MISC ARCHTOP GUITARS
(Others may be located on Gibson/Epiphone pages, Ibanez, Misc. Electrics, etc.)
· 2006 Hagstrom Viking Semi-Hollowbody, (front), (headstock), (back), (appointments), (optional case). Reissue of the famed Viking, originally made in Germany from '65 thru the late 70's. It was a quality instrument and fairly popular among European pro artists but it was our own Elvis Presley who gave it greater notoriety, playing a Viking during his '68 "Comeback Special" televised worldwide on NBC. While I've never had an original Viking, I must say that I'm impressed with this reissue, primarily its ability to play virtually any style of music. It sounds excellent playing clean jazz or chicken pickin', harder-edged jazz/fusion, or even very high gain rock. I played my modeling amp with one of the Boogie Rectifier settings, which is very high gain, and not a hint of feedback while retaining good note definition. The Viking is arched semi-hollow maple body with a resonant, loud acoustic tone. Pickups are Hagstrom's HJ-50 humbuckers with the standard 3-way and dual volume/tone controls. It has Hagstrom's patented H-Expander truss rod which provides tension at either end and runs the entire length of the neck. The rigid yet lightweight alloy truss rod allows for very low action and a thin set maple neck. Other features include maple body with Canadian maple set neck, "Resinator" fretboard with 6mm dot markers, 15" fretboard radius, 18:1 Hagstrom tuners with Imperial style tuner buttons, 24.75" scale, GraphTech black Tusq XL nut, long travel tuneomatic bridge with Hagstrom Trapeze Tail Piece, complete with coat of arms emblem, and thin fast neck. Click here for a YouTube demo that takes it through the paces, clean, jazz, and rock, although you can go a lot higher on the gain. For more info and 7-minute demo, go to Hagstrom's site here. The Hagstrom standard lists at $1099 and sells new for $799 *without* a case or gigbag. Why not consider this barely played beauty for just $550 - or add a quality Hagstrom hardshell case (salt/pepper tweed) for $639.
· 1953 Epiphone Zephyr Regent Archtop, (front-1 front-2), (label), (back), (headstock/neck), (side), (pickup). Nice old jazz box and the more desirable cutaway (Regent) Zephyr model. The Zephyr Regent was a mid-line model featuring a single New York pickup, large 17 3/8" lower bout, laminated maple top, back, and sides, trapeze tailpiece (Frequensator style on early models), bound body and neck, and notched block fretboard inlays. As nice as it looks now, this one was quite a project, coming to us in rough shape (before-1, before-2), with loads of dirt and grime - appeared to have never seen a polishing cloth - and the binding chipped and/or pulled away over most of the top and back. Martin reshaped the binding and reattached original binding where possible, and installed a few new sections where it had deteriorated. Around 1/3 of the body binding was affected, which Martin repaired nicely (a new section shown in back cutaway here). Although the binding patina is a little lighter than the original, in years to come it will blend in and will look original. Electronics were nearly useless until the pots were removed and cleaned. Likewise, the tuners were frozen or hard to turn until they were all lubricated. What we discovered was an extremely clean guitar underneath all the grime as Martin hand-buffed the entire body and the nitro finish shines like a new guitar. Please note that there is no overspray on the body, simply an intensive cleaning. Although this guitar is in very nice shape for a '53, there are a few detractors that need pointing out. It's missing the "E" from the tortoise pickguard; one knob is replaced but we substituted another 50's knob of the same color and patina; logo plate on the headstock is from a reissue although the same shape and style as the original. Martin buffed out the finish beautifully, but there are check lines over much of the front and back (as shown here) as well as the headstock veneer, which is expected on a nitro finish that's 60 years old. Shown here, the only cracks were two hairline cracks at the base of the headstock, with the before appearance in the pic on the right. This was little more than a cosmetic issue which we've made better as shown in the pic on the left. It is also missing one of the tuner ferrules which I don't seem to have among my spares. Shown here, you can see the tight neck joint (neck has never been removed) which has a perfect angle, allowing very low action. Neck is a soft V-shape, not overly large, with small vintage frets which exhibit some wear but the set up has low action with only slight string rattle in places. Although it doesn't require a refret, if you want the same low action with no fret buzz whatsoever Martin can do a complete refret with your choice of frets for additional cost - or we can raise the action to medium at no cost of course. Epiphone and Gibson were the premier builders of archtops during this era and they're highly regarded by players as being truly fine instruments. 60 years after it was built, this one still plays and sounds wonderfully, testament to the craftsman ship of the skilled post-war luthiers. If you check vintage sites like gbase.com, you'll usually see Zephyr Regents in the $3K-$4K range, including some with modifications. This one may not appeal to the collector of museum guitars, but for the player looking for value in a 50's archtop, it's a sweet deal at just $1499. (Note: We have a '41 Epi archtop, student model hollowbody with 13" bout, from the restoration shop coming soon).
