Archtops - Pros & cons of use other than Jazz etc

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by JazzyLester, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. JazzyLester

    JazzyLester Member

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    Hello folks,

    I'm not really a serious or talented guitar player. However, I love guitar and gear and I'm always collecting it. I have some guitars that are hugely out of my league in comparison to my playing ability. I've always loved archtops.. is especially like Gibson ES-175s (my favourite), L5s stuff like that. I also like Gretsch archtops. I love how they look, how they stand out as they're that little bit different from what everyone else is using, I love the history of them. These kind of guitars tend to get used mostly in Jazz and the Gretsch obviously gets alot of playing/attention in the early Rock & Roll and Rockabilly circles.

    As for me, I guess you could say mostly play rock stuff.. think classic bluesy rock from the 60s and 70s. A little crunchy, nothing too heavy or metally or anything. Plus some instrumental.. like mayb bluesy stuff or surfy material. And indeed some basic chord strumming stuff. I play alot of acoustic chordy tunes. I suppose these would come under the country spectrum. Nothing too deep or complex. Realistically.. a good Les Paul and an Acoustic suits my needs best.. and maybe a Fender thrown in for good measure.. they do have their uses for stuff like surf.

    I was just wondering.. the pros and cons of using these kind of guitars for uses such as this? They really seem to shine for great Jazz players but that's something I don't and can't play. I love these guitars but I was thinking, how would they hold up for the kind of music I play. Sure, you can play anything on anything.. but most people would agree, certain instruments are better suited to certain genres. Lots of players choose a certain kind of guitar for specific styles of playing.

    As I'm not really a musician as such I'd like to hear what people who know think of archtops and how they would apply to use in other forms of music except who you mostly see them in.. jazz. Any discussion would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards
     
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  2. Parabar

    Parabar Member

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    Many of the rock, blues and soul guitar players that made me want to play guitar were players of full-size archtops. I loved the sound they got from them, and archtops are the biggest part of my collection. Here are some of the notables:

    Chuck Berry - Gibson ES-350
    T-Bone Walker - Gibson ES-5
    Scotty Moore with Elvis - Gibson ES-295, L-5 and Super 400
    Gene Cornish with the Rascals - Gibson Barney Kessel
    Bryan MacLean with Love - Gibson Barney Kessel
    Gary Duncan with Quicksilver Messenger Service - Gibson L-5, Barney Kessel
    Dino Valenti with Quicksilver Messenger Service - Gibson Barney Kessel
    Jimmie Nolen with James Brown - Gibson L-5
    Jerry Miller with Moby Grape - Gibson L-5
    Terry Haggerty with the Sons of Champlin - Gibson L-5
    Bill Champlin with the Sons of Champlin - Gibson ES-175
    Steve Howe with Yes - Gibson ES-175
    Hal Wagenet with It's A Beautiful Day - Gibson ES-175
    Duane Eddy - Gretsch 6120
    Eddie Cochran - Gretsch 6120
    Brian Setzer - Gretsch 6120
    Steven Stills with Buffalo Springfield and CSNY - Gretsch White Falcon, Gibson Super 400
    Neil Young with Buffalo Springfield and CSNY - Gretsch 6120, White Falcon
    Ernest Ranglin (many Jamaican ska and reggae artists) - Guild X175

    The only downside is controlling feedback. It takes practice and attention to amp placement and position relative to the amp, as well as playing technique, but there's no substitute for a big ol' hollowbody's full-throated tone.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
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  3. Left Paw

    Left Paw Senior Member

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    Missing Ted Nugent on your list. He rocked out that Gibson Byrdland arch top.
     
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  4. Pennyman

    Pennyman Senior Member

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    I play an Epi Wildkat when I jam with the boys - and we don't jazz :laugh2: It's got a kind of "crispy crunch" that cuts through nicely. On the downside, it doesn't have a great deal of sustain (that I can hear while playing, although it seems to ring longer when I listen to our recordings.)
     
  5. JazzyLester

    JazzyLester Member

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    Thanks for the huge list provided above! I knew about alot of them but some others I didn't! Oh and yes, indeed.. Ted Nugent is another for sure. I actually got alot more into his music since I heard he used Byrdlands. Oh and by the way, Pennyman. I have a Wildkat also! Mine has chrome, dogear style covered P90s. I got it a while ago but I honestly haven't played it all that much. It also has a stock Bigsby. It's a pretty cool guitar and not all that expensive. :)

    I've a number of archtops. An ES-175.. a Gretsch 5420T.. an Ibanez and indeed a little Wildkat if you class those. As someone said.. feedback can be an issue but not really too bad at my level or volumes. I just noodle at home at present so it has rarely gave me much issue.
     
  6. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    Yeah, feedback would be my only concern -- but I play at moderately high SPLs, even at home.
     
