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2017 SJ-200... advice needed!

#1 User is offline   guitman3 

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 11:12 AM

Hello everyone,

Here for a bit of advice if possible?

Having tried 6 different 2017 SJ-200ís, I've narrowed it down to 2 that are both superb, responsive, alive and balanced, just in slightly different ways!

The first is ever so slightly scooped in the mids sounding, with a low end that extends so deeply itís addictive, and the guitar has a softer attack.

The second has excellent deep low end, but more midrange and is more even across the frequency range. This guitar has slightly more attack.

Both are great, but Iím wondering how J200ís age over time? Will the scooped sounding guitar develop more mids or become too boomy over time? Will the midrange rich guitar Ďmellow outí and lose some mids over time, or will it become even stronger in that frequency?

Any advice or experience would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks everyone.
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#2 User is offline   EuroAussie 

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 12:06 PM

Main difference is the sound will become softer, warmer and highly balanced. Maple is a hard wood and I would never buy a brand new maple guitar. I own a 2002 maple J-150 and a 2008 maple Dove, both sound warm, played in, responsive but also soft and well ... splendid.
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#3 User is offline   guitman3 

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 01:47 PM

Hey, thanks for the reply! So maybe it would be better to get the guitar with the punchier midrange knowing that it will mellow (and the attack will soften) over time rather than getting a guitar that is already mellow and will only get warmer?

Any other opinions?

Thanks:)
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#4 User is offline   sjl200 

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 03:17 PM

I bought a brand new 1998 SJ 200 and over the years it has mellowed
The sound today is much better appreciated to my ears. Of course my ears have mellowed also so........
It's been a fine guitar from new to now.
I can say it has also been fun to experience the transition from a maple tree to a guitar all these years later.

This post has been edited by sjl200: 06 December 2017 - 03:18 PM

17 Gibson Doves-in-Flight Autumn Burst
12 Gibson J45 Purevoice
12 Gibson Sheryl Crow Model A Southern Jumbo Special edition
13 Gibson J45 Custom Mystic RW w/ Trance Audio Amulet MVT
12 Epiphone Allen Woody Bass
10 Gibson J45 Fullers Vintage Tri-burst
06 Gibson ES-335 DOT-Beale Street Blue
05 Takamine EGC 531SSC-12
98 Gibson SJ-200
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61 Rickenbacker 450 Combo Fireglow
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#5 User is offline   62burst 

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 03:31 PM


Wow, tried six different SJ-200ís? ĎBet that took some doing. How many of them in the same place? J/K; most shops donít even have one laying around, let alone multiples. It also sounds like youíve got fairly decent ear memory to try a daunting task such as comparing and remembering- I have a tough time if the subjects of the a/b of two similar guitars are more than 3 or 4 seconds apart.

A member here approaching 10 years- with your ability to distill tone evaluation as in the o.p., you should visit these parts more often; Big G would most likely appreciate it, too, as youíd probably sell more guitars for them as you randomly increase gas levels.

As far as how the sound of each of your SJ-200 contenders might age, there is much talk about how each guitar can age differently, even possibly depending on what kind of life itís had, where itís been kept, how itís been played (ďI once had a guitar owned by a little old lady- only played it in church on Sunday; C, F, G, etc. . . none of the devilís musicĒ). But surely some generalities out there Iíve seen ring true. The best wisdom Iíve read right here on these pages would say get the one that sounds best to you now- you and the guitar will both grow together.

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#6 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 07:07 PM

I can't tell you how it will sound down the road as I cannot for the life of me find my crystal ball.

The only way to buy a guitar is based on how it sounds in the here and now. Way too many things impacting how wood ages. do applaud you for trying as many as you did. I cannot tell you how many folks I know jumped on the first guitar they stumbled upon (which they were more often as not told by the seller was the best he had ever played) only to find one a few months later on that they liked a whole lot better.

