Jazz archtop guitar to play gipsy jazz/manouche?



  • I'm sooo jealous Michael. Maybe I will win the lottery
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Posts: 4,776
    I'd pay $50 just to hug it.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • ROFL
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x2, Petrarca, Genovesi, Burns, Kremona Zornitsa & Paul Beuscher resonator.
    edited January 2017 Posts: 959
    Shemi wrote: »
    That is a stunning guitar! I've just picked this old Hofner up. No label inside so I need to do a bit of research to find out which model exactly it is, but I think it's probably made in thec60's as it has the truss rod. It's living in the lounge at the moment and doesn't sound too bad for GJ. Very quiet though, so good for late night practicing. (Apologies if the wallpaper hurts your eyes, we've just moved house and I've yet to take the stripper to that room!lol)
    That is an early to mid-60s Hofner 456. If you want to date it, Hofners usually have a date pencilled on the inside of the top, you will need a small inspection mirror and a torch to look for it, usually near the treble side f-hole, but sometimes near the other one. I have had many Hofners down the years, from the top of the range Committees on down and a good one certainly has the tone for GJ picking (I used Martin bronze lights; 12 to 56) although a bit too twangy for 'pompe' chords. My main problem with them was I could never get comfortable with the thick section necks. The best place for Hofner info is;
  • ShemiShemi Cardiff✭✭✭
    Posts: 170
    Thanks for the info Chris. My cursory glance at the various models made me suspect it was a 456 but it's nice to hear a definitive answer from someone in the know! I quite like the feel of the neck on this one, I'm a cellist and the neck profile is reminiscent of my cello. The string spacing feels pretty narrow, though. Still, it was more of an emotional purchase than an instrument intended for any serious gigging. It just has a bit of mojo that spoke to me! :-)

    Those are some stunning examples in that photo!
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    I would third Michael's opinion of the Eastmans. I owned an AR805CE for a few years that I regrettably let go (but replaced it with a fabulous '46 Epiphone Triumph). The Eastman was probably actually a bit louder than the Epi, but the Epi has a more vintage sort of bark and a great vibe for my Freddy Green-style big band gig. IMHO, you can play GJ on either, but you'll never reproduce the peculiar sound of a Selmer-style guitar.

    I agree with Russell - archtops produce their best acoustic sound with bronze strings, as heavy as you can stand. I use .013-.056 phosphors, although 80/20 bronze may be even better sounding. I tried 14s for a while with great results, but using them on a four-hour dance gig proved to be a bit much for my tired old fingers. I've been using a DeArmond pickup on the Epi for some years now to get some extra boost, and the bronze strings don't work so well, so I switched to nickel, but they're so-so acoustically. I've got a set of Zebras and am interested to see how they work out.

    I'd love to be able to play acoustically in the big band as Freddy did, but he didn't have to compete with electric piano, electrified bass, and a modern drum kit with synthetic heads. He did try playing with a pickup for a while, but his bandmates hated the sound so much that they would sabotage his amp, and he finally got the message and went back to acoustic.

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,857
    Yeah, plus Freddie had the added advantage of a band leader who constantly reminded the other musicians, " If you can't hear the guitar, you're playing too loud!"
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 357
    Freddie also played on very big (18-19" ) and thus presumably loud instruments--mostly by Stromberg and Gretsch. And he kept his action really, really high--one of my teachers had a chance to look at one of Freddie's instruments (probably his Gretsch Eldorado) and said that you could almost put your fingers between the strings and the fingerboard at the 12th fret. My '46 Epi Broadway is a loud guitar, but I suspect that it would be dwarfed by one of Freddie's even if I were to set it up like his. (I've had a 15-58 set on it, and it's playable but pretty stiff. On the other hand, I don't think Freddie did much bending.)
  • AndyWAndyW Glasgow Scotland UK✭✭✭ Clarinets & Saxes- Selmer, Conn, Buescher, Leblanc // Guitars: Gerome, Caponnetto, Napoli, Musicalia, Bucolo, Sanchez et. al.
    Posts: 601
    with my limited experience, I'd say the new Epiphone Masterbilt Olympic archtop I tried was close to the GJ/Selmer sound, and could have been even closer with the right strings & pick .... [ the Zephyr and De-Luxe were 'less' GJ, again imho, ymmv , etc...]
  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    edited January 2017 Posts: 357
    The video demos of the new Epi archtops are underwhelming--thin-sounding and jangly and nothing like the originals. But then, they're not really built like the originals, and the Nashville guys playing them (the Wild Feathers, Ricky Ray) seem to have no idea of what an archtop can do. Chris Scruggs' plugged-in Travis picking is idiomatic and the amp setting sounds more traditional.

    Of course, they're not built like the old Epis--the tops are pressed rather than carved, and the backs are laminate. (Not that a pressed top can't sound good--just that these don't.)

    BTW--Here's a demo and discussion of a 1932 Epi Deluxe that also considers the range of voices that archtops offer. The full-chord chorus of "Paper Moon" at the end shows off the pre-Freddy-Green full-chord voice of rhythm playing.

    And for the guitar's voice without the discussion, there's this:

    And here's the L-12 he mentions in the long video--the difference in voice is immediately noticeable. I'd call it refined and sweet. and I'd love to have an archtop with just that voice.

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