· 2006 Gretsch G5120 Electromatic Hollowbody - Black, (front), (back), (headstock), (side). Beautiful condition and an absolutely killer player. I've had around a dozen of these Korean Hollowbody's and, without exception, have been very impressed with the consistent quality and perfect neck angle that allows for a perfect setup. I expected the rather dead sound of an unamplfied archtop but instead, this guitar has a nice sustain and a rather full tone - not the mid-range tone you frequently get out of these when played acoustically. Other features include high-gloss urethane finish, very good sounding Gretsch dual-coil pickups, laminated maple neck with rosewood fingerboard and Neo-Classical "thumbnail" markers, 24.6" scale, anchored Adjusto-matic bridge, genuine Bigsby B60 Vibrato tailpiece, Black Headstock Overlay, Pearloid Gretsch and Electromatic Headstock Inlays, Bound Fingerboard, Double Bound Laminated Maple Body, clear plexi pickguard, Knurled Strap Retainer Knobs, 16" lower bout and 2.5" body depth. The quality of Gretsch's Korean imports has been highly touted at various forums on the web. Late in the decade Gretsch moved production to China and, quite fairly, lowered the list price from $1200 to $1000, and the Chinese ones sell new for $699. Are the new ones as good? Don't know; haven't had one. I do know that this is an exceptional hollowbody for the money and even in immaculate condition it's priced lower than a new Chinese model. Just $559(HOLD-Candy 10/17) for this one. I have used wood/tolex vintage-style case available for $69 if desired.
· 1960 Kay Swing Master Electric Archtop Mod. K6970, (front), (back/side), (headstock/neck), (pickups/knobs), (case). Kay is a little tricky with dating and figuring out model names, but I was able to identify the model by the body stamp ("L4287 6970") and it appears identical to the Swing Master K6970 in the 1960 catalog shown in "Guitar Stories Part II" (pg. 131) by Michael Wright. It's a medium depth hollowbody archtop, measuring 15 3/8" at the lower bout. Features include laminated spruce top with laminated maple body, flamed maple back, set neck construction, bound neck with 19-frets on a rosewood board, 14 frets clear of the body, Venetian cutaway, double-bound body multi-ply binding on top, dual "speed bump" single coil pickups, 3-leg trapeze tailpiece with cross bar, rosewood bridge, dual volume and tone controls with white Bakelite radio-style knobs. These came in 1, 2, and 3 pickup models with the 2-pickup K6970 selling for $139.50, with the finished described as "shaded walnut finish with golden highlights", a term we now refer to as tobacco sunburst. The flamed maple back on this is unusual for a budget line guitar and from the comparable models I've seen on the web, as nice as you'll find on this model. Many cheaper models had fake painted flames but this one is the real deal. Kay's history goes back to the 1890's and in in 1928, Henry Kay Kuhrmeyer bought the company, and by 1934 the company was officially known as the "Kay Musical Instrument Company". Their factory was located in Chicago IL, the Mecca of guitar building, before adding another plant in Elk Grove IL in '64. Among their accomplishments, perhaps most notably they were the first maker of electric guitars, a disputable but, quite likely, true assertion. Kay was the largest USA guitar builder during the golden era. In addition to the Kay brand, they were the builders for many other brands including Airline (Montgomery Wards), Silvertone and Supertone (Sears&Roebuck), Old Kraftsmen (Spiegel), and Truetone (Western Auto), to name just a few. Department stores or catalogs were the largest sellers of guitars when I was a kid and if you bought one during the 60's, chances are it was made by Kay. This guitar plays good for an old Kay with typical medium action, getting higher as you go up the neck. Currently set up with a fresh set of flat wound strings, in the jazz box tradition. The pickups are lower output and have a unique tone of their own. It's all original, with the exception of tuners and in extremely nice shape for 50 years with the worst flaw being a worn spot on the back, typical with a thin nitro finish, but it has obviously seen very little playing time with near perfect frets and minimal extraneous wear. For a vintage American archtop, especially with a real flamed maple back, a nice buy at $650. Includes a quality form fit SKB Freedom case.