This post has been edited by zombywoof: 06 December 2017 - 07:10 PM

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#7 User is offline   fortyearspickn 

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 07:31 PM

You're sure it's not differences in strings or humidity levels?
SJ200 2004
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#8 User is offline   Dave F 

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 08:39 PM

Iíve only handled six my entire life.
You need SlimT to jump in here. He has 70 of them if I remember correctly.
Just the Gibson's Please
'29 Uke1
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'53 ES 150
'94 Centennial 1934 Jumbo RI
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#9 User is offline   guitman3 

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 01:44 AM

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for your replies - theyíre all helpful and appreciated!

Here in the south of the U.K. we have some amazing guitar stores all in close proximity to each other, so trying 6 was easy (3 different stores)... in fact I could have doubled that figure had I been interested in the sunburst models, but I really want the maple:)

Also, 3 of them were what I would consider poorer sounding examples. Very tight, small sounding with almost no low end for a guitar of that size. Iíd read before that J200ís varied widely in tonal quality, and now I can see what everyone meant. 50% of the guitars I tried simply didnít produce £2700 worth of quality sound, in my opinion. I guess it is luck of the draw with the wood used and how the guitar goes together. Plus, maybe those 3 would change over time in to amazing examples? Who knows?!

I definitely donít have the ears of a bat, and would consider myself only an average guitar player considering my 25 years experience, but these tonal and dynamic differences in the guitars were both obvious and easy to distinguish, and Iím not laying down this kind of money without doing a bit of research and understanding as much as I can about J200ís first!

To be honest, if I took either of the 2 Iím interested in home with me, Iíd be happy... Iíve just gotten to that annoying picky stage where theyíre both really good - just in slightly different ways.

Poor me eh?! Ha...
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#10 User is offline   Jinder 

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 03:07 AM

 guitman3, on 07 December 2017 - 01:44 AM, said:

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for your replies - theyíre all helpful and appreciated!

Here in the south of the U.K. we have some amazing guitar stores all in close proximity to each other, so trying 6 was easy (3 different stores)... in fact I could have doubled that figure had I been interested in the sunburst models, but I really want the maple:)

Also, 3 of them were what I would consider poorer sounding examples. Very tight, small sounding with almost no low end for a guitar of that size. Iíd read before that J200ís varied widely in tonal quality, and now I can see what everyone meant. 50% of the guitars I tried simply didnít produce £2700 worth of quality sound, in my opinion. I guess it is luck of the draw with the wood used and how the guitar goes together. Plus, maybe those 3 would change over time in to amazing examples? Who knows?!

I definitely donít have the ears of a bat, and would consider myself only an average guitar player considering my 25 years experience, but these tonal and dynamic differences in the guitars were both obvious and easy to distinguish, and Iím not laying down this kind of money without doing a bit of research and understanding as much as I can about J200ís first!

To be honest, if I took either of the 2 Iím interested in home with me, Iíd be happy... Iíve just gotten to that annoying picky stage where theyíre both really good - just in slightly different ways.

Poor me eh?! Ha...


Iím in the south too, whereabouts are you based? The Guitar Store in Southampton was where I bought mine last year, and my Dove too. Jamie had four SJ200s in, two 2015s and two 2016s. All of them were good but the 2015 I bought was sensational, and is even better now! I got a killer deal on it too, as it was year-old NOS.
#######
2015 SJ200 Standard
2011 Dove
1990 Hummingbird
1967 J45
2014 SJ100 1941 Reissue
2014 Epiphone IB '64 Texan
2001 Epiphone EL-00 (early L1 shape model)
2003 Takamine EAN20C
1978 Hohner Leyanda 12 String
1998 Fender Classic Series '60s RI Telecaster

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#11 User is offline   Johnt 

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 04:45 AM

View PostJinder, on 07 December 2017 - 03:07 AM, said:

Iím in the south too, whereabouts are you based? The Guitar Store in Southampton was where I bought mine last year, and my Dove too. Jamie had four SJ200s in, two 2015s and two 2016s. All of them were good but the 2015 I bought was sensational, and is even better now! I got a killer deal on it too, as it was year-old NOS.


Wasn't sure where to stick this reply but Geography won in the end. I'm in Ashford Kent and own a 1994 Sunburst Maple, a 1994 J200-12 maple and a 2005 KOA. The KOA is perfection, the SB has really bedded in but perversely the 12 string still feels tight.

