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Old 12-25-2012, 05:46 PM   #1
ryevick
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My Hollowbody Search

I am looking for a HB guitar that can pull off very smooth, thick, warm jazz and yet can also do a 180 in tone and pull off some Setzer style rockabilly and thus also needs a bigsby style tremelo or has a body that can handle one being installed. I also have some minor back issues so the lighter the better... the 3 guitars I currently have in mind are the Ibanez Artcore AF85, the Gretsch G5120 and the Epiphone Casino (I would install the Bigsby). I have not been able to find a store that has all 3 of these on hand that I can test them side by side and thus I am looking at a LOT of videos online. I know what 99% of you are saying right now... if you want to do rockabilly get the Gretsch! and you can't go by videos online... I realize that about the videos but it helps and if rockabilly were all I was interested in you'd be spot on about the Gretsch but I have yet to hear a warm full "Autumn Leaves" style recording for a G5120 (not to mention it's not a solid wood guitar)... I'm actually leaning toward the Artcore then the Casino but am open to any suggestions. If you have one or more of these guitars if you could make a video attempting these tones and link it I'd appreciate it. Thanks!

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Old 12-25-2012, 08:43 PM   #2
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The Ibanez or the Gretsch will both do that just fine. I don't think it's smart to be installing a Bigsby, logistically or financially, with these guitars. If it doesn't have one stock, move on. To be honest I don't think the Casino hangs with either of the other two for your styles. The Ibanez is a nicer jazzer, the Gretsch is better for rockabilly. If you're splitting your time evenly I think the Ibanez covers the gap a bit better than the Gretsch, but they're both great.
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Old 12-25-2012, 08:54 PM   #3
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The Epiphone Emperor Swingster should be worth a view, too

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Old 12-25-2012, 09:19 PM   #4
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Haven't played one but that certainly seems like an obvious frontrunner here. I worry about the pickups, Epi often makes them too hot and bright for these styles.
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Old 12-25-2012, 09:28 PM   #5
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You can go with an Epiphone Casino guitar.

They have 5 stars on Guitar center.
Their prices are around 500-600 dollars
Only comes in right-handed model
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Old 12-25-2012, 09:29 PM   #6
ryevick
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Yeah, I think I'm going with the Artcore... I did see the Epiphone Emperor Swingster and it is nice too but something about it I can't put my finger on that I'm not really feeling, it would be nice to compare it first hand as well.

I was looking at a few different models of the Artcore in stock at an online store and they list the specific weight of each one and 3 out of 4 are 7lbs2-3oz and the other is 6lb2oz... hmmm... as I said lighter is better for me but it does make me wonder what's up with that... the serials are pretty close to each other as well...

Last edited by ryevick : 12-25-2012 at 09:30 PM.
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Old 12-25-2012, 09:30 PM   #7
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Old 12-25-2012, 09:39 PM   #8
ryevick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc8995
I don't think it's smart to be installing a Bigsby, logistically or financially, with these guitars. If it doesn't have one stock, move on. To be honest I don't think the Casino hangs with either of the other two for your styles.


Just as a side note... I was debating this a few months ago and contacted Epiphone to find out the thickness of the top wood of the Casinos offered now as compared to the Casino w/Bigsby they use to offer (why they stopped is beyond me)... he said they are the same thickness, so installing a Bigsby shouldn't be a stress problem for the top wood.
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Old 12-25-2012, 09:56 PM   #9
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I know what you mean about the emperor swingster. It seems like a good guitar for these applications (they even make it in orange), but there's something off... My thought was the neck felt wrong, but that's really subjective. I do like the "Chet" style arm on the Bigsby. Either the Gretsch or the Ibanez should get you there. I'd personally take the Gretsch, but i play no jazz and lots of rockabilly.
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryevick
Just as a side note... I was debating this a few months ago and contacted Epiphone to find out the thickness of the top wood of the Casinos offered now as compared to the Casino w/Bigsby they use to offer (why they stopped is beyond me)... he said they are the same thickness, so installing a Bigsby shouldn't be a stress problem for the top wood.

Not a stress problem, it's just that it's expensive and kind of a pain to install a bigsby on a finished guitar. The unit itself isn't cheap, and installing it without cracking the finish is a bit tricky. It can be done, it just doesn't make any sense to install one yourself with so many options available with a factory Bigsby.
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:25 AM   #11
ryevick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc8995
Not a stress problem, it's just that it's expensive and kind of a pain to install a bigsby on a finished guitar. The unit itself isn't cheap, and installing it without cracking the finish is a bit tricky. It can be done, it just doesn't make any sense to install one yourself with so many options available with a factory Bigsby.


