Reviving my Archtop II

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by Mad, Jul 4, 2021.

  1. Mad

    Mad New Member

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    Two things before I truly ramble. Archtop is home for the week while we summer so pics will follow. There is gonna be a lot of unnecessary wordage here. I’m gonna say a lot to ask some simple questions. I am also aware of how unnecessary this is, and yet, here we are…

    So,
    I’ve owned this lovely Archtop II since 98-99 (details are a little hazy on the exact timing) I traded a beautiful albeit neck heavy swamp ash special for it. Best deal ever.

    Trouble is, it kept getting farther away. As time went on, it wasn’t what I reached for. It was too nice for the space or too refined a sound. Such a woody resonant lively guitar but not something I was strapping to my sissybar.

    Been collecting parts for a beater Les Paul project. Don’t know why I’d need a beater though. Despite the reasons for not playing the ATII as much, the truth was, I was playing more while my kids set the dinner table than some 3am psychedelic swirl the Friday before Halloween. You need the right tool for the right job. So I was planning a Les Paul build (stratosphere is just ridiculous for tinkerers like me)

    Trading Harley parts for pickups/capacitors/etc…

    Just filling the treasure chest

    Pat. #/Wolfetone/Wizz/Ants/T-Tops

    and the Guitar Center exclusive Trad Pro V goes on blowout…

    so I start shifting from “I’m gonna build a Paul,” to “I like wine red. I do.”

    But I get this nagging thought

    That Archtop is ten time the guitar any Paul you build will be

    so out of the case the PRS comes

    Seven hours later…

    Yeah, there’s no Paul project planned anymore…

    One of the reasons I didn’t play the AT live as much? No separate Vol/Tone

    The ability to dial in three tones on the guitar face with different dynamics and voices available?

    I kinda need that.

    same thing with the pickups. I like the AT pickups but this stash of pickups I’ve procured really needs a run in this guitar

    I’d like to run concentrics wired 50’s style with low output PAFs/PAF clones

    but I don’t know if I can run CTS stacked 500k potentiometers through the AT top? They are supposedly for pick guards only. Anyone seen them in an AT or HB? Anyone run concentrics in either? Any thoughts on running throbaks in an AT? Anything to worry about?

    what about bridges?
    I’ve done so many Nashville bridge mods (maple flame/faber/callaham) is there a wider variety of adjustable stop tails? Anything odd? Nylon?Titanium?

    see, you got me monologuing…
     
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  2. veinbuster

    veinbuster Zombie Three, DFZ

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    I got an Archtop in that same timeframe and don’t play it all that much. Not that it isn’t a good guitar, but my hollowbody is more comfortable and has a piezo.

    Not sure about mods.
     
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  3. RedGuitars

    RedGuitars Thread killer

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    Y’all wasting Archtop’s need to let a fella know….
     
  4. Mad

    Mad New Member

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    Ha!
    Waste might be the wrong word but that’s not far off. I legit treated this guitar just too preciously. When I played with people I loved, I brought this guitar. Just curious about my ability to add separate vol and tone and whether my 62 patent sticker pickup is worth tossing at the Archtop.
     
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  5. Mad

    Mad New Member

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    So back to the questions…

    1) anyone run CTS stacked 500k potentiometers? Issues with top thicknesses?

    2) any a/b comparisons with the Mann adjustable bridge? Any other bridges available? I know what steel and titanium can do to frequency response across the sweep so if there are options there I may not have seen, elucidate me.

    3) Pickups have me pondering… I have PAF options including an actual Pat#. Part of me is intrigued by the Throbak DS-55 - has a real clarity to it that could be too much in such a vibrant guitar.
     
  6. Herr Squid

    Herr Squid I was severely impressed

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  7. Mad

    Mad New Member

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    Oh,
    I love this Archtop. I don’t want anything else in terms of playability and feel. But alone in my room, left to my own devices, I might fancy myself a little bit Freddie King. I’d like some of that Beano bite. I can pull the harness from the Archtop without touching a solder joint. Same with the bridge. I’m only looking to do things that are easily reversible and improve the dynamics of an already insanely dynamic guitar. As I said, I’m a tinkerer. This guitar has been in my hands 20+ yrs and I’ve only changed the strings
     
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  8. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Never change the strings!


    OK, just kidding. I've had great luck experimenting with different strings. Currently, I'm playing pure nickel wrap (not plated nickel) Sono-Tone Vintage, and love what they're doing with every guitar I put them in.

    Of course, we're all different, so YMMV.
     
  9. AaeCee

    AaeCee New Member

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    Sounds like you may want what I do for my Archtop Jazz ... a set of rare 53/10 pickups. The best humbucker PRS ever made IMO, they were built to capture somewhat of a P-90 bite, and be very close to original 59 PAFs in output and tonal range.

    The good news is that I tracked down a NIB set which I'll soon have the PTC install in my Archtop. :) The bad news is that they've become almost impossible to find. :(
     
    Mad likes this.
  10. Moondog Wily

    Moondog Wily Howlin' At The Moon!

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    I believe it was Eric Clapton who said about strings "The rock n' roll is in the dirt"!
     
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  11. vchizzle

    vchizzle Zomb!e Nine, DFZ

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    I’m gonna go out on a limb and say not many here went down the rabbit hole of concentric pots on this specific guitar. I do feel your pain though as that has greatly limited many purchases for me. I know it’s maybe not ideal since you want to tinker, but maybe reaching out to PTC would help. They may be able to help with the what will fit/not fit aspect. On the other hand, maybe they won’t be much help since they are the PRS mod squad. People tell them what they want, send in guitar, PTC makes it happen. Who knows, maybe someone here can give you more info. Might just take some time.
     
  12. Mad

    Mad New Member

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    PTC is in this guitar’s future. Little bit of clouding in the poly finish in a few spots. And I like the 53/10’s. I usually start with Antiquities and play with magnets until I get the sound I like. Been going back to A3 neck and A4 bridge Greenie phased for a while — the stock antiquity output seems to be the right output for hearing the magnets. Ants get buckers 98.9% of the way there. I’ve got a Pat. # pickup I may throw in the neck. Just want to be able to dial them in correctly (50’s wiring and two vol/two tone)

    More I think about it, I may grab some concentrics, measure the bushing and hole depth and go from there. I just figured someone had to have done it. ATs may not be that prevalent but HBs kinda are.
     
    #12 Mad, Jul 6, 2021
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2021
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  13. Mad

    Mad New Member

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    I mean, Jamie Jamerson legit never changed the strings on the Funk Machine…
     
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  14. Mad

    Mad New Member

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    Did some testing today. Settled on a pickup setup I’m pleased with. Antiquity in the neck and Wolfetone Legend in the bridge. Emerson .022 caps and the CTS concentrics. I’ll probably have to test and return a few. I’d like 550k but I definitely don’t want 460k. Ebony surrounds for some sharpness. I’ll run jazz bass knobs until I’m sure this will work then I’ll upgrade them to match the rest. Still contemplating a Mann adjustable bridge. The Mann is in New Hampshire so maybe I’ll take a trip down 89…

    pics soon(ish)
     
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  15. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

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    Sounds awesome.
     
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  16. Mad

    Mad New Member

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    [​IMG]

    Still working on parts collecting
     
  17. Mad

    Mad New Member

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    Luxe Radio

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Kiwi

    Kiwi New Member

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    I put a set of 53/10s into my Archtop and it is now a desert-island guitar.

    But since they're unobtainium now, if I had it to do over again, I'd put 57/08s or 58/15s into any older PRS hollowbody guitar.

    =K
     
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