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Need help deciding... J15 or Songwriter Standard?

#1 User is offline   Eline97 

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 03:20 PM

Hi everybody!

I'm Eline and I'm new to this forum, but I really need your advice! I've decided to buy a new acoustic, since I have the feeling my Fender CD60 with super high action is making my progress slow down lately.
I had decided to buy a Gibson Songwriter Standard 2010, which I could buy for 1500. Even though it did have some minor signs of use, I think that's a good price. It's the cutaway model with the soundhole Fishman Ellipse Aura.

However, before I went to try the Songwriter, I tried a few other guitars in a guitar store, among which a J15. When I first held it and played it, it felt great. I like the sound and since it's a 2014 model (but brand new, just old stock), the price is 1290.

I like the looks of both guitars. Both come with a hardshell case and sound amazing. However, I thought the Songwriter was less playable IMO. The strings were quite heavy. The entire guitar seemed to feel heavier than the J15 (which I don't really mind, but the heavy playing I do mind). The seller told me I should just put size 10 strings on the guitar instead of the current size 12 strings. But someone else then told me this could change the sound of the guitar entirely, so I'm confused what to believe. I'm also wondering if the guitar might just be too advanced for my playing skills or something, since I sounded not too good when playing those heavy stings.

I'm looking for an allround guitar, that sounds great by itself but is also good for singing and songwriting. Which guitar would you say is the best option for me?
Do you think the Songwriter Standard is a much better guitar than the J15 (seeing as the price for new models was/is a lot higher for the Songwriter)? And do you think the more advanced pickup system in the Songwriter is that much better than the LR Baggs system in the J15 that my choice should depend on it?

Lots of questions, I know, but I want to be sure to pick the right guitar, so I won't regret my decision! :) Please help me out.
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#2 User is offline   JuanCarlosVejar 

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 06:19 PM

Which ever guitar you choose.Inspect it for defects before you purchase it.Many people buy instruments and realize they have flaws once they are at home.



In my opinion a songwriter would be a great dynamic guitar for you.
That said the scale length is longer (so you feel it's harder to play ) than the J 15.


If you want easier playability get a J 15





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#3 User is offline   Buc McMaster 

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 06:35 PM

View PostEline97, on 15 May 2017 - 03:20 PM, said:

Lots of questions, I know, but I want to be sure to pick the right guitar.........


But....see........it's got to be the right guitar for you, and what anyone else thinks doesn't count. Being that you've mentioned the two you are looking at, I wouldn't allow price to sway the decision one way or the other as that is not an accurate indicator of quality. I'd advise ignoring the "put a set of 10s on it" line from the seller for more than one reason.......matter of fact, that might even turn me off to that particular seller as that is really sorry advice. Both the Gibsons you are looking at are generally speaking very nice instruments, but as with anything else you set out to purchase, they should be looked over with a trained and critical eye. If your eye is not so trained you might take along a more experienced guitar-playing friend to help you evaluate the guitars structurally......everything else is subjective and ought to be up to you.

G'luck!
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#4 User is offline   OldCowboy 

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 08:11 PM

I'm pretty much in accord with Buc's reply. Personally, I prefer the J-15 - and the next guy won't 😂
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#5 User is offline   Dave F 

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 08:18 PM

I'm in my mid 60's, been playing since I was 12, and currently take lessons from a 35 year old. Never to old to learn something new.

My instructor (a local professional) had a younger woman taking lessons just after me. She had about the same story as you.

My friend asked me to see if her Fender acoustic could be set up to be more playable before she laid out some big bucks. ( I do all his setups)

I looked down the fret board and could see the bow in the neck but the frets near the joint looked even with the top of the bridge so I felt it could be adjusted.

I adjusted the truss rod, evened out a few high frets, sanded down the saddle and recut the nut. It plays as nice as anything I have and hasn't moved for about three years.

It doesn't sound as nice, but it's not bad. Most of those fenders do have solid tops and laminate back and sides but sound decent. I keep one around for taking out when I do not want to worry about the guitar when playing or passing it around.

As Buc mentioned, you may want to take someone more experienced with you when shopping.

You may want to think about having someone look and see if your current guitar can be adjusted. A decent tech or luthier should be able to look at it and tell you on the spot.

Good Luck
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#6 User is offline   theflyingturtle 

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 08:30 PM

The answer for all of your questions is: Buy the one you like. You'll have more fun playing it. A guitar that you liked at first strum is a good thing to keep in your house.
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#7 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 08:35 PM

I agree with Buc, ignore what they told you about putting 10s on the Songwriter.

It should have 12s on it, it's a large guitar. You kinda answered your own question you know. You said you didn't like the Songwriter with 12s on it, but that's what it should have on it. Therefore, as you do not like it, don't buy it.

If you like the J-15 and it's affordable...what's holding you back. Only you can answer that.

Or, perhaps you feel you should keep looking by your hesitation.

Hope this helps.

