What to Consider When Buying an Electric Archtop

An electric archtop has a distinct sound. It is clear and true in tone, and you can play a variety of musical styles on this versatile instrument. So when you are in the market for a customized electric archtop, you are already aware of the type of tone and sound the guitar will have after it’s been built. But what are some other aspects you should think about when you are designing the perfect electric archtop?

When you work with a professional luthier, he can guide you through the guitar customization process. He should be able to answer your questions and assist you in making the best decisions for yourself and the type of electric archtop you want. In the meantime, here are a few things to think about.

  • How big do you want your electric archtop guitar to be? There are a few factors that go into making this decision, like your playing style and a few others. You will probably speak to your luthier at length about your playing style so he can get an idea of what size electric archtop you will need.
  • What type of pickup do you want? There are two types: floating and mounted. Much of the answer to this question will depend on the type of acoustics you are trying to achieve.
  • What scale length do you want? When you started to plan your electric archtop, you probably already considered this. For example, musicians with smaller hands might want a smaller scale length.
  • What kind of finish do you want on your electric archtop? There are also several factors that go into making this decision: what purpose the guitar will serve, how you will store it and how you handle it. This is also a question that the luthier can help you answer. He can advise you on the best finish for your electric archtop depending on the variables mentioned above.
  • What will you use your electric archtop for? Are you a professional musician with frequent gigs, or are you someone who prefers to play alone or with smaller audiences?

Taking the time to make a few decisions now can save you some time during the electric archtop building process.

If you would like more information on a custom electric archtop guitar, call Fine Archtops at 612-366-7120 to get connected to professional luthiers. Or you can Contact Us.

Parts of Jazz Archtop Guitars Defined

At Fine Archtops, we just love jazz archtop guitars! We realize that sometimes people throw around certain terms when describing various parts of guitars, so we thought we would take some time to list some of the main parts of jazz archtop guitars and what they mean.

Action – This is the height between the fretboard and the strings.

Archtop – A type of guitar that has an arched soundboard. Generally favored by jazz musicians, but they can also be used in a variety of other musical styles too.

Bridge – This is part of the guitar body that the strings are attached to. Also holds the saddle.

Fret – This is a strip of metal on the guitar’s fretboard that indicates the notes’ locations for the guitar strings.

Intonation – This indicates an instrument’s ability to hold and play the correct note.

Luthier – a person who builds guitars.

Neck – This is the long piece that extends out of the body of the guitar. This is where the frets and fret markers are. The fret markers denote where a guitar player should press a string in order to produce a specific note or chord.

Nut – Located at the top of the fretboard, this is a rigid slotted bar that is used to separate and raise the guitar strings. The saddle is located at the other end. They both keep the guitar strings off of the fretboard, which lets them vibrate and create sustained notes.

Pick guard – Often made out of plastic, a pick guard is an overlay that will protect the guitar body’s finish from scratches and other damage that can be caused by a guitar pick or fingernail.

Saddle – Located near the base of the guitar, it is a rigid bar at the other end of the guitar strings from the nut. This is where guitar players can raise or lower the action of the guitar. Modern guitars will have a drop-in saddle that is easily removed after the strings have been taken off. But if you have a guitar with a through-cut saddle, a professional should be the one to raise or lower the action.

Tuning – This is the action of adjusting the tuning keys of the guitar until the guitar string is vibrating at the correct frequency and sounding the proper note or notes.

Are you interested in learning more about jazz archtop guitars and how to get one customized just for you? Call Fine Archtops at 612-366-7120 or Contact Us.

Caring for Your New Archtop Guitar

No matter what kind of musician you are – professional or amateur, beginner or advanced – you want to be sure you are properly caring for your new custom archtop guitar. After all, a new guitar is an investment, especially a custom archtop guitar. So you want to make sure your new instrument will be around for as long as possible. Here are a few suggestions on how to make sure your archtop guitar stays in good condition.

Humidity and Temperature

Storing your archtop guitar in the right environment is key. You want to make sure the humidity in the room where you are storing it is at the right level. Too much and your archtop guitar will be damp and possibly be damaged or warped. Too little and the wood of your archtop guitar could dry out. There are special humidifiers you can buy for your archtop guitar, or you can get a standard humidifier. Keep the room at 40% to 50% humidity whenever possible.

As for temperature, try to keep your guitar in a room that is somewhere in the 70s (Fahrenheit). While gradual changes in humidity and temperature probably will not affect your archtop guitar, extreme and drastic changes in humidity and temperature will.

Carrying Case

Spend some money on a good carrying case, and remember the old cliché that you get what you pay for. Whether you want a soft case or a hard case is a matter of personal preference. But no matter which one you choose, make sure it’s solid and made out of durable materials. And a good carrying case doesn’t just help preserve the life of your archtop guitar – it also makes carrying it around easier!

