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AJ vs J45 RW

#1 User is offline   Blind Lemon 

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 10:58 AM

The subject line says it all. I have been in the Martin camp and don't know the differences other than the scale length. Any help?

BL

#2 User is offline   cunkhead 

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 11:20 AM

hey, BL. there has been much discussion comparing and contrasting these two in the last couple of days as these two models are always on everyone's mind. if you have a few minutes, dig around in the previous threads - you may find what you are looking for. i know, i myself, am thinking about the AJ or the j45rw as a possible future purchase.





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#3 User is offline   Rambler 

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 11:49 AM

That's basicly it. The AJ maybe a little more lightly built & slimmer neck. After that, its appointments (30's repro vs mod classic).
"As through this world you ramble, you meet some funny men. Some rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen"
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"Aint no easy job to sit down and play guitar!" Rev. Gary Davis

#4 User is offline   ballcorner 

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 12:22 PM

My local store never has five of each model available. I bought my AJ last November and I have tried three J45-RWs that have come through the store.

One of the three J45-RWs was really nice with overall sweet tone, but one of the staff bought it before I had a second chance to play it. I really heard a difference in the sound of a J45-RW and my AJ. This could be a result of my AJ or the few J45-RWs I have played being somewhat unique, but I can say I would like to add a rosewood J45 as my next guitar because I do find it sounds quite different from my AJ.

How is it different? I guess the best way I can give my opinion on this is to say that I could picture myself doing the song Fire and Rain on the J45-RW, but would find the AJ too heavy on that song. Conversely, I would rather have the AJ on Baloney Again (Knopfler) because I play that with a flesh thumb and fingernails so the rooty, woody bass tone from that method on the AJ is absolutely supreme!

I don't play blues and I don't play slack key, but I do play some DADGAD and some DADF#AD along with a lot of drop D. On these tunings the AJ is incredible - has a voice like Pavorotti - a living breathing Pavorotti, I mean. The J45-RW, on the other hand, has really impressed me in these voicings but is a far smoother strummer in standard tuning and offers much less bleed on the midrange. What I specifically mean on the midrange bleed is that if I am playing a lead with thirds on an AJ I find it gets somewhat muddy if I am running on the G and D strings, where on a J45-RW this lead would sing like a female alto - very clear and very pretty, but with some girth.

It is all so subjective, I know, but I have tried to present my view here in a way that you can feel my bias, understand my limitations of stock availability (my AJ is the only one I have ever played) and relate all that to music styles that might not interest you at all!!

Ironically, I have played two original AJs from the 1930s. Go figure!
Gibson J45 Standard, Collings OM1E, Collings C10, Collings D2HSB, Martin OM-21, Breedlove 000/SM, Godin 5th Avenue, Guild X-175 Manhattan, La Patrie Concert, two slabs and a uke.

#5 User is offline   ballcorner 

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 12:24 PM

"Gibsons are an acquired taste. Kind of like giving a highball drinker a shot of Knob Creek"


Hehehehe - thanks for the great laugh.
Gibson J45 Standard, Collings OM1E, Collings C10, Collings D2HSB, Martin OM-21, Breedlove 000/SM, Godin 5th Avenue, Guild X-175 Manhattan, La Patrie Concert, two slabs and a uke.

#6 User is offline   Taylor Player 

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 12:38 PM

I have to agree that the AJ is wonderful for alternate tunings. I do Drop D, DADGAD and open G fairly often and find my AJ with the long scale and voice it has is perfect for these. You really can feel the thump in your chest when you hit that D!
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#7 User is offline   Blind Lemon 

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 02:44 PM

I also have an HD28V, how would it compliment/overlap in the rows it is able to play? I know were there is a nice AJ and it does have thump in a big way. The only other guitar that I have been able to feel it in my chest like the AJ is a certain D18GE I got to spend some time with. Different guitars but same sonic impact, if you know what I mean.

BL

#8 User is offline   ballcorner 

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 02:58 PM

Quote

I also have an HD28V, how would it compliment/overlap in the rows it is able to play? I know were there is a nice AJ and it does have thump in a big way. The only other guitar that I have been able to feel it in my chest like the AJ is a certain D18GE I got to spend some time with. Different guitars but same sonic impact, if you know what I mean.

BL


I also have an HD-28V and it is no surprise that several people in these forums have the 28-V and an AJ.

If you look at the history of these guitars, they both reached the height of their legend in the 1930s after Martin invented the dreadnought, launched it in the D-28 and Gibson used the Trojan, then the J35, Advanced Jumbo and J45 to keep pace.

