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Martin acoustic volume vs Gibson

#1 User is offline   BC Mike 118 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 01:51 AM

I am a confirmed Gibson acoustic lover and have a number of them including two SJ200's, a Dove, Hummingbird and a Songwriter Deluxe Studio. Recently I bought a Martin HD35 even though I had never considered owning one before but I could not resist the price. I couldn't believe the difference in acoustic volume. Much louder than the Gibsons, ever the SJ200's! Have any of you had this experience? The bracing is 1/4" and scalloped but can that make such a noticible difference in volume?
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#2 User is offline   Jinder 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 03:14 AM

D35s and HD35s are generally cannons due (Im led to believe) to the lighter back bracing and three piece back. Wonderful guitars!

Volume is a very subjective thing, and whilst loud is always good, in my experience as a session player its not always better per se. A friend has a 40s J45 which is really quiet-half as loud as my 67 J45. Under a mic though it really shines-amazing overtones and beautiful woody thump. I had a 2002 AJ which was VERY loud and sounded great in a room, but rather one dimensional when micd. It would also bleed onto vocal tracks relentlessly in an in the room vocal and guitar take due to the volume of it. It was great for ensemble work though, really handy for bluegrass style stuff around one mic.

Id absolutely love to own a 35 series Mart, especially as my favourite songwriter of all time, Townes Van Zandt, of course played one. Enjoy!
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2005 Custom Shop Hummingbird 12 String (Ltd to 12)
1990 Hummingbird (Fullerplast and Paddle neck joint. Yuck...My favourite 6 string ever!)
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1967 J45
1935 Dobro M32
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#3 User is offline   SteveFord 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 04:58 AM

The 28 series is equally loud and has that complex Martin tone.
I wouldn't swap my HD-28V for anything, it has THAT sound (very similar to be D-35 which is a beautiful guitar).
Congratulations on your new purchase!
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#4 User is offline   fortyearspickn 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 07:35 AM

I would list 'volume' as 4th or 5th in terms of priorities when I got my SJ200. Few describe them as cannons or banjo killers. . My J45 is louder but not as complex in tone.
As discussed in a thread earlier this week "Why do guitar manufacturers assume you want SUSTAIN?" we sometimes think that is the 'holy grail'.
I think, as we develop our ear for un-amplified acoustic 'sound' we realize volume, sustain, clarity, and that elusive quality 'tone' all compete within each guitar. Significantly tweak-able with strings, picks and whether you stand in front of it or hold it with the back firmly against your beer belly.
There is an old wives tale "Scotch is an Acquired Taste." but I think the same applies to guitars. We have different palettes. and different inner ears. So we hear the same sound differently. In general, Martins have built a reputation in BlueGrass as being able to compete with banjos sound (volume) wise. Taylor, again in general, has a reputation of consistently producing bell-like tones.
It sounds like (no pun intended) your new Martin will help you in your pursuit of refining your taste. Or ear ! Congrats.
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#5 User is offline   Rev Roy 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 07:58 AM

Yep...my D-41 is a cannon. Love it. But I also love the mellow, woody tone of my J-45. Not better or worse...just different.
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#6 User is online   FZ Fan 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 09:59 AM

View PostRev Roy, on 10 March 2018 - 07:58 AM, said:

Yep...my D-41 is a cannon. Love it. But I also love the mellow, woody tone of my J-45. Not better or worse...just different.


One day I was playing my D-28 and my son walked in the room and said "That is a loud acoustic guitar". It is not called The Cannon cause its quiet. My D-18 is becoming my favorite acoustic, so the D-28 might be getting jealous. I played a D-35 side by side when I got my D-28, and was going to go home with the winner, cause there was only a $100 differnce. The 28 beat it (for me) by just a hair.

Good score. The three piece backs are sweet.

This post has been edited by FZ Fan: 10 March 2018 - 10:04 AM

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#7 User is offline   blindboygrunt 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 10:25 AM

Why is volume a criteria?
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#8 User is offline   JuanCarlosVejar 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 10:48 AM

As far as your Dove and J 200's maple is not a loud wood.
That's not it's forte ... Maple is known well for being true to what a player plays on it.
3 different guys can pick up the same maple guitar and it will bring out each of those styles with very high fidelity of notes.

Rosewood will be filled with overtones so if you make a mistake the overtones will cover it up.
I would think in order for a maple guitar to even get close to a rosewood guitar you'd have to put Heavy gauge strings on it.


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This post has been edited by JuanCarlosVejar: 10 March 2018 - 10:49 AM

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#9 User is offline   merciful-evans 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 10:49 AM

As a young man I really wanted a J-200 (Michael Chapman influence). Later I fancied A D-28.

I never got either. I eventually got a Fylde (from Luthier Roger Bucknell himself in 70s). It was one of the loudest in his 2nds (not for retail) area.

