Palen Performer Custom #18 Archtop Guitar


Palen Archtops

Guitar Type

Archtop Hollow Body

Lower Bout Width


Body Depth


Nut Width


Fingerboard Scale


Pickup Type

1 Set Humbucker

Wood Composition



Maple, Spruce





MSRP: $8,700

Price $6,500

Best Price Guarantee

Our goal at Guitars ‘n Jazz is to find you the best possible instrument that not only matches your personal requirements and play-style, but is also a guitar that you enjoy playing and look forward to picking up.

We strive to price our instruments as competitively as possible in order to give our customers the best possible value for their dollar. And as a guitarist myself I would never sell an instrument that didn’t live up to my own high standards and expectations.

All of our instruments are thoroughly inspected, tested, professionally set up, and carefully packed for shipment. And all instruments are sold with our 72 hour satisfaction guarantee.

We encourage you to call us for the best price possible. We routinely have demos, closeouts, blemishes, and used instruments available for purchase. And if you happen to find a lower price please let us know.

And please keep in mind that it’s difficult comparing various instruments on the Internet. Since many of our guitars come standard with upgraded woods and tone controls shopping by price alone won’t tell the whole story.

Since our inventory changes so frequently it’s best to call us to find all of your available options. With over 500 archtops in stock you can be assured that we have unbelievable guitars to fit any budget.

Out of stock


PALEN ARCHTOPS are among the finest archtop guitars ever built. The Palen Archtop is an “X” braced traditional instrument, descendent from the D’Aquisto school of instruments- very light and acoustic. It features a hand carved and graduated top and back, slightly thicker than many typical archtop guitars, with a very resonant and acoustic tone.

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Product Description

This is a rare opportunity to own a Palen Archtop – 6 String Archtop. This is one of the earlier models, serial number 18. (george Benson owns #10, and Rodney Jones, Paul Brown, Jc Stiles and many other famous musicians play Palen Performers. Nelson Palen has built 100 archtop and has had to quit building because of health reasons. You can read an article on our website of this builder. His archtops are amazing!

PALEN ARCHTOPS are among the finest archtop guitars ever built. The Palen Archtop is an “X” braced traditional instrument, descendent from the D’Aquisto school of instruments- very light and acoustic. It features a hand carved and graduated top and back, slightly thicker than many typical archtop guitars, with a very resonant and acoustic tone.

In most cases the back and sides are of bigleaf maple. Woods used are always the best available with great resonance and flame. Tops are either Sitka spruce or Englemann spruce, hand carved and tap tuned. Necks are five piece and constructed from matching maple with laminated ebony between the 3 pieces of maple. The front of the Headstock is covered with ebony and features an inlaid “P”. You may also select your choice of wood for the front of the headstock. The back or the headstocks are multi-laminated with an array or gorgeous exotic woods, which ad great strength and beauty.

All Palens are built with traditional style F-holes to allow excellent clarity and chordal note separation. The binding can me wood (maple, Koa, etc), or the standard archtop binding. Scale length is 25 inches, nut width is 1 3/4″ for the 6 string,  All Palens come standard with an ebony fretboard, with or without inlays. The  body depth is 3″ at the rims, and comes standard with a Hand wound Kent Armstrong Routed in PAF O Humbucker. High gloss,multi layered Nitro cellulose finish in various colors, or a custom color of your choice. . Hardware is the best available quality of your choice, and tailpiece, pickguard, bridge and fingerboard are ebony are ebony. A single Venetian cutaway and a routed set Hand wound Kent Armstrong pickguards.

“After purchasing Palen #59 and bringing it home, some wonderful things started to happen. My wife tells me that I sound better than ever. The vocalists that I backup aren’t so happy because they tell me that the Palen sounds so smooth, that their singing pales in comparison to the tone of the Palen. Frank L Michigan”


Body 17″ Lower Bout
Body Depth 3″
Nut Width 1 1/4″
Finger Board Scale 25″
Top AAA Spruce – hand carved & tap tuned
Back Hand carved Figured Maple
Neck Figured Maple
Rims Figured Maple
Finger Board Bound Ebony – Pearl Inlays $300 Optional
Truss Rod Adjustable
Binding White & Black Multiple PlyWood binding optional
Pick Guard Ebony – w/ binding $150 Optional
Bridge & Base Ebony w/Thumb Wheel Adjustment
Tailpiece Ebony carved
Tuning Machines Grover Imperial
Pickup Kent Armstrong routed set humbucker w/ volume and tone thumb wheels
Color Blonde, Sunburst, Violinburst, Natural
Case 5-ply custom Cedar Creek

About Palen

palen-logoNelson Palen started building his acoustic archtop Palen Guitar in November, 1998 and finished it the last week in June, 1999. He read the book and viewed the 6-hour video by Bob Benedetto, who has been building guitars and violins for 30 years and is considered the premier archtop builder in the country. The Palen archtop is unique in that the soundboard and back are carved from wood approx. 1″ thick to a domed shape similar to that found on a violin.

Before Nelson made Palen archtops, he had been making decorative wooden bowls as shown here for approx. 12 years. His woodworking skills and attention to detail began here and from his ancestry. His dad, Benedict Palen, has been doing woodwork since the 1930’s starting out with a pedal-powered lathe. His dad’s enterprise, Artistic Woodcrafts started with a Shopsmith and then homebuilt a heavy-duty lathe capable of swinging up to 32″ diameter blanks.. The blanks for the bowls are made up of segmented rings stacked and glued. Various wood species, domestic and foreign are used. Examples are walnut, white gum, padauk, wenge, mahogany etc. Nelson Palen added a CNC desktop mill in 1998 that can be mounted on the lathe for engraving. The spindle is slowly rotated by computer command with approx. 1000:1 reduction. The basic turning operation is done with conventional hand tools.

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