· DeArmond Model 41 "Toaster" Pickup w/Controls. Very well preserved, chrome plating shines like new. The Model 41 was available as an add-on to any guitar, and was stock some high end archtops like the Swedish-made Levin 300 series, which used the Model 41 from '57'-58, before switching to Dynasonics in '59. All original including the clear acrylic tapered knobs, mini pots, and 1/8" output jack. The Model 41 has a very thin base which allows mounting to both flat top and archtop instruments. I can't get a true reading but it measures 7.53K at two lugs of the volume pot, most likely higher if metered right off the pickup lead. These are great sounding pickups which are highly regarded and can easily be permanently mounted, or with a little effort adapted as a floating unit. Beautiful shape, works great, $175.
· 2002 Ibanez AS73-BS - Brown Sunburst, (front), (back/side), (headstock). Excellent value in a quality "Dot" copy. This is the 4th one of these I've had recently and I can safely say that they're exceptionally nice guitars, the best in their price point. Since their imitation years of the 60's and 70's, when they were building great quality Gibson and Fender copies, Ibanez has made it on their own designs, eventually becoming the most innovative Asian builder. A few models have stayed in their catalog since their "copy days", such as their ES-335 style, now known as the AS73 from their extremely popular Artcore line. It retains the basic design of the 335 including semi-hollow body with center block, laminated maple top/back/sides, set in mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard, bound body and neck, dual chrome-covered humbuckers with 3-way switch and dual volume/tone controls, 3+3 tuners, 24 3/4" scale, tuneomatic bridge with stop bar tailpiece, and of course the "Dot" inlays. Ibanez used the ACH1 and ACH2 humbuckers for this model, which are clean sounding, with a slight overdrive. The pickups are mounted into a sustain block for increased sustain and feedback elimination. It also features a 17th fret joint for more comfortable access to higher notes. This is a very comfortable neck, that's thin and fast, with a flat 12" fretboard and medium frets. It plays beautifully from the first fret to the top, and has a quality tone that can go from jazz to blues, to rock. These are made in China now but from my observations the better Chinese factories are on par with the Korean guitars in past years. The gloss finish is applied perfectly, binding is done beautifully, and the overall fit and finish is on par with the best Korean guitars. Just a reminder that it's not the country that builds the guitars, rather, it's the quality control used within the factory to ensure only good guitars leave the plant. This one's in beautiful condition, set up to perfection, and a bang-for-the-buck winner for semi-hollow thinlines at $339.
· 60's Egmond (Holland) Acoustic Archtop, (front), (back), (headstock), (neck attachment). Nice playing budget archtop from ca. 70's, made in Holland. Egmond was one of the premier builders of Dutch guitars, opening their factory in 1932, closing down in 1983. None of these were imported into the USA so the few you see probably came into the country via returning military members, or perhaps a vacationing uncle. Now in the age of easy international shipping, a few more are making their way to our shores. I don't have a lot of info on this model, but it's obviously a no-frills, plain archtop. It employs a unique "floating" neck attachment, with a dovetail neck joint, employing a spring-loaded screw to easily change the neck angle when needed. This is a fantastic innovation, used only by Egmond, which eliminates costly neck resets. The body and neck are both stamped "184" inside the neck joint which indicates quality not found on cheaper archtops built in recent years, i.e. the neck and body were custom fit during construction, rather than a body and neck pulled from bins during final assembly. A few interesting facts about this brand: Bran May used to play an Egmond; George Harrison's first guitar was an Egmond, although it was branded Rosetti, which Egmond used for guitars destined for UK sales; Paul McCartney played an Egmond "Solid 7" 6-string, that he strung with piano strings to make it a bass.Egmond built many guitars under different brands including Alberti, Miller, Hi-Spot, Lido, Alpha, Rosetti, and many more. You can find more info on these interesting guitars at Egmond's site here. This guitar is very playable and sounds great for that Delta blues sort of tone. It appears to be all original, with a proper vintage patina, and is overall in nice vintage condition except for a small piece missing from the tip of the pickguard. Cool vintage archtop for $250.
