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Cheap Archtops?

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  • Cheap Archtops?

    I'm looking for a acoustic archtop just to mess around with. That being said I don't want to spend a lot of money (less than 200 if possible). Is there anything out there?

  • #2
    Old Harmonys on ebay are about the cheapest, and you have to be careful with them because most of them need a neck reset by this time, which will set you back further than the cost of the guitar.
    I'm guessing that if you find one in your price range it will underwhelm you with its inferiority.
    Honestly, if you really want an archtop, consider waiting until you can afford one. A handcarved archtop is among the most expensive guitars you can buy (along with a good classical guitar).

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    • #3
      Thanks for the advise. I've thought about the old Harmonys, Silvertones, etc. on ebay. I figured they would be very cheap quality, but like I said it's pretty much just to mess around with. I just thought there might be some cheap chinese knock offs around some where, because I would almost rather have that than something old that I have to work on a bunch, which may still be the case.

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      • #4
        This maybe a stupid question, but if you put acoustic strings on an electric archtop would you get enough projection out of it for it to be on par with a regular acoustic volume wise?

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        • #5
          This maybe a stupid question, but if you put acoustic strings on an electric archtop would you get enough projection out of it for it to be on par with a regular acoustic volume wise?


          You'll get some added volume, but it won't be enough to compete with a big-bodied archtop or dreadnought.

          Then again, you won't get that in most of the Harmony/Silvertone/Kay archtops on eBay -- smaller bodied guitars made of plywood that probably shouldn't have anything heavier than .11's (at most).

          I bought one off of eBay (marked "Kent" on the headstock). It was $50, and it didn't need a neck reset to correct the angle -- the neck was far too warped for that to be any help. Most of those old Harmony's don't have adjustable truss rods. I just play slide on it now.

          The Loar makes about the cheapest archtop repro right now. But expect to pay at least $800 for it.

          I'm really surprised no one has thought of building a good, cheap archtop acoustic. Hell, even Selmer-style gypsy jazz boxes are hot items now, and you can find nice ones under $500 (Cordoba's). A company like Seagull already makes all-laminate guitars that sound good (Art & Lutherie), and I think they'd make a killing if they put out a nice little archtop.
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          • #6
            eviltwin is correct. the cheap Chinese archtop is the Loar. After that it is the Eastman starting around $2K. the reason archtops are special is the reason they are expensive. they have carved tops.
            Ever wonder why a little thing like a violin can project so well? carved top. flat top violins never caught on.
            they just aren't going to be able to compete financially with a cheap acoustic flat top guitar. its a different animal.

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            • #7
              I don't get this. Like ET, it seems to me that a decent, solid-top archtop guitar at a reasonable price (say, around $650.00) would sell like hot cakes. And it shouldn't be all that hard to build, either. The big cost in an archtop is the hand carving involved, but, by using CNC machines, carving a top should be a cinch. OK, you'll have to use a thicker top blank which will increase the cost, but materials are the least cost item in a guitar. If you can turn out a carved-top student violin in the $300.00 range, a carved-top git at twice that shouldn't be a significant stretch.
              <div class="signaturecontainer">The Preacher</div>

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              • #8
                I was a little surprised when I started looking into archtops that there weren't really any cheap Chinese knock offs, I mean they make knock offs of almost everything else. You can even get cheap gypsy jazz knock offs (rondo music), I mean why not archtops?

                BTW - Anyone tried the SX Gypsy acoustic from rondo yet? Looks very tempting, but I've never played one or really even heard one.

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                • #9
                  I was a little surprised when I started looking into archtops that there weren't really any cheap Chinese knock offs, I mean they make knock offs of almost everything else. You can even get cheap gypsy jazz knock offs (rondo music), I mean why not archtops?

                  BTW - Anyone tried the SX Gypsy acoustic from rondo yet? Looks very tempting, but I've never played one or really even heard one.


                  I'm pretty sure archtop acoustic guitars require more hands on labor. Shaping the braces and shaping the top plus all of the clamping would be a time consuming operation (IMO).

                  I could be wrong. Nothing new there.
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                  • #10
                    BTW - Anyone tried the SX Gypsy acoustic from rondo yet? Looks very tempting, but I've never played one or really even heard one.


                    Search brought this one up. Scroll down a bit--msmith40 gives a pretty good review.

                    Seems like they need plenty of work to get them sounding right.

                    For all things gypsy jazz, check here.

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                    • #11
                      Obviously there is a market for it, so if it is as easy as all that, to what then, can we attribute the vacuum?
                      CNC, while a wonder of mill shop engineering for fabrication and machining, is not a panacea, cure-all, or 'elixir' (if you'll excuse the expression).
                      the field is wide open for that $300-$600 archtop. nothing to stop anyone who wants to try it, as far as I can see.
                      go get 'em boys.

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                      • #12
                        What benefits do you get from an archtop guitar (usually with f-holes I'm assuming)? They're nowhere near as common as typical flattop acoustics, and I read a Guitar World article (great source I know ) awhile ago saying they couldn't compete with a regular flattop dread in terms of volume and projection.

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                        • #13
                          Go to guitar shows. You might find a Kay or Silvertone out there for a couple of hundred. Check out the neck angle. Somebody might have already reset the neck. Re frets, re finish, re sets all detract from collector price so they can be down priced a little. Besides, it takes a real oddball to collect Kay and Silvertone archtops; they are out there though. At a guitar show you'll at least find out if this is something you want to do and then you can justify a bit more dough.

                          The best buys on old solid wood archtops are the Epiphone Blackstones. Get one from 1930 right up to the Gibson takeover in 1958. I've seen them for $700 needing nothing but someone to love them. Pawn shops and Craigs list. Or find a '50s ES-125 Gibbo thick body. Don't plug it in. Same deal. Those are starting to take off but I looked at one recently for $900. Nowhere to go but up.

                          Whatever.
                          The last of the world's great human beings.

                          Looking for a beater D28 or D35 Martin. Needs neck reset ok. Thakns

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                          • #14
                            http://www.freedomguitar.com/products_guitars_subcat.php?subcat=Archtop%20Hollo wbody&UID=2007020422424675.209.243.20
                            The last of the world's great human beings.

                            Looking for a beater D28 or D35 Martin. Needs neck reset ok. Thakns

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                            • #15
                              http://www.freedomguitar.com/products_guitars_subcat.php?subcat=Archtop%20Hollo wbody&UID=2007020422424675.209.243.20


                              That Farida looked pretty good!

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