Guitar Polish

You might need to polish your new archtop guitar. You should talk to your luthier about this task and whether or not your guitar needs this type of upkeep. If so, your luthier should be able to tell you what kind of guitar polish to get, how to apply it and how often to apply it. Just be sure you never use a product like Pledge or a dust polish that contains silicone. The silicone can hurt the finish of your archtop guitar by seeping into the wood.

Are you interested in learning more about buying a custom archtop guitar? Call Fine Archtops at 612-366-7120 to get connected to professional luthiers or you can Contact Us.

How to Buy a Custom Archtop Guitar

When you are in the market for a custom archtop guitar, there is a lot to think about and consider. You want to be sure you walk away with a guitar you are happy with. So what are some things you will need to think about, and how can you be sure you properly convey all of this to your luthier? As a company that can connect you to a professional luthier for your custom archtop guitar, we have a few suggestions for you.

The first thing you should think about is what special modifications you might want for your new archtop guitar. For example, if you often struggle with a standard guitar, you might benefit from a smaller neck. You might need a guitar body that fits on your shoulder better. Take some time to think about these aspects of your archtop guitar.

Then start thinking about the aesthetics of your custom archtop guitar. Have you always wanted a certain color? Or maybe you want it made out of a specific type of wood? Or maybe you want a special inlay?

Working with a luthier can be an easy process if you have already made several key decisions before reaching out to one. Your luthier can tell you if your design ideas will work. He can also tell you more about the type of wood selections he offers and which one will work best for your custom archtop guitar. You luthier can also help you select the best body style for your height and body shape. These types of modifications can make your archtop guitar more comfortable for you to play.

You should also think about smaller details of your guitar. For example, the inlay of your custom archtop guitar. While many luthiers have a few preset patterns, some can work with you to totally customize this part of your new archtop guitar.

For even smaller details of your archtop guitar, you should think about your personal preferences as well. A good example of this is your tuner. Some musicians like to have a tuner with a high gear ratio, which makes it feel smoother. Others prefer a lower gear ratio.

If you make it a point to openly and honestly communicate your preferences and needs to your luthier, you will soon end up with the custom archtop guitar of your dreams!

Are you interested in learning more about getting a customized archtop guitar? Call Fine Archtops at 612-366-7120 or Contact Us.

Fine Archtops Has a New Look!

If you have ever been to our site before, then you might be noticing a few changes here at Fine Archtops! We are happy to announce that we recently launched a newly redesigned website!

Take some time to browse through the site. One of our newly added features is our Wall of Fame. This is a gallery where you can see some examples of the beautiful work done by our professional luthiers. If you see an archtop that particularly strikes your fancy, you can click on the image and be taken to that luthier’s biography and contact page on Fine Archtops.

Another new feature is our Fine Archtops Merchandise Store. If you are interested in purchasing something with the Fine Archtops name and logo on it, our store has a few items on sale! Take some time to look at these items, and let us know if you are interested in purchasing anything.

Of course, we also kept the features you could find on our old website: more information about our expert luthiers, information about archtop accessories and dealers and more.

So no matter what kind of information about Fine Archtops you are looking for, we have got you covered! We pride ourselves on connecting archtop lovers like you with professional luthiers who can take your ideas and create the perfect customized archtop guitar for you. You will find that all of our luthiers are some of the best in their business.

And even if you are looking for a new amplifier, stand, gig bag or anything similar, Fine Archtops is the perfect site for you. We are your one-stop shop for everything archtop-related. Just browse through our site to see what we have to offer.

When you want more information about custom archtop guitars and expert luthiers, call 612-366-7120 or Contact Us.

A Brief History of the Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic guitars have a long and rich history. After all, music is a common language and has been around for centuries. So it only stands to reason that acoustic guitars and acoustic archtops have been around almost as long!

One of the earliest depictions of a guitar-like instrument was found on a plaque excavated from Babylonia dated sometime around 1850 B.C. There is also evidence that an instrument similar to an acoustic guitar was played in ancient Egypt and also in ancient Rome. These early guitars were the foundation for the guitars we know and love nowadays, including acoustic archtops.

Then in the Middle Ages, there were guitars made with three, four and five strings. There was the Guitarra Latina. This type of guitar had sides that curved and came to Spain from elsewhere in Europe. Then there was the Guitarra Morisca, which was brought to Spain by the Moors. This type of guitar had an oval soundbox and several sound holes on its soundboard. This was known as an oud, which was very popular in North Africa during this time period.

Many people are familiar with a lute, which came about after the Moors brought the oud to Europe. It was then altered and eventually became the lute.

By the time the 15th century rolled around, four double-string guitars were popular and by the 16th century, a fifth double-string was also popular.

In the 17th century, the country that was best-known for its guitar making was Italy. About a century later, the Spaniards started making guitars, and thanks to the improved communication and transportation of the 19th century, the guitar became more and more popular.

Antonio de Torres developed the acoustic guitar in 1859. He made the Spanish guitar, which many people are also familiar with. He made many other changes to the guitar at the time, and that is what evolved into the acoustic guitar.

The popular steel string guitar originated in America during the early 20th century. From there, two popular types came about: the flat top guitar and the archtop guitar. And from there, we got acoustic archtops!

