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Plain Jane archtop en route


ksdaddy

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I have no idea if I'll like it. Who could ever guess that? All I know is that I've owned a bunch of 'better' archtops and I've never gotten along with any of them. This time around I just wanted a basic archtop box. A 16" with no pickup, just one to play while sitting on the edge of the bed, no delusions, no pressure, just the tactile feedback of my pick brushing the strings at the end of the board and humming along.

 

Can you dig where I'm coming from?

 

$_57.JPG

 

I didn't steal it but I paid a LOT less than what people are asking for them.

 

A LOT less.

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Congrats on the new acquisition. I hope it works out. I jonesed for an archtop for a long time but your past comments about never finding one that you got along with doused my fire a long time ago. I played one last April when I was back in NC that looked a lot like the one you are about to receive but I couldn't dig the change I had to make in the string attack. I guess my playing of flat tops didn't prepare me well for the experience. Beautiful instrument you have en route though.

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I hear you on the archtop thing. Have no expectations; you will not be disappointed. Chicken or fish, chicken or fish?

 

Nice to shake things up from time to time. Try some percussive, right hand stuff. Try a nice mic on it. Maybe it'll be a good late night player. Nice sunburst. Enjoy.

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I knew you'd be pickin' up what I'm layin' down. No equilateral polygons with right angles at this clambake.

 

I've beat myself up with L-7s and such. I know the L48 won't compare in many ways. But that's not what I'm reaching for. I'm reaching for one step above a good Harmony. Shorter scale, softer string tension, just a happy strummer. I want to recapture the day I reached up and pulled an old L50 off the rack and felt my hand go around the neck.

 

Maybe that isn't what will happen at all. But I worked my way up, spending more and more and being less happy with every upgrade. The next step was $5K or better for an L5. Something tells me I will be happier and expect less with this one.

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I realize now that sounded crazy. A big part of it is the likelihood that I will be happier with the 24.75" scale and 16" body, which is typically associated with the cheaper Gibsons (L48,L50) where the L7/L5 variants are typically 17" with a 25.5" scale. In reality I'm shying away from the larger bodies. I have two J200s that sit idle.

 

This also has a bit of 'proof' in my past experiences in owning Gibson archtops. While I've never found one that they will have to pry out of my cold dead fingers, Of the couple dozen I've owned, I've been happiest with the smaller ones. I've had a couple L50s I was content with but sold to fund something else...not necessarily another archtop, could have been a purple Strat. I had a 16" 1934 L-7 I liked a lot but it needed SO much work and I was much less experienced in repair then so I passed it on to someone in a better position to fix it up right.

 

So I will wait with hope in my heart that this L48 will fill that void in the arsenal. This guy pretty much nails where I'm headed:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aprTBvAxfg

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Not sure I understand how you expect to connect with a lesser version of what you've not connected with so far, ...

 

This is not an unrealistic expectation.

 

As an L-5CES owner/player for many years, I decided I needed an archtop for an acoustic blues set we do. I looked at many L-50 style Gibsons, and figured if I was going to go "student model", I might as well go extreme.

 

I picked a 50's era Silvertone 16" archtop (probably made by Kay) for $50. Although I had to do a total rebuild on it, with the project complete and the guitar strung up (the new dovetail neck joint I had to build... HELD!), I hit the first chord on that guitar and all I could say was WOW!

 

This cheap little plywood archtop has definitely endured itself to me. It's a great player and sounds perfect for what I bought it for. Our acoustic blues set we call "Hubcap & Driftwood", for I play the driftwood Silvertone, and the other guitarist plays the hubcap looking dobro.

 

I eventually replaced the old Silvertone for stage use with a Gibson L-7, and actually had a club owner complain (in jest), "where's the old Silvertone?".

 

Anyway, all to say you just never know what guitar might just step up and grab you. As for bonding with ANY archtop, it really is an acquired taste in sound AND playability. Especially for flat-top players, you must really give it some time and experimentation with different types of strings and such. I'm of the school that to really get the "best" out of any archtop, you need to put flatwounds on it, which are also an "acquired taste".

 

Enjoy, and give it some "bonding" time, before passing sentence.

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I might add also, that to me there seems to be more variation between individual guitars with archtop types.

 

Sure, there are differences to be expected between an L-50 and an L-5, even an L-5 and an L-7 can be a lot for some.

 

I think there is more differences between two L-5's than, say, two Les Pauls.

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I went a bit archtop crazy a couple years back - I blame giving up smokes!

 

 

I tried and bought an ES125 at a pawn shop, and realised that the neck was similar to my LG3 and thus WAY better for fingerstyle than the Tele with skinny neck. I then bought the Black Special #4 (?) L50 sight unseen from Elderly, had a pickup put in....then I saw the cheap Godin 3rd Ave archtop at a shop and took it home as a 'spare archtop'....... I was going to this, then that, including just use the archtops for some live gigs, instead of the hassle of amplifying acoustics in bars.

 

I didn't do any of that, but still have the archtops and still rotate around to play them.

 

I have a couple of tips for continued archtop love, may not work, but should help.....at the beginning, resist the temptation to put thicker strings on it to raise the volume - as soon as they get old, you are left with a nasty clunker that you find hard to play. I did this, until I put the same 12 lights MB I play on acoustics on......phew, playable.

 

The other thing is the guitars project and project, but not to YOU! If you look up Freddie Green playing, he usually has the sound holes facing up a bit to his face and ears....looks cool, too! Ignore this if you put a pickup in it and wind it OUT!

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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I guess there's a place and purpose for every tone, but I have personally never heard a laminated arch top that I really wanted to play acoustically. To me, they're electric guitars.

I really like the acoustic tone of my one-pickup ES-125T,

and it's surprisingly loud for being a thin body.

 

Also love playing my ES-330 VOS acoustically. Very satisfying.

 

As for KS's L-48, it may have a lot of potential.

 

The specs on the L-48 changed many times, but the 1948 I had featured a solid pressed mahogany top. The back and sides were also solid mahogany, and looked like they'd been taken from an acoustic flat-top, as the back was flat & braced.

 

The tone was very nice. I usually don't look back, but that's one of the few guitars I should've kept.

 

KS - here's hoping this is the one!

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I know it's blasphemous but I no longer put any faith in the solid vs ply vs carved vs pressed thing. You can 'science' me to death but I'll judge them as they land on my lap. I've seen one too many dead carved spruce topped guitars and one too many 'alive' plywood guitars to have faith in the science anymore.

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I know it's blasphemous but I no longer put any faith in the solid vs ply vs carved vs pressed thing. You can 'science' me to death but I'll judge them as they land on my lap. I've seen one too many dead carved spruce topped guitars and one too many 'alive' plywood guitars to have faith in the science anymore.

Yes, absolutely agree with you on this.

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It came in today. I've spent a total of ten minutes with it, working around taking the dogs out, starting (and eating) supper, blah blah blah. Condition wise I am extremely happy. It's 100% original and even the old Kluson buttons are hanging in there. Thankfully nobody tried to polish it up or tart it up. It's old and untouched. I don't see ANY need for repairs, of course I won't be able to assess the fret condition and such until it's strung up and allowed to acclimate. It currently has a set of what looks like 10-46 electric strings.

 

What strikes me like a coal shovel to the solar plexus is how LOUD it is. As I've moaned before, I've had a bunch of 'better' archtops that were much quieter than this. It has a nice big quick sharp bark.

 

Tonight I'll put new strings on it just to get started. There are some guitars I like to have medium strings on but archtops aren't one of them. I happen to have a set of 11-50 D'Addario flat wounds. How's that sound?

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