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  • eurojazz2001 8:14AM

Today's Birthday

YukiRF

Archtop and string questions...

Hello all!

I have a Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin archtop (with P-90). I have been interested for a while now in learning to play some rudimentary Gypsy Jazz. I don't foresee a guitar purchase in my near future so I will be using what I have.

I have heard that archtops can be good for this and you don't HAVE to a maccaferri-style guitar. Would this be correct?

Also, could I buy, say, some D'Addario Gypsy Jazz strings to put on my Godin? I assume it would be fine but I'd like to be sure before I bother. :)

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Pizmeyre
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Comments

  • swingnationswingnation ✭✭
    Posts: 62
    I'm not sure you would get the right string tension using GJ strings with the Godin to get the sound you're looking for. But the D'Addario's aren't that expensive so it's probably worth trying.

    I had a Godin 5th Ave acoustic for a few years ago and found I got the best sound with John Pearse acoustic strings 0.12 gauge- but that was my taste. I was also doing more swing jazz at the time but comping GJ style didn't sound terrible.
  • StevearenoSteveareno ✭✭✭
    Posts: 349
    Good question. Probably worth a try. Archtops usually need a heavier string to drive the top, but in music there are no real rules. I use D'addario med. flatwounds on my old Kalamazoo archtop. Not a alot of volume but warm, funky tone. Sounds great for GJ rhythm, but not quite right for the lead stuff. I personally don't care for bronze wound strings on archtops or just about anything, GHS white bronze are the exception (they look better and last a long time).
    Swang on,
  • pizmeyrepizmeyre New
    Posts: 3
    Thanks guys.

    I guess for now I'll just stay away from GJ strings and maybe get some thick flats.

    Won't matter for a while anyway. It's gonna be a looooong time before I can make anything but noise on this thing. :)

    Thanks again!

    Pizmeyre
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    Steveareno wrote:
    Good question. Probably worth a try. Archtops usually need a heavier string to drive the top, but in music there are no real rules. I use D'addario med. flatwounds on my old Kalamazoo archtop. Not a alot of volume but warm, funky tone. Sounds great for GJ rhythm, but not quite right for the lead stuff. I personally don't care for bronze wound strings on archtops or just about anything, GHS white bronze are the exception (they look better and last a long time).
    Swang on,
    I'm just the opposite, I prefer bronze strings on archtops, at least if you are playing straight acoustic. Nothing else seems to have the right sound for me. They won't sound balanced with most pickups, however. The White Bronze (not really bronze but rather a nickel-iron alloy) are a pretty good compromise; they have somewhat more acoustic punch than most electric strings but are magnetically active, which bronze is not. Flatwounds are great if you are looking for a warm electric sound, ease of playing, and no noise. Since I play mainly Freddy Green style rhythm, bronze 13s work best for me. A bit heavy for good soloing, however.

    Argentines or any other similar string may indeed not have enough tension to drive an archtop well, and they probably won't work well with the pickup, either. Your best bet is to stick with whatever strings you are most comfortable with.

    If you ever get into a jam with good players using actual gypsy guitars, you may find it hard to hold your own acoustically, but an archtop is perfectly OK for learning on. The key is to develop proper technique regardless of the guitar. Michael Horowitz's Gypsy Picking and Gypsy Rhythm are the bibles as far as books go, and the Denis Chang instructional DVDs are top notch if you prefer the video approach. If you really get into gypsy jazz seriously, you will probably reach the point that you want to get a more authentic sound. Until then, have a blast with your archtop.
    Benny

    "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
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    No one will care what you play. I've seen everything from archtops to flattops to a semi-hollow electric played acoustically. If you decide you are really smitten by this music, you'll get a manouche guitar soon enough, but don't let it hold you back in the meantime. Just play what ya brung and have fun.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • BohemianBohemian State of Jefferson✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 303
    Having owned a 5th ave.. what made it sound best/better was:
    1. Fit the bridge to the top.. they do not fit.. there are gaps. Slip a sheet of paper under the wings and you'll see.
    2. OR fit a Stewart Mac Donald rosewood archtop bridge , the factory plastic (tusq) bridge dosen;t do this guitar any favors.. fit the new brdige.
    2. Use at least 12's and bronze. 13's are even better. Flats do not sound good on this guitar for a 'Gypsy" sound.

    I sold mine and regret it.. fine guitar. Fun and light, plays well, good tone.
  • Il TrovatoreIl Trovatore San Jose, CANew
    Posts: 83
    I started out playing this style on an archtop too; a Gretsch Synchromatic.
    I tried the D'Add GJ strings on it and it sounded OK, but the guitar sounded so much better with flat-wounds on it that I found my playing was much better when the guitar sounded better.
  • lacrossehotclublacrossehotclub La Crosse WI✭✭✭ Dupont Nomade
    Posts: 115
    I also play a Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin archtop (with P-90), and a Dupont Nomade. Both are quality instruments and have their own mojo (especially for the price!). They are two different guitars for two different applications. After experimenting I've found I prefer D'Addario EJ21 (.012 - .052) strings for the Kingpin and Galli 11's for the Dupont. Personally I would not recommend flatwounds for the Godin, although rolling off the treble pot warms up the tone on fresh strings. Just my 2 cents...

    Steve
  • Il TrovatoreIl Trovatore San Jose, CANew
    Posts: 83
    I wasn't suggesting flatwounds just saying that you the find the best strings for the guitar not focus on getting GJ specific ones.
  • keary18keary18 Jackson, MS✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 53
    I play an Ellsberry arch de lutan with our gypsy jazz group and I use D'addario 13-56s acoustic phosphor bronze strings. I've also used La Bellas, the same ones John and Bucky Pizzarrelli use. The LB's are difficult to keep tuned and they have a totally different sound from the D'addarios. I love them both but have found the D'addarios to be better for GJ.

    You really have to work with a few until you get what is comfortable for your ears and for what you're playing. I have a lot of friends who play arch tops for different venues and music and most all of them like and use the same d'addarios I am referring to. I have another GREAT player that uses Elixir Polywebs 12-53. He's a professional musician/teacher for years.

    Hope this helps, everyone has a different experience with this. Good luck!
    David
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