Andres Segovia, who was a Spanish guitarist, was one of the driving forces behind the guitar’s popularity as a concert instrument. Acoustic archtops are generally used in folk and jazz music, although you will hear acoustic archtops in some other types of music as well.

Are you interested in learning more about acoustic archtops? Call Fine Archtops at 612-366-7120 or browse our site to learn more about our Archtop Luthiers.

Frequently Asked Questions about Acoustic Archtop Guitars

Acoustic archtop guitars are one of the most popular musical instruments in the world. You can hear them in just about any genre of music: from classical to punk rock. Acoustic archtop guitars are pretty legendary, and the instrument has millions of fans. We are asked some of the same questions about these types of guitars, so here are some of the most frequently asked questions we get about acoustic archtop guitars.

gibson acoustic archtop guitar

acoustic archtop guitar


Q: How do you describe the sound of acoustic archtop guitars?

A: In music, there are several different terms you should know about. “Tone” is the quality that sets your guitar apart from ones made by other luthiers. “Volume” is how loud your guitar is. “Balance” refers to the relationship between the low notes and high notes in terms of fullness and volume. Well-made acoustic archtop guitars will have notes that sound equal no matter what note you are hitting.

Q: What can affect the tone of acoustic archtop guitars and other types of guitars?

A: The biggest factor affecting tone is the type of wood used to make the guitar.  The most common woods used in the construction of archtop guitars are various species of Spruce and Maple.  Other woods such as Koa, Mahogany, Black Walnut and various species of Rosewood can also be found. Recently, some luthiers have chosen to use certain species of environmentally sustainable woods that are indigenous to the region where they reside.

Q: How do I find acoustic archtop guitars?

A: While there are some big-name companies out there who manufacture acoustic archtop guitars, for your own unique guitar, you will want to hire a luthier. A luthier hand-crafts guitars and will work with you directly to customize your guitar so you get exactly the one you want. Fine Archtops can connect you to a luthier who can build you the customized guitar you have always wanted.

Q: What are some suggestions on how to maintain and care for acoustic archtop guitars?

A: There are a few things you should do to keep your guitar in good working order. You should avoid climate extremes, so your guitar should never be too hot or too cold. You should also watch out for humidity levels. Keep your guitar and the fretboard clean by wiping it with a soft and dry cloth on occasion.

black and brown acoustic archtop guitar

black and brown acoustic archtop guitar


We hope you found some of these answers helpful!

For more information on acoustic archtop guitars, call Fine Archtops at 612-366-7120 or Browse Our Archtop Luthiers.

Our New Website!

Welcome to our Fine Archtops website!  My name is Steve Wagner. For more than 35 years as both a player and collector of archtop guitars I have owned or played hundreds of these magnificent instruments. To me the hand-carved archtop guitar is a work of fine art. I long felt the need for a venue unlike any other where these artisans and their guitars could be showcased and made easily accessible to archtop buyers and enthusiasts.

Memphis 2015 Acoustic Guitar Festival



Join Fine Archtops in June at one of the premier archtop and acoustic guitar shows in the country. In world renowned musictown Memphis you know there will be no shortage of greats in attendance. Luthiers, players, dealers and fans alike will converge on The Memphis 2015 Acoustic Guitar Festival from all over the country, to see what’s happening in the archtop guitar world.


“There will be 60+ luthiers showing their magnificent instruments in one exhibit hall.  The exhibit hall is set up so everyone has a good space.  The exhibits will be in a circle (actually more like a square) around the room, with an aisle down the middle.  In the foyer immediately adjacent to that exhibit hall, will be a large area for inlay artists, straps, stands, strings, etc., all products that are essential the guitarist (without being guitars). There will be 24 workshops teaching style and techniques for guitars, mandolins and ukuleles.”


See you all there!



Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase

Are you ready for a great show? See you at the Kingdom of Stringdom.

The Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase is an annual event for the community of acoustic stringed- instrument builders, players, collectors and aficionados, presenting a gathering of the finest handmade acoustic guitars and stringed musical instruments from around the world! A luthier (from the word lute) is a stringed-instrument maker.


Fine handmade instruments such as these are not usually available in music stores or other retail environments, and the Luthiers Showcase is a rare opportunity for the public to see, play and experience the instruments, meet with their makers, discuss custom options and one of a kind creations, and buy or order a dream guitar from dozens of master builders, all gathered together in one place. Other vendors include tonewood dealers, parts and tool suppliers, string and accessories manufacturers, publications and instructional materials, lutherie services and schools. The two-day show features continuous live music, mini-concerts, demos and special appearances; plus Special Exhibits and Special Events included in the admission fee.


We also present a series of Instructional Clinics and Workshops, taught by some of the world’s finest instrumentalists, and our annual String Sampler Concert, by separate admission. Woodstock, NY is the internationally known art and music community with a deep pool of notable local talent. Only a two-hour drive from New York City, October is peak autumn foliage season in the heart of the Catskill Mountains.