A relatively affordable archtop from a high-end artisan.



Great looks. Superb playability. Fine traditional jazz tones.

Very expensive for a factory-made Korean guitar.


Comins GCS-16-2




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Built by Dantzig with the intent to evoke the character of a Cremona violin, this redwood-topped Tulsa model was handcarved using chisels and curved-bottom violin planes.

Is that guitar in the window really an archtop or is marketing speak just telling you it is?

A quick scan of any guitar-related periodical or website will reveal plentiful use of the words archtop and carved top to describe guitars’ features. A few builders have even included this description in the actual model names of their guitars. As consumers and observers of guitar gear, we’ve all come to know and accept this description as meaning a relief design in which the center of a guitar’s face is raised slightly above the rim. And although the terms are often used interchangeably, they are not necessarily the same or even achieved in the same way. So what does an arched (or carved) guitar top do besides look pretty cool?

Part of the answer lies in the origins of the arched musical-instrument top. The best-known instrument in the arched-top family is certainly the violin, along with its cousins the viola, violoncello, and the redheaded stepchild known as the string bass. These familiar acoustic instruments all feature arched tops and backs. Their basic layout uses a tall bridge and steep neck pitch to exert downward pressure on the top, which increases the transfer of vibration to the plate (top) and body. Ancient makers of these instruments found that they could reduce the thickness and mass of the top to improve volume, and that the downward pressure was limited by the top’s strength. The solution was to employ an architectural element known as a dome, which is really a series of arches.

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