True... I have found a couple of slightly used Casinos w/Bigsbys though since I started this thread so they aren't completely ruled out but I just don't think they would offer the kind of tone I could get out of that Artcore... but then again I can only go off of video clips

I'm an OTR truck driver and I've bought six guitars over the past three years and each time I go to buy something I research a lot and come up with a short list of guitars to compare and I think maybe once I was actually able to find a store that had the guitars I wanted to compare in the store (had to go to LA)... I could go to a store right now and they'd have every color of the Gretsch 5120 available and a huge stack of one or two colors that weren't selling that good instead of getting rid of a few of those and offering another Ibanez or Epiphone to their stock for comparison and variety for their customers. Makes zero business sense especially when I'm talking about highly rated guitars of brands they already carry.
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Old 12-26-2012, 03:25 AM   #12
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I have a 5120 and I love it and would strongly recommend it. However, it definitely needs modification to be a really top notch guitar, especially if you want to play jazz. Mine has new pickups, (SD Seth Lover neck, TV Jones Classic bridge) Sperzel locking tuners, and (perhaps most importantly) a TruArc bridge. It's pretty much transformed into a new guitar (in a good way) while keeping its character and personality totally intact. You need some type of PAF style humbucker in the neck if you want classic jazz tones. I love the Seth Lover pickup, but Kent Armstrong Vintage Humbuckers, Gibson '57 Classics, and SD Antiquities (NOT the Jazz model, which is ironically terrible for jazz) are also great pickups in a similar vein. For Setzer type stuff, I think the stock pickups fall just a bit short of "That Great Gretsch Sound" so I would replace them. TV Jones is the obvious choice for a bridge pickup. The locking tuners aren't 100% necessary, but I find that they're much better than the stock tuners. The TruArc bridge is the most important mod to me. For some reason, most Gretsch guitars (even the super expensive American made ones) have bridges that don't match their neck radii (not sure exactly how this works but a guitar tech explained it to me). TruArc bridges correct this, which improves playability and sound. Compton bridges are also designed to do the same thing and are generally highly regarded, but I have no personal experience with them. Changing the bridge, like the tuners, isn't an absolute necessity, but I would definitely recommend it.

Don't worry about the laminate construction in the body. This is really common on hollowbody guitars, including really high end ones. The most famous example is probably the Gibson ES-175, but there are many, many others.

Personally, I don't like the Artcores. They play pretty well and sound okay but I've always felt that they're lacking something, even when I was trying to convince myself to buy one. It could just be personal preference. I don't necessarily think they're low quality instruments, but I still wouldn't recommend them, including the one you're looking at.

Casinos are awesome guitars, but not so much for the tones you're going for. They're great for some '60s style psychedelic rock or overdriven blues-rock madness a la Gary Clark Jr, but definitely not jazz or rockabilly.

As I'm sure you can see, my advice is to get and mod the Gretsch. With the modifications it's really a top quality instrument (way more than either of the others would be with the same mods). However, here's how I'd break it down if you don't want to modify the guitar at all:

If rockabilly tones are more important, I'd recommend the 5120. The stock pickups aren't amazing, but they're pretty good and will get you close the rockabilly tone you're looking for. The jazz tones won't be horrible, but they're not gonna sound like Wes.

If jazz tones are more important, I'd reluctantly recommend the Artcore. You'll get a slightly subpar (IMO) version of the classic jazz tone (Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, Joe Pass, etc.). Just know that the rockabilly tones won't really be that much more authentic than a typical solid body guitar with humbuckers.

For the record, I'm much more of a jazz player than a rockabilly player, which may be surprising given my guitar choice.

Last edited by mattrusso : 12-26-2012 at 03:30 AM.
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Old 12-26-2012, 11:08 AM   #13
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I've had a couple Gretsch guitars (the 5120 and 5235t) and I can say that both were quality instruments, especially for Jazz and Blues. The only issue I had with the 5120 was the floating bridge and having to reset the intonation every time I picked it up. The fret access also wasn't really there, so I ended up offloading it. The 5235t is a solid body, so I doubt it would be of much use to you (aside from looking really sharp).

On the other hand, my experience with the Artcores is limited to the one I currently own, the AM93. For the price, it's a high performance guitar, though not fully hollow and probably not what you're looking for. I'm guessing that if Ibanez has pretty steady quality on their Artcoes line, that AF75 is probably a pretty fantastic guitar, and not just for the money.

I liked the Casinos I played, they seemed to have solid construction a d those with a Bigsby are always beautiful. It's kind of a tough call, maybe I'm just not one for the floating bridge (you could always anchor it I suppose). I just didn't get along too well with my Gretsch guitars, though I really wanted to, 'cause Gretsch has such a great history of fine instruments.
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Old 12-26-2012, 03:27 PM   #14
ryevick
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Well, I bought the Artcore last night... I plan on taking it with me to a GC and putting it up against a Gretsch 5120 and letting them fight it out I will of course give other guitars a chance to step in the ring as well... should be interesting... if I decide to keep the one I bought (probably will, I mean look at it haha) I may upgrade the pickups and have my sweet jazz tone pu at the neck and the smoking rockabilly pu at the bridge... that really should do it I think... I wont be able to pick it up for a couple of weeks but I do have pictures of the exact guitar I bought below.





Last edited by ryevick : 12-26-2012 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 12-26-2012, 03:37 PM   #15
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Nice choice!

My guess is that you'll find the Gretsch has a fuller sound and better projection acoustically, but when all plugged in, it will just be a matter of taste.

(That's the impression I got when comparing them myself, at least.)
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Old 12-26-2012, 03:43 PM   #16
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For what you're looking for, I definitely think you made the correct choice, TS. HNGD! That gitbox will definitely get some lady attention
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:59 PM   #17
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Epiphone has lots of nice Hollowbodies and Semi-Hollowbodies
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