More on Acoustics versus Electrics

March 22, 2009

Nicolai Foss

Richard Autenzio sent me the thought-provoking mail below on an issue that has often been debated on this blog.

I keep coming back to the basics and that is Acoustics versus electrification. As we all know the 175 was really built as an electric archtop where as the forerunners like the L-5 were built as acoustic archtop guitars.
The 175 was a laminated top and the L-5 was a carved top and so in many way I would have to agree with Nicolai that they are completely different guitars. As I have said many time as soon as they started putting pickups on guitars, that changed the guitar for ever. If you want to debate this then please do because I believe that the true archtop acoustic sound has slowly taken second place to the plugged in sound, which in many cases has no resemblence to the acoustic sound of the archtop guitar unplugged. As Nicolai knows D’Aquisto in his latter years tried to retain that archtop acoustic sound by making The Centura, The solo, The Avant Garde etc which all came without pickups. I have played many of the popular famous name archtop guitars including the 175 and I am not impressed by the acoustic sound they struggle to produce. Just getting a little bit more technical now, but apart from many changes to the achtop guitar that has taken place the short scale concept has not helped with the acoustic sound. Whilst the short scale guitar makes the fret board easier for many to use it has shotened the string length and I have noticed that the nicer sounding acoustic archtop guitars are a full 25 1/2″ scale allowing the strings to fully resonate. On the subject of strings the flats have not done much for the full acoustic sound of many archtop guitars as most like the L-5’s were designed for round wounds. I still use L-5 on most of my archtops for that reason.

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