· ca. 1951 Gretsch New Yorker 16" Acoustic Archtop, (pic2), (pic3), (pic4). "As is" special! Can't be set up with low action without some serious neck work so I'm offering this "as is" for the slide player or someone who plays only cowboy chords (action at 12th fret). Other than the action, this guitar is quite intact without extraneous rattles and no breaks, with a cool "Blind Willie Lemon" tone that's well suited for delta blues. I don't a lot about this model other than it has rather austere cosmetics for a Gretsch, with a painted on logo but it does feature a bound neck and body, and block fretboard inlays. Fretboard is Brazilian rosewood, which is a cool feature any day, and what appears to be original tortoise pickguard. Finish has a wonderfully aged patina, typical with nitro finishes (body pic) including nicely yellowed binding that's in remarkably nice shape for a 50's Gretsch. Serial 4779 stamped inside F-hole which should date it to '51. I'm into it for $400 and after talking to my luthier it's not going to be cost effective to make it a killer Spanish style player thus it's offered as is for $450.
· Tokai ES-335 Copy, (front/back), (headstock). Excellent quality imported Dot copy. This is a recent model but Tokai's quality today seems to be as good as it's been for the last few decades, which is top notch. Plays fantastic with very low action and bends true and easy. Fit/finish are excellent as well. I'm not up on my overseas factories, but this guitar impresses me twice as much as Epiphone. Beautiful condition, perefect frets, and an excellent semi-hollowbody for $475. Includes the common "pleather" gigbag.
· 1965 Harmony Truetone, (pic2), (headstock). Wonderfully preserved example, from Spring of '65, from the days when most of these were sold through mail order companies like Sears & Roebuck. These were definitely a case of style over substance with painted on flamed maple, inlays, and binding, but it's actually a nice sounding archtop with a rich tone that's clear with no rattle or nasty overtones. Exceptionally clean condition, very much an "under the bed" guitar with the only real flaw is a small finish chip in the middle of the back, visible in pic2 above. Has a very chunky V-neck, common on these older Harmony's so if you have small hands you should pass on this one. I don't know why there are no longer any inexpensive USA archtops being built today - I don't think you can touch one for under $2K. Back when this one was built, it was probably a $38 guitar. For a very playable USA vintage archtop in this condition, it's a pretty sweet deal at $299(HOLD-Jim H 8/1).
· 1960's Sorrento Hollowbody, (pic2), (pic3), (pic4). "Lawsuit" headstock! A real "under the bed" beauty and a good quality Japan archtop. What sets this apart from its near pristine condition, is the Gibson "open-book" headstock, which was a no-no in terms of import shortly after this model was imported, the superb action - many of these don't have the best necks and are best used for slide guitar, and the obvious beautiful condition. No player's wear, very little finish checking, finish shines like new - a solid 9+ condition. A pair of single coil pickups sound very good and aren't prone to feedback with moderate gain settings. Just a sounding, killer playing vintage Japan hollowbody and quite a find in this condition. Vintage Japan guitars finally started taking off a few years ago but they're still quite affordable especially when you consider they can be had for LESS than new Korean Epi's, Deans, Samick, etc. $379 takes this one.
· Teisco Del Ray EP-8T hollowbody (pic2), (pic3). Thinline hollowbody electric. Needs some attention. Cracks visible in the pics are just lacquer cracks (i.e. finish checking) and are not in the wood. Gretsch bridge used for photo's only and is NOT included. You will need to supply a bridge.Make it your next project for $75/as is.
· Washburn Oscar Schmidt OE-30 Semi-Hollowbody, NOS 2004 model, an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a decent ES-335 style for under $200. Factory setup left something to be desired but we touched up the fret ends and tweaked it all around. The result is an excellent playing guitar with good sounding Washburn 400-series pickups; quality Grover tuners keep it in tune. Never retailed and better than new since it'll be ready to play right out of the box. Lists at $349 but this one with a pro-setup is just $199.