QM aka Jazzman Jeff (guitarist for 55 years, somehow. Where'd the years go? Oh wait, God-willing there's many more ahead!)
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#8 User is offline   Ferd13 

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 09:31 PM

NO CONTEST!!! The Songwriter Deluxe "Standard" is THE TOP model of the Songwriter Series. It is and AWESOME guitar. The "Standard" is no longer in production... There is a "Progressive" with auto-tune on board... Gimmik and 3300 bucks!

I have a 2012 Songwriter Standard (non cut away)and a 2014 J45 Standard; if push came to shove and I'd have to part with one, it would be the J45. (it would certainly be a heartbreaker, but it would be the J45)

New, the Songwriter is almost twice the cost of the J15... it is a "low end" Gibson.

I DO, however chime in with Buc and a couple of others of like mind; take someone WELL experienced with you to check it out.

An error in some advice given above: The Songwriter is strung with 11's from the factory. I've tried 12's PB and 80/20... NOT a good choice for my ears or fingers. Right now I've re-strung with 80/20's and the original recommended 11's... Music of the Angels!!!

One more thing to consider: the neck; the J15 is almost a baseball bat by comparison. the Songwriter "Standard" (only the standard) has a slim (by comparison) progressive fingerboard radius... 12 to 16 inches which makes for easy fingering all the way up the neck.

Body size of the Songwriter is also somewhat smaller; especially the waist, and together with a shorter body, makes it easier to manage. Yes it has a long scale neck compared to the j15, but what I do to compensate for that on mine is tune down a 1/2 step and capo the first fret and bingo, you've got a short scale 13 fret instrument...

One more thing: YOU JUST CAN't COMPARE apples to oranges! Walnut back and sides to Indian Rosewood is downright blasphemous!

In the end though, it always boils down to ones own tastes and preferences. I do hope that what is written here and above will help you make a decision that YOU will be comfortable with!

best regards,
Fred

checks this out: http://www.gibson.co...e-Standard.aspx
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#9 User is offline   OldCowboy 

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 10:12 PM

Take special note of the neck differences mentioned in Fred's post because over the long haul that matters a lot, depending on how you play - what's more comfortable for your hand size - what you believe a guitar should be - blah, blah, and yet more blah.... I told ya the next guy would favor the Songwriter😄
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#10 User is offline   Eline97 

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 01:31 AM

Thank you all so much for your advice. I'm leaning even more towards the J15 now, because I thought the neck felt better, and I can always go for a Songwriter when I'm 10 years ahead or something. I actually prefer one in better condition. The neck of the J15 made it stand out for me in the store. I've also tried other brands, but for example the Guild I tried felt like the neck was two times larger in size and the J15 just felt perfect.

I think I'll go try the J15 again tomorrow and if it feels as great as last time, I'll probably take it home 😊. I thought it sounded waaaay better than the Hummingbird I tried in the guitar store, which might be saying something about that Hummingbird as well as the J15.

About having the action on my Fender lowered: it's a good idea, and maybe I'll do that as I intend to keep it around for the weekends, when I'm at my mom's, so I won't have to travel with guitar every week. However, I'd like a better sounding guitar in my room in the city and I've been saving up, so now that I can finally buy a better guitar, I will. 😁
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#11 User is offline   djw171 

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 05:34 AM

View PostFerd13, on 15 May 2017 - 09:31 PM, said:

NO CONTEST!!! The Songwriter Deluxe "Standard" is THE TOP model of the Songwriter Series. It is and AWESOME guitar. The "Standard" is no longer in production... There is a "Progressive" with auto-tune on board... Gimmik and 3300 bucks!

I have a 2012 Songwriter Standard (non cut away)and a 2014 J45 Standard; if push came to shove and I'd have to part with one, it would be the J45. (it would certainly be a heartbreaker, but it would be the J45)

New, the Songwriter is almost twice the cost of the J15... it is a "low end" Gibson.

I DO, however chime in with Buc and a couple of others of like mind; take someone WELL experienced with you to check it out.

An error in some advice given above: The Songwriter is strung with 11's from the factory. I've tried 12's PB and 80/20... NOT a good choice for my ears or fingers. Right now I've re-strung with 80/20's and the original recommended 11's... Music of the Angels!!!

One more thing to consider: the neck; the J15 is almost a baseball bat by comparison. the Songwriter "Standard" (only the standard) has a slim (by comparison) progressive fingerboard radius... 12 to 16 inches which makes for easy fingering all the way up the neck.

Body size of the Songwriter is also somewhat smaller; especially the waist, and together with a shorter body, makes it easier to manage. Yes it has a long scale neck compared to the j15, but what I do to compensate for that on mine is tune down a 1/2 step and capo the first fret and bingo, you've got a short scale 13 fret instrument...

One more thing: YOU JUST CAN't COMPARE apples to oranges! Walnut back and sides to Indian Rosewood is downright blasphemous!

In the end though, it always boils down to ones own tastes and preferences. I do hope that what is written here and above will help you make a decision that YOU will be comfortable with!

best regards,
Fred

checks this out: http://www.gibson.co...e-Standard.aspx



The J15 maybe a lower price instrument from Gibson, but I can assure you as one who plays one often as well as "higher priced Gibsons" it does not reflect it at ALL. My J15 sounds just as good as my Southern Jumbo. It's been played a lot, gigged and the top has really broken in nicely.

