Archtops that won’t break the bank?


Hey Steve,

I’ve really been digging the sounds you’ve been getting out of the L-5 and the Vega (I think this is what you played at the Ardmore with Ron Holloway last November). Anyway, I’ve been in the market for an archtop myself and am wondering if you have played anything or have good info about any archtops in the vein of the L-5 or Vega on a student’s (ish) budget. Say, under $1500 or so.


Brice, Maryland

One Thought on Archtops that won’t break the bank?
    20 Jun 2022

    The blonde archtop in Ardmore was the Gugino; 1930’s era neck-thru archtop. More on that later. .

    Anything that isn’t a solidbody will get you in the ballpark.
    Plenty of budget options available, you’ll just have to commit to “running the racks” and playing a couple dozen Epiphone’s and Eastman’s etc until you find a special one.
    There are at least three Epiphone thin/semi-hollow’s I’d be happy to own: the 335 style with the big humbuckers, the mini-hum version, and the John Lennon type with the P90’s.

    Epiphone also makes a full box flat-top John Lennon type thing with the pickup built in at the end of the fingerboard, not the most popular format these days, but I’d eat that up. . cool guitar.

    I’ve seen a few Eastman full box “jazz guitars” working well after upgrading most of the hardware and electronics.

    Again, the important part is strings attached to a box of air, not a plank. That’s the funk and complexity in those guitars: resonant, colorful attack, short sustain.
    That’s all “box stuff”. Wooden bridge helps for sure, and generally less mass for tuners and tailpiece than you might think.
    Heavier hardware could be considered an upgrade on some solid bodies, but not for the more acoustic style guitars in my experience.

    Anyway, you’ll be fine with your budget, you’ll just have to shop around.
    Also, there are lots of options out there.
    I just mentioned Epiphone because I’m a Gibson fan and a Beatles fan and I want a Casino. .

    Happy Hunting!

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