I am with EA in that I wouldn't go for a new maple, but then I wouldn't go for a new Gibson from choice preferring someone else to do all the hard work -:)

Having said that Jinder really rates his 2015 so I am sure that great new guitars exist

Good luck with your quest
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#12 User is offline   guitman3 

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 03:16 AM

Iím actually in the depths of Surrey, so close enough to Andertonís, Guitar Guitar, Guitar Village and GAK! Very lucky for guitar stores in these parts.

So, I went to play both guitars again and have finally made a decision. The guitar with the slightly richer midrange came home with me, but not because it was actually better (they were both so good tonally, just in slightly different ways) but because the other guitar (upon closer inspection) had some issues that may have caused very big problems later on.

Firstly, the saddle had been set low with nowhere left to go later on. If this guitar bellyís then it might need the bridge shaving or neck resetting.

Secondly, the dark wooden strip running central down the neck was protruding slightly through the lacquer and the truss was fully tightened. Again no adjustment area to go, and also a potentially disastrous neck later on.

Third, the factory installed LR Baggs was faulty.

What a shame eh? Wicked sounding guitar, riddled with issues...
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#13 User is offline   kidblast 

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 05:49 AM

View Postguitman3, on 08 December 2017 - 03:16 AM, said:

Iím actually in the depths of Surrey, so close enough to Andertonís, Guitar Guitar, Guitar Village and GAK! Very lucky for guitar stores in these parts.

So, I went to play both guitars again and have finally made a decision. The guitar with the slightly richer midrange came home with me, but not because it was actually better (they were both so good tonally, just in slightly different ways) but because the other guitar (upon closer inspection) had some issues that may have caused very big problems later on.

Firstly, the saddle had been set low with nowhere left to go later on. If this guitar bellyís then it might need the bridge shaving or neck resetting.

Secondly, the dark wooden strip running central down the neck was protruding slightly through the lacquer and the truss was fully tightened. Again no adjustment area to go, and also a potentially disastrous neck later on.

Third, the factory installed LR Baggs was faulty.

What a shame eh? Wicked sounding guitar, riddled with issues...


it may just need to be rehydrated..

About the LR Baggs, I think Gibson would do well to move away from their electronics.

When I bought my 1st J200 the Anthem had a grounding problem. When ever the guitar moved against your body, or you moved your arm across, as you would when playing, static pops would come thru the guitar. we're talking LOUD BOOMS when plugged in. Like some one dropped a string a firecrackers in the body and put a match to them.

That went back, and was replaced..

With in a year or so, on the second J200 the preamp module had loosened up from use (the volume and blend pots) and they would vibrate in sympathy with open notes (D, A, G) and that would also get picked up and sent through the pickup system. It dove me nuts.. I ripped it out, and installed a fisman infinity instead

LR Baggs replaced the Anthem module, and I promptly sold it on EBay to recoup the cost of the fishman which I admit, didn't sound QUITE as nice as the Anthem plugged in, but at the same time the guitar sounds 1,000 times better with out that stupid vibration sound.

anyway,, just thought I'd chime in on that.

Good luck with the new addition!
/Ray
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#14 User is offline   fortyearspickn 

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 07:37 AM

Hope you can pace yourself - when I got mine, I got carried away and got blisters under my callouses! You'll surely fall in love with it - and if it's your first Gibson, it will become your "First Love" !
When I got mine - it clearly kept sounding better. I'm sure yours will too. G'Luck!
SJ200 2004
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#15 User is offline   guitman3 

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 12:48 PM

Thanks everyone, really appreciate the replies and advice. Fantastic!

Thatís very interesting to hear about the LR Baggs issues. It seems that the Anthem has a great reputation for sound but a poor one for quality. Iíll keep an eye on my one, but it works fine just now. The preamp is a big old unit though and I wonder whether it affects the tone at all?