  7. bluesguitar1972

    bluesguitar1972 Senior Member

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    There's a whole pile of options in the archtop vein too. Semi hollow guitars like the ES335 and the smaller ES339, to the Full size hollow body ES175s (and that's just in Gibson). The 175 is not a hard rock guitar. Feedback can be a huge problem, especially if driven. Some artists, I've heard, fill the guitar with nylons or the like to try and prevent the feedback loop. Semi hollow guitars can also feed back, but not anywhere close to the full hollow and it's something you can kind of control and ride if you're into that sort of thing. From the sounds of it, I'd say you're likely best to stick in the semi versions for an easier to play classic rock guitars. Also, unpotted humbuckers will also contribute to feedback.
     
  8. Oldskoolrob

    Oldskoolrob Senior Member

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    Gretsch 6120 is as versatile as any LP. I've hotrodded mine even further by adding a 3rd pickup....because.
     
  9. kakerlak

    kakerlak Senior Member

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    Here's a Guild X-500:


    Essentially all Dave Gonzales' stuff with the Paladins was done w/ a Guild X-500 (a late '50s model with Franz single coils through the early 2000s, then a new Paladin signature model X-500P w/ specially wound P-90s, voiced to sound like the Franzs.)
     
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  10. bum

    bum Senior Member

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    Don't forget The Beatles could get a decent rock vibe going on with Epiphone Casinos.
    My number 1 is my 335 and I play all sorts on it, I stick it through a loud Bluesbreaker mainly but some songs call for a Fulltone Fulldrive 3 and a TC Spark both on at the same time.
    Does it feedback? Well, yes, but here is the wonderful thing - You learn to play the feedback too.
    Feedback through a semi hollow and a good amp should be musical, you learn where to stand (this is why a lot of guitarists have a big X marked on stage, that's where they stand to get the sweet spot for feedback) and how to get it, or avoid it.
    Feedback can be another texture if you master it.
    In short My 335 + A bit of grit = sonic heaven.

    Also, I went to this gig recently, The Wildhearts, check this out, no feedback unless required at high gain using a semi, it can be done, quite easily :)

     
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  11. Travis19

    Travis19 Senior Member

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    This topic was covered pretty well over in this thread here: http://www.mylespaul.com/threads/i-got-an-es-175-i-dont-even-play-jazz.407337/, check it out.

    I'm not going to repeat myself here, but I love archtops and semi-hollows as well. Izzy Stradlin recorded Appetite with a hollow ES-125 TDC, and I believe that the hollow ES-446 is one of Gibson's finest and most over-looked models (and perfectly suited for bluesy classic rock, in fact the harmonic sustain that you can get out of this guitar is simply spectacular). I have a vintage hollow Guild Starfire III that is my go-to for surfy styles.

    Ascetics and feel are very important. Many of us here believe that if you like the look and feel of your guitar then you're more apt to pick it up and play it...and in turn becoming the player that you aspire to. If arch-tops are your thing, try not to over analyze, just roll with what feels right and have fun.
     
  12. BadPenguin

    BadPenguin Senior Member

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    Let's just face the true fact here peoples..... F holes are just sexy. I love me a good Paul, a properly setup SG, can send shivers down my spine. But for pure unadulterated guitar porn lust, a 335...., a Gretsch Viking.... the "cat's eye" F hole on a Ric... I mean come on... what's better then them?

    I have fully hollows, and yes, while feedback can be an issue, that tone is worth it. Semis too. A Ric 330, with the amp just at the breaking up point, and that hard strum of an A minor chord... Yeah, the word "Dammmmmmnnnnn...." is what comes to mind. A 335, or a Sheraton, on the neck pickup, and the amp CRANKED can produce tones that the angels weep for. Of course tones like those are subjective to the listener. Some love that bridge pickup on a strat. (Shudders and softly gags.) But a good hollow or semi.... nothing sounds quite like it.
     
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  13. mandobandit

    mandobandit Senior Member

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    this rock n roll machine just landed on my front porch afternoon here at work is going to be tedious KSG1705676-front-xlarge.jpg
     
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  14. MooCheng

    MooCheng Senior Member

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  15. Jymbopalyse

    Jymbopalyse Senior Member

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    And don't forget Alex Lifeson.

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. bum

    bum Senior Member

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    Amen brother, there is nothing that brings me more joy than picking this up:

    335-bw.jpg

    It just feels alive, when you have it really pushing the valves it is like a two way conversation between me and the guitar, it's hard to explain but it feels like my wingman rather than a few lumps of wood glued together.
    It speaks in a way my solid bodies don't, it has a voice of its own
     
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  17. Rotorhead

    Rotorhead Senior Member

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    And no mention of Malcolm Young yet :rolleyes:
     
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  18. Left Paw

    Left Paw Senior Member

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    I don't think the OP was talking about semi-hollow guitars like the 335 and its brethren. Not do dis those guitars but he said full hollow.
     
  19. Pop1655

    Pop1655 Premium Member

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    Like, like, like, like, like!!!
     
  20. Oldskoolrob

    Oldskoolrob Senior Member

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    The song that introduced me to Gretsch guitars:
     

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