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I'm thinking about getting a new guitar and for years and years I've wanted an archtop with the pretty f-holes and a tailpiece. I've got about $1000 to spend and I'm looking for just the guitar: no electronics. I figure I can add a piezo or floating humbucker later.

What can I expect for this price? Will I find a carved top or am I still in laminated land? Do I have to choose between a gorgeous tobacco-sunburst and a nice clear tone?

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In that price range, your best bet may be a vintage guitar that no longer LOOKS beautiful, but still SOUNDS beautiful. As with all vintage players, an in-hand personal inspection is essential to distinguish between cosmetic issues and structural concerns. Above all, based upon the few that I've observed, inspect it for a truss rod, and closely inspect the neck by sighting it lengthwise. (I once saw a pre-WWII archtop whose neck had multiple crests and troughs along its length. I didn't believe that could EVER be repaired.)

Good luck! I love that style as well, but ultimately I settled for a more modern and maintainable flat-top. Although, having said that, action adjustment can be much more difficult on an acoustic -- sometimes requiring a neck reset.

  • Aren't vintage guitars going to be more expensive? – Charles Oct 22 '14 at 0:45
  • @Charles I think it's used-guitar, not a vintage. – seseorang Oct 23 '14 at 13:14
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Well based on your questions, here are some things to look for in an archtop:

  • 6 strings
  • An arched top and back, not flat
  • Moveable adjustable bridge
  • F-holes similar to members of the violin family
  • Rear mounted tailpiece, stoptail bridge or Bigsby tremolo
  • 14th-fret neck join

Honestly aside from that its all dependent on what kind of music you are playing, what tone you are going for, and most important, your preference. There are hundreds of archtops out there, $200-$10,000, that can get you what you are looking for (tone, look, make, feel, etc), but you first have to know what you are looking for. Hope this helps!

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