Also, interrrsting to read about the guitar I rejected possibly needing to be rehydrated. Another reason for me not to want to get involved for sure...
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#16 User is offline   62burst 

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 05:41 PM

Guitman- 40Yrs might not have been saying that hydration issues would be a reason to reject a guitar that's being considered, as much as he might be suggesting that the SJ-200 in question wasn't able to represent itself as good as it could due to something simple, such as old strings, or under-humidification, which would cause the top to sink down, resulting in action that would not be ideal for the guitar's best tone.

Wonder how many guitars have been rejected for such simple things; vintage guitars that have been in a dealer's inventory for years, with ages-old strings, the top not having been vibrated, and the guitar just "went to sleep", etc.

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#17 User is offline   Dave F 

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 08:43 PM

View Post62burst, on 08 December 2017 - 05:41 PM, said:

Guitman- 40Yrs might not have been saying that hydration issues would be a reason to reject a guitar that's being considered, as much as he might be suggesting that the SJ-200 in question wasn't able to represent itself as good as it could due to something simple, such as old strings, or under-humidification, which would cause the top to sink down, resulting in action that would not be ideal for the guitar's best tone.

Wonder how many guitars have been rejected for such simple things; vintage guitars that have been in a dealer's inventory for years, with ages-old strings, the top not having been vibrated, and the guitar just "went to sleep", etc.



I've been known to buy a dud and keep it in the case a couple years only opening it up to check the humidipaks and have a killer guitar afterwards
Just the Gibson's Please
'29 Uke1
'40's Banner J45
'53 ES 150
'94 Centennial 1934 Jumbo RI
'94 1933 Century of Progress
'04 Chet Atkins CG
'04 Dwight Yoakam Honky Tonk Duece
'07 J200 CUSTOM KOA
'07 CJ165 RW
'10 J45 Legend
'10 Jackson Browne
'11 Kristofferson SJ
'12 J200 Custom RW
'13 ES 175
'13 J185 Wildwood Modern Vintage
'13 LG-2 Banner RI (All Hog)
'14 F5L Fern Mandolin
'14 Stage Deluxe LTD
'14 1932 L00 RI
'14 Les Paul Std
'14 L5 Premier
'15 Stage Deluxe RW
'16 Nick Lucas Mystic Rosewood
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#18 User is offline   guitman3 

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Posted 09 December 2017 - 02:02 AM

Ah no, the top had Ďbellied upí so the saddle is what had been lowered to an extreme in an attempt to try and compensate and get the action down. The strings were brand new. It actually sounded great, but thereís no way I could take it home not knowing what state it was likely to end up in, especially with the back of the neck having a protruding lamination. None of us have a crystal ball and know how a guitar might end up, but personally I could never buy a brand new guitar in that condition.

The guitar I took home sounded equally as good (just with a slightly different frequency response) and had no build issues at all.

Iím very happy, and strongly advise anyone interested in any acoustic purchase to try at least 4 or 5 of the same model first, if they can. The tone, feel and build quality of J200ís varied widely in my experience with just 6 different instruments, and Iím glad I took my time with it!

Thanks:)
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#19 User is offline   Jinder 

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Posted 09 December 2017 - 03:14 AM

A wise choice. My first SJ200 (a 2003, my main stage guitar for eight years and much loved) had most of the problems you mentioned in the one you rejected. It was a learning experience...underset neck, very little saddle, a little neck twist and nowhere to go action wise. It played and sounded great, but all the issues made any action adjustments/setups very costly (fretboard planing, compression fretting, bridge shaving, neck resets).

Hydrating it just made the action higher and the top belly more. It was a build issue due to the neck angle. Thankfully my current SJ209 has no such issues, the action is low, plenty of saddle left to play with and no hydration or neck angle issues-just perfect.

Youíre very right to advise shopping around, being handbuilt they are very variable instruments.
#######
2015 SJ200 Standard
2011 Dove
1990 Hummingbird
1967 J45
2014 SJ100 1941 Reissue
2014 Epiphone IB '64 Texan
2001 Epiphone EL-00 (early L1 shape model)
2003 Takamine EAN20C
1978 Hohner Leyanda 12 String
1998 Fender Classic Series '60s RI Telecaster

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