You get low end punch, great volume, expressive tone, impact and beauty in both the HD-28V and the AJ - but the big difference for me is the overall quality of the tone from the Gibson versus the based on presence model preferred by Martin. While both guitars are dreadnoughts and both employ forward shifted bracing and similar woods, the defining difference between the Martin and Gibson has always been EQ.

I use this electronic term EQ because it best describes what I mean. If you have a graphic or parametric equalizer on a two channel stereo, there are two common patterns employed with the settings. One is to flat line or run all the sliders at 0Db, so there is no gain on the bass or treble, nor the midrange - and the other most common strategy is a gull wing, where the sliders are set in a light arc on the left side that dips to a sub 0Db midrange and then goes up in a sweep on the high end just like a seagull drawing a child makes with a single stroke of the pen (OK, some adult artists too!).

The Gibson is like the gull wing setting, used to create voice clarity. The Martin is the technical instrument - aiming to make the volume and presence of your F# on the high E exactly the same in character as a B note on the 5th string.

Most music needs emphasis - or at least most of us like to play that way. Who hasn't laid down on the low E when it is tuned to D to keep that drone note rolling? The Martin HD-28V is always thought of as a Bluegrass guitar because it plays every note at about the same volume - what people want from the guitar in that style of music. The Gibson Advanced Jumbo allows you to texture, give and take, express and paint with grace.

I play my AJ for just about everything. I use my HD-28V primarily for single note lead guitar on recordings, though I like to play it on the front porch once in a while just so the neighbours know who is the boss.
Gibson J45 Standard, Collings OM1E, Collings C10, Collings D2HSB, Martin OM-21, Breedlove 000/SM, Godin 5th Avenue, Guild X-175 Manhattan, La Patrie Concert, two slabs and a uke.

#9 User is offline   Blind Lemon 

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 03:09 PM

Thanks Guys and BC you'da man,

I had also heard that the AJ was a little easier to sing behind?.........I don't sing much.....but when I do it's usually a little Blues behind an Om21. It's just been a while since a guitar made an impression on me as this AJ did.

#10 User is offline   ballcorner 

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 03:20 PM

Quote

Thanks Guys and BC you'da man,

I had also heard that the AJ was a little easier to sing behind?.........I don't sing much.....but when I do it's usually a little Blues behind an Om21. It's just been a while since a guitar made an impression on me as this AJ did.


You know, I think you are jacking me up my man. I also own an OM21 and it is the guitar I sing with most often.

Yes the AJ is easier to sing behind, in my opinion. I have a baritone voice but can get all the tenor notes except one - the D-28V really takes over unless I play finger style and playing an HD-28V finger style is about as sensible as kissing through a window.

Again, the AJ is the best all-around guitar in my opinion. If I suddenly had to go from 32 guitars to 1 - the AJ or my OM-21 would win.
Gibson J45 Standard, Collings OM1E, Collings C10, Collings D2HSB, Martin OM-21, Breedlove 000/SM, Godin 5th Avenue, Guild X-175 Manhattan, La Patrie Concert, two slabs and a uke.

#11 User is offline   Blind Lemon 

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 03:33 PM

Dude I promise I am not jacking with you. I play my Om twice to 3 times more than my 28V. And thats pretty much the reason I haven't sprung for another dred.

Thats hilarious.......like minds, people that know me would say thats scary.

BL

#12 User is offline   jannusguy 

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 04:18 PM

geez-us. i feel like a piker after reading this thread. which way to the bunny slope? don't mean to be flip as everything is well written (if just a little arcane). it just serves to point out to me how much i don't know. keep on keepin' on. i'm larnin' somethin' here! maybe at some point my knowledge will be on par with the instruments i have. i'm not worthy!

cheers
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#13 User is offline   Rambler 

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 01:00 AM

"gull wing?" Fret not, Janus. Transl. = Martins are Dark, Gibsons cut through. BC, while I agree the Martin sound aims at string to string balance, I'd say that the D's large body cavity, rw b/s and 25.5 scale defeats precision engineering. Those suckers are bass heavy and dark. The huge bass is what makes them rule for bluegrass but iffy for fingerstyle (tho Skip James used one in the 60s). Singing? I dont think Lester Flat, Del McCoury, or Pete Rowan ever had a problem with their D28s. Or Stills and Young. But if you takes vocal cues off the middle or treble strings, the AJ would send a clearer signal.Cheers, Jk
"As through this world you ramble, you meet some funny men. Some rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen"
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"Aint no easy job to sit down and play guitar!" Rev. Gary Davis

#14 User is offline   cunkhead 

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 02:17 AM

Quote

geez-us. i feel like a piker after reading this thread. which way to the bunny slope? don't mean to be flip as everything is well written (if just a little arcane). it just serves to point out to me how much i don't know. keep on keepin' on. i'm larnin' somethin' here! maybe at some point my knowledge will be on par with the instruments i have. i'm not worthy!

cheers


i'm with you, JG. what a great place this is when info is delivered in such a mature and constructive manner.





the world is my oyster but i'm allergic to shellfish

'05 gibson les paul special dc
'06 seagull maritime jumbo
epi '56 gold top re-issue
'05 epiphone firebird studio
marshall haze 40
fender blues jr.


www.myspace.com/jeffstilescunkhead

#15 User is offline   ballcorner 

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 02:06 PM

Quote


Thats hilarious.......like minds, people that know me would say thats scary.

BL


I think we are both scary. And, that is OK. What I would want to ask you, though, is why did you buy your OM-21?

I bought mine because I was in the store to buy a J-50 and the sales guy told me to try the OM-21 before making up my mind. I hadn't really played a 000 guitar before and I just found it amazingly versatile, so I didn't get the Gibby.

(DUCKS!)
Gibson J45 Standard, Collings OM1E, Collings C10, Collings D2HSB, Martin OM-21, Breedlove 000/SM, Godin 5th Avenue, Guild X-175 Manhattan, La Patrie Concert, two slabs and a uke.

#16 User is offline   Blind Lemon 

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 01:13 AM

BC...I was looking for an OM/000 body sized guitar, tried a 000-18 here in town and didn't think much of it. The LMS had obviously had it for a while (not GC) and they wanted too much for it, full retail. And then a buddy of mine got an EC (-28) and although it was nice, it really didn't float my boat. Especially at the price. I was hearing good things about the OM-21 and one came available, I took a chance and bought it without playing it and got very lucky. Figured I could turn it if it didn't suit me. I like the style 18 appointments and the rosewood body. A couple of things I wish were different with this instrument....1. the tuners, they work fine.....its just me. And they can be changed. 2. Neck profile, a little thinner than I like but it is far from being a deal breaker. To me this may be one of the best deals that Martin has going on their small bodied guitars.

BL

#17 User is offline   ballcorner 

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 11:24 AM

Quote

A couple of things I wish were different with this instrument....1. the tuners, they work fine.....its just me. And they can be changed. 2. Neck profile, a little thinner than I like but it is far from being a deal breaker. To me this may be one of the best deals that Martin has going on their small bodied guitars.

BL


I agree the tuners are not attractive, but they hold really well and that is ultimately what I want. I also like the clean simple appointments of this guitar and I added a John Pearse rosewood arm rest. I agree this is one of the best deals Martin has period!

In Canada, a Martin is basically a controlled substance. My OM-21 was retailing for $2700 and I got it for $2000 plus tax. The only thing that ever bothers me is seeing them on eBay for $1000 or $1200. We could only dream of getting them that cheap up here.


Posted Image
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#18 User is offline   Blind Lemon 

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 12:04 PM

Never used an arm rest before. How does it effect the tone? What strings have you found that you like on it. I use D'Adds EJ 16 lights.

You know it's funny, I just read over this thread and it almost sounds like I know what I'm doing. I got to tell you, I'm 48 and didn't start playing until I was 44. Always wanted to play, but I had an unfortunate incident with an adult, when I was a kid, who could play. I looked up to them and after 30 min of trying to teach me, told me I'd never play. Go figure. I tell you that because I don't want to give any false impressions. But I do wish I hard started years ago. Anyway I'm playing now and love it.

BL

#19 User is offline   ballcorner 

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 01:22 PM

I'm using John Pearse lights for two changes then EJ16s for one change.

It doesn't matter when you started playing. If you love it and it makes you happy you are better off than a seasoned jazz musician who can play anything but has no passion for it anymore.

The arm rest keeps your forearm off the top of the guitar - which they say allows it to vibrate more. Jury is still out on that part, but what I like is that the rest keeps the top from getting foggy from the forearm sweat. That alone is good enough reason to have one at my house.

The standard right handed JP rest fits the OM-21 perfectly. For a dread, the rest needs to be modified if you want it to fit the contour of the guitar perfectly. Fortunately, the rests are made for JP in India, so they have an oil finish rather than varathane or nitrous. After you cut them to shape with a band saw and sand them, you just add some danish wood oil, tung oil or teak oil and voila - refinish is complete.
Gibson J45 Standard, Collings OM1E, Collings C10, Collings D2HSB, Martin OM-21, Breedlove 000/SM, Godin 5th Avenue, Guild X-175 Manhattan, La Patrie Concert, two slabs and a uke.

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