Archtop for Bottleneck.

A discussion of techniques, and equipment for guitar. Fretted, bottleneck or slide, acoustic or electric, this is the place.

Archtop for Bottleneck.

Postby ricbleu » Sat Jun 02, 2012 4:47 am

Now that I've contracted the highly invasive bottleneck & lap slide virus from this forum, I'd like to push my limits out at the edges a little bit. I have made an electric lap slide and a Weissenborne Teardrop acoustic lappy and I have a converted Harmony flattop for acoustic slide work. And of course my real pride of a discovery is my Republic steel bodied triolian purchased from Frank last year. But I am curious about the range of tones that an old acoustic jazzbox archtop might provide. There's also an aesthetic component here. I really like those old Hofners and similar guitars with no cutaway and no electrics. I love the symmetry of them (I think Lefty posted some pics of a Harmony some time back). But I wonder what sort of tones and volume I might expect if I should snare something similar. I'm not in the market for anything highly priced or even "pure" vintage - my health is shot and the clock is ticking so I'm just looking to get a foot in another door before I go, eg I've seen a nice little 'Karina' MIC here in NZ with laminated sapele b&s, so you see I'm more after any generally distinctive sound that an archtop might put out under bottleneck than some authentic and highly priced instrument. And I'm definitely not interested in bringing an electric option at this stage. So all information will be gratefully soaked up like dry sponge in a bucket of hot water. Many thanks and, :D Peace
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Re: Archtop for Bottleneck.

Postby zhyla » Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:11 am

Hey Ricbleu, I've owned 4 acoustic archtops of various woods and constructions. They pretty much completely suck for slide. Not very much treble and no sustain. I love archtops but they just don't work well imho for slide.

Some people make it work quite well, especially with a pickup added, but I wouldn't buy one with the expectation that it holds some amazing slide potential.
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Re: Archtop for Bottleneck.

Postby ricbleu » Sat Jun 02, 2012 10:09 am

Well that's good enough for me, Zhyla. I really appreciate the timely advice because there is a Hohner Senator on Trade Me, our NZ equivalent of Ebay, right now for $NZ500. I still like the look of them but with no special tonal attributes and no sustain, there's no reason for me to move on one. Thanks a heap, Z. :D Peace
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Re: Archtop for Bottleneck.

Postby NEONMOONY » Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:46 pm

Slide is funny, sometimes the cheap guitars work as good as anything. I have a bunch of guitars but if it's an acoustic slide you are thinking about, an old Epiphone jumbo I have works very well in that it rings out and has nice, lingering sustain with some harmonics. A lot of cheap acoustics work pretty well. Add a pickup to the equation and you have another animal.
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Re: Archtop for Bottleneck.

Postby socket wrench » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:39 pm

I have to dissagree about archtop's for slide. I have an old Landola from the 50's and it has a great sound whether I use a pocket knife or bottle neck on it. It can be loud as well, far louder than a normal acoustic guitar. Listen to the old Fred McDowell recordings, most of them were recorded on his battered old archtop.
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Re: Archtop for Bottleneck.

Postby leftyguitarman » Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:26 pm

I'm gonna agree with zhyla on this one. I've only owned one archtop, but it sucked for slide. No sustain, as he mentioned, and the midrange honk is kind of odd for slide. I've played other archtops without a slide and I felt that they are all kind of mid rangey (which is not my cup of tea, unless I'm using roaring distortion).
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Re: Archtop for Bottleneck.

Postby gaucho » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:19 am

I'm with Socket Wrench. I love Fred McDowell's slide tone and his early stuff was on a straight up, non-cut away, acoustic arch top. I recently traded a surfboard for a Gretsch G100 acoustic, non-cutaway arch top and it sounds great with slide. I put a floating neck humbucker pick-up on it and now it sounds great acoustically and thru my Blues Jr. It's all a matter of personal taste. I don't think I'd go out and plunk down cash for an archtop strictly for slide (I think there are better choices), but I'm really enjoying this one.
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Re: Archtop for Bottleneck.

Postby ricbleu » Fri Jun 08, 2012 3:29 am

Withsuch varying opinions, I think it would definitely be a case of 'try before you buy'. It might be that a particular archtop might have just what it takes to create the sound you want. My GAS for an archtop for bottleneck has dispersed with no casualties on the way.I've also taken someone else's advice, MichaelM, I think, and tuned my Yammy 12 to open E. Ok, she's stil lgoing to be near the back of the queue for playing time, but that's better than no play at all. :D Peace.
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Re: Archtop for Bottleneck.

Postby socket wrench » Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:04 am

It all does come down to personnal taste. I wanted an archtop but I didn't think I'd find one that was in my price range, i.e. cheap. But I found mine in an antique shop. The neck was buggered, but I got that fixed and it's great.
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Re: Archtop for Bottleneck.

Postby Lo-Fi » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:01 pm

I just spent the better part of the day playing a 1938 Gibson L-12 archtop. Although I have tried for decades, I just can't make peace with those things. I tend to find the upper end too tinny or brittle sounding. I do, however, really like round soundhole archtops which have more of the fatness you get with a flattop. In more than 50 years of playing bottlemneck the most wicked slide guitar I have ever run across remains my mid-1930s Kay Kraft K-2 round soundhole archtop. The adjustable neck (one of the last Kays to have this feature) is also a joy - easy as pie to set up any way I want it.
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