It's some what snobbery to dismiss the J15, as I've seen on here far too often by some guys, just because of the price??? Construction is as good as any guitar I have / had from the guys at Montana.

"Walnut compared to Rosewood blasphemous"?? Sorry Fred that statement is blasphemous. Nothing wrong with Walnut at all as a tonewood. It's different to Rosewood, yes, as is hog, it's all about what sounds good to your own ears. Have you even played one? because it's nothing like a baseball bat neck.

To the OP, choose what you are comfortable with. Stick with the 12's, with the right set up it it will play and sound glorious.


and I'm sorry but advising to de-tune and then capo in the 1st fret to get over the longer scale length, doesn't that defeat the object of having the longer scale length????
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#12 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 07:11 AM

DjW-I concur with you regarding walnut as an excellent tonewood. I have a 1936 NY Epiphone archtop in my collection with walnut back and sides and it sounds absolutely phenomenal. When I saw Gibson came out with a walnut back/sides guitar I thought, what took a manufacturer so long to rediscover walnut as a great tone wood.

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#13 User is offline   Lars68 

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 10:53 AM

I also favor the J-15. There is absolutely NOTHING as far as build quality or structure that is cheap about this guitar. It is lower in price because it uses domestically sourced tonewoods. These woods are indeed different from the more traditional rosewood or mahogany, but by no means inferior. The short scale also helps to make it easier to play.

Lars
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#14 User is offline   Ferd13 

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 02:06 PM

For those who seem to think I'm dissing the J15 ---- for heaven's sake, get a grip! I never said or alluded to anything of the sort. Comparisons were made... If you read the text properly, the words "low end" were put in """""""""""""""""'s... There is NOTING "low end about a Gibson... If I thought that, I wouldn't have spent 6 grand on them.

As for tuning down a 1/2 step, "LOADS" of musicians do... (do some research) And as for those of us who are "up" in years and that are struggling with arthritis and such, do what we can to continue to "play music" and at times try to help out a novice make choices that will best suit "their" needs.

everyone has their opinions...

No need to troll for an argument...

open quotes "Only A Gibson is Good Enough" close quotes...

If that's not a good enough explanation, that's your weight to carry...
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#15 User is offline   OldCowboy 

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 04:31 PM

Today is yesterday's tomorrow! Hope you can give us a good update later😎
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#16 User is offline   Eline97 

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 01:53 AM

View PostOldCowboy, on 16 May 2017 - 04:31 PM, said:

Today is yesterday's tomorrow! Hope you can give us a good update later��


Going to the store around 6 pm (Dutch time), so I'lll definitely let you know if I bought the J15 :)
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#17 User is offline   Jinder 

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 01:56 AM

Buy the J15. They're a wonderful guitar and if the neck feels perfect to you now, you'll still want to pick it up in a year's time.

If a guitar doesn't feel great in the shop, in a few months you'll not want to reach for it at all. I've been down that road too many times.

I owned a J15 for a while and loved the tone. I tend to go the other way on necks as I have giant hands and prefer a longer scale so ended up changing mine for a '41 Reissue SJ100, but I miss the tone of the J15, it was a glorious sounding guitar.
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#18 User is offline   EuroAussie 

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 02:55 AM

I owned a Songwriter Deluxe Studio, bought it orginally as my gigging guitar when i started playing live some 6 years ago.

But I sold it eventually as realised that rosewood guitars sound muddy when plugged in, much more prefer maple or mahogany.

And as you wrote, the guitar felt real heavy and i found the tone to be sort of between Taylor and Gibson.

Im a huge fan of the J-15 on the other hand, it has a full Gibson tone, very much like the J-45 but an interesting twist with the wallnut back / sides. Its a great allrounder.

Between the two I would absolutely go for the J-15
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#19 User is offline   Cougar 

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 06:40 AM

View PostEline97, on 16 May 2017 - 01:31 AM, said:

I actually prefer one in better condition.


I'm with you here. I'm still a newbie compared to most of the guys and girls here, and most of them are all about the tone, which is important, of course, but I want tone AND excellent condition.

View PostEline97, on 16 May 2017 - 01:31 AM, said:

....but for example the Guild I tried felt like the neck was two times larger in size and the J15 just felt perfect.


Haha, funny you mention this. I had an order in for a new burst J15 out of MusicVilla in Bozeman. Just as one came in, I was waylaid by a burst jumbo Guild F50R on reverb for about the same money. I'm still ecstatic with that one!

View PostEline97, on 16 May 2017 - 01:31 AM, said:

I think I'll go try the J15 again tomorrow and if it feels as great as last time, I'll probably take it home 😊.


Sounds like a plan. As many have said, the Gibson J15 is a great guitar, and Gibson made a mistake on pricing it so low, but that's to yours and our benefit!
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#20 User is offline   Johnt 

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 09:39 AM

Agree with Buc

But also with Jinder

And I do note EA's point about rosewood sounding muddy through an amp ( I have a SWD 12)

At the risk of confusing the issue further what about a used J45. You're not too far off the price of one

Above all buy the one you enjoy the most

Good luck
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