In addition, because of the way an archtop gets the energy from the vibrating string into the guitar’s top (or soundboard), the tone of an archtop is very different than a flattop. Getting a full range of sound from an archtop can be more difficult than from a flattop simply because there is less sound energy to work with. But the characteristic tone of an archtop, which often lacks the brightness or deep bass possible from a well-built flattop, makes it a perfect instrument for ensemble playing. This is why it is more common to see a singer-songwriter or fingerstylist play a flattop, while archtops are more common in band settings, often requiring magnetic pickups to achieve the volume needed.
Because of the structural advantages of the archtop, and the potential for them to be ‘forever’ instruments, the science and craft behind their design and manufacture has continued to evolve. The goal is to produce an acoustic archtop that is louder and with a broader, fuller sound. In 1995, Scott Chinery challenged 21 of the top archtop builders in the US and abroad to innovate and advance the technology of the acoustic archtop. This collection represents a renaissance in the construction of the archtop, where new ideas in design and construction were explored. It is fascinating to play these guitars and to hear the differences in tone, volume and playability that these innovations produced.
Because of the inherent stability of the archtop design, having a top in compression rather than tension, the Archtop is a ‘forever’ instrument. As such, builders have also focused on the beauty and appointments of their guitars. From extensive edge binding and inlay to unique carving and metalwork, archtops have evolved to be works of art as well as musical instruments. The Chinery collection is an excellent example of this with several builders going above and beyond to create unique artistic statements in their functional designs.
The Archtop Foundation believes that a new renaissance of the acoustic archtop is due. Advances in materials, building technique and acoustical science have enabled luthiers to rethink the possibilities of the acoustic archtop. Acoustic archtops can be made smaller, louder and with fuller sound today. The Archtop Foundation will be commissioning additional ‘Blue Guitars’ to provide new innovators in archtop design an opportunity to reset standards and expectations for the acoustic archtop. Our mission is to use the original Blue Guitar collection to raise awareness of this important musical technology and art form, while supporting its continued evolution. We believe that the acoustic archtop is the pinnacle of guitar design, a truly ‘forever’ guitar, whose potential has not yet been reached. We hope you enjoy taking this journey with us.