A very loud one was a white wood guitar, which had the sweetest tone, but it sounded dull played hard. So I choose a more conventional model that responded well when played hard.

Now if all I had to go on was listening someone else playing those guitars I might have made the wrong choice.
Acoustic volume is important, but its only one component of the whole tonal palette.
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#10 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 11:07 AM

Loudness only matters when you are close to the guitar. Projection, as example, is something different. While loudness is a component, projection is more like a sweet spot as the ear/brain synthesizes certain frequencies better than others. My loudest guitar is probably my 1955/56 Epi Ft-79. Not a lightweight instrument by any stretch of the imagination but that arched back makes a difference. But if you are standing in the back of the room you will be able to hear others better.
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#11 User is offline   BC Mike 118 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 11:13 AM

View Postblindboygrunt, on 10 March 2018 - 10:25 AM, said:

Why is volume a criteria?


If you are referring to my original post you will note that I didn't discuss volume being a criteria, I merely made an observation regarding volume and wondered if other members had that experience. As far as criteria goes I don't go to my music store with a checklist, I just get in there and play until it feels right. :)

This post has been edited by BC Mike 118: 10 March 2018 - 11:36 AM

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#12 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 01:06 PM

I think the point is that anyone who has spent a good amount of time with Gibsons would not utter any surprise that are not the loudest guitars on the planet. If Gibson had that end in mind they might have built them with a more pinched waist and made them all long scale guitars. Imagine a Gibson slope shoulder or J-200 with a Kay-esque 26" scale neck slapped on. Scary!
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#13 User is offline   JuanCarlosVejar 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 01:38 PM

View Postzombywoof, on 10 March 2018 - 01:06 PM, said:

I think the point is that anyone who has spent a good amount of time with Gibsons would not utter any surprise that are not the loudest guitars on the planet. If Gibson had that end in mind they might have built them with a more pinched waist and made them all long scale guitars. Imagine a Gibson slope shoulder or J-200 with a Kay-esque 26" scale neck slapped on. Scary!


I agree with Gibson it's mostly about the mids.



JC
2000 Yamaha FG720SL
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2011 Hummingbird TV [RETIRED]
2011 L200 Emmylou Harris
2012 L00 5 star
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2012 Elvis Costello Century Of Progress
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2012 75th Anniversary J200M (Banana)
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#14 User is offline   tpbiii 

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 07:32 PM

Well I guess I can claim to have a lot of experience on the volume of Gibson and Martin (mostly) flat tops -- we have almost exactly 50 of each, all (but one) built before 1969 and many from before 1945. After 1980 -- not so much.

People began to put steel strings on flat top guitars in a serious way in the mid-to-late 1920s. Prior to that Gibson essentially had no flat top guitars and Martin flat top guitars -- built for almost 100 years -- used gut string. Gibson started in 1925 by essentially putting a flat tops on their L-0 and L-1 archtops, which started as ladder braced but evolved to X-brace by the late 1920s. Martins were always x-braced, but very lightly braced. Putting steel strings on the 0, 00, and 000 models of the day created amazing cannons (and still does if one is stupid enough to do it) but the guitars generally could not handle those stings. The late 1920s L-0 and L-1 also got a lot of use with the early blues players who loved loud -- but they would play anything and usually destroyed their instruments with hard playing. They "wore them out."

Those were the days before sound reinforcement and whatever sound made it to the audience had to come from the instrument -- thus the need for LOUD.

The really big bang of American Flat top guitars happened in the 1930s. Acoustic string band groups before then really did not use flat top guitars very much -- they were not loud enough to blend well with the other loud instruments -- banjos, fiddles, mandolins, accordions, etc.. But what got the attention of those players starting about 1932 were a class of large body steel string guitars introduced by both Martin and Gibson -- Martin D-1 and D-2 in 1931, Gibson Jumbo in 1934, Martin D-28 and D-18 in 1934, Gibson AJ and J-35 in 1936. This lead to the enthusiastic inclusion of these instruments in the acoustic kerosene circuit and traveling shows of the day, and it lead to over-stringing a lot of the instruments (Mapes Heavy Strings) to make them as loud as possible. Eventually players learned to use mediums and the guitar companies began a long progression of beefing up their bracing. So the early instruments were incredibly loud but calmed down a bit by about 40-41.

Although they had some identifiable tonal difference all the large body 30s guitars were very loud. But then two things happened. Sound reinforcement and mics became very common for performance and Gibson revamped its bracing in 1942 -- J-45 and SJ. Martin bracing changed evolutionary too and both became less loud -- but Martins remained LOUD and Gibsons less so: a difference that survived until today -- or at least until the crazy "recreated the old" craze that has been a driving force for both companies since about 1990. The longevity of this split can be understood by the different markets that valued the different brands. Martins served the serious loud (eg Traditional bluegrass market) --they delivered their instruments with high actions because they expected their customers to set their own actions. Gibson customers liked guitars ready to play, adjustable, and generally more flashy -- perfect for (say) 40s and 50s country on a sound reinforced stage.

The 1960s -- when wife and I started playing folk music -- was in some since another big bang for acoustic guitars. But very unlike the 30s. It was very inclusive and as such was not very loud in general. Power in the guitar was at best a secondary concern -- playability (there were no guitar techs to speak of in those days) and adjustability were king. Period Gibsons serviced the folk revival and country market very well -- Martin stayed the course and lost popularity for their high actions, no adjustable necks, and off the shelf lack of playability -- they were more aimed at pros. This is all clear in retrospect -- it was not obvious then.

My c. 1960 LG-1 was a killer loud folk guitar -- later it was a wimpy embarrassment when I tried to learn to play bluegrass.

Going back in my hole now.

All the best,

-Tom
Never criticize a musician until you have walked a mile in his shoes. Then you will be a mile away and you will have his shoes.
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#15 User is offline   BC Mike 118 

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 11:55 AM

View Posttpbiii, on 10 March 2018 - 07:32 PM, said:

Well I guess I can claim to have a lot of experience on the volume of Gibson and Martin (mostly) flat tops -- we have almost exactly 50 of each, all (but one) built before 1969 and many from before 1945. After 1980 -- not so much.

People began to put steel strings on flat top guitars in a serious way in the mid-to-late 1920s. Prior to that Gibson essentially had no flat top guitars and Martin flat top guitars -- built for almost 100 years -- used gut string. Gibson started in 1925 by essentially putting a flat tops on their L-0 and L-1 archtops, which started as ladder braced but evolved to X-brace by the late 1920s. Martins were always x-braced, but very lightly braced. Putting steel strings on the 0, 00, and 000 models of the day created amazing cannons (and still does if one is stupid enough to do it) but the guitars generally could not handle those stings. The late 1920s L-0 and L-1 also got a lot of use with the early blues players who loved loud -- but they would play anything and usually destroyed their instruments with hard playing. They "wore them out."

Those were the days before sound reinforcement and whatever sound made it to the audience had to come from the instrument -- thus the need for LOUD.

The really big bang of American Flat top guitars happened in the 1930s. Acoustic string band groups before then really did not use flat top guitars very much -- they were not loud enough to blend well with the other loud instruments -- banjos, fiddles, mandolins, accordions, etc.. But what got the attention of those players starting about 1932 were a class of large body steel string guitars introduced by both Martin and Gibson -- Martin D-1 and D-2 in 1931, Gibson Jumbo in 1934, Martin D-28 and D-18 in 1934, Gibson AJ and J-35 in 1936. This lead to the enthusiastic inclusion of these instruments in the acoustic kerosene circuit and traveling shows of the day, and it lead to over-stringing a lot of the instruments (Mapes Heavy Strings) to make them as loud as possible. Eventually players learned to use mediums and the guitar companies began a long progression of beefing up their bracing. So the early instruments were incredibly loud but calmed down a bit by about 40-41.

Although they had some identifiable tonal difference all the large body 30s guitars were very loud. But then two things happened. Sound reinforcement and mics became very common for performance and Gibson revamped its bracing in 1942 -- J-45 and SJ. Martin bracing changed evolutionary too and both became less loud -- but Martins remained LOUD and Gibsons less so: a difference that survived until today -- or at least until the crazy "recreated the old" craze that has been a driving force for both companies since about 1990. The longevity of this split can be understood by the different markets that valued the different brands. Martins served the serious loud (eg Traditional bluegrass market) --they delivered their instruments with high actions because they expected their customers to set their own actions. Gibson customers liked guitars ready to play, adjustable, and generally more flashy -- perfect for (say) 40s and 50s country on a sound reinforced stage.

The 1960s -- when wife and I started playing folk music -- was in some since another big bang for acoustic guitars. But very unlike the 30s. It was very inclusive and as such was not very loud in general. Power in the guitar was at best a secondary concern -- playability (there were no guitar techs to speak of in those days) and adjustability were king. Period Gibsons serviced the folk revival and country market very well -- Martin stayed the course and lost popularity for their high actions, no adjustable necks, and off the shelf lack of playability -- they were more aimed at pros. This is all clear in retrospect -- it was not obvious then.

My c. 1960 LG-1 was a killer loud folk guitar -- later it was a wimpy embarrassment when I tried to learn to play bluegrass.

Going back in my hole now.

All the best,

-Tom


Tom thank you for your comments. Do you have a web page showing your collection?

Mike in Vancouver BC
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#16 User is offline   tpbiii 

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 12:34 PM

View PostBC Mike 118, on 11 March 2018 - 11:55 AM, said:

Tom thank you for your comments. Do you have a web page showing your collection?

Mike in Vancouver BC


Sort of. I'll send you a PM.

Best,

-Tom
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#17 User is offline   merciful-evans 

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 02:40 PM

View Posttpbiii, on 10 March 2018 - 07:32 PM, said:

Well I guess I can claim to have a lot of experience on the volume of Gibson and Martin (mostly) flat tops -- we have almost exactly 50 of each, all (but one) built before 1969 and many from before 1945. After 1980 -- not so much.

People began to put steel strings on flat top guitars in a serious way in the mid-to-late 1920s. Prior to that Gibson essentially had no flat top guitars and Martin flat top guitars -- built for almost 100 years -- used gut string. Gibson started in 1925 by essentially putting a flat tops on their L-0 and L-1 archtops, which started as ladder braced but evolved to X-brace by the late 1920s. Martins were always x-braced, but very lightly braced. Putting steel strings on the 0, 00, and 000 models of the day created amazing cannons (and still does if one is stupid enough to do it) but the guitars generally could not handle those stings. The late 1920s L-0 and L-1 also got a lot of use with the early blues players who loved loud -- but they would play anything and usually destroyed their instruments with hard playing. They "wore them out."

Those were the days before sound reinforcement and whatever sound made it to the audience had to come from the instrument -- thus the need for LOUD.

The really big bang of American Flat top guitars happened in the 1930s. Acoustic string band groups before then really did not use flat top guitars very much -- they were not loud enough to blend well with the other loud instruments -- banjos, fiddles, mandolins, accordions, etc.. But what got the attention of those players starting about 1932 were a class of large body steel string guitars introduced by both Martin and Gibson -- Martin D-1 and D-2 in 1931, Gibson Jumbo in 1934, Martin D-28 and D-18 in 1934, Gibson AJ and J-35 in 1936. This lead to the enthusiastic inclusion of these instruments in the acoustic kerosene circuit and traveling shows of the day, and it lead to over-stringing a lot of the instruments (Mapes Heavy Strings) to make them as loud as possible. Eventually players learned to use mediums and the guitar companies began a long progression of beefing up their bracing. So the early instruments were incredibly loud but calmed down a bit by about 40-41.

Although they had some identifiable tonal difference all the large body 30s guitars were very loud. But then two things happened. Sound reinforcement and mics became very common for performance and Gibson revamped its bracing in 1942 -- J-45 and SJ. Martin bracing changed evolutionary too and both became less loud -- but Martins remained LOUD and Gibsons less so: a difference that survived until today -- or at least until the crazy "recreated the old" craze that has been a driving force for both companies since about 1990. The longevity of this split can be understood by the different markets that valued the different brands. Martins served the serious loud (eg Traditional bluegrass market) --they delivered their instruments with high actions because they expected their customers to set their own actions. Gibson customers liked guitars ready to play, adjustable, and generally more flashy -- perfect for (say) 40s and 50s country on a sound reinforced stage.

The 1960s -- when wife and I started playing folk music -- was in some since another big bang for acoustic guitars. But very unlike the 30s. It was very inclusive and as such was not very loud in general. Power in the guitar was at best a secondary concern -- playability (there were no guitar techs to speak of in those days) and adjustability were king. Period Gibsons serviced the folk revival and country market very well -- Martin stayed the course and lost popularity for their high actions, no adjustable necks, and off the shelf lack of playability -- they were more aimed at pros. This is all clear in retrospect -- it was not obvious then.

My c. 1960 LG-1 was a killer loud folk guitar -- later it was a wimpy embarrassment when I tried to learn to play bluegrass.

Going back in my hole now.

All the best,

-Tom


Thanks for that insight Tom. It was an education & a pleasure to read.
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#18 User is offline   mking 

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 03:24 PM

View PostRev Roy, on 10 March 2018 - 07:58 AM, said:

Yep...my D-41 is a cannon. Love it. But I also love the mellow, woody tone of my J-45. Not better or worse...just different.


This comment is spot on. My 1999 HD-28V is a cannon and does have the complex overtones etc. However, my J-45TV has that airy, wooden dry tone thump.
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#19 User is offline   gfa 

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 11:45 AM

My HD-28VS is approximately "way" louder than my J45 Vintage.
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#20 User is online   FZ Fan 

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 12:13 PM

View Postblindboygrunt, on 10 March 2018 - 10:25 AM, said:

Why is volume a criteria?


Would you have wanted to see Motorhead play a 20db or 120db.

Then the question is why is anything a criteria?(Tone, projection, color, tonewood, bridge and nut material, pickguard, no pickguard. bridge pins, ect ect)

This post has been edited by FZ Fan: 12 March 2018 - 12:15 PM

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