Archive for March, 2008

Ed Bickert

March 31, 2008

Nicolai Foss

Here is a tribute site to the great Ed Bickert. There is lots of Ed on YouTube. Ed Bickert is proof that you don’t need an archtop to play fantastic jazz guitar.

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Jacobacci Archtop

March 23, 2008

Nicolai Foss

Here is the beautiful “Super De Luxe.” I think I have seen pics of the great French player Marcel Bianchi with one of these. Here is a very comprehensive French site on Jacobacci guitars. And here is a YouTube clip with Sacha Distel and Louis Armstrong, Sacha playing what may seem to be a Gibson L4 with a CC pickup, but which is more likely a Jacobacci copy.

Oldest Epi Archtop?

March 23, 2008

Nicolai Foss

This highly unusual Triumph may not be the very first Epi archtop, but it is the oldest Joe at Archtop.com has seen, so it is quite likely that this is in fact numero uno. Note the very reasonable price. With the dollar at (almost) an all-time low, this should be seriously interesting for Euro-collectors.

Louis Stewart

March 23, 2008

Nicolai Foss

One of the, if not the, greatest living European jazz guitarist is Louis Stewart. My particular favorite is his work with George Shearing and NHØP, which is now available in a nice four-fer. Here is Stewart’s site (which opens with an endorsement by Pat Martino; says something of the latter’s standing in the jazz guitar community!). There are a number of nice clips with Stewart on YouTube. My favorite is this version of “Honeysuckle Rose on Speed” aka “Scrapple from the Apple.”

Understatement of the Day

March 21, 2008

Nicolai Foss

“The electric part of the guitar looks to be added on”. Check here.

The Rally New Orleans Archtop

March 17, 2008

Nicolai Foss

Here it is. Very pretty and quite traditional, as befits its name. I have absolutely no info on these guitars. Surely Asia-made. Somewhat akin to the Eastman line.

More on Django’s Epi

March 17, 2008

Nicolai Foss

I recently blogged on the ever-fascinating topic of Django’s Epiphone. Here is more detail, including speculation on Django’s amplifier.

Fender Hand Carved Bleg

March 16, 2008

Nicolai Foss

Fender is not usually associated with archtop guitars. However, many will know about the very pretty Fender D’Aquistos of about two decades ago. Before those guitars there was the Montego, which seems relatively rare, but is occassionally traded (e.g., here).

But there was also the Hand Carved, here shown in a pic from the 1972 Fender catalogue. IMHO it is not a particularly beautiful guitar, and really rather odd with its very long f-holes, over-dimensioned pickguard, unusual humbuckers, and almost Maccaferri-like cutaway (and what happened to the right side of the bridge?). Nothing in this guitar says “Fender.”

Do any O&M readers have details on the Hand Carved? When was it introduced? Discontinued? How many were produced? What was the price of the guitar? Any notable players who played it?

I have never seen it offered for sale, so I reckon it must be quite rare, but I really don’t know.

A Weird One

March 15, 2008

Nicolai Foss

Here. Seems to be a French builder (“Vestale”?) who imitated the more crazy German archtops of the 1950s and 60s, surpassing them in the process. I loved this line: “Elle est trés volumineuse plus que la gibson l5”. Yeah, right!

I See More and More Gretsch Archtops

March 15, 2008

Nicolai Foss

… offered for sale, both on ebay and by the leading archtop traders.

Gretsch archtops have never been a favorite with jazz players, Mary Osborne, Freddie Greene, and Sal Salvador being the only major players (as far as I can recall at the moment) to have a Gretsch as their main instrument. The informative, but also intolerably snobbish Vintage Guitars Info argue that

Older Gretsch models (pre-1970) don’t tend to hold up to time as well as other makes. Older binding materials and glues tend to deterior with age. This can cause expensive repairs such as neck sets and binding replacement. Additionally, Gretsch electronics (pickups, switch/knob layout) is not as sonically sound or versatile as those of other makers during the same period.

I am far from sure this is correct. It is well known that, for example, older Epiphones have notorious problems with binding, necks and tailpieces. I wouldn’t say that older Gretsches in general hold less well up to time than Epis, although both may not hold up as well as Gibsons. I am also somewhat baffled by the statements about Gretsch electronics. Gretsch electronics is just different from say Gibson humbuckers or Epi New Yorker pickups.

Whatever all that is, I have noted that more and more old Gretsch archtops — notably early Synchromatics — are appearing on ebay and in the inventories of the archtop traders. They generally trade for rather small amounts of money, often in the neighbourhood of 1k USD. I submit that many of these guitars represent excellent value for money. Here is a stunning 1963 Clipper.