Archive for December, 2007

Overpriced Archtops

December 30, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Here are some examples of sellers who think they can get away with pricing their stuff way above what is the normal market price (and perhaps they can). First, a Biltmore. Second, a Harmony Cremona. Third, a Regal. Finally, a Gibson L-37.

The Big One on Ebay

December 30, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Here. A very clean example, judging from the (not too good) pics. In fact, most Emperors are pretty clean. It must have been obvious from the beginning that these were as much investments as tools.

Indian “Lawsuit” Archtop

December 30, 2007

Nicolai Foss

In keeping with time-honored copyist tradition of almost copying the name of the original (e.g., D’Aquisto-D’Aspiranta), here is an Indian-produced “Höbner” (and it is a “265”!).

Archtop Germany

December 23, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Here is Archtop Germany, a site devoted to anything archtop’ish in the German way. Even if you don’t read German you can still enjoy the many nice pics and check out the many vendors and luthiers. I was surprised to see how much good stuff is actually on offer in my neighbour country (although buying from US vendors or on Ebay still seem a better bargain on average).

Three Epi Deluxes on Ebay

December 22, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Yes, that is right, no less than three specimens of what some consider to be the best ever factory-made archtop. My dream is to one day be able to amass the amount of money that is required to buy an Emperor, but I got to admit that a Deluxe wouldn’t be a bad second choice.

OK, here is, first, an appr. 1932, 16” Masterbilt Deluxe. Overall very pretty (note the front and the back of the headstock), but with some ugly damage to the finish near the left f-hole and a repair to the back. It will be interesting to see what price this rare and beautiful guitar ends at. Second, here is a 1940s Deluxe, and, third, here is an extremely clean example from 1946.

Gypsy Guitars on French Ebay

December 22, 2007

Nicolai Foss

French ebay continuously has about half a dozen potentially interesting gypsy guitars on offer. At the moment there is a very pretty Favino (pere) with a starting price of 4,000 Euros. Not exactly low, but something between 4 and 5k Euros is probably the right price for this guitar. There are also a couple of DiMauros (here and here), both with the characteristic DiMauro soundhole, plus that 20k Euros Selmer and various recent Selmac clones (here is the entire offering).

Archtop-related Books

December 9, 2007

Nicolai Foss


Sideman – The Autobiography of Billy Bauer as told to Thea Luba I haven’t read this one.

Peter Broadbent: Charlie Christian: Solo Flight — the Seminal Electric Guitarist. The definitive (meaning very well-researched book on Charlie). (Don’t mind the silly reviewer comments on Amazon).

Sharony Andrews Green: Grant Green: Rediscovering the Forgotten Genius of Jazz Guitar. Generally OK, but too much in the “neglected-black-genius-made-drug-addict-by-society” vein. Includes an excellent annotated discography.

Jazz guitar history, interviews, etc.:

Charles Alexander: Masters of Jazz Guitar. Excellent. But with perhaps too much emphasis on the last two-three decades and inclusion of players that aren’t jazz guitarists at all (e.g., Steve Vai).

Charles Chapman: Interviews With the Jazz Greats. A strange book. Should have been titled: Interviews with Guitarists who Play 7-String, Benedetto-built Archtops.

Jazz Guitarists — Collected Interviews From Guitar Player Magazine. Lots of classic interviews with the greats.

Norman Mongan: History of the Guitar in Jazz. Nice and comprehensive history. Some transcriptions.

Maurice Summerfield: The Jazz Guitar. Going back almost 30 years to its first edition, this is the classic biography-oriented treatment of the history of jazz guitar playing.

Guitars and Luthiers:

Jim Fisch and L.B. Fred: Epiphone: The House of Stathopoulo. A classic. Unsurpassed. Buy it. But beware: You will lust for an Emperor or Deluxe.

Adrian Ingram: The Gibson L5 — It’s History and It’s Players.

Adrian Ingram: The Gibson ES175 — It’s History and It’s Players. Both Ingram books are very detailed and with beautiful illustrations.

Thomas A. Van Hoose: The Gibson Super 400 – Art of the Fine Guitar. I haven’t read this one.

Robert Benedetto: Making an Archtop Guitar. Here is the blurb: “The definitive work on the design and construction of an acoustic archtop guitar by one of the most respected luthiers of the twentieth century. It iincludes a list of suppliers to acquire all the tools and materials listed and fold-out templates for construction.”

Paul William Schmidt: Acquired of the Angels: The Lives and Works of Master Guitar Makers John D’Angelico and James L. D’Aquisto. A fine book, but could have been much longer. Not definitive.

Ken Vose: Blue Guitar. The docu of the Scott Chinery blue guitar project. I haven’t seen/read this one.


December 5, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Gypsy guitars built by Busato are often mentioned as a part of the “holy trinity” of gypsy guitars, i.e., Selmer, Favino and Busato — but mentioned in that order. I have had occasion to try out a few Busatos and Favinos (no Selmers so far), and I like the Busatos I have tried more than the Favinos (they are more “woody”). Here is what I think is an excellent Busato offer at French ebay. Compared to a Favino, and certainly a Selmer, the quoted pay now price is very low.

Here is Danish Busato-player, Henrik Larsen with his band Gypsymania.

Emperor Bleg

December 4, 2007

Nicolai Foss

This is from the excellent Freddie Green site:

The acoustic arch-top version of the Emperor was discontinued around 1957, but in subsequent years the name has been used to name several electric models, such as the Emperor II, Emperor Regent, and Joe Pass Emperor. These instruments have very little in common with acoustic arch-top version that Freddie Green used. Under the ownership of Gibson, Epiphone offered a Japanese-made Emperor acoustic re-issue in limited quantities for a short time during the mid 1990’s.

I have not been able to find info on this Emperor acoustic re-issue, nor have I ever seen it offered for sale. Can anyone help?

UPDATE: Here is a bit of info on these guitars.