Ideas for carved-top archtop?

The_Nuge

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Hi!

A friend of mine is looking for an archtop with a carved top, but budget is a bit of an issue at about 2000€ (probably 2500$).

Hed also prefer a large box, something like 17". It can be fully acoustic or with pickups.

He's found some offerings from Eastman, and I've also suggested (a used) The Heritage.

Any other ideas?

Cheers

Es
 

hbucker

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Eastman is absolutely worth considering. I love my T-486. It's just great.

Looking used is a good idea, regardless of brand.

Ibanez and Yamaha are also worth considering. Epiphone is coming out with an interesting new line of semi's.

Heritage would be cool, but I think he's looking used to fit his budget.

Good luck!
 

kakerlak

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That's a tough price point to get into a carved spruce top. Player's grade vintage might be an option -- stuff with added pickups, etc, though you'd want to be sure they didn't cut into the braces to install them. Also, in a vintage mode, if your friend is willing to go non-cutaway, you might find some stuff. The 17" makes it a little trickier, though, as those tended to be higher end offerings and command more of a premium.

Once upon a time, you could snag a '90s Guild X-700 around that money, but I think that'd be a fool's errand (only carved top Guilds are Artist Award and X-700).
 

The_Nuge

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Thanks for the input!

Those Guild X-700s look very nice, but will probably blow the budget.
Vintage wouldn't be a problem, but here in Germany most "vintage" archtops are 50s/60s German production and frankly not very good in my experience.

Do Epiphone, Yamaha and Ibanez have archtops with carved tops?
 

hbucker

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Do Epiphone, Yamaha and Ibanez have archtops with carved tops?
I could be wrong, but I understand arch tops to refer to semis and hollow bodies. Carved tops refer to solid body guitars.

With that, I'm not understanding your question. These companies do make arch top semis and hollows. I'm sure they also make solid body carved tops.
 

Dolebludger

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Actually, my understanding is a carved top hollow body is just that -- solid wood that is carved. Many hollow and semi hollow guitars have what is essentially a plywood top that is bent to resemble a carved top. Those are less expensive. Of course, the term "carved top" also applies to solid body guitars.
 

Roxy13

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Can it be a semi-hollow 335 style? If so ESP's Edwards line 335 replicas are all solid carved wood. I have one and they are a steal for how nice they are.
 

BadPenguin

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Most archtops that you see, the 335 and clones, the Loars, etc, have a pressed laminate top. What that means is that a sheet of laminate, plywood, is shaped, then steamed into the preferred arch, and glued down. Laminate is stable, they will rarely split and crack, and is less labor intensive.

Carved tops, are exactly that. Solid wood that is carved into the arch. Better tone, better looks in many cases, and the cool factor of having a carved top. The biggest issue is, they tend to crack and split.

You can get solid carve tops but be prepared to spend some money. I think the biggest bargain are the Eastmans. I have one, and wouldn't give it up. Buy used.
 

The_Nuge

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Just to be clear: m friend is looking for a big, fully hollow, jazz-box with a top that's made of carved wood - not "plywood".

I think used is the way to go, and bot my friend and I are kkeping our eyes peeled for Eastmans and Heritages.
 

Dolebludger

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Just a couple of questions. What are the advantages in tone of a true carved one piece top over a curved laminated top? And does the OP wish to confine his search to true carved top guitars?

And just a comment. I have both a true hollow body and a semi hollow body. My use of the true hollow is limited to low volume, low gain playing in rooms that aren’t too small because of feedback. The semi hollow has no such limitations.
 

The_Nuge

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Thanks for the input!

The carved-top guitars will have better acoustic properties, and that's what my friend is looking for.
He has other guitars for "loud music", so that's not an issue!
 

kakerlak

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Carved spruce top jazz boxes are louder and more dynamic than pressed-top ones, be they laminate or solid. They're fine-tuned from the underside -- it's true master luthiery and the reason the real-deal boutique ones get into five figures, as it's not just cosmetic work and lumber cost, like in boutique solidbodies.

That having been said, I've always kind of questioned the real sense in instruments like the old Gibson electric L5s and Super 400s where all that work goes into carving the top, only to cut a couple big rectangles out of it and mount heavy humbuckers. Seems a significant compromise in acoustic tone only to yield an instrument that tends to feed back much worse than a laminate top would, when plugged in. But that's why most modern (and a lot of vintage) jazz boxes got floating pickups.

If you guys are in Europe, what about old Levins? Those always seemed really cool from afar and I know that the high end flat tops and classicals that they imported here as Goyas in the sixties were top quality stuff. Might be less funky than similar Hofners, which are neat as all get out, but I know from experience the neck profiles are kind of inelegant.
 


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