbody or semi-hollow guitars as well.

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The Broadway is different in that it has a BIG (17") body, spruce top, and longer scale (25.5", like a Fender), which gives it a different response than the Dot or Casino, both of which have a 24.75" scale. Some players find the big-box Broadway unwieldy.

 

In re: bender4life's comment about a solid spruce top, many players do love the spruce top, but it's worth noting that the biggest-selling jazz guitar of all time is the Gibson ES-175, which has a laminated maple top. So do the Gibson Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow, ES-5 and ES-350 (and the Epi Zephyr Blues Deluxe), so it's not an absolute requirement.

 

The Lucille is the least "jazz-guitar like" of all the models you mentioned. B.B. requested it be made without f-holes to reduce feedback, and between that and the varitone switch, it's a heavy guitar that has barely any more acoustic response than a solidbody. I own one and love it, but I don't use it for jazz.

 

Scott Marlowe gave you some great advice --- try out as many guitars as you can to see what feels and sounds best to YOU. If you want to be able to practice unplugged, a fully hollow model offers definite advantages, but any guitar can play jazz if you develop the right combination of touch, strings, and tone/amp settings. Most of the players we think of as great jazz guitarists (Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow, George Benson, Grant Green) use or used primarily hollow body instruments, but others (Larry Carlton, Mike Stern, John McLaughlin) use a variety of solidbody or semi-hollow guitars as well.

 

Yes, perhaps I should try out a few more. I never looked at any of the larger guitars similar to that of the bigger Gibson ES models. I'll give some a try. Perhaps like you said, any guitar can play jazz if things are set up right. My Les Paul with the flat wounds strings sound very nice. Perhaps when all is done, I might just end up staying with the LP. Hey it worked for LP right.

 

Cheers

Wayne

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I am delving into jazz for the first time as well. I already have a Casino, Sheraton and a Lucille. The Casino has the most open jazz box kind of sound, the Sheraton carries that 335 sound that I like in jazz, and the Lucille is very close to the Sheraton except for the varitone which takes some work to get used to. All of them have some great rock, blues, and jazz tones. I think it comes down to what your ear wants to hear. I change my mind all the time. Some of the players I like the most like Bill Frisell use a Telecaster style guitar. Sounds fantastic.

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Yes, perhaps I should try out a few more. I never looked at any of the larger guitars similar to that of the bigger Gibson ES models. I'll give some a try. Perhaps like you said, any guitar can play jazz if things are set up right. My Les Paul with the flat wounds strings sound very nice. Perhaps when all is done, I might just end up staying with the LP. Hey it worked for LP right.

 

Cheers

Wayne

 

 

I have a broadway and a regent (which is very similar, with a single pickup, same body size and same neck profile)

 

you can probably find regents on flea bay nice guitars.

 

only thing to check is the nut width these are a bit more narrow than I think what the Dot or a 335 style would be. someone with huge hands may find it problematic.

 

there's also the Joe Pass (as mentioned before) and the Swingster which is a very cool hollow body.

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I have a broadway and a regent (which is very similar, with a single pickup, same body size and same neck profile)

 

you can probably find regents on flea bay nice guitars.

 

only thing to check is the nut width these are a bit more narrow than I think what the Dot or a 335 style would be. someone with huge hands may find it problematic.

 

there's also the Joe Pass (as mentioned before) and the Swingster which is a very cool hollow body.

 

I'm going into GC tonight and try out more models. This time I will have a look at the larger body types.

 

 

 

Thanks everybody for your help . Very much appreciated.

 

Cheers

Wayne

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