A Player’s Perspective
I just bought a new guitar. I don’t do this very often, but when I do, I need it to have two main characteristics: it must have a beautiful sound and it must facilitate the expression of my music. On both accounts, the Conti Archtop hits a home run. I had been wanting to move up to an archtop that has a solid spruce top and a wonderful sound. But, for me, price was a consideration.
The instruments ranging in price from $3,000 to $10,000 are way out of my range. So, I was intrigued when I saw Robert Conti playing and endorsing his new Conti Guitar. I had experienced the sound of this archtop from Conti’s terrific instructional DVD’s and the YouTube videos from the recent 2010 NAMM Show, and I was duly impressed. But, again, I figured that the street price on this guitar would be in the $3000 – $4000 range. Man, I was really surprised to see the guitar on his website at the current introductory price of $1,949.00 plus shipping.
I seldom buy a guitar sight unseen, but due to Conti’s exemplary customer service record, I decided to give it a try. It arrived via FedEx overnight, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I was so impressed that I could play the Conti Thinline Archtop right out of the box – it was set up perfectly. So, I put the rest of my life on a two-hour hold, and commenced exploring my new guitar. It exceeded all of my expectations.
The guitar has a beautiful “singing” sound, the action plays like butter, and I couldn’t believe how light and balanced the guitar was in my playing position. I have never had easy access to 24 frets before and loved exploring that new range. The appointments on the guitar are beautiful: Spruce Top, Ebony Fingerboard, Rosewood Tailpiece, High Quality Grover tuners, Florentine cutaway, etc. When plugged in, the single pickup with the ’57 Alnico specs delivers a bright (yet, warm) sound and is very even throughout the range of the guitar.
That night I did something unusual – I took this brand-new, out of the box guitar on a gig. It was a quintet gig with trumpet, tenor, guitar bass and drums. The Conti fit right in, played effortlessly and really allowed me to focus on the music. I love it when the guitar just “disappears” from the equation, and it is just me and the music. The Conti really facilitated the flow of ideas.
The next day, I recorded some solo guitar stuff in a studio. After laying down a few tracks, the engineer came out and just had to see the guitar making such a beautiful sound. Needless to say, he was very impressed (as was I) with the recorded sound of the Conti Archtop.
I have found no weaknesses with the Conti. Prior to my purchase, some of my “gear-head” buddies told me that the fixed bridge would alter the sound of the natural wood top. I have not found that to be the case. The unplugged sound of the axe sings and sustains, as does the amplified sound. The resonant sound quality of the solid spruce top Conti is far superior to other guitars I own with laminated tops.
I am extremely happy with my purchase, as it is certainly a great value at the current introductory price of $1,949.00. I strongly encourage other archtop players to check out the Conti Archtop at www.RobertConti.com . Thanks again, to Robert Conti for making this sweet guitar readily available to the public. Just like the motivational bang in each of his DVDs, the Conti Archtop is a six string stimulus package that really delivers!
Director of Jazz Studies
Michigan Technological University
For Just